Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No Scary Costumes?

First of all, let me say that I'm not advocating for scary costumes.
Secondly, let me say that I'm not on a "gripe fest."
Thirdly, let me say that I know with the subject of Halloween we are not all going to agree with each other concerning this issue. The important thing is to respect one another's convictions and let them operate within those boundaries they have established. God's Word says this..“Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should.” (Romans 14:4 NLT)
The purpose of this blog is to hopefully cause helpful questionings of the reasons why we do what we do. All in a non-offensive way.

With that said, here are three things that I know to be true concerning the subject of Halloween.

I. Halloween culture can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe. Roots lay in the feast of Samhain, which was annually on October 31st to honor the dead. Samhain signifies "summers end" or November. Samhain was a harvest festival with huge sacred bonfires, marking the end of the Celtic year and beginning of a new one. Many of the practices involved in this celebration were fed on superstition.
The Celts believed the souls of the dead roamed the streets and villages at night. Since not all spirits were thought to be friendly, gifts and treats were left out to pacify the evil and ensure next year's crops would be plentiful. This custom evolved into trick-or-treating.
Certainly, Christians should not participate in the "dark side" of Halloween–or in any way approve of the satanic or the focus on paganism, evil, death, etc.

II. The reality of Halloween participation for many, believers and unbelievers alike, is simply dressing up in costumes and having fun collecting candy around the neighborhood. To many, this is what Halloween is about, without any connection to occult or pagan practices. Because many parents, including myself, do not sit our children down and explain to them the origin of Halloween. That would be like sitting down a 1 year old and explaining quantum physics. People give Halloween their own meaning, regardless of its origins. Consequently, because people participate in Halloween, does not necessarily mean they are promoting or encouraging occult or pagan practices and beliefs. The same is true concerning Christmas. People give it its own meaning. We would never say that everyone who participates in Christmas is a follower of Christ or is honoring God.

III. The early church responded properly to the original origin of Halloween by creating a new day on which they focused on reaching the pagans for Christ. They called it "All Saint's Day" (Nov. 1st). I commend any church who provides a safe place for children to come and have a good time and get candy. I believe this is a proper response to a less than ideal holiday.

Some final thoughts:

The other day I had my three year old with me in store and we had to walk down the costume aisle to look for a piece of clothing. I tried to shield him from the really outrageous stuff, but didn't make a huge issue out of it. Then it happened: my three year old son (who loves spiders) saw the display of overgrown "scary spiders." He asked what those spiders were for and I told him some people like to put those out and scare people. His response was, "we don't want to scare people, that's not nice." I just became the proudest parent in the world! Why? Because through healthy boundaries set, he was able to echo our heart in the matter. I didn't spend my time covering his eyes, telling him he better not dress a certain way, or like those types of things. Simply creating a home of love caused him to respond properly.

If the current culture around Halloween is a time to dress up and get free candy, then who "celebrates" Halloween the most?
Churches do.

As I mentioned before, there's nothing wrong with that--in fact I'm glad they do. However, I do have one concern. I believe most church groups are making a good thing bad. I hear and see all over town the advertisement, "No Scary Costumes." Shouldn't it read, "Don't come to OUR event for OUR people." Or maybe, "You can come on one condition...." Or even, "Hey, sinners, go sin somewhere else."

Church Halloween alternatives should be an outreach to people in the community, and according to Jesus when he reached out to people, it's not all neatly packaged up. It doesn't look like you do or think like you do. Reaching out to people and children who don't know Christ takes doing things differently.
It's messy.
It's odd,
and it's even scary.


  1. Awesome post!

    P.S. Sorry about the deleted post. I forgot your profile was signed in instead of mine.

  2. Vince,
    Good thought provoking post. It is good to question why we do things and why we believe what we do. I'm not sure what the answer is on this one, but I do agree that our current modus operandi is for our Halloween Festivals to be for our own churches only. They are not outreaches. Maybe one solution would be to not advertise them for the community and plan a community event of some sort - although choosing the Halloween holiday certainly brings in a lot of people who would not come to an event offered for them on any other day.
    Happy Thinking,

  3. I still like your Jona in the whale costume,

    Your post about halloween is so right on. Its funny how the church, with the best of intentions, can push away the very people they should be trying to attract.

    who sings this song on your site it is also awesome

  4. Hey Vince! Welcome to the blogosphere! What great food for thought! I agree wholeheartedly with your insight into Christians' participation in Halloween. It was never more than a reason to dress up and get candy when I was growing up, and it was one of my favorite holidays for that very reason.

    I also agree that too many times churches "Christian-ify" our outreaches more than need be. However, as mother of two young children...one of whom is VERY sensitive to scary images and such...I am thankful for the Halloween policy of my husband's employer. They invite the kids into to trick-or-treat at the different offices, and they encourage their employees to dress up but they state: "Please remember there will be young children and refrain from costumes that could be considered scary."

    I think as Christians we do need to be aware of how we are perceived by the world. But I also think that when there are young children involved (a children's outreach for example), people understand that sensitivity is expected. I guess it's all a matter of age-appropriateness.

    Didn't meant to write a novel on my first comment...apparently, you got me thinking! I hope that was the goal! :)

  5. Great post! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Got the pictures for the pumpkins. Those are great!

  6. Vince
    Checked out your blog through your dad, he is one of my best pals. As christians we must remember that God calls us to Holy lives, but also a willing vessels - in the world but not of it. We need to be ever reaching, not driving folks away - but at the same time we don't have to be like 'em to win 'em. The world really wants an alternative to the grief and hopelessness that sin brings (most of them just don't know it yet). Great story about your kid, the family is God's 1st line of defense against the wiles of the devil. Teach and train at home and there will be a lot less of life that is left to chance.

    Check out my blog sometime your additions to the conversation will be welcome. RLR


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