It’s getting to be that time of year again. Mums being sold for fundraisers. Plaid flannel shirts appearing in stores. Pumpkin spice-flavored products everywhere you look.
And the question that Christian moms whisper to each other, often in fear of judgment: “Does your family celebrate Halloween?”
In interest of full disclosure, my family “does” Halloween. My kids start talking about costumes in July. We’ve kept it light-hearted–puppies and superheroes and princesses, not zombies or ghosts or vampires. But we dress up and trick-or-treat and bring home way too much candy.
I know other families who choose not to participate, and we are still friends. Christian families will come to different conclusions as to whether they should participate in a holiday of such disputed origins and connotations. And each family must stay true to their own convictions.
However, many of our neighbors and friends will be celebrating Halloween this year, and if we look closely, we can find some great opportunities to share Christ’s love with those who don’t know Him, but know we claim His name. Whether we are dressed in costume or not.
First, let’s begin by simply being gracious to those who spend October 31 differently than we do. Romans 14 is a classic go-to passage for these sticky topics that have Christians in different camps. Right in verse one, we are cautioned “not to quarrel over opinions.” And we can give our believing sisters the benefit of the doubt, that she “who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.” (v 6) Can Halloween be observed in honor of the Lord? I believe so. But I also understand that some don’t. Those of us who dress up must graciously allow others the freedom to abstain, and those who abstain must allow others the freedom to trick-or-treat. We can live together in harmony.
Second, we can seek to show Christ’s light to anyone coming down our street that night by turning our light on, welcoming them to our house, and sharing the love of Christ with them as we hand them a candy bar. This is obviously something to pray through as a family, and some will still feel convinced that they shouldn’t participate even this much. Again, each family must follow their conscience before the Lord. I can’t help but notice, though, the fact that Christians, who are to be known as the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), are increasingly becoming known as the ones who turn their light off on Halloween night. And this is the one night of the year that unbelievers come knocking on our doors for a change. What an opportunity! Whether we celebrate Halloween beyond this or not, maybe we could at least open our doors to the chance to let our neighbors know we love them, so that later they might actually listen to us when we tell them Christ loves them, too. If we can indeed leave our light on, welcome trick-or-treaters to our door, hand them some candy, and show Christ’s love to them even for just a few minutes, as long as this isn’t violating our conscience, maybe the light of Christ could pierce the darkness on an otherwise dark night.
Third, whether you dress up or not, you could use this night to go visit some of the elderly people in your church family, or visit a nursing home with your family. Every year, we have driven our kids to several houses of older church members, and they are always so tickled to see our little ones all dressed up. Most of them remember days when they took their own children trick-or-treating, and it has been a huge blessing to them to be remembered and included in our night. It’s always a blessing to us as well to see their faces light up. Even if you don’t dress up, you could pray about who might be lonely and would be blessed by a visit from some sweet children.
Halloween need not turn into a divisive issue among Christians. We will come to many different conclusions as to the degree of our participation, and that’s okay. When we show grace to those who have a different opinion, show light to those who come to our neighborhood, and show kindness to those who may be lonely, we show the love of Christ to those who need it. Even on Halloween.
What are some ways your family can show love this Halloween? Take some time between picking out costumes and carving pumpkins to consider how you might tweak your traditions to include a kingdom perspective. Or, if you have convictions about not celebrating Halloween, spend some time in prayer, asking the Lord if there is a way you should show love to others on that night without violating your conscience.