An Open Letter About Halloween

388
jack-o'-lanterns

Peanuts creator Charles Schulz made a habit of dispensing advice through the mouths of cartoon characters, especially the blanket-carrying Linus van Pelt.

Like any offering of counsel, some of it is to be heeded and some of it is not.

“There are three things you must never discuss with people,” the comic strip’s philosopher/theologian once said, “religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.”

Since we regularly wade into the first two topics anyway, we might as well go for broke and address the latter.

Sort of.

Halloween dress-upThe traditions surrounding Oct. 31 conjure up many good memories for me. Over the years, my wife and I have chosen to allow our sons to engage in the innocent and harmless side of Halloween. They enjoy dressing up in positive-themed costumes (Captain America, for example) and going trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.

I understand that Halloween is a hot topic with many Christians, and understandably so. With its admittedly pagan and creepy origins, involving druids, ghosts and goblins, many choose to either ignore it altogether or amend it in order to have it better complement their convictions.

I take no issue with either side and respect the strongly held perspectives in both camps.

Instead, I want to address the broader culture concerning the holiday.

Here are my thoughts:

Christian or not, it is high time to turn away from the dark, gory and horror-filled side of the holiday. It’s always been time, but the confluence of culture and recent current events raises this matter to a new level.

There is absolutely nothing entertaining or redeeming about hatchet wielding villains parading in costume or front-lawn displays featuring blood spattered body parts.

Some might suggest I need to lighten up and relax, to not take intended fantasy so seriously.

“It is all just a joke,” they say. “It isn’t real.”

Or is it?

Those people who press will have to forgive me. My family and I live, pray and play in Colorado. In October 2012 a 17-year-old killed and dismembered a 10-year-old girl. Parts of her body were found in the murderer’s house. The young man was eventually sentenced to life without parole for this heinous crime.

How can hearts break in two at such horrific news – and yet grow indifferent to the site of a ghoulish Halloween display just blocks away?

There is nothing “fun” about a sinister-looking character, strapped from head to toe with plastic automatic rifles, casing the streets – even with a bag full of candy in hand on Halloween night.

You’ll remember it was also in 2012 that a young man, also in Colorado, who allegedly called himself the “Joker,” burst into a movie theater and opened-fire, injuring more than 50 people and killing 13.

It seems that life is increasingly imitating “art” these days – but it’s too-often the heinous kind, not the glorious or good.

Evil has been on the loose since the beginning of time, and dispensing with evil-themed Halloween traditions won’t change the reality of a broken world.

I get it.

But can’t we agree that it’s unwise and unhealthy to embrace wickedness in any fictitious form?

As a culture we can find common ground with parents of every creed concerning the need to lift up the good and turn away from macabre traditions.

Sign up for my weekly e-newsletter

Leave a Comment

Dan Haynes 4 months ago
For consistency's sake, I hope all of you abstainers are also not celebrating Christmas (Yule) and Easter (Eostre) since they, like Halloween (Samhain), are pagan festivals that were co-opted by the Church.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Satan is the master of deception.  God says that satan will deceive the whole world.  Satan sugar coats his deception to lure in innocent children.  God tells us to guard our hearts and not to look upon any evil thing.
Carol Lovelady More than 1 year ago

--My dear friend was raised by the real deal practicing Satanists. I have come to understand not just the origins of Halloween but that it continues today.I have watched her experience night terrors and have heard her screams as she relives what was done to her physically,spiritually,sexually,. As a Christian it is my duty to know there is a spiritual battle going on around us and we must be prayer warriors to protect those we love.

Diana Tillman More than 1 year ago

--Here it is Hallloween season again, and once again, my son wishes he could join in with his friends. I feel sad that it is that way for him; however, we cannot celebrate Halloween in any form.

I was raised in a family involved in serious satanic worship. The most horrific event of my life occurred on Halloween. I have spent years and years, by the grace of God, recovering. Anyone who believes Halloween is innocent is mistaken, anyone who doubts that it is a satanic day misled.

