There are many things about Western culture that I really like, but Halloween is not one of them. I do not relish this particular tradition, and have never paid it much more than a passing glance. And here are the reasons why:
- I have lived and worked among people who are dominated and terrorized by real-life animism. I have seen, first-hand, how the fear of demons and dark magic and all-things evil bind and blind people in fearful darkness. I have been with people groups who make false windows and doors on their houses, and who keep secret the names of their newborns in order to fool harassing demons. I have seen desperate mothers pay shamans large sums of borrowed money to appease demons so that they would leave their kids alone. I have seen dark things and how darkness affects people. So I have no desire to treat the subject lightheartedly and flippantly, as if it were all make-believe for the sake of fun and tradition. I think C.S. Lewis nailed it when he said that the key to success for the demonic in our material world is to make modern man think that demons and ghosts are all make-believe. Halloween is the time when we celebrate those make-believe things that are so very real.
- I take fear seriously, and refuse to treat it as a play thing. Most of the world lives in fear. By the grace of God in Christ, I have not been given that spirit. So I don’t hide behind doors to spook and scare my children, and I don’t tell them scary stories. I don’t use dark kinds of fear to manipulate them into obeying me (Stay out of there; there are monsters that will eat you!). That kind of fear is patently unhealthy. So that pretty much rules out a trip to the nearest Haunted House or a “kid-friendly” scary movie.
- I don’t see how celebrating Halloween opens the door to reach out in a meaningful way to my neighbors during Halloween night. The good people at The Resurgence disagree, and that is fine. I hope they are successful in their efforts to be missional and to redeem Halloween. I just can’t think of a way that my participation does anything to share Christ.
- I think the money spent on Halloween is a crazy waste, and I hate wasting money. But that is just me. And I do know that there are creative ways to do Halloween without spending the big bucks.
So those are the reasons why I do not get into the “Halloween spirit”. My family loves traditions, and we probably go a bit overboard in how we celebrate the Fall. Just come by our house (or Maya’s blog) and you will see. We are into all-things apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkins. We drive and take walks to see the leaves change colors. We rejoice in the harvest and love Fall Festivals and Harvest Celebrations. We go all out for Thanksgiving. But Halloween… not so much.
Finally, here is the big disclaimer: these are the convictions that Maya and I have come to after carefully thinking through the issues, and we are fully convinced that this is right for us based on the reasons that I outlined above. Even so, we do not look down our noses on those who lead their families differently. My advice to Christians is to seriously think through things like these in order to arrive at biblically-informed convictions, and then to be fully-convinced and even bold in those convictions. So if you have landed somewhere else on this, don’t feel judged, because I am not judging you.
Please try to afford me that same courtesy.