“Should my family celebrate Halloween?” isn’t the right question to ask. Join AMBrewster as he explains what question we should be asking and shows us how to answer it.
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Good day, friends!
I love autumn. It is my favorite season by far. I love the weather, the sweaters, the decorations, the holidays, the warm fires, the frosty pumpkins, hot tea . . . yeah, I’m in my essence right now.
Bu there’s something else that autumn brings with it that causes many Christians consternation.
But we’ll talk about that in just a minute.
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Okay, so you’ll probably see a cauldron-full of articles slide through Facebook this week all dedicated to whether or not your kids should go Trick-Or-Treating this Halloween. And since this year is the 500th anniversary of the Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 theses to the church’s front door, and since Reformation Day is also on October 31st, you may see more people dressing like Luther and nailing things to doors. I don’t know. How do you celebrate Reformation Day? I’m not sure, but anyway, I think that the question “Should I let my kids go trick-or-treating?” is the wrong question.
Let’s talk about why it’s a bad question and try a new one on for size.
If I may oversimplify the arguments for a moment — and let’s be fair that you get yourself into trouble when you do that — the anti-halloweeners don’t want to participate because of the occultic/demonic emphasis. Some people don't like participating because of the generally scary or gory nature of many Halloween-themed festivities. And then there are Christians who have no problem participating, and the ones who do participate all have individual lines they draw in regard to in what they will participate.
Now, let’s face it that there’s so much disagreement on this topic because it’s not specifically dealt with in the Scriptures. This is why questions on drinking alcoholic beverages, political parties, education systems, and the like are all hotly debated because there’s no definite biblical answer one way or the other.
So before we move on we need to establish the fact that the Bible does not speak directly to the modern, Americanized concept of Halloween.
However, we must also acknowledge that elements of our celebration of Halloween are addressed. The Bible does have much to say about demonism, witchcraft, and the occult. But the Bible also has a lot to say about gluttony and moderation. We could also apply the principles of kindness and love when we’re talking about tricking or scaring people. And I believe there’s wisdom in considering what we put before our eyes. If something is inherently wicked, we shouldn’t be dwelling on it. And Philippians 4 should weigh in when we remember that we’re commanded to think only on those things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.
Okay, so here’s why I don’t think the question, “Should I let my children trick-or-treat?” is a good question. It’s not that the question has no value, it’s simply that the question is missing out on the most important thing Christians should be considering.
I believe the better question is “Will allowing my children to trick-or-treat glorify God?” We could also say, “Will my family celebrating Halloween glorify God?”
This is a much better question because there’s an answer to this question. There’s no definitive, biblical answer to the other question. But with this better question, you should be able to come to a biblical answer for your family.
Let me show you what I mean. I want to work through II Corinthians 8 and apply it to our question, “Will it glorify God if my family celebrates Halloween?”
First, obviously, if any of us sin in the celebration of Halloween, than God isn’t glorified. If you participate in actual satanic or occult practices, you’re sinning and aren’t saved. Okay. If you’re binging on candy, the Lord isn't pleased. If you’re being unkind and pranking people who don’t want to pranked or scaring people who have asked not to be scared, than God isn’t glorified.
So, we can take any clearly biblical category of sin and say we shouldn’t participate in that. And that goes for any holiday. You shouldn’t be gluttonous on Christmas or Thanksgiving, Easter or Valentine's Day either.
Okay, now let’s work through I Corinthians 8.
“Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”
We could say, “Now concerning celebrating Halloween: we all have our knowledge and opinions, but we must be careful because knowledge makes us proud. Instead we should build each other up in love. If any of thinks we have all the answers about Halloween, we do not yet understand what we should. But if we love God, we are known by God.”
The first thing we must do is separate out what we think and feel from what God says. Paul understands this is a very important point to open with because he was dealing with a very controversial and emotionally charged issue in the Corinthian church. If would behoove us to submit to Paul’s reasoning.
Then he goes on, “4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that ‘an idol has no real existence,’ and that ‘there is no God but one.’ 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.”
Again, we could say, “As to the celebrating of Halloween, we know that there are no such things as vampires and ghosts, Wookies and unicorns, trolls and werewolves, fairies and Disney princesses. But we do know there is but one God — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit who created all of us.”
I love that Paul took an activity that could have looked very “questionable” at best, and said, “Listen, people. There’s no such thing a this false god. They don’t exist.” Now no doubt he would have definitely condemned someone who was actually worshipping the false gods, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re not talking about people who want to participate in the things God calls sin. We’re talking about Halloween.