Only the Holy Spirit can convict each person/family regarding what they should do. It is hard to sort through all the issues involved when we consider our desire for our children to be happy and have a fun, fulfilled life both here and in the life to come. I know many families who feel they can witness during this time. If this is what God has led you to do, then so be it.

Blessings to all as you find your way trying to honor God.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

To Antonia,

In reading your comments to Lisa, I found your disdain comments very melancholy versus your accusations of gloom towards Lisa.  Antonia, many of the so called Christians today(orthodox christianity) are beginning to wake up from the captivity of Satan's deceptions down through the ages of pagan traditions.  The true followers of God and His Son have been far and few in numbers.  Did He not call His true Church the little flock:  not a membership of millions? The true Church means those called out from the confusion and chaos of this world, Babylon! Genesis 1:2:  the earth in chaos and confusion, from the hebrew bohu and tohu. And who is the author of those conditions?  The Adversary!   Remember Jesus' words,  be in the world and not of the world!  The world follows cults and occults. Not every one who says Lord Lord will enter the Kingdom but he/she that does the will of my FATHER in heaven!!!  Read the gospels and see how many stopped following Jesus because they were astonished and shocked at His doctrine and how He came to reveal the Father, the kingdom of God and our redemption from the clutches of Satan?  Did you know if Jesus were to appear here and now today, He would preach the same doctrine He did 2000 years ago and the orthodox christians would be the first to accuse Him, again?  Why? Because they prefer to keep the traditions of men and reject the commands of God.  Plain and simple.  If you know these days to be pagan, then stop keeping them!  They are lawlessness and iniquity and this is sin!  I JOHN 3:4.  We, me,  all of us need to repent daily;  Look at Rom 3:8 and verse 10.  I ask you Antonia, is this just before God?  To knowingly keep pagan traditions and believing good will come out of it? And, surely you must realize that all, myself included,  have fallen short of God's glory. Is not the covenant we pledged in baptism under the penalty of death to follow and if need be, die for Christ as He did for us?  Antonia, I say this in love to you, read all of John 8 and particularly verse 31.  Abide in Him, not to depart, means you reject that which is opposite to His doctrine:   then you are truly His follower.  One final note about John 8.  This chapter truly captures the essence of what Christ was doing in weeding out those who claimed to be His disciples.  Many religions today, including orthodox christianity follow the concepts of Judaism:   traditions of men.  Christ rejected them, because they chose traditions over the law of God, and so Christ will do also with orthodox christianity.   The Messiah is coming, the Lord Jesus Christ.  We grow in grace and knowledge of Him who cared for us, and loved us first.  Let us reject the wrong and do what is right, according to His Holy Word.  How I love I Thy law David Sang!  Take care Antonia, I will have you in prayer.  

Also, saying God bless you is from pagan origin too! You can research it!  May God fill you and teach with His Word & Spirit.  Amen.

Anonymous 4 months ago
God bless You, only in the context in sneezing.  Not just to say God Bless you Brother, as a greeting, is perfectly fine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago

My comment around halloween, valentine's day, easter, christmas and most of the traditional celebrations of orthodox christianity is this:  All these holidays are found to be of pagan origin.  Did not God warn the Israelites in Duet 12 not to try and worship Him the way the pagans worshipped their gods?  He called it an abomination.  Every one of those holidays above I've proven and from the Bible itself  that they are pagan in origin.  They come from the Babylonian Mystery Religion.  Jesus told those Pharisees not to inculcate their traditions and mix them with the commandments of God!  For they rejected God's commands, just as their forefathers.  Let's do as Jude the Apostle said and contend for the faith(truth-Christ) that was once delivered to the Saints, and Paul's urging to prove all things and hold fast to those things that are true!   Alexander Hislop's "The Two Babylons" is a great way to start to unravel the mystery behind these pagan practices.  Jesus certainly did not celebrate any of these, rather He kept His father's commandments.  Most importantly,  Jesus' words to His beloved apostle John in Revelation 17 & 18:  Warnings concerning Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots.  Shall we not heed His words and those of His chosen apostles, rather than those of double talk ministers and those who walk like the Pharisees of Jesus' time.  Oh, and Thanksgiving:  not that it's wrong to be thankful and celebrate with a meal, but as a nation we've trampled under foot the Great God and His laws;  we need to be on our knees before our Lord giving Him thanks and praise.   I believe Mr. Daly should take issue and be in the camp that rejects the traditions of men, and begin keeping ALL of God's commandments:  rejecting pagan traditions.   I know he is doing what seems right, but Prov 14: 12 explains this modus operandi all too clearly.  I pray for him and orthodox christianity.  Amen.

