(Originally published as an editorial in the Central Baptist College student newspaper Tower Times)
More than a thousand years ago, the Celtic people of Ireland celebrated a New Year’s holiday where they believed the dead would have access to the earth. On this night, they would build massive bonfires, dress up in costumes and tell fortunes.
Over time this tradition adapted and changed until eventually it became a modernized, highly marketable, monetary quagmire of sweets, decorations and costumes.
That celebration is now known as Halloween.
Because the central theme of this holiday is often associated with the occult and witchcraft, for Christians, celebrating it is sometimes controversial.
For example, some parents don’t allow their kids to trick-or-treat or participate in this holiday at all. Others choose to participate in their church fall festivals that can become community outreaches on this night of darkness.
And still others see no problem in their kids dressing up in fun or scary costumes and trick-or-treating through neighborhoods.
Are any of these options right or wrong? How should Christians approach Halloween?
First, every family can choose to celebrate it or not celebrate it as they wish based on their convictions and what they believe is right or wrong.
Secondly, we should approach Halloween within the context of Scripture, specifically when the Bible says that we should aim to do all things for the glory of God, according to 1 Corinthians 10:31.
This begs the question, does Halloween glorify God?
Halloween in itself does not celebrate anything remotely close to the truth of God. If someone can find in the Bible where we should dress up in costumes to hide from ghosts or dark spirits … well, they can’t.
What they will find are passages on spiritual warfare such as Ephesians 6 where we are given instructions on how to fight evil, which includes reliance on Jesus and the truth of the gospel.
Christians may also find passages about the resurrection or the last days, and how once we are dead, we do not come back to the earth as ghosts; we either go to heaven or hell.
So, let us ask the question again, how can Halloween bring God glory?
Halloween (just like any other holiday, tradition or celebration on the calendar) doesn’t bring God glory . . . But the church does! And so do people . . .
So when churches create their own fall festivals or carnivals and intentionally try to do outreach, God can move. And it’s not because of the holiday, it’s because churches are using this holiday as an opportunity for community outreach.
These carnivals or festivals often create safe places for children to get the candy they are craving and opportunities to have conversations about Jesus with the parents.
That’s how God can be glorified in Halloween: the church proclaiming the gospel message on the darkest night of the year, literally sharing the light of Jesus and the hope of salvation to escape an eternal death.
So people’s choice to celebrate Halloween or not to celebrate it depends on their perspective of evil and how we overcome evil. For if we view Halloween as an evil, devil-worshipping, holiday, then we probably will not choose to celebrate it. But if we see Halloween as a day of evil but an opportunity to share the gospel, then perhaps candy and costumes can be justified.
In the end, what matters the most is if our actions are based on giving God the glory.
by Melody Siebenmann