Retailers didn’t take long to replace school supplies with Halloween paraphernalia. Pencils turned into pumpkins. Backpacks became scary masks, ghosts and tons of candy wrapped in black and orange foil. Plastic spiders and artificial webs abound.
Halloween is a holiday of extremes. As a Christian, it is easy to feel conflicted. I want to honor God in all I do — eagerly anticipating a grateful heart at Thanksgiving and the grand Christmas “Jesus birthday” celebrations in December.
But first I have to navigate the confusion of Halloween.
Am I compromising my Christian beliefs if I hand out candy to costumed children (and a few adults) when they come to my door? Is Halloween in honor of evil and darkness and soul-deep death?
In a blog post on Patheos.com titled “A Reasonable Middle-Ground for Being a Christian at Halloween,” author Benjamin L. Corey shares his own struggle with the dilemma Halloween presents for the Christian and his conclusion that Halloween is an opportunity to transform darkness into light.
We have both a dilemma and a choice. How should Christians handle holidays that have been tainted with paganism and secularized by a godless culture? Holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Halloween all have ties to early Christianity, but have been markedly influenced by paganism and reshaped by modern culture.
Halloween is linked to the Christian remembrance of All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. All Hallows’ Eve (of which the word Halloween is a contracted version) designates the eve of All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1. All Saints Day was (and is) a day on which many of Christian faith honor the souls of martyrs and deceased saints. All Souls Day (Nov. 2) is similar to All Saints Day and is the feast day for all the departed saints.
This is how the modern-day Halloween emphasis on graveyards, scary masks, death and gruesome depictions of hell came about.
Historically, ancient Christian missionaries such as St. Patrick or St. Boniface used aspects of pagan culture to speak to the people about the Christian faith. I think they set an example for modern-day Christians who face a spiritual conflict on Oct. 31.
As Corey states, “(T)hat’s the role of a Christian — to be people within a culture but not products of that culture; people who seek every opportunity to inject beauty into the world around us.”
We should not participate in Halloween “in the same way as the violent and gory culture around us participates,” Corey says, but neither should “Christians hunker down in fundamentalist bunkers until Halloween is over.”
You and I possess the marvelous knowledge that Christ is the light who has overcome the very darkness (John 8:12) that people tend to glorify at Halloween. Halloween provides us with a perfect canvas on which to shine the light of truth.
Jesus overcame the grave. Death holds no power over those who commit their lives to him. Depictions of graveyards, ghosts, witches and gruesome horrors provide a perfect contrast to the life, light and goodness to be found in Christ.
“Rather than abandoning Halloween to the lost, let us reclaim it for God’s glory. May He help us to be light in the darkness and to find ways to creatively bring the ‘hallowed’ back into Halloween,” says Crosswalk.com contributor Angie Mosteller.
Take this time to teach children that regardless of their costumes, we have nothing to fear.
Rather than spending time wondering what God thinks about Halloween, whether you decide to participate in the festivities or not, commit Oct. 31 to thanking God for overcoming darkness and death.
And share that good news with others.
Sylvia Peterson is a former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and an author. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at email@example.com.