Nicole More than 1 year ago

I've got to agree with Lisa on this one. What is the point of participating in this holiday at all if its origins are so satanic. I think that as Christains we have to be very careful that while we are "in the world" we are not "of the world".

Craig C. More than 1 year ago

To Jan -- You really ARE making a big  deal out of nothing.  Halloween is nothing but a totally-harmless  children's holiday. (I feel very sorry for your kids and grandkids!!)  I  had over 100 trick-or-treaters in wide ranges of costume, who obviously  know that far better than you do -- including most Americans.  And most  who are Christians, like me. And my father was a minister... who  organized Halloween parties in the Sunday School room, and even dressed  in costume, himself, for those!  And told us ghost stories as part of  the program!  Harmless and fun!  You really need to lighten up.  And BTW  -- I too saw "The Exorcist" as an adult, and I recall thinking two  things -- (1) "What GREAT special effects!" And (2) I wonder if TV will  EVER evolve in my lifetime to the point where there's no more  censorship, and we can watch this there just as we are seeing it here in  the theaters.  (Of course, back then, there were no cable premium  channels -- and when they came along that solved a LOT of the censorship  problem.  But broadcast TV and basic cable (and the FCC still have a  LOT of evolving to do.  I've been to Europe 11 times, and relish in the  way that folks over THERE don't have inane hangups over nudity,etc., and  have pretty much UNcensored TV.  Kudos to them -- WE should be so  lucky!)  And of course, I saw nothing scary about "The Exorcist" since  I've never been scared by ANYTHING I've ever seen in the movies -- not  even as a little kid.  Oh -- by the way, I live in the Midwest, and the  trick-or-treaters in my town are so thoughtful that no one even gets  their windows soaped!

Kris More than 1 year ago

Thank you for pointing that out, I don't see a whole lot of "christian" homes without a tree around Christmas.

Jan O. More than 1 year ago

As a child I trick or treated and had fun. We didn't do massive scary things but I have to say as  pre-teen, I did love horror type movies.  Then I became an adult and saw The Exorcist - which completely frightened me. I also was given information about Halloween that really changed my mind.  The idea of "Give me a treat or I'll give you a trick" (in the midwest houses are often egged, "corned", etc.) made me wince.  The whole idea of putting Evil in a funny red suit or applauding how horrible something can be makes me cringe - how much Satan must love the fact that we are completely disarmed to his ways. Think of the The Screwtape Letters.  Anyway, my own kids did not trick or treat when they were young - instead we tried to find something else fun to do - not easy to avoid Halloween when the world is awash in it!  Now my kids are grown and because of their spouses, they choose to allow their children to trick or treat.  I don't say a lot; they just know that it is not my value.  I am also the director of a Christian preschool. Many years ago the policy was made that we would not celebrate the "holiday" as a school. We recognize the majority of our kids do and we allow them to be excited, but we don't do costumes or parties or any kind of Halloween decorations/crafts. I have to say that I have gotten more and more push back from the parents AND teachers in recent years, who feel that we are making too big of a deal about nothing.  But in my soul (and in my deepest gut!), Halloween just sickens me and I cannot let this go.  Maybe when I retire the school policy will change, but I do not want to be a supporter of all the Evil I see abounding around this.

Diane More than 1 year ago

Thanksgiving?  What's that?  The stores are putting up all the Christmas displays Thanksgiving is left out! 

