Guest Post by Nate Reid
My brother-in-law, Nate, associate pastor and youth leader at my church, originally wrote this article for my short-lived e-zine. Many Christians, including Nate and I, don’t think that Christians should celebrate Halloween because of its association with the devil and other malevolent entities. Here is Nate’s original article, written in October of 2008 and originally part of this e-zine.
For the Christian today, our diverse American culture poses many real
challenges in determining what he or she should and should not partake in. There is such a blending of belief systems and melding of cultural practices that for those who try to follow closely to the teachings of Jesus Christ, it can be a daunting task riddled with humanly perceived “gray areas.”
In keeping with the season, I would like to address the Christian’s response to the celebration of Halloween. I do not want to go into an exhaustive background, but Halloween began with ancient Druid beliefs that this time of year the souls of the deceased could and sometimes did come back to pester and possess the bodies of the living. Therefore, many of the customs that are still performed today have roots in actual Druid ritual. Carving Jack ‘o’ Lanterns and dressing up in frightening costumes was an attempt to scare away evil spirits. Building giant bonfires (derived from “bone-fires”) was intended to do the same and also eradicate anyone who was believed to be possessed by an evil spirit. Furthermore, today the “holiday” is celebrated by neo-Pagans, Wiccans, and even Satanists as somewhat of a high holiday.
So, if this is the case, what is a Christian to do? What’s so terrible about dressing up as a princess or a pumpkin and going door to door begging for candy? What possible harm can come from carving a pumpkin or bobbing for apples? I would venture to say that these things in and of themselves are not wrong and definitely not the point. The bottom line is this: Halloween today in our culture, no matter how any individual celebrates it, glorifies death, evil, and fear. As a Christian, we know that Jesus came to overcome the power of death, defeat evil, and eliminate fear. Why then would a Christian partake in an event that, no matter what their celebration includes, glorifies the very things Christ came to abolish?
If you argue that our customs for Christmas celebration have pagan roots and therefore would be wrong to partake of according to my argument, then you are right on the first part at least. Many Christmas customs do indeed come directly from pagan practices—the lighting of a tree and the yule log, just to name two. However, I would argue that you are incorrect on the second part of your statement. What, today, does Christmas stand for? Does it not still mark the celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ? You would be correct in noticing the need to eradicate the disgusting overemphasis of commercialism and the blatant substitution of the true meaning of Christmas with a certain “Santa Claus.”
Therefore, my analogy goes like this: Celebrating Halloween in the sense of celebrating the harvest and honoring the Saints that have gone before us would in theory be acceptable as a Christian, just as celebrating Christmas as the commemoration of the birth of Christ is acceptable. (The Catholic Church unsuccessfully tried to replace pagan meanings of Halloween, thus “All Hallow’s Eve,” which morphed into “Halloween” with “hallow” having the meaning of one who is hallowed or holy. Think, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name…”). Both celebrations go wrong when the pagan is celebrated over the Christian.
In the case of Halloween, glorifying death, evil, and fear is akin to placing the myth of Santa Claus in place of the real Jesus Christ while prioritizing the giving and receiving of gifts over glorifying the Giver of the Greatest Gift of all at Christmas time. I believe it is simply summed up in the following verse: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 The 5:19-22, ESV).
As a Christian we have the responsibility to ensure we are thinking through everything we do in general, and specifically in this case with celebrations to make sure we are glorifying God, holding to only that which is good, and keeping far away from anything that is associated with evil. I cannot personally get around the fact that Halloween glorifies death, evil, and fear. It should be obvious that this is the clear meaning behind this day.
Halloween movies more often than not feature brutal massacres, witchcraft as fun and acceptable, and glorification of the demonic side of the very real spiritual realm. The fiction that has been created about ghosts, zombies, and the like have their roots in reality and can only be demons as described in the Bible. There is a spiritual realm that features very good and very bad spirits.
We should not, especially as Christians, make light of this and consequently behave as if the evil is “cute” or “harmless” or anything else other than a terrible offense to God and contrary to everything He is.
We suffer from an epidemic of Christians that behave exactly the same, or at least nearly the same as their non-Christian counterparts without regard for taking a stand for what is pure and holy. We need to not be afraid of looking weird or irrelevant when we speak out against or abstain from celebrating overtly pagan and evil “holidays” such as Halloween. It is time we did as the writer in Hebrews describes when he writes: “…Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Heb 12:1, ESV).
I challenge every Christian who reads this article to examine the Word of God, pray specifically, and carefully consider what I present to you even if you initially disagree with my stance. I believe that any Christian absolutely must treat any and all matters of life, not exclusively the “hot button” issues like the celebration of Halloween, in this manner. We cannot afford to slog through life accepting or rejecting doctrine, lists of right and wrong, and in this case celebrations based on our culture at large, what someone we care
about or respect said, or whatever happens to fit our personal references.
There is absolute truth out there, and we all must strive to find it and understand it to the best of our imperfect human ability and live our lives accordingly. Ultimately, we will be held accountable for our actions and what we supported or fought against in the end.
I do not say all this to suggest that a true Christian cannot celebrate Halloween and still be “right with God.” There are godly men and women I know and respect and whose salvation I would not question who advocate at least portions of current American Halloween customs. I do not have a problem with disagreeing with them and personally choosing to abstain, but I only continue to respect their opinion if they have demonstrated that they are convinced that they are doing what is pure and holy to the best of their ability. I do, however, strongly infer that a true Christian will examine their hearts and motivations for celebrating it or not celebrating it and ensure that they have a solid set of reasoning and specific purpose for everything they do.