A Non-defensive Defense of Halloween

I understand it would be folly to answer every disagreement that finds you on the internet…

In such a public – yet somewhat anonymous – forum, it is so easy to start lengthy, and sometimes passionately spirited, discussions that would probably never see the light of day in our real, face-to-face lives. Once we dip our toe into the realm of internet discourse, we then can feel the need to try to counter every argument and answer every question and defend every stance, an occupation that could keep us busy from sun-up to sun-down…and what do we really gain from such banter? Perhaps our vehement responses and well-stated arguments might shape and mold the opinion of another reader, but more likely than not, those who agree with us will say “yeah! what she said!!” and those who disagree will skim right past our argument so they can post their own.

That is why I choose to keep private any comments on my blog that might lead to controversy, or long, drawn-out discussions that really wouldn’t benefit many, and would most likely draw me away from the real people in my life as I sit at my computer desk to wait for responses to come in so that I might counter-respond. The very thought of such a life gives me the shivers; I’m here to celebrate life, not engage in word-fights with people I can’t see. And besides…word fights would totally clash with my soft, floral background.

That said, I received a simple comment to my last Halloween post, and I wanted to respond to it. If you go looking for it, you’ll not find it, for I never approved it and made it public; it was not mean-spirited at all, but I knew the minute I read it that it would have led to a long and unnecessary discussion. However, it did trigger a memory for me of a blog post I once considered writing and had kind of forgotten about, and hopefully, the post that ensues might answer some questions some of you might have had about me…and better yet, it might encourage some of you who feel conflicted about the holiday I speak so often and so fondly of: today, dear friends, I’d like to share with you why Mrs. Gore, the wife of a Southern Baptist preacher, so joyfully celebrates Halloween.

So the comment I received yesterday was nothing more than a gentle suggestion that I should look up Halloween and what it truly means – but it was rather loaded, for I knew exactly what the commenter was saying (without really saying so)…that Halloween is a dark holiday with evil origins and that Christians should not celebrate such a holiday. I am quite positive that the commenter meant no ill will in this recommendation, and only means to help me, and I appreciate that very much. However, this is a subject that I’ve given much consideration to over the years, and I’ve got to tell you, in all humility, I feel great freedom in our personal decision to partake in the innocent fun that is Halloween.

And here’s why. Regardless of the origins of Halloween (and those origins are foggy, indeed), there is simply nothing pagan about what our family does on this Fall holiday. We dress up in fun costumes and we have an absolute blast. We thank the Lord for our chili and caramel apples and fun-size candy bars, just as we thank Him for every meal we partake of. We strive to glorify Him as we traipse through the streets of our town, knocking on the doors of our church members, many of whom are also dressed up in fun costumes, just as we strive to glorify Him on every other day of the year. In other words, we might be enjoying Halloween, but we are still, by the grace of God, living a gospel-centered life. Halloween neither detracts nor adds to that, unless you consider how fully this day draws us together as a family. In that light…Halloween actually adds to our gospel-centered life, silly as that may sound, and is one of the highlight days of our year, every year.

But I know this has been a very tricky subject for Christians over the years. Many of us don’t really know what to do with Halloween.

Should we do away with it altogether?

Should we celebrate, but keep that information on the down-low lest an another church member find out about it?

Or my personal favorite, how about we celebrate Halloween, but call it a “Fall Festival”…then we can have a party at the church, and we can still dress up, we can even throw evangelism into the mix, and…everyone is happy and no one feels guilty or condemned.

The opinions are obviously varied, even among the most devout and theological.

And so, in my truly humble opinion, what Halloween and all the trimmings comes down to is just another of those instances of Christian conviction. There are matters of Biblical truth that we must be unwavering on, no matter what our culture says, or even our own deceptive hearts. But then there are other (secondary) matters that we must pray over and examine, honestly seeking the direction and peace of God and the wisdom and authority of our local pastor and congregation. The conclusions we are led to in these secondary matters become convictions that are very personal and are often unique to our different situations and settings, and sometimes even change as we grow in our faith. And I think a lot of subjects fit in this second category – Halloween, Santa Claus, certain TV shows and movies, clothing, music, dancing, card-playing, pool halls, Harry Potter, Disney…just to name a few.