Anon More than 1 year ago

I have felt that halloween has been an "evil" celebration for more than 20 years.  "Whatever is good, and honorable, and just...think on these things" the good book says.  All the scary stuff is NOT good.  So why do it?  I think it makes people insensitive to violence and evil.

Years ago, on Halloween, my husband said he "didn't love me anymore"....we separated, divorced, and then remarried about a year and a half later.  After about a year that we had remarried, Halloween came on a Sunday....I got baptized my immersion that Sunday....to let satan know, that he doesn't have me.

Stephanie More than 1 year ago

I think we miss something here.  I would not refer to this day as a holiday.  Children are sacrificed to Satan on this day.  The kingdom of darness is real.  The devil is real and witches and warlocks are real.  I learned the origin of Halloween years ago.  It sent shutters through my bones.  Yes, my parents allowed my siblings and I to celebrate it.  But, when the Lord enlightened me on what it was all about, I have never acknowledged the day in my home.  It needs to be eliminated.

alex More than 1 year ago

I realize JIm that you want to be "politically" correct with everyone reading this, but you know more than I do how Jesus was about any issue or matter. He was always straight foward and calling it by name. Do you really think Jesus would write what you did. WWJD? I do respect you and thank you very much for doing what you do; however, I think next time you should be stronger on this, as there is absolutely nothing holy and nothing that would please God in this holiday. It's like saying you can go to disco and not dance, go to strip club, but not look. It's like we don't have to be different from the world. And what about the history of this wicked holiday. Even knowing the history, this holiday should be banned for Christians or anybody who loved God. So, I truly believe that this is a bad article and should be corrected next time or even now. Please people be strang at least in this minor thing and say no to sin.

Darlene More than 1 year ago

Scripture does address the issue of joking around and or someone calling themselves "the joker".Esphesians 5:3-5, which in part says, Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse jokingwhich are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.Proverbs 26:18-19 says, Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows, is a man who deceiveshis neighbor and says "I was only joking."Joking around or playing a joker is not funny and can be considered dangerous in some situations. Thank theGood Lord above we can go to His Word  to see what His view is on issues we may face in life.........

Robin More than 1 year ago

Well said.  Being surrounded by people with opinions from one extreme to the other on the topic of Hallowe'en, I shake my head knowing, as you pointed out, we barely celebrate anything that doesn't have pagan origins.  But I give glory to God that OUR origins are in Him.  I take Hallowe'en as an opportunity to minister to the people who don't normally open their doors to other.  I take my kids reverse trick-or-treating, and we made wreaths for the residents of a local nursing home.  We also handed out little packages including invitations to church events, to the houses we visited.  They were surprised and pleased to have trick-or-treaters give them something for a change!  Any opportunity to love others in Jesus' name is good enough for me, pagan holiday or not.  I really don't think Jesus would hide out in a basement.  Rather, I think we'd find him among the "riff-raff,"  telling them that he had something far better for them (living water, bread of life) than the life they are now living.  Instead of being horrified by the gruesomeness of the world (like it's any surprise), I want to be out there sharing the light with them.  C'mon, who's with me?

Beth More than 1 year ago

I have four children 7 and under and right now, one exchange student (15 yrs).  We dress up as a family...so far I have chosen what we will wear.  But we have always been in positive costumes (cowboys, 50's poodle skirts, Dukes of Hazzard, and this year Peter Pan).  We go trick or treating to our neighbors and by that we go to 15 houses and it takes four hours because we live in such a rural area.  I always have a homemade "treat" to give as a Thank you for them willing to give candy and be home at a certain time.  It is a time that we visit neighbors that we don't always see, including some elderly.  I do not like the horror and scariness of Halloween, but I do like the time we have as a family, visiting our neighbors.  I understand the decision of some Christians to abandon it altogether, but if I have it my way....this is the how we will continue to have Halloween.  Just a side note.  I do not decorate for Halloween, but for fall/harvest/thanksgiving instead.

