With Halloween just a day away, I thought it would be fitting to touch on the question that is asked by many of those in the Church, "Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?" In the past couple of weeks, I have had quite a few conversations and have seen many debated threads on the topic of Halloween ranging from hostile to helpful. I had forgotten how controversial this time of year has become and was quickly reminded of that this last week. But when I came across the article 'The Evil Part Of Halloween You Probably Didn’t Think Of', I was reminded of the injustice of child slavery in the chocolate industry, and it made me realize this post sheds a light on a greater evil surrounding this day which is so often forgot about. So in lieu of tackling the topic of Christian's VS Halloween in full, we want to share this article and change the direction of our original intent.
This doesn't mean we need to celebrate the horror, evil and gore-porn associated with the holiday, but...
If after reading the article linked above, you are still wondering about the topic if Christians should celebrate Halloween because of 'pagan' ties or have questions you need to wrestle through, I recommend reading this article as well, as it does a good job of asking the question of Halloween and should we reject it, rejoice it, or redeem it. Recognize we should never make decisions in fear and compulsion, but instead, in faith, and be confident in our freedom in Christ and keep our conscience clean; we are not in danger of losing our soul when taking our kids out trick-or-treating. Use wisdom and live in confidence and faith and look at what Paul said about a pagan practice that we know for sure was associated with idol worship and pagan rituals.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. ...So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin // Romans 14:13, 22-23
Do not condemn and second guess what you have already approved. If a person chooses to celebrate Halloween, they can do so with confidence and not be in fear of sinning. This doesn't mean we need to celebrate the horror, evil and gore-porn associated with the holiday, and if you feel, in the season you are in, wrong in your conscience to participate in anything that associates with these things and are unable to separate the 'good' from the 'evil', then it wouldn't be wise to go against that conscience. Maybe this is a conversation that we do need to wrestle with and dialogue about in our community and for some it is a big deal and I don't want to belittle that, but let us not forget, it is a grey area and God's children are on both sides of the argument.
Let's shift gears: Maybe, just maybe, this question is a much smaller issue in the grand scheme of the injustice happening on the other side of the world, which truly grieves God's heart--The Greater Evil Of Halloween We Have Never Thought Of. The whole debate and fighting about 'If We Should Celebrate Halloween' makes me think of Jesus rebuking the Pharisees for straining on such small things and legalistic laws when the greater sins were taking place:
What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel! // Matt 23:24
I know this next statement will be bold and I realize we are all on a journey and Halloween is a big deal for some, but let's just think for one second about the big picture and the true nature of God's heart. When we debate the merits of Halloween as a 'pagan' holiday and if Christians should participate, is it not possible that we are straining our water in fear of swallowing a gnat and lose sight of the greater evils happening in our world?
What I am not saying is we stop celebrating Halloween or dictate how each individual should react or deal with this issue, please hear me right. But I am asking two questions:
(1) Maybe the debate about Halloween shouldn't be: should we celebrate it because it is 'pagan', but how do we celebrate it responsibly knowing the reality of child slavery? That maybe we are distracted with the small thing when we might be missing the more important thing going on--the "more important aspects of the law--justice, mercy, and faith". Let me be clear: the selling of Chocolate is not isolated to Halloween and so this reality shouldn't be pinned on Halloween alone and I still believe families can celebrate Halloween responsibly if they wish.
It makes us really ask the hard questions: What kind of follower of Jesus do we want to be? What kind of people do we want to live as? What kind of humanity do we want to perpetuate?
(2) Should we not be about justice and mercy as Jesus said? This is a huge complicated issue and with no easy answer, but choosing to do nothing may not be the best solution either. Don't you think? I am not trying to rain on anyones parade or ruin the fun of Halloween, but I believe awareness is such a huge thing, and this is why I shared this article in the first place. Information is power. Maybe we simply need to be much more self-aware about the things we purchase, the actions we do and how they contribute to injustice around the world (even if unintentionally): The injustice of slavery. The injustice of stolen childhoods. The injustice of dehumanization of people.
Try not to look at the whole problem and be discouraged that we can do nothing. Look at one step you can do today, one simple change you can make and every little bit we do can change the situation for the better. Do some research and ask God: what can I do? You as an individual may not be able to do much on your own, but imagine the power of millions doing just one thing. Do the one thing you can, with the one thing you have.
When we are faced with a moral dilemmas and complex issues, it makes us really ask the hard questions: What kind of follower of Jesus do we want to be? What kind of people do we want to live as? What kind of humanity do we want to perpetuate? I know my wife and I have agreed we need to sit down and figure out how we will deal with this as we have done with other purchases we have done.
Do the one thing you can, with the one thing you have.
I guess a big question now is: for families who do participate in Halloween, how do we go about still allowing for our kids to have fun, live their childhood, and connect in our community, while not perpetuating child slavery and stolen childhoods of so many other children around the world? Thoughts? I simply wish to provoke thought and conversation, as there is no easy answer. Each person needs to wrestle with and come to their own conclusion of how we deal with such things. I would love to hear your perspective on anything said above as I don't have all the answers and would love to hear your thoughts. Either comment below or at fb.com/boldcupofcoffee. Let's wrestle with this together.
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