And, sadly, a lot of times, we mistake these convictions as universal truths,ย and pretty soon, we’ve taken something personal and perhaps Spirit-led and created an extra-Biblical standard that all Christians must live under or meet our unsolicited disapproval. And, what scares me the most about this is, if we’re not careful, our good intentions can tear up the Kingdom and the unity of the church as we become warriors for our pet causes, trampling over the unifying blood of Christ in our haste to have the entire Church – and the world, even – share our opinion.

So…is this blog post a defense for Halloween? Not really. I’m not that in love with Halloween, that I would defend it to my grave, and am even open to the thought that God might change my convictions about it someday (but please no, God!).

But I try to be pretty serious about the verse that states the following: The world will know we are disciples of Jesus if we have love for one another (John 13:35).

Therefore, I think the most important thing we can do on Halloween – and every day of the year – is strive for unity and grace and love, to the point that we go out of our way to submit to our God-ordained authority (remember, your pastor has been commanded to watch over your soul and you have been commanded to make this easy for him) as well as our brothers and sisters in the faith, and show, by our actions and our attitudes, that we esteem each other even more than we do our own lives. I don’t know what that will make October 31st look like for you, but I definitely thing it is worth mulling over.

And if you are like our family…you might get to the end of all that examination and decide, quite happily and confidently, that Halloween is alright by you, at least for now, and that, at the end of your holiday, love and peace and unity reigns.ย Because, after all, isn’t that what Halloween is all about?…

Wait…that’s Christmas.

So…what I guess I’m trying to say is, let’s live every day – including Halloween – like its Christmas.

Merry Christmas, dear readers! And Happy Halloween/Plain-old-October-31st/Fall Festival/Reformation Day…

~

As mentioned above, I will see and welcome all comments, but reserve the right to only publish those that are edifying and that will not lead to further debate, therefore causing my readers distress or the temptation to watch drama unfold on the internet. Thanks for understanding!

15 thoughts on “A Non-defensive Defense of Halloween

    • I don’t always have the opportunity to respond to comments, but since I’m right here at my computer, I’ve just got to say…I just love you! I can always tell by your comments that we would just have too much fun together! And I am positive that you would make a very strikingly beautiful Snow White. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  1. As always dear Mrs. Gore, beautifully put! A hearty “hear hear” (here here?) LOL. I love this because we are like you, grouned Christ centered but love to dress up and play with the kids and give out and receive yummy treats! It’s about LOVE, like you said and the being aware of the convictions in our lives about the “secondary” issues. Thank you thank you! I will be sharing this on FB! Much love and all His blessings, Katie

  2. I have to say that your blog has been a great encouragement to me! This latest one is great on many differant levels especially your sincere desire to bring glory to God and not start drama! Thank you so much!

  3. I agree 100% (as usual). I believe that the meaning behind any event/celebrate is what you make of it. Halloween in our family has always just been a way to play dress up in public, enjoy a beautiful evening out walking around our wonderful town. And you get candy!! What could ever be evil about that!!

  4. Great post as usual my friend. I agree 100%. Enjoy the costumes while they last…11 year old girls who are in “jr. high” don’t like to dress up anymore. Can’t say that I blame her but it is bittersweet!

  5. Thank you, that was beautifully said! I’d like to share at least a part of that on Facebook. Do you mind if i copy and paste part of it or share the whole link. What do you prefer?

  6. Dear Mrs. Gore:
    I so totally agree with you – and in fact, your post reminds me of a segment I heard this morning on my very favorite radio station – 89.3 KSBJ in the Houston TX area (also on the ‘net for your listening pleasure at http://www.ksbj.org, but I digress). The prayer coordinator of the station was talking about how every day – including Halloween – should be Christ-centered, and should be reclaimed in His name that we may be a shining light of His love on that day and every day. Her family will be dressing up, and enjoying the fun of Halloween, and praising God, and gently sharing His love while doing so.

    As the wife of a retired Southern Baptist pastor, my kids also dressed up and we enjoyed Halloween and did our human best to share His love then (and still ๐Ÿ™‚ and now, my daughter and her family also do so.

    As my husband once told a congregation – I’ll make all of you happy at least once – some when I come here, and some when I leave – but the most important Person to whom I answer is my Heavenly Father, and it is Him that I strive daily to please.

    God bless you and Mr. Gore. I pray for you – one pastor’s wife for another – may our Father continue to bless you and shine through you and your family – on Halloween, and every other day of the year!

  7. Best commentary I’ve read regarding the Christian life and Halloween. A much needed reminder that to these secondary issues (that are not the primary foundation blocks of our faith) there is not one answer, one right way, that everyone must conform to.

