Festival of Frights

Happy Halloween!

Ummmm… Is that OK to say to Christians? 

You might not be sure since October 31 has become something of a divisive issue in the church. In fact, much too much heated debate has occurred between believers trying to find the right answer to the question… “Should Christians participate in Halloween?”

I have personally been on both sides of the discussion. When my first kid was a toddler, we didn’t participate in Halloween at all, and didn’t even answer the door to the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. But as our family grew, an early bedtime just didn’t work as a way to avoid all the activities. So later, we rethought the topic and decided that dressing up is fun and with careful explanation and guidance away from the dark side of Halloween, there was little harm in donning a princess dress or a super-hero costume for a few hours.

But, this post isn’t for the purpose of debating whether ‘to costume or not to costume.’ (There are plenty of other blogs on that topic.) Instead, I want to take this opportunity to revisit a few points that seems especially important to remember…  things that really should be of more concern to believers than a door-to-door dress-up day once a year.

Frightful Fashions –

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. 1 Tim2:9-10

Decking out in a costume and pretending once a year seems to be fairly unoffensive to most, but far more damaging is a lifestyle of immodesty that doesn’t represent who we are in Christ. It’s not uncommon to see young (and ‘not so young’) women in churches, Bible studies and Christian events wearing skirts that are way to short and shirts that are cut way to low. Even girls as young as 8 or 9 can be seen wearing clothing that is far too suggestive. I’m aware that not all who attend such events or populate Christians schools are believers, but it’s sad to realize that you usually can’t tell the difference just from appearance!
I’m not suggesting a return to Puritan-like drab attire of the past, but I am saying that modesty, decency and appropriateness are virtues that seem to be rapidly disappearing from today’s Christian youth culture, and if not individually corrected, this trend and these attitudes can easily become the gateway to far more damaging behaviors of immorality and sin.

Spooky Speech –

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. ~ Psalm19:14

Trick or treat…Smell my feet… Give me something good to eat.” My friends and I used to giggle and laugh at that silly rhyme in our primary school years. However, the speech and language heard today in the hallways and back rooms of most Christians youth (and adult) organizations is nothing to laugh about. Paul warns believers to be careful about the words they use and specifically names “obscenity, foolish talk, and coarse joking” (Eph 5:3-4) as being at odds with a life of faith. We should take careful inventory of the words we (and our children) use and replace any unholy speech with words of thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. Remember that inability (or unwillingness) to purify our speech may indicate deeper heart issues.  Jesus Himself reminded us that “the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” (Matt. 12:34)

Scary Screens

I will set before by eyes no vile thing.” Psalm 101:3.

What would have to change in your life if you decided  to actually follow the pattern that the psalmist penned in the verse above? More insidious than the ‘evil’ of Halloween is the true evil lurking no further than the closest screen. Your television, computer, smartphone or local movie theater is all too often a conduit to the worst corners of the kingdom of darkness. Parents who might keep trick-or-treating at arms length often sit down and ingest a steady diet of sex, violence and twisted evil scenarios that are often presented on the most popular shows and movies with the justification, ‘well there’s just a couple of bad parts.’ Perhaps we ought to condition ourselves to not just to ignore the “bad” parts of our entertainment, but instead to choose to eliminate them all together… with the realization that even a tiny amount of evil is still evil.

Eerie Emotions –

Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. ~John 17:17

A lot of what goes on during Halloween is designed to trick people into believing what isn’t true. But in everyday life, we have what amounts to the same kind of trickster living inside of us… that is, we all deal with the deceiver called “emotion.” Too often, we determine in our minds what is true, based chiefly on how we feel about it. But allowing feelings and perceptions to dominate facts and faith unintentionally sets us up for a life of volatility.  Feelings usually morph and change based on any number of things like external circumstances, attitudes, prejudices, fatigue, presuppositions, hormones, and personal history. Because so many factors sway us, it’s imperative that we be firmly anchored to, and believe what is true, which is reliably found in the pages of God’s Word.

Deadly Doctrine –

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. ~ Eph 4:4-6

One the most prevalent oppositions to Halloween is the fear that participation will somehow confuse children and lead them away from true faith in Christ. More often, confusion for kids (and other seekers) comes directly from professing Christians who say and do things that are in clear opposition to what even many unbelievers know scripture teaches. Perhaps that’s because there is a lack of clarity on the essentials of the faith in many of today’s churches.
Every believer should know what he or she believes about God, about Jesus, about the Bible, the church, about sin, righteousness and the way to heaven. And be clear upon what those beliefs are based. But once those teachings are established, they must be linked with a consistent way of living. James 1 reminds us that knowing what is right and just is not enough. His simple and clear instruction exhorts us to follow through with obedience. Verse 22 says “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”  Without firm grounding in the truths of God and a commitment to obey, we can never hope to stand firm and defeat the influence of the real evil that is always present in this world which chiefly intends to destroy our faith in the trustworthiness and love of God.

So if you decide to dress up this year, why not carry it a little further than October 31st and chose to spiritually robe yourself as a valiant warrior every day… As Paul instructed, Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…Ephesians 6:11-13

 

 

5 thoughts on “Festival of Frights

  1. Although my take on Halloween is quite different, to say the least, I too do not debate the issue of costumes, or even the other issues you brought up in your piece. My disagreement comes with giving any attention to the event of “All Hallows Eve”. That said, I appreciated the way you approached the “fashions,” the “speech,” and other issues associated with Halloween.

  2. Love this!
    When you got to
    “So if you choose to dress up this year…”
    Wow
    What a zinger!
    I love this whole take
    It’s bigger than the outskirts of the one day
    It doesn’t get bogged down in a debate often no one is really looking to change their position on to begin with!
    And instead addresses (ahem-pun-?!) the real issues of faith
    Brava!
    Ahh-Excuse me miss, but your genius is showing!
    Ha ha!
    Love you
    PS we went back and forth for years but discovered that participating connected us to neighbors in ways nothing else could. It literally gave us access to people and built community! We marveled at how it opened doors. We had a blast tonight connecting to and loving on people we never see outside of this night who now know we care about them and can reach out and vice versa!
    (That’s just where we are for now!)

    1. I agree, Dawna. We’re told to be salt and light, and how can we do that if we don’t engage people where they are! We go to a neighborhood every year that basically has a block party with the streets closed to traffic and we talked to LOTS of people that we would have never had a chance to converse with if we’d have stayed at home. We’ve been going there since the kids were little and have connected with families on the other side of the city that we would never met otherwise… and in the process, we have built great family memories. I’ll concede that everything that goes on on Halloween isn’t upright, but the little kids in costumes… harmless… and with the right attitude, provides a platform for believers to build relationships. Bless you, sweet friend!

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