When I was little, I dreaded October.
It wasn’t the crisp weather, the drifting leaves, or the pumpkin harvesting that I awaited with a sense of apprehension. On the contrary, I thoroughly enjoyed those things.
It was the season that evoked decorations of gruesome portrayals, that overshadowed the joy of the autumn month for me.
I dreaded Halloween.
While trick-or-treating in a non-evil-representing costume on October 31 as a kid was fun, my sensitive child mind often wondered if the annual family activity was worth weeks of enduring the inevitable diabolical celebrations of our culture.
Though my childish fears of hanging skeletons, cardboard coffins, and fake blood have subsided with age, my questions have not.
Why would a world that runs from the reality of death find it festively fun to portray it lightly in the form of a holiday? This October, seemingly more than ever before, why do finite humans find it so amusing to mock with humor the very graves that they will one day rest dead in themselves?
Perhaps it is because “people [love] darkness rather than the light.” (John 3:19) ESV
In his poignant essay Because Men Love Darkness, pastor David J. Bissett expounds on the once Christian origins from which today’s concept of Halloween has been twistedly derived. Bissett asks provocative questions and points out truths concerning this holiday and what the Christian’s response to it should be.
Before I share an excerpt from this essay, I want to clarify that there are aspects of Halloween that my family and I do participate in. Like I mentioned, we have always enjoyed trick-or-treating in costumes that did not portray death, carving pumpkins, and collecting candy. In fact, when it comes to our community’s traditions of October 31, our family has found the expected act of traveling from door-to-door in our neighborhood as an amazing way to reach out to and visit with those around us. Instead of simply asking for a treat, we have often taken them something instead. You would not believe the unexpected joy such a simple act can bring to people who are accustomed to culture’s perverse Halloween traditions.[i]
In short, I believe Bissett’s goal in the following writing in warning the Christian to abstain from evil practices is a warning to heed the words of Jesus before the wholehearted participation in any culturally acceptable celebration.
“Perhaps those who are quick to dismiss Halloween as a harmless event would do well to ask what sort of worldview it promotes, and how it fits into a biblical worldview or accords with specific Christian doctrines. Halloween falls short on so many counts, I scarcely know where to begin!
- Is death and the grave something to make light of with cardboard tombstones in our front lawn? Doesn’t the Bible declare that death is a penalty (with an awful sting) for the sins of a man? Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.”
- Are there really ghosts—spirits of the dead—around us? Have not the Scriptures made it clear that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement” (Heb. 9:27), and, for the believer, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8)? …Why would Christian families want to perpetuate a falsehood by hanging little ghost figures in their trees or dressing up their children as ephemeral beings? Yes, there are supernatural beings in the world around us—angels and demons—but not human spirits or ghosts of dead people. The same should be said for Halloween’s other idols, vampires, and monsters who do not exist.
- Why would we want to promote the ridiculous caricature of the devil, who most certainly does exist, as a comic figure in a red suit? This is wholly unbiblical—and, I am certain, a device of the father of lies himself! The evil one has no time for silliness as he prowls the earth seeking souls to deceive and devour.
…Let me close with the mention of two wonderful and helpful passages of Scripture that can guide us in how to handle Halloween.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
…The Lord requires His disciples to be discerning. This requires hard thinking and courageous decisions in our day and age. You cannot simply go with the flow—even the “flow” of other professed evangelicals. You are responsible to discern, and then to keep your distance from that which is evil…
1 Corinthians 10:31: Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
Have you prayed about your participation in a questionable cultural practice before? Is it your goal to do all to the glory of God? Take ample time to find out what would most please your Master, and then do it with all your strength.
May our gracious Lord preserve, protect, and pilot his church in these evil days.”[ii]
[I] For an exceptional biblical take on how to redeem Halloween as a Christian for Christ, visit https://desiringgod.org/articles/open-the-door-to-halloween
[ii] David J. Bissett: Because Men Love Darkness: Culture’s Infatuation with Halloween; Essay from Puritan Reformed Journal (Grand Rapids, MI: 2009), 244, 245, 247, 248