Diana More than 1 year ago

I grew up In another country and we did not know of or celebrate Halloween. As a christian,  I found it unsettling (my conviction) because of the ghosts and scary things associated with that celebration.  It was not something I wanted my children to celebrate. They are older now 27, 21, 20, & 17 and they survived. I did give them candy and took the time to focus on being thankful to God for all things- the changing leaves, fall, and family. Sometinmes our church had a fall festival prior to halloween. I do not condemn those who celebrate it, but I chose not to for my family. I am a teacher and I do not give my opinion to my students. if they ask, I simply say that I do not celebrate it, I do harvest time instead. This year, I had one student whse family did notcelebrate Halloween and she was happy to know there was someone else that had the same view.

Kris More than 1 year ago

You need to seriously consider that this person was feeding you a story for attention. That sounds like something straight out of Michelle Remembers which was defunct by law enforcement as well as other sources (i.e christianity today) years ago. People come out of the wood work every year with a fanastical story about witches, goblins, Pagans and Satanists, it ALWAYS turns out to be recycled hogwash from a show, movie, or poorly researched book.

Janette More than 1 year ago

What troubles me the most is not Halloween isself, but such division and ungraciousness among believers. Those who are so quick to criticize your brethren, I would say that Halloween is a glorious day for Satan, but not for the reasons you mention.  How it must please him to hear one believer so unkind to another, and how it must hurt our Lord.  Don't get me wrong, the Bible is full of admonistions and Thou Shalt Nots.  Where things are very clear, then we can "judge" someone against the standards of the Word, being gracious, lest we be tempted ourselves.  There are many things we are not given specific insturctions about.  We pray about these things, and let the the Holy Spirit guide.  If one's conviction is not to participate in Halloween, then follow your conviction.  Realize, however, that other brethren have different views of it, and it doesn't make them any less spiritual than you.

Paul wrote about believers having different convictions of this sort when he wrote about believers and the issue buying meat offered to idols.  I recall someone here wrote someone about having ANYTHING to do with Halloween is condoning any evil associated with it.  Really?  How interesting that the Apostle Paul thought nothing wrong with believers being consumers of meat offered in pagan ceremonies.  Presumably, their money was going to the pagans who were reselling the repurposed meat. Do you wish to accuse Paul of being a liberal compromiser too? 

I have read a lot of strong opinions here, mostly from those who wish no participation in this holiday.  I respect their decision, but it really troubles me that people go so far to call any innocent activity "sinful" or participation in "evil".  Since when is dressing in positive costume, engaging your neighbors, and getting candy sinful?  If I did this on March 2nd, it wouldn't be sinful would it?  Why should it be any different if I do this on October 31st. . because of the Druids ages and ages ago?  Because of what members of the occult do on this day?  They practice evil every day, don't they?  Satan roams to destroy EVERY day, and he is no more active or powerful on October 31st than any other day of the year.   

I also feel that by not participating in innocent fun because it's the "Devil's Day", one is basically giving him the glory.  How does it makes sense that those of us in Christ feel we somehow can't any innocent fun and shutter outselves from the community, when it is us who are called to be salt and light?  How do you be salt in light if you stay within your four walls? Who really is glorified and gets the victory there? No Satan, sorry, you have no control over my life.  I will make memories with my children and will do fun, innocent things on October 31st, regardless of what other people do.  Those who do evil own their own evil, and I do not have to stay at home because of it. 

Finally, the inconsistencies on this issue trouble me.  If you are so troubled by Halloween, then forget Christmas too. Christ was not born in December and where do you think the the tradition of putting a tree in your house came from?  If you somehow feel this is less pagan in origin than putting a funny face in a jack o lantern, you should think again. Holidays evolve and things that meant something 200 years ago, have no such meaning today.  Is it what is in someone's heart as they celebrate, and one can honor Christ in activities surrounding and specific to Halloween. 

Recall that that Paul wrote of the issue of meat to idols. 

