Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Is it ok to celebrate Halloween"? I get asked this every single year and every single year I say the same thing…no. It’s not ok. Let me make you aware of a few passages in Scripture that I believe apply:

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 18:9-13 niv

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 niv

I could list more…but this is enough to make the point. I find it interesting that the Lord not only told the children of Israel to not “do” the detestable things the nations were doing…notice…He commanded them to not “learn to imitate” those things either. Stop and think about that.

The debatable issue is not whether or not God’s chosen people can “imitate” or participate in Pagan worship. For crying out loud…I hope you do understand that. For example, this season on Survivor, a Christian named Leslie refused to bow her face to the ground in a Buddhist temple during some kind of mumbo-jumbo ceremony. The host informed her that it was simply a “welcome” ceremony and not worship…but what would he know about it? Leslie did the right thing and honored God by not participating in Pagan worship…be inspired by her testimony and watch the minute and a half clip right here.

The real issue is whether or not Halloween is a celebration of pagan worship. Look, if it is then Christians are absolutely forbidden to participate…period…and I don’t care if that hurts your feelings or not. BUT…if it is a sterilized and harmless bit of fun…if it is truly a hollow shell of what it was and if it is truly stripped of all it’s former Pagan roots (such as the Christmas Tree) then I don’t see how it could be sinful.

Click here to read a secular and very unbiased history (past and present) of Halloween.

“But it’s so much fun!”

This argument is very concerning…


Do you know what else is “so much fun”?

-sexual immorality
-impurity
-debauchery
-idolatry
-witchcraft
-selfish ambition
-drunkenness
-orgies
-and the like.

It’s no small wonder how many kids raised in “Christian” homes turn out so ungodly! For crying out loud! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the “Halloween” per se that turns some out so rotten…not at all…I know many Christian families that went ahead and participated in Halloween…I did as a kid (something my parents now regret) without the kids leaving God. I’m referring to the attitude that if something is fun it must be ok! What kind of standard is “but it’s so much fun”? The fact that the “but it’s so much fun” portion of the equation ranks so high in these Christian homes absolutely FLOORS ME! What immaturity…both emotional and spiritual! The role God has placed you in as a parent is not the role of entertainer, loved one. Keeping your kids satisfied is not what God has called you to do! Keeping your child safe, educated, healthy and loved is what you are called to do…and it’s not always fun or entertaining! Fun and entertainment is wonderful…but becomes sin when it violates one of those four aspects of parenting.

Good grief I need some aspirin!

If I can say this with humility, "in my educated opinion", Halloween has not been sanitized. By that I mean that in the religion known as Paganism Halloween is still very much celebrated and the images commonly associated with Halloween are all Pagan and are all still religiously significant to modern day Paganism. Carving pumpkins, black cats, witches…demons…all of it. All those things are still symbols of CURRENT and CONTEMPORARY Pagan worship…they are not simply symbols of a bygone era. Pagans will gather on that night all over the world in Satanic worship using the same symbols many of you plan on dressing your little kids in this year.

Would you let your kids dress up like Buddhists and participate in Buddhist rituals? How about Islam? Would you let your little darlings dress up like Islamists and participate in Muslim rituals? My God…I hope the Christian parents reading this are answering these questions with, “well…no…”

Then why would you dress your kids up as Pagans and have them participate in Pagan worship? Paganism is a very real religion practiced by around a million people today who are just as serious, faithful and sincere as Buddhists or Islamists…there is no difference.

And beyond that…since I’m on a roll here. What exactly is appealing about death, blood, witchcraft, darkness, horror, evil, wickedness, filth, sorcery, murder, demons, devils, ghosts, vampires and terror to the born again, Spirit filled Christian? STOP AND THINK! STOP AND THINK! STOP AND THINK! What is so fun about those things? Why do you get a kick out of things that are UNHOLY? Are you not a Christian? Doesn’t that mean anything to you? Are we not told to come out from the world and “be ye separate”? (Pastor…when was the last time your fist passionately pounded your pulpit as you reminded the people God placed in your care to “come out from among them and be ye separate…and touch not the unclean thing”? Maybe our people are not aware of this command because we so infrequently remind them…)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 niv

Naomi and I will not allow any children God places in our care to participate in anyway with Halloween. Including trick or treat. However…there does come a point where I believe this “black or white” issue does start to turn grey. Trick or treat does, I believe, turn grayish. My pastoral advice is after further educating yourself about these things to then pray about it. I do think that trick or treat is something that a Christian family might feel capable in sanitizing. By that…some Christian families feel comfortable letting their children dress up in non-Pagan related costumes and walk around the block to get candy. So long as the kids are football players or princesses, or things that like, I’ll not criticize or condemn it. I’m not that comfortable, personally, with ‘trick or treat’…but there does come a point where the issue becomes gray and I think that is the point. If you do feel comfortable I’d simply admonish you to be careful to not dress your children up as the Pagans do. It might be possible to take ‘trick or treat’ away from Halloween…so pray about it.