  8. Thanks so much for this post…I too, as a Christian, am often frustrated by those that want to demonize such a wonderful, inventive, eclectic celebration for kids of all ages. I so enjoy seeing children and adults alike make the most of their imagination during this festive time of year!

  9. At our house we pass out a tract with our candy and have our children do the same as they go out and trick or treat. Our feelings are that it is impossible to completely alienate our children from things that they obviously see around them (Halloween, Santa Clause etc.). If you don’t teach them what you want them to know about said things they will get their information somewhere else and it most likely won’t be what you want them to learn. We try to be balanced about how we approach these things. We don’t want to lie to our children or expose them to evil but we also want them to have fun and learn to be Christlike in all situations that they face. :o)

  10. I always appreciate the refreshing outlook you have about life! I so enjoy reading your blog, as it challenges me to find out what the Holy Spirit speaks to me, personally. When I was 18, my pastor’s wife (and best friends’ mother) told me that (on some issues that are not clearly defined in the Bible-such as Halloween, only at the time the topic was movies) what the Holy Spirit convicts in one person’s heart may not be the same for the next person. That has stayed with me as a 30 (almost 40…) something year old mother myself and has probably helped me to be more understanding of other families and their decisions. Afterall, we are one body, but each part truly is different-and God made us that way for a purpose. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  11. Halloween is the one night all your neighbors come out to play ๐Ÿ™‚ perfect night to meet people and grow relationships in your community…this is one of the many reasons I love this holiday. great post!

  12. This was so refreshing to read! Every year there are arguments on FB about Halloween. My kids dress up and go trick-or-treating, but many people in my church equate Halloween with the devil. It frustrates me that our family has to almost keep it a secret that we participate. I feel that it is what you make it to out to be. Thanks for this level headed response to contrary opinions. I will remember it for this coming Halloween….which is very far away since it is January. lol!

  13. I appreciate this post, and it really helps me think through what we’ve decided for our family. You did a great job of not being snarky or defensive! I am middle of the road on this issue. Personally (and I may change my mind later) celebrating Halloween isn’t a priority for us and I haven’t come to the conclusion that I could “celebrate” it in good conscience. Which I think is what your post is advocating for.. thoughtful consideration and not going against one’s conscience spiritually-speaking. ๐Ÿ™‚ We have very young children who wouldn’t really understand anyway, so I think I get a free pass for another year or two before they start begging me to participate, haha. My main reason is I like to have a good explanation of WHY we do certain things or activities (aside form “it’s just fun to do” or “this is what most other people do” or “because it’s [insert holiday here]”). That is what I’m mulling over and wrestling with. Along with “Easter” and the egg hunts, candy, and bunny. I have no problem celebrating Christian remembrances (like remembering Christ’s birth or resurrection… along with whatever family traditions seem fun or promote love for each other & God). But I’m kind of analytical in that I like to have compelling reasons for the things we do. I want to have a good explanation of the purpose of a family tradition. Halloween’s “foggy” origin actually makes me LESS eager to jump in. (What are we celebrating anyway? and why? This is what I’m having trouble with!) Of course, when I was a kid, I didn’t ask questions. I just loved doing the easter activities with the baskets and chocolate bunnies… and although we didn’t celebrate Halloween, my parents bought us all the candy we wanted instead! I didn’t care if there was a reason or purpose.

    I have no problem going out in the neighborhood and hanging out on that night, and I’m not going to angrily turn off my lights with a sign that says GO AWAY. Yet I definitely wouldn’t want my children dressing like witches/devils or making light of anything dark, gory, scary or witchcraft-y, with the guts and the eyeballs and haunting. That’s not really all that fun to me, even if it’s “mocking” death. I’m assuming you guys don’t put skulls on your porch and put skeletons and ghosts in your yard..

    I’m sure I am over-spiritualizing, but I just can’t really explain to my kids “This is why we dress up, this is why we go from house to house collecting candy.” I’m not saying it isn’t fun (I wish there were more “dress up” opportunities or holidays!) and I don’t think you’re doing anything pagan. I like your post. I’m glad that you have found a way to redeem it into something meaningful for your family. It’s driving me bonkers that I can’t find anything meaningful within Halloween for us worth celebrating, because I’m totally not against dressing up! ๐Ÿ™‚ But for now I’m not really missing it. I definitely take advantage of the day-after candy clearance, though.

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