What do you think about Halloween? Some Christians think it’s just fun and good times. Some Christians think it’s downright devilish. To help answer this question, I polled a handful of Christians, including pastors, theologians, authors, teachers, new Christians, strict Christians, loose Christians, and a bunch in between. The replies were fascinating. Here are a few of them.

To Trick or Treat or Not: Should a Christian Celebrate Halloween?

  • No, I don’t believe we should celebrate Halloween. However, I do believe it’s acceptable to substitute Halloween for activities like “Harvest Festivals” as this allows us to instill positive values through fellowship, food, and hard work.”
  • “While Halloween conjures up the fun kid ideas like candy, dressing up in a costume, acting scary, and maybe visiting a haunted house, nothing about the holiday is truly edifying or constructive. The elements of fear, morbidity, borderline (at least) identification with the occult, and focus on how much a child can get for himself do not square well with the truth of Philippians 4:8 and other Scripture passages.”
  • “I wouldn’t advocate the creepy (and worse) aspects of it, but I don’t understand why Christians of all people wouldn’t redeem this once-in-a-year opportunity to go door-to-door in their neighborhood and be warmly received every time a door opens and/or to warmly greet their neighbors from their own doorstep. What an unusual opportunity to get to meet and greet neighbors.”
  • “Halloween is simply a fun time for kids to dress up and get candy from others.”
  • “I think it’s perfectly fine to celebrate Halloween, so long as you don’t celebrate the dark side of it. I say take your kids out in cute costumes and let them get some free candy, rather than deprive them of it.”
  • “Usage determines meaning. The origins of Halloween are obscure and therefore mostly irrelevant, but what does Halloween mean today? To kids it means CANDY. To adults it means dressing up—often provocatively—and celebrating all things macabre and quasi-occultic: skulls, death, ghosts, demons, witches. At best it trivializes things God warns against. At worst, it’s a holiday in which non-Christians mock the end of the broad road they’re on. Celebrate Reformation Day instead.”
  • In short, no. Depends on who/what you are celebrating. Celebrating Satan? BIG problems. Fascination with ghosts, demons, etc.? Perhaps unhealthy because it trivializes the spiritual. Dressing up your daughter as a hooker or hooker princess? Deplorable! Dressing your kids up in cute costumes, having fun as a family, and insuring that you collect more candy than the money you spent on the costume? Good stewardship.”

Chances are, you can find your preferred position somewhere in the options above. To sum it up, there are three main ways that Christians approach Halloween.

Three Halloween Options

  1. Resist it. To some, Halloween is just plain Satan worship and demonism. These people will turn off their lights and head to the basement on Halloween evening, letting the doorbell ring eerily in the stillness of their monastery. Alternately, to any innocent trick-or-treaters that dare come by, they will stuff a gospel tract into the candy bags, accompanied by a theological rant on the evils of Halloween.
  2. Replace it. The “alternative” crowd is probably most popular among Christians. Here’s where you have fall festivals or trunk-or-treat in the church parking lot. The Halloween alternatives run the gamut from full costume events for the kids (complete with candy), to revival services (complete with a gospel sing and potluck dinner). Another option, popular among the reformed crowd, is to celebrate Reformation Day, wear John Calvin masks, and have trivia games based on the Institutes.
  3. Redeem it. There is another option—a redemptive approach to Halloween. This view recognizes the problems of Halloween, yet celebrates the day by showing love, engaging in mission, and rejoicing in God’s victory.

Halloween:  Don’t Refuse. Don’t Retreat.

When we look at the Bible, we see anything but a reclusive approach to the world (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Jesus associated with religious prudes, right-wing fanatics, abject swindlers, disease-infested cripples, and well-known prostitutes (See Matthew 21:31; Luke 7:36-39). Christ’s disciples engaged the culture (Matthew 10:16). Early Christians grappled redemptively with the contemporary culture instead of rejecting every aspect of it (1 Cor 9:19-23; 10:23, 33). Before He left, Jesus gave His disciples a promise and a command. He said, “I give you power and authority. I am with you. Now, go. Be my witnesses” (paraphrased – Matthew 28:18-19; Acts 1:8, c.f. 2 Timothy 1:7).

The retreat of Christians from culture and life is diametrically opposed to Christ’s command to be witnesses (Acts 1:8; John 17:11). When Christians run from such opportunities rather than redeem them, we surrender to the advances of the enemy. We give up opportunity. We forsake our mandate to make disciples.

Is this running away appropriate? Do we retreat in other areas? Should we shun ministry in the gospel-starved ghettos of the intercity? Should we abandon church planting efforts in malaria-infested overseas missions? Should we neglect this needy world in order to maintain tidy bastions of Christian safety?

How Will You Celebrate?

“Celebrating” Halloween does not mean engaging in all the negativity—gore, witchcraft, Snickers gluttony, whatever. Gospel living is strong enough to defeat, let alone withstand, the less-than-wholesome aspects of Halloween celebrations. The presence of evil in the world, regardless of how it shows up, should not intimidate the believer from engaging in redeeming opportunities for the sake of the gospel.

What’s Happening on Halloween?

What’s happening on your street? Is demonism creeping over your neighborhood? Are people being seduced into the sordid cesspools of witchcraft and Satan worship?

Maybe.

