Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?
Demons, Ghosts, Vampires, and monsters of every kind will be walking in small packs around our neighborhoods on Halloween night. How are we as Christians supposed to feel about this? If we think it's "just good fun" are we being unfaithful? Would it be better to forbid our children from joining in the fun, handing out bags of organic broccoli with Gospel pamphlets instead? Maybe we should turn off the porch light and refuse to answer the door at all — because that's how holy we are! Doesn't seem right to me, something about knock and the door shall be...something about being the light of the world.
I think Halloween might be a great opportunity to love our neighbors and let them know something interesting about the Christian faith and how it relates to scary monsters.
Growing up in smalltown Illinois I loved Halloween. The costumes, the candy, the tricks and the treats. For years my youth group did a fund-raiser at our church by turning the whole building into a legit haunted house complete with demons, ghosts, monsters and an electric chair. I'm sure some people thought we were out of our mind. Should we have dressed up in Bible costumes instead? How many ways can we get creative with white sheets for togas and fake beards?
Here are a few thoughts that I believe should encourage us to not only celebrate Halloween, but really go for it:
1. THE NAME — Why is it called Halloween? “Halloween” is simply a contraction for "All Hallows’ Eve." The word “hallow” is an alternative form of the word “holy” as in “hallowed be Thy name." All Saints’ Day is November 1. It's the celebration of the victory of the Christians who have died and joined Christ in heaven—they have tasted their victory over death and darkness. We have assurance that through Jesus we will be victorious in our battle against demonic forces, too. “The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). So, it's like "Christmas Eve," only instead of being the night before we celebrate Jesus coming into the world, it's the night before we celebrate all the saints who have gone before us into the dark and recieved into the light of Christ.
Read on if you dare!
I know. All the fundamentalist evangelical Christians are concerned that by dressing up as spooky things that somehow people are giving honor and praise to the devil. It couldn't be further from the truth—if you do it right!
2. The BATTLE REENACTMENT — The Bible tells us that our primary battle isn't against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against the demonic forces that bind the hearts and minds of people in ignorance and fear. We're promised that by putting faith in Christ, the saints (Christians) can claim victory in our battle against this present darkness. In other words, Jesus finished His work but we haven't finished ours. The work of the church is to continue to claim this world and all the people in it for the Kingdom of Heaven—for Christ the Lord!
This means that year after year, century after century, we (the church) have the job of beating back the fear-mongering satanic realm of ignorance, fear and superstition. So we act this out each year as an "IN YOUR FACE" reminder to the kingdom of darkness that Christ has risen from the dead and their days are numbered. Even though things look bad a lot of the time, we have FAITH that the battle is won and Christ is victorious.
So that's what Halloween is—a battle reenactment and a victory taunt. On October 31, the demonic realm tries to rise up again to get victory but is destroyed by the joy of the Kingdom of God. In other words, people dress up in cartoonishly silly costumes to represent the devil and all his demonic monstrosities, and instead of filling the world with doom and darkness, it's filled with candy and laughter. Sharing free candy and visiting with our neighbors is not the kind of pain and bondage the devil normally occupies himself with.
3. MOCKERY — What do we do to celebrate that the demonic realm is vanquished? We make fun of it. Remember that Satan’s root sin is pride. So, the best way to send him running like a cockroach under the couch is to mock him. That's the whole point of dressing up like Satan in a ridiculous red suit with horns and a tail. That's not what he looks like, the Bible says he's a fallen Archangel—I'm pretty sure he was quite a beautiful creature. So, we dress up our kids like an ugly red goat and say "Hey Devil, this is you!" Na na na na na! Because we're not afraid of him anymore. Because he has lost to Jesus and no longer has power over Christians. We have no fear of the demonic realm and won't be controlled by superstition!
"The gargoyles that were placed on the churches of old had the same meaning. They symbolized the Church ridiculing the enemy. They stick out their tongues and make faces at those who would assault the Church. Gargoyles are not demonic; they are believers ridiculing the defeated demonic army."
-James B. Jordan
4. BECAUSE REFORMATION — So the defeat of evil and of demonic powers is the whole point of Halloween—it's a Christian holiday! That's why Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg chapel on Halloween. He was making the point that THIS EVIL ALSO NEEDS TO BE TAKEN DOWN! — ever since Halloween has also been Reformation Day.
5. BUT WE GOTTA DO IT RIGHT — These days, people often dress up as superheroes, and the original Christian meaning of Halloween has been lost in popular culture. It's fine to put on a Hello Kitty costume or pretend you're Batman for the night—but if you really want to get into the original Halloween spirit, then you need to go a little darker. Halloween should be a solid reminder that we are Christians and we're not afraid the dark—we are the light that chases the shadows away.
"The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them." — Psalm 2:4
I recommend that you decorate your house, turn on the porch light, buy a bunch of the best candy you can afford and show the love and victory of Christ all night long by answering the door in a devil suit. Be sure to act really impressed with all the little girls dressed up as Wonder Woman this year.