EDITOR, The Tribune
On Sunday past, I was asked my thoughts on whether Christians should celebrate Halloween. It is a great question, but it is one that Scripture does not speak to in a direct manner, as is the case with many issues that we as Christians have to think through. Therefore, in responding to the question asked on Sunday, my hope is that my approach can serve as a guide for how we should consider matters that Scripture does not specifically address.
History of Halloween
It is always important to try to ensure that we have the right information before we seek to come to a conclusion. Some people’s opinion about Halloween has been shaped by what they have heard second-hand from others or what they have observed. But what is the true origin of Halloween? According to history.com, Halloween has its origin in “the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts.
In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before, October 31, was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, donning costumes and eating sweet treats.
I think it is fair to say that, although the origin of Halloween is rooted in superstition about ghosts, the modern-day practice of it has more to do with activities like festival parties and trick-or-treating for children. According to the National Retail Federation of the USA, Americans are expected to spend $9 billion on Halloween this year (the spending of Bahamians is included in that because we import virtually all of our Halloween candy and costumes from the USA!).
This does not mean that people who dabble in darkness do not carry on superstitious and even demonic practices which they associate with Halloween. But largely, the activity that marks Halloween more than any other is trick-or-treating for children dressed up in a wide range of costumes, some good (like angels and bible characters), some neutral (like Batman and super heroes), and some evil (like Satan and witches).
Bearing in mind the origin of Halloween and its practice today, I believe it is fair to say that whether one celebrates Christmas or not is a conscience issue. So, a good question to ask, is this: What does my conscience allow? We must accept that different Christians will answer this differently; the conscience of some Christians allows them and their children to celebrate Halloween, while the conscience of other Christians does not allow them to, and both are right to follow their conscience. The only thing that would be wrong is to judge those whose conscience allows them to do the opposite of what yours allows (see Romans 14:1-12).
Another important Scripture to consider is 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” So, we should ask the question: “Can I celebrate Halloween to the glory of God?” Again, genuine Christians will answer yes and no to this question. And we should not judge those whose answer and practice are different from ours.
Wherever we land on the question about whether Christians should celebrate Halloween or not, we will need wisdom. This is obvious for the Christians who choose to celebrate Halloween. For example, it would be unwise for Christian parents who see nothing wrong with celebrating Halloween to allow their children to go trick-or-treating dressed up as devils, witches, or anything that would be dishonouring to the Lord and betray their faith. Would it not be better to choose good or neutral costumes and explain to the children the reason behind the choice?
Choosing such good or neutral costumes could result in an obvious contrast with the bad or questionable costumes that other children wear, and there could be an opportunity to verbally bear witness to Christ and share the gospel with unbelieving parents.
For Christians who choose not to participate, wisdom is also needed, although not so obvious. Such persons should be prepared to give a patient, God-centred response to their children when they ask why they can’t go trick-or-treating or to the school’s Halloween party. Such conversations might arise with unbelieving co-workers or fellow parents.
So, should Christians celebrate Halloween? In light of the foregoing considerations about Halloween, it should be clear that the most faithful answer is: It depends. It depends on one’s conscience. So, the answer can be yes or no. Therefore, whatever you decide, by God’s grace, try to ensure that your decision is based on:
*An informed conscience from history and Scripture;
*The absence of judging others whose decision is different;
*A desire to glorify God; and
*What wisdom dictates, all things considered.
So, whether we celebrate Halloween or not, let us celebrate it or not celebrate it to the glory of God.
PASTOR CEDRIC MOSS
October 24, 2018