But maybe not. Something good is happening on Halloween night. There is an opportunity. People are coming to your door. Or, you’re going to theirs. This is an opportunity to meet them. To start relationships. To be kind, to love, to share, to rejoice. To redeem an opportunity for Christ.

Why would you refuse it?

Conclusion

  • Be redemptive. Rather than be reclusive, about Halloween, be redemptive. It’s easy to be consumed with the Christian bunker mentality regarding Halloween:  “How am I going to protect my kids from the wicked influences, and the scary costumes, and the awful demonism of Halloween?” These are fair questions, as far as they go, but we should go even farther: “How can I serve others on Halloween? How can I spread the love of the gospel and the truth of God’s Word?” Instead of huddling down in your anti-Halloween Christian bunker, engage others, love others, and serve others.
  • Be a friend. This Monday night, you have the opportunity to build relationships and make friends with your neighbors. Maybe you should be known as the neighbor that handed out the most awesome candy in the neighborhood. Perhaps children and parents will think back over their evening (in the fog of a sugar high) and remember how kind, generous, and inviting you were. Maybe you can express the love of Christ to others in the way that you welcome them, give to them, and talk with them. You may not have time to tell everyone “the plan of salvation,” but you can show forth God’s love in your behavior and start a redemptive relationship. (This probably means that you will turn on the porch light and buy a few bags of candy.)
  • Don’t be naïve. The origins and some current practices of Halloween are antithetical to biblical teaching and gospel lifestyle. Rather than blindly accepting everything that Halloween is about, be discerning and careful in the way that you “celebrate” the day. Resist the devil (James 4:7), and witchcraft (Gal 5:20), but celebrate the triumph of God in energetic, victorious gospel witness.
  • Be gracious. You may have a strong position on Halloween. That’s fine. Remember, however, that other Christians may have different, yet viable views about the day. Rather than attack other people about it, be gracious and charitable.

Perhaps the whole issue, then, is not whether or not Christians should ‘celebrate’ it, but how. There is a better option than hiding in your basement. This Halloween, go on mission, and demonstrate the love of Christ.

About The Author

Daniel Threlfall

Daniel Threlfall has been writing church ministry articles for more than 10 years. With his background and training (M.A., M.Div.), Daniel is passionate about inspiring pastors and volunteers in their service to the King. Daniel is devoted to his family, nerdy about SEO, and drinks coffee with no cream or sugar. Learn more about Daniel at his blog and twitter.

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4 Responses

  1. Cherie

    Excellent. For many years I have sat on the steps of our church on the day the children trick or treat and handed out baggies that say “Jesus Loves You.” Inside is a small Christian color book, a piece of candy, a small Christian prize and a brief advertisement for what our church has to offer for kids. Kids are excited to get it and the parents don’t mind. I smile and comment to each child. This spreads a lot of good will and besides, how often do nearly 400 people come to our door?
    I have a close friend whose parents were Satan worshipers and another who was very high in witchcraft – I know Halloween is the enemy’s high day and I hate it – so it gives me great pleasure to turn it to the church’s advantage to reach children and families for Christ.

  2. Carlos

    My whole life I have been one of those that “turn off their lights and head to the basement on Halloween evening, letting the doorbell ring eerily in the stillness of their monastery” after all that’s what I learned from my parents, however this has been a pretty convincing article and I’m definitely going to try a different approach this year.

    I think its true, how Am I going to spread the gospel to my neighbors if I’m the neighbor that does not open the door on that day? How can I invite the neighborhood children to Sunday school when I’m the guy that won’t give candy that day?

  3. Beth

    I grew up celebrating Halloween but about 15 years ago was convicted that one should adhere to the principles of Christianity and omit the Halloween festivities from their life. I do not hold others in judgment, but yet believe that one should celebrate Life, not Death.

    My kids not participate in fall festivals, or ‘costume parties’, so long as there is a theme of Life not Death.

    We can spread the Gospel by direct interaction but also by setting examples.

    Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
    Romans 12:1-3

  4. Cherryl

    I am one who has chosen NOT to celebrate Halloween. Why? Because it is the witches high holy day. Also I don’t believe that it is a good thing to teach children that they can ask for “stuff” from people, and if they refuse, the children can pull a mean trick on them. Doesn’t make sense to me! It has become my own choice to not celebrate it at all. I also do not celebrate Easter, because it is actually celebrating a “goddess” called Ishtar. God has said, you shall have no other gods before me. This again, is my choice. I am considering not really “celebrating” Christmas as well, because it has become a time of frustration and commercializing what should be a time of great joy. We buy gifts for people we would not normally do this for at other times, we spend more money than we have to spend and get ourselves in debt because of it – we stand in line at ungodly early hours, in the dark, in the rain, snow or cold – to be sure we get in on a “sale” or get a special toy for our kids, or a special tech toy for adults, but wouldn’t get out of bed in time to attend church under the same circumstances. It has lost its meaning. Also God did not authorize any celebration days for his Son’s birth or death. He did authorize and command his people to keep Passover and some other biblical holidays that reveal God’s future for his peole though. Let’s celebrate! But let’s celebrate it right. That’s my own conviction, settle yours and stick with it and love your neighbors and visit them any time, not needing a witches holiday to make it happen. PS No, I am not a Hebrew. I am a Gentile Christian. Thank You

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