For years, Christian families have struggled with the question of whether or not to celebrate Halloween:
- Is it OK to let our kids go Trick-or-Treating?
- Is it OK to let them dress up in costumes?
- Is it OK to hand out candy to kids who come to our door on Halloween?
Let’s look at this issue from a historical, practical, and scriptural perspective to see if we can find some answers.
The origins of today’s Halloween holiday are quite varied. Some of those origins, and certainly some modern-day Halloween traditions, are of a dark and very un-Christian nature. But some of those origins are equally from a very family- and community-oriented tradition, and are not dark or un-Christian at all.
Some Halloween traditions and customs have deep roots in ancient pagan rituals; but some have very modern and very non-pagan roots. To characterize Halloween as strictly a pagan holiday, or a holiday with strictly pagan origins, is simply not accurate.
To help clarify our thinking on this matter, consider the Christmas tree. The practice of bringing a live tree into the house from outside during December is believed by many to have come from an ancient pagan ritual.
Does that mean that a modern family that erects a Christmas tree in their house is practicing paganism? Of course not! When I put up a Christmas tree in my living room, I am not doing so to perpetuate a pagan ritual or even to imitate a pagan ritual.
For my family, then, there is nothing inherently evil or even “pagan” about a Christmas tree … or about my kids dressing up in silly costumes and going to friends’ and neighbors’ houses, ringing the doorbell, saying “Trick or Treat” and getting a few pieces of candy.
The Bible is clear in its condemnation of occult practices.
- As the Israelites prepared to enter the land of Canaan, they were warned not to get caught up in the occult practices of the people in that land (Deuteronomy 18:9-13).
- Sorcery (or witchcraft) is condemned as a work of the flesh in Galatians 5:20. Sorcery was often associated with the worship of false gods and the use of mind-altering drugs.
- In 3 John 11, we are told, “do not imitate what is evil”.
So, obviously, anything about Halloween that dabbles in, glorifies, or imitates the occult or anything evil should be avoided.
That does not, however, automatically condemn Halloween, because there are a lot of activities and traditions surrounding Halloween that have nothing to do with the occult.
In my research for this article, I ran across several writers who suggested being prepared to share your faith at Halloween. At no other time of the year will you have as many children (and even adults) come to your door asking you to give them something. One suggestion was to hand out good gospel tracts or invitations to church along with your Halloween candy.
There is an interesting analogy to this discussion found in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33. Paul said that a first century Christian, when buying meat at the market, should not get all worked up about whether or not the meat he purchased had been sacrificed to idols.
If someone invited a Christian over to eat, Paul told those Christians to eat whatever was set before them, again without worrying about the origin of the meat.
If, however, another person informed you that the meat you were eating had been sacrificed to idols, Paul said you should refrain from eating it for the other person’s sake, so that you would not cause him to stumble.
So, it all boils down to principle and conscience.
If your conscience will not allow you to participate in Halloween, because you believe that it is an unwholesome and spiritually unhealthy thing to do, then you must follow your conscience. And I must respect your convictions. See Romans 14:14.
But, the flip side of that is also true. If I choose not to participate in Halloween because of my conscience, but you decide to participate in Halloween because you believe there is nothing inherently evil about it and therefore it does not offend your conscience to participate, then I must not condemn you for your choice. See Romans 14:1-3.