RetroPost: Rethinking Halloween
RetroPost is a weekly repost of an older Christ and Pop Culture that has some relevance to current pop culture events or releases.
This Week: With Halloween just around the corner, many Christians are engaging in a yearly ritual: debating with others and themselves whether Halloween should be engaged in at all. Ryan Holmes rethinks the issue…
As I grew up my family didn’t participate in Halloween. And by not participate I mean lights off, lock the door, and hide out. In essence Halloween was a yearly hurricane we had to weather and avoid. We survived the onslaught if we didn’t have to interact with anyone. Trick-or-treaters—avoided. Parents with miniature superheroes next to them—avoided. Other Christians—avoided.
In recent years I’ve been thinking about whether that is a distinctly Christian response to Halloween or not. Ultimately, there tend to be 3 predominate positions towards Christian involvement in Halloween:
1) Halloween is evil and Christians should avoid every aspect of it,
2) Halloween is potentially evil and only church approved functions should be attended, or
3) Halloween is acceptable when done in moderation and we should have fun
A Halloween-centric blog post on Pen and Parchment got me thinking about which view I hold. Obviously, growing up it was the first option. The blog post, however, pointed me to a Christian cliche which has me wondering if I’ve had the wrong view. It sounds cheesy but in regards to Christians and Halloween—WWJD? If Jesus were around today would he hide up in his house, turn off his lights, and hope that nobody knocked on the door? Would Christ, who was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard, try to avoid all signs of Halloween (Luke 7:34)? Is this the same Jesus that was friends with sinners and tax-gathers (Luke 5;27-32)? To be accused of being a glutton or a drunkard, or friends of the unfriendable don’t you have to be hanging around those types of people in the first place?
In thinking of how Christ acted throughout the Gospels, I’m starting to think that on Halloween Christ would have all the lights on in his house, have the best lawn decoration (he was a carpenter after all), and be handing out some of the sweetest candy in the neighborhood. While I think it’s unnecessary for Christians to make Halloween an explicit Gospel presentation, like handing out tracts instead of candy, I do think it’s an excellent opportunity for Christians to get involved with their neighbors. What other time do people explicitly come to your door in droves looking for interaction? How often do you get to be benevolent to your neighbors? And why are we always saying, “Go out into the world and make disciples” but on Halloween we take the day off? It’s almost like we want to suspend out Christianity on October 31st.
I’m starting to think that my reclusive childhood may not have been as distinctly Christian as I have been led to believe. Maybe I need to engage those around me more than I usually do on Halloween. Maybe I need to leave my lights on tonight. Maybe I should be the house handing out the best candy on the block. Where do you stand on Halloween participation?
I am speaking at church this Sunday, October 31, so I have been thinking about the relation between the fun Halloween holiday and Christ. I thoroughly enjoyed this article and appreciate your the clarity of your new-found opinion.
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