Then he continues, “7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”
Listen, not everyone realizes that there are elements of the celebration of Halloween that are not sinful. Some, because of their former beliefs or practices really think that everyone who participates in Halloween is encouraging satanic behavior. Candy and dress-up will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we participate and no better if we do. But just because you can participate in Halloween to the glory of God, don’t you dare cause the weak to stumble.
I think it’s really important that Paul addresses both groups that had a horse in the race. He instructs the people who thought it was a sin by informing them that idols aren’t real and that there’s nothing inherently wrong with eating the food that was cooked on an idol’s grill. It’s also interesting to note that the weaker brother is not someone who knows the Truth but chooses to be sensitive to the issue, the weaker brother is assumed to not possess the knowledge that eating meat offered to idols is okay. Again, the assumption is that if you know the Truth, you’ll respond in similar ways.
But he also addresses the people who thought there was nothing wrong with it. He tells them that they shouldn’t flaunt their liberty because they may very well encourage a weaker brother to offend his conscience.
Let’s let Paul explain himself some more. He says, “10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
Okay, this is pretty heavy. Yes, Paul would agree that it’s unnecessary to continue in ignorance, and that everyone should know and understand that eating meat offered to idols is okay. But he also knows that not everyone knows or understands that.
That’s why he admonishes the stronger brother — the knowledgeable brother — to be careful.
Be careful of what? Specifically that he not be a stumbling-block. What’s the picture here? Imagine that I and my family are talking to some friends at church, and we tell them we’re going to a Halloween party. We don’t realize that these people were raised to believe that celebrating Halloween was a sin. But they respect us, and assume that we would never do anything that would be so offensive to God, so perhaps — they start to think — maybe it’s okay to celebrate Halloween. So then, without any biblical knowledge they attend the next party they’re invited to, but they feel uncomfortable the whole time they’re there, and the only reason they stay is they’re following my example . . . not because they’re biblically convinced.
In Romans 14:23, speaking on the exact same topic of eating food offered to idols, Paul says, “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” This clearly is applicable to our discussion concerning The Merest Christianity. If you missed that series we just finished up, please check it out starting with episode 95.
So, if we encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to sin against their conscience — even though the original action wasn’t sinful before God — they actually have sinned because they didn’t do what they did out of faith in God.
That’s why even though Paul has just finished informing the weaker brothers that there’s nothing wrong with eating meat, he says, “I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.”
There’s nothing inherently sinful about being misinformed or ignorant. And I don’t believe this passage is talking about people who’ve been told that something is okay to participate in and who still choose to refrain. Those people won’t be lead into a stumbling block. Verse 10 makes it clear that it’s the unknowledgable who are prone to being tripped up with a stumbling block.
But to lead someone into sin, there’s no excuse for that. In fact Jesus once said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Now, I’m not going to take the time to itemize all the ways a Christian could participate in Halloween to the glory of God. I will remind us that there’s nothing inherently sinful with dressing up, bobbing for apples, collecting candy, fantasy, carving pumpkins, or even trying to scare people who are willing to be scared.
It’s also not sinful to celebrate a holiday that other people choose not to celebrate. And it’s not sinful to celebrate a holiday that other people choose to celebrate in a sinful way. If those were the case than we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas or Easter.
So, I think the main concerns we have on this issue are these:
If we’re going to celebrate Halloween we need to be certain that all we say, do, and feel glorify God. And, secondly, we need to make certain that we’re not being a stumbling block to a weaker brother.
If you and your family can do that, then enjoy Halloween, but if your family can’t or won’t do either of those, then I hope you do not participate in Halloween or else you’re sinning against God.
Should your kids go trick-or-treating? I don’t know. Can they do it to the glory of God?
If you have specific questions about this, please feel free to write us at Counselor@TruthLoveParent.com.
I meet a lot of parents who tell me they’re child is a “good kid” but that they’re in a phase. Some parents will say their child has a “good heart.” What’s interesting is that most of these descriptions are given to kids who are currently struggling with one or many sinful habits. Is your child a good kid? Should we tell our children that they’re “good kids”? Please join me next time when we tackle the question, “What is a Good Kid?”
I also hope you’ll click on the “Click here for Episode Notes” link in the description to check out the notes on our blog, Taking Back the Family.
There are a lot of questions out there, and some of them are nearly impossible to answer with biblical certainty because the Bible just doesn’t talk about it. But the Bible does contain all the information necessary to glorify God in this life. If we’re asking the right questions, we will defiantly find the right answers in God’s Word.
See you next time.
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