Halloween – From a Christian Parents Perspective

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Halloween – From a Christian Parents Perspective

As we round the corner to Halloween, one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the United States, many Christian parents are unsure what they should allow their kids to do. By many, this holiday is seen as a chance to have some good old fashion fun dressing up and getting way too many treats. But for others, this holiday represents a dark side of life that intimidates them. Then there is a middle ground approach that includes the fun but excludes the dark influences. Personally, we don’t allow our kids to dress up as anything with specific evil or occult connotations like witches, ghosts, vampires or zombies.  We don’t decorate our home with anything that celebrates death or witchcraft. (This basically disqualifies most of the Halloween decorations I’ve seen.) But we do allow our kids to dress up in a creative costume that is modest and positive.  We carve pumpkins, participate in the tradition of Trick-or-Treating, hand out candy to kids who come to our door, and spend time hanging out with our friends, family and neighbors. There is a lot of leeway when it comes to what you choose to do as a family on Halloween that should ultimately be determined by a close heart connection with the Lord.  What concerns me though is when I see Christians making their choices regarding this autumn celebration based on fear, judgment and, as you will see in the story that follows, idolatry. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Tim Kimmel’s book, Grace Based Parenting, which speaks to this very crucial point:  

“I knew a lady who would pick up her elementary-aged children from school during the last week of October just so they wouldn’t have to walk by the jack-o-lanterns that people put out in front of their houses. She said she was frightened of what could happen to her children, but all she did was transfer her fear of jack-o-lanterns to her children as well. They became mortified of them. This mom had attributed evil power to a carved vegetable (or is it a fruit?). When I pointed out what she was doing, she ripped into me. I got an earful about Druids (none of whom she had ever met), Satan’s big party (which I thought Jesus’ followers should crash), the forces of darkness (which I thought Jesus followers should shed the Light of the World on) and all of the wicked things that could happen on October 31st (as if Satan was taking the other 364 nights off). By taking something inanimate and giving it animate evil power, she had just showed her kids how to create an idol. Their fear of the jack-o-lanterns was giving a dead carved vegetable a power it didn’t have. God was outspoken when He commanded us to not make any graven images. He didn’t scratch out His concerns on an Etch A Sketch but chiseled them onto stone tablets as a permanent reminder. Here’s how He put it:   “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:4-6   It is idolatry to affix evil power to things or actions that are just things and actions. What determines evil is how Satan is using it. What determines goodness is how God is working through it. What determines who is doing what is the person in the equation.”

So, we see that letting our fears affix powers to things or actions is the very definition of idolatry.  In this excerpt from Dr. Kimmel’s book, the example of Jack-o-Lanterns was used, but you can apply this principle to a whole host of the fears that Christians often tout as reasons to withdraw from participating in the Halloween festivities in their neighborhoods and schools – dressing up, trick-or-treating, jack-o-lanterns, costume parties, candy, even ghouls and goblins… All of these are simply things or actions until we affix powers to them that they don’t have.  Then they become idols.  And if we spend our time transferring these fears to our children and use up our energy judging other Christian parents for their choices about Halloween, we completely miss the opportunity to teach our kids how a believer shines the Light of the World to a broken and unredeemed culture. We also miss the chance to welcome our neighbors at our front door with a smile and a sweet treat. You can celebrate differently. You can choose to set limits on what your family will do or not do (like I do in mine). The Spirit will lead you. The one thing we simply can’t do is withdraw and surrender the day to the powers of darkness.  They’re always there, waiting for us to be distracted so that they can make inroads on Halloween and the 364 days after. Instead, we should use this opportunity to show love, friendship and hospitality to the mission field that is waiting just over our back fence, just at the foot of our porch steps. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure if Jesus lived today, He would dress up as something fun and sit in a lawn chair on his driveway handing out candy to the children who He loves so much.  I wonder what He would go as. Any ideas?

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