Should you reconsider participation in Halloween?

To many such a questions seems stupid to even ask.  To them, “Halloween is just a holiday full of candy and fun and every kid should be able to have a good time and get a sugar aching belly.”  Unfortunately, many in the church have adopted this same attitude without considering what is being celebrated and honored on this night.  Many Christians and churches aren’t entirely comfortable with the practice as is evidenced by the number of churches that change the name of the holiday from Halloween to “Harvest Party” or some other moniker.

My hope in this short article is to prime the pump for some good reflection so you can make a wise decision in light of the Scriptures.

Halloween, or as it was formerly known, Samhain, (pronounced Sa-win) is the Gaelic festival marking the end of harvest and the transition into the ‘darker half’ of the year.  It began at sunset on October 31 and lasted for 24 hours. Wikipedia has a well-written article on Samhain in which the following is written:

“People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.[2] Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a time when the “door” to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to come into our world. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them. It has thus been likened to a festival of the dead. People also took steps to protect themselves from harmful spirits, which is thought to have led to the custom of guising. Divination was also done at Samhain.” [1]

As the article continues, other subjects covered are the roots of dressing up, carving pumpkins, asking for sweets, ‘tricking’ and all of the popular pastimes associated with Halloween.  The point being, all these traditions have their founding in Druid worship practices that are still taken very seriously by Wiccans (those who practice witchcraft) and Satanists today.  Furthermore, Wiccans believe Samhain to be one of the 4 great festivals of the year.

 

Though the celebration gained traction in the Roman Catholic world very early, the Protestant world shunned the practice of Halloween, and the puritans renounced the festival in the new world.  Only with the mass immigration of the Irish and Scottish in the mid 19th century did the festival gain a footing in America. 

 

So should Christians participate?  One Catholic priest believes it is okay.  Here is his reasoning, “if English and American children like to dress up as witches and devils on one night of the year that is not a problem. If it is just a game, there is no harm in that.”  Is this really sound logic for the follower of Christ?  Assuming the celebration is strictly an innocent and non-spiritual act, does it benefit the Christian to dress up and practice being evil?  Even if the costumes are neutral, should we indoctrinate our children into the religious practices of Wiccans?   The Scriptures are clear that believers must pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace (2Tim 2:22) and put off the old ways, which corrupt and deceive (Eph 4:22). In popular practice, Halloween celebrates death, witchcraft, and evil.   Look around today’s culture and see that the decorations of Halloween celebrate the exact opposite of what a Christian is called to rejoice in, life, new life and life abundant.  Even if the celebration is innocent, what are we teaching our kids?

 

The truth is, Halloween is anything but an innocent, irreligious celebration.  It is a pagan ritual in which many people unknowingly participate.  If Christians asked even a few wiccans about the importance of Halloween, they would likely hear things similar to what these Witches express,[2]

Witch – Doreen Valiente: “Halloween is one of the four Great Sabbats of the witches that everyone has heard about. To witches, Halloween is a serious occasion, however merrily celebrated. It is the old Celtic Eve of Samhain. With the coming of Christianity, the Church tried to Christianize the old festival by making 1st November All Saints Day, or All Hallows as the old term was. Thus Samhain Eve became All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. But attempts to discourage the pagan celebrations were so unavailing that the festival was eventually banned from the Church calendar. It was not until 1928 that the Church of England formally restored All Hallows to its calendar, on the assumption that the old pagan associations of Halloween were at last really dead and forgotten; a supposition that was certainly premature.”

Witch – Sharon Graham: “Salem (Massachusetts) is a mecca, especially around Samhain. It is our holiday, our new year, and a lot of witches come here from all over the world”

Satanist – Anton Szandor LaVey (now deceased): “Two major holidays, HALLOWEEN and Walpurgisnacht are celebrated by the Church of Satan.”

 

By engaging in the activities of the death, Christians and non-Christians alike give the occult a place and a standing in our world.  They welcome evil into their homes, lives and work.  Satan doesn’t care if you believe he or his demons exists or not, what he is concerned with is whether you participate in the things God has forbidden. 

 

Consider these words from a fellow reformed believer,

“The sign or symbol of a thing is not the thing itself, but a representative of the thing. For instance, the Lord’s Supper is a sign or symbol of the body of Christ – not the body itself. Halloween, in its essence, is representative of wickedness, and a host of abominable practices condemned by God. This means that those who practice Halloween are representing those abominable practices even if they dress their children up in a clown’s outfit instead of a vampire’s cloak.”[3]

 

The Old Testament is full of teaching concerning avoiding the medium, the spiritist, the diviner, the witch, etc..  Deuteronomy 18:10-12 is very clear that among the people of God,

“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.” 

All of these things are part of Halloween, which many Christians naively participate in, encourage and condone by their presence.  The Bible commands Christians to flee idolatry and false worship (1Cor 10:14).  We are not to have anything to do with such pagan religion.  In fact, in the letters to the 7 churches of Revelation Jesus decries the fact that many in his church are making concessions to idolatry and pagan practices so that they blend in with society and don’t miss out on anything which the world has to offer.  But are death, the devil and false religion really missing out on anything?  

 

You must decide what to do with Halloween in your home. I encourage you to reflect on these passages of Scripture before participating in Halloween:

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.  And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.  But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, which is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be partakers with them.  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”  ~ Ephesians 5:1-11

 

Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”  ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22

 

Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demonsYou cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s Table and of the table of demons.”  ~ 1 Corinthians 10:20-21 

 

“[do not] give place to the devil.”  ~ Ephesians 4:27

 

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.”  ~ 1 Timothy 4:1 

 

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  ~ Isaiah 5:20

 

Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”  ~ Romans 12:9

 

 “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; So the Lord God of hosts will be with you...”  ~ Amos 5:14

 

Now the serpent [satan] was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?…Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.'”  ~ Genesis 3:1, 4

 

For Further Research consider these sights:

http://www.apuritansmind.com/the-christian-walk/a-brief-history-of-halloween-by-dr-c-mathew-mcmahon/

http://www.believersweb.org/view.cfm?ID=614

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain

http://logosresourcepages.org/HalloweenBook/occult.htm

http://carm.org/halloween

An Eastern Orthodox perspective is available here: http://www.saint-spyridon.com/note11.htm

 

 

For more encouragement from the Word:

1. Try a word study on: light, life, love, or wisdom (Not sure how to do a word study? Come by the office, I would love to spend some time with you over the Word.)

2. Read through the book of John.

3. Commit to read a chapter of the Proverbs each day for the next month.  You will finish the whole book.

4. Memorize a favorite verses, or maybe even a favorite chapter, that has something to do with this discussion.  You’ll be ready to give an answer the next time someone asks you about your thoughts on Halloween.

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About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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