Linda More than 1 year ago

Absolutely ditto what Lisa said!!  I don't feel you can say you allow your kids to participate in Halloween and then criticize the very origin of it.  It is time more Christians take a stand on whether to mindlessly follow the crowd or whether to say no to any participation at all. To participate at all is to say that you condone it. Show me when something good has come out of Halloween. Why would any Christian parent want their children to participate in something that is so openly pagan?  I think you are fooling yourself to say that your children are only participating in the "fun" side of a completely pagan holiday. And, each time you allow them to participate you are opening them up for spiritual attacks. The Bible says that God Hates us participating in pagan practices. If you are tired of the pagan origins of Halloween, why not stand up against the crowd and stand with the few who are trying to get it removed from being the widely accepted holiday it is?

Karen More than 1 year ago

I wasn't planning to comment, having looked at both sides of the issue and making a decision many years ago....but Lisa, when you said "we all know originally where it comes from", I felt compelled to interject. DO YOU know the origins of Halloween? Halloween is an abbreviated form of "All Hallowed's Eve", the evening preceeding All Saint's Day. The early Christian church chose Nov 1 as the date on which to celebrate the lives and memory of the saints and martyrs who had died for their faith in Christ! In the church's attempt to Christianize the pagan cultures that were prevalent at the time, they incorporated the traditional celebration held in autumn, to "scare off" the spirits of evil and death. You must understand that in these ancient times, many people did not survive the brutal winter months...they celebrated the harvest as a time of abundance and then had to face the reality of starvation or freezing, or succumbing to disease during the long, dark winter. In Christ, we as Christians have conquered death and evil! Therefore it made perfect sense to combine the practice which was already in place, a tradition which both celebrated the harvest and also attempted to ward off death....with the commemoration of those who had found the TRUE path to eternal life in Christ, celebrated on the following day. It was actually good thinking on the part of our early church fathers, to lead the unchurched to an acceptance of Christ. Likewise, we should do the same in our present day! Neither death nor evil have power over us....therefore we are not afraid of things that go bump in the night! From an earlt age, my husband and I taught our kids NOT to be afraid of ghosts,skeletons and creepy things. People fear what they do not understand; education conquers fear. Our children were well aware, not only that these spooky images were not real, but also that faith in Jesus would protect them from the real ones. Think of how many movies have portrayed vampires being frightened by images of the cross! In the ancient world as well as today, we Christians need to be witnesses to the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE which can only be found in Christ.

Lynne More than 1 year ago

Mine and my teenaged girls thoughts exactly this Halloween.  We too live in Colorado.  "The times, they are a-changing."

juan More than 1 year ago

TO Dana, I think you really don't understand your bible in what Paul is saying in Phillipians 4:8,what is pure about halloweem, what is noble, what is right about it,lokk up origins, what is lovely and what is admirable. Your daughter is all those things in Christs eye,but not the holliday, you can always visit neighbors and talk to oukids everyday about God as we should, I hope you don't only do it on halloween,

Antonia More than 1 year ago

I guess you do not celebrate Christmas, then, my sister Lisa, since it stems from a pagan festival full of revelry called "Saturnalia," and the way we celebrate Christmas is still full of fertility symbols (starting with the Christmas tree).

I guess you also do not celebrate Easter, which comes from a pagan fertility festival to the goddess Isstar.

I guess you do not celebrate Independence Day, which celebrates an act of treason by colonists against a ruling power "in authority" at the time (Britain), which God tells us in His Word we should not do. We are supposed to obey those in authority as having been placed there by God. Otherwise, to use your own word, your observance of these above-listed holidays is "sad."

What holidays do you choose to celebrate, since you allow yourself only those holidays stemming from God-blessed roots?

Do you also say, "God bless you" when someone sneezes, since this response to a sneeze stems from a superstition that a sneezing person could be vulnerable to an evil spirit entering them to take up residence, and to give them a blessing at that time was thought to prevent this from occurring?

And I hope to hear that you are consistent, since you are so quick to judge Christians that participate in a holiday stemming from pagan roots. If you are not consistent, and if you DO celebrate Christmas, Easter, and the Fourth of July, then I encourage you to consider praying to ask God to show you if you have blinders on. Otherwise, to use your own word, it's "sad" to see you doing this.