Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Halloween Means To Me

I used to enjoy dressing up as a kid and going out on Halloween to get candy. For me, this was really all the holiday was about – having others admire a good costume, and having something to munch on for a few weeks.

When I grew older, I had to switch to the role of standing at the door and doling out sweets to others. It seemed like a just reward for all the candy I received when I was younger. But something was different as the years went on – I grew more and more uncomfortable with the costumes that were on display, especially anything that had to do with the world of ghosts, goblins, demons and zombies. The feeling gnawed at me more and more over time.

In recent years, our family (all of us, our children included) have discussed this and we all began to have deep convictions about the Halloween tradition. From our viewpoint, it seems overly casual to dress up as Satan or something resembling a creature from hell. After all, as a family we talk constantly about the spiritual battle that rages around us – Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” The apostle Paul is warning us that these very forces that we dread and fight in Satan and his servants are here, in this very world with us, fighting against God’s plan. To deny that Satan is attempting to work his plan in our own physical world is to deny what the Scriptures tell us. Satan doesn’t simply exist in some other ethereal plane, awaiting the arrival of stray souls. Like it or not, he is here.

In the same way, I get a feeling of coldness when I pass the business of a palm reader or psychic. We pass one of these on our way to church every Sunday – a prominent sign on the road advertises that you can get started for a mere $5 consultation fee. It reminds me of King Saul in 1 Samuel 28, when he visits the witch at Endor and asks to consult with the dead prophet Samuel. Saul’s life has been heading downhill quickly by this point, but his consultation with the witch appears to be the final straw. Samuel is raised up to speak to him and predicts that Saul and his sons will be dead by the next day. The kingdom of Israel will be taken from his hands and given to David. The army of Israel will be given over to the Philistines. God has had enough.

It concerns me greatly that the thing that tipped the scales of finality for Saul was his dabbling in the spirit world. Indeed, his fall is discussed later in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 – “Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death…” The Bible warns of treating the spirit world lightly (Exodus 22:18, 2 Kings 23:24, Galatians 5:19-20). Our culture smiles and plays along with the “fun” that is Halloween. But I wonder who smiles more over some of the costumes and inferences – God or Satan? I fear that God is not pleased with the lightness with which we treat the spirit world.

Those who argue against this thinking say that children don’t know and don’t intentionally represent the spirit world with their costumes, and so it is okay to let them dress up as such. They don’t wittingly know what they are doing. But it is interesting that some costumes are largely off-limits – such as Hitler or the BTK killer. No one is dressing up their children as these characters, because they instinctively know that these things are not to be treated lightly. But Hitler was just a pawn – while Satan is the king of lies. Why treat him as something lesser? No, I think it is exactly Satan’s desire that we unwittingly honor him on this holiday.

And so, our family has decided not to participate in Halloween in any form or fashion. We don’t dress up. We don’t watch horror movies. And, after much thought, we don’t turn on our porch light and pass out candy to others. One of my Christian neighbors opens up their garage to provide a warm, non-Halloween-themed atmosphere – where they give out hot chocolate and encourage others to just sit and talk. I like that. I need to find a similar tradition where our family can be a light to those who need it – without giving in to the satanic influences that abound. Any ideas out there?

5 comments:

Sara Kruhmin said...

Hot cyder and pretzels ;-)

Actually we are kind of copying my parents and we're doing hot chocolate and pretzels and having a fire in our fire pit, hoping that people will be able to enjoy the warmth and the light.

-Sara

kara taylor said...

Alan,
We used to do that until we had little kids. But hey, since Refners are already caring for your neighbors, you're welcome to come care for mine!!! Our block is in a contest to see who can have the goriest house. Our neighbors need that light. I'm hoping by next year we can do it and explain it to the kids... ~ Kara

Anonymous said...

thank you for this, we have already made the decision to abstain from Halloween and to treat it as just another regular day made for glorifying God. We are going to copy the Refner's this year although more for or own kids at this point than for the neighbors. My kids are angry at us for not allowing halloween in our family in anyway so I think they need the light this year as much as the neaighbors.

Candice

Joshua said...

The Optimus Primes, Commander Codys, and Sleeping Beauties don't have anything to do with 'the world of ghosts, goblins, demons, and zombies.' They're more along the lines of 'having others admire a good costume, and having something to much on for a few weeks.'

As in all things, it is what you teach your children about something that matters. The holidays of Christmas and Easter are also co-opted pagan holidays, (Winter Solistice and Spring Fertility, respectively,) like Halloween, that the Church was able to re-focus into something that glorifies the Lord. There is nothing stopping us from doing so with this holiday, short of ourselves. Like your Christian neighbors have done. :)

In fact, All Hallow's Eve, the shortening of which gives us Halloween, was meant as a celebration of All Saints' Day, when the Church did try to re-focus the pagan Harvest Festival. It was a day to remember all the Christians who had given their lives for their faith, but weren't remembered with a day specific to them. There is something there that can be grabbed for the glory of God in this holiday. I'm still working on how to get it running in my household, but that's where my focus is going to be.

I had a much better post earlier. For some reason the site ate it. This is an abbreviated version. My apologies. I just can't wrestle my brain into giving me that first post back. ;)

Tabitha Davis said...

Well...this is one thing I thought about this yr doing NEXT yr...maybe building a cross and putting it in the yard....nad giving out kid friendly tracks with some christian themed candy or buyign regular candy and making your own labels with some kind of crafty name...for instance instead of reeses pieces, Jesus pieces...just off the tope of my head lol