Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Halloween and Christian Conscience

The annual debate in Christianity over Halloween is here again. There are scores of articles on the internet claiming that Halloween is a holiday with pagan roots, devil worship and the like, and should be avoided by Christians at all costs. All kinds of historical data is presented. There are also articles claiming that Halloween has always been a distinctly Christian holiday in which Christians should participate. All kinds of historical data is presented. Regardless, the whole debate is complex.

But this probably goes to show that there is no clear cut answer to whether a Christian should participate. Is a child putting on a mask and asking for candy a distinct act of devil worship? One article I read a few years ago traced the wearing of costumes back to the biblical idea that the devil and his angels were defeated at the cross. A little kid with a sheet over his head and saying, "boo", isn't going to scare anybody. Which is exactly the point. The principalities and powers were disarmed. They no longer have any power, and masquerading as a defeated demon can show Christ's triumph.

I now tend to look at Halloween from this last view. I was taught, from the first Christian circles I was in, that all of Halloween was necessarily evil. I was frightened by the idea of little children ringing my doorbell. So I hid in darkness and acted like nobody was home. My next Christian group was also frightened by Halloween, and they created an alternate activity safely within the four walls of the church. But I now see each of these as the opposite of freedom.

If somebody wants to refrain from Halloween as a matter of conscience, they can do so. But to place the limits of their own consciences on others and make a claim of sin is an attempt to stifle the very liberty of others for whom Christ died.

1 comment:

  1. I love Halloween - it was one of the favorite times of the year for me as a kid - and still is quite fun. I come from a church also where Halloween is Helloween so they have something called Hallelujah Night instead.