Finally…no matter how you feel about the issue of ‘trick or treat’…even if you are totally against it…I urge you to not turn that night over to the devil. Be a witness! Turn that porch light on and pass out candy…with a gospel track or an invitation to your church gathering! That is also something that puzzles me…if we’d pass out tracks outside an abortion clinic or if we’d pass out tracks to Mormons during their big annual events…why would we not pass out tracks during Halloween? You don’t have to deck your house out with ghouls or come to your door dressed as Satan for crying out loud! Just be yourself and open your door when your neighbors knock! Your neighbors do not understand your convictions…not passing out candy that night will be taken as a weird snub…and you are passing up a chance to hand out all kinds of tracks…from the comfort of your own home! Be a good and friendly neighbor and be a good witness! That is the best pastoral advice I can give you.

9 comments:

Zac said...

Gary,

I can honestly say that I fully agree with your post. Christians should be ashamed to join in the celebration of evil, focusing upon real or imagined darkness by dressing as vampires and zombies.

That having been said, I think you are also balanced in your approach. You refuse to simply "curse the darkness," instead you "turn on the Light." Certainly Christians don't oppose children and candy, and trick-or-treat has nothing at all to do with paganism. And of course as you mentioned there is the great opportunity to talk to people, give them literature, love them, pray for them, and meet your neighbors.

The Orthodox community is America is divided over the trick-or-treat/costume thing. Everyone agrees that dressing as real or imagined evil is wrong-- shameful and wicked for a Christian to do. Some take the more balanced approach you mention here by still allowing children to dress as good things and giving out candy.

Others are far more adamantly against anything on that day. I suppose for some reason, according to these people, eating candy on that day borders on sacrilege! (not really, but still) My dear Russian priest in Huntington, WV was like this. He actually put up a sign in his yard that said (much to our amusement) "No Trick-Treaters." This was terribly funny, not only because of the spelling error, but also because we could all hear him in our heads, saying it with his thick Muscovite accent. After we all read it, I said in my fake Russian accent: "... especially MOOSE and SQUIRREL!!!" Everyone roared with laughter.

I remember in highschool, going around with my friends and asking for canned food for our community's food pantry. We got a WHOLE BUNCH of food for the poor in our city.

Anonymous said...

What about putting pumpkins on the porch for decoration for the fall season? Not carved into evil faces or anything, just pumkins. They are kinda seen as halloween

irreverend fox said...

The poll is heating up...Gary Fox is a "jerk" and "funny jerk" is neck and neck...

LOL!!!

zac,

thanks my friend! I do grieve over the lack of discernment and discipline in the contemporary evangelical world in the west. I do not understand it…I do not understand how our leaders do not see the connection between the lack of clear, bold, well articulated, reasoned convictions and the utter collapse of the evangelical influence in the cultural…the time table in both regards are identical.

It’s not “Halloween” that I’m talking about, not exclusively. It’s the fact that people will be presented with the Scriptures and the evidence of Halloween’s direct relationship with true Pagan worship…and with a straight face say, “but it’s so much fun” as if that justifies it! They do this with all sorts of things…Halloween is just one brick in the wall. They do this with all sorts of sins…it makes it hard to be taken seriously when I’m trying to witness to good, moral and religious people outside the evangelical world. We certainly look like a bunch of hypocrites I’m sure.

I'm one of those who sees trick or treating as all part of the Halloween celebration and will abstain from allowing my children to participate even in that much of it...but for me...that falls more under the "personal conviction" jurisdiction...much like eating meat offered to idols I guess. I just don't want anything to do with that whole unholiday.

BUT...I think with proper parameters Christians MAY proceed with caution in that regard...I’d never teach my people that Randolph dressing up like Lebron James or Penelope dressing up like a ballerina and going around getting candies is a sin…legalism is what is the sin. I say that each head of each home must pray and do only what they feel is in accord with their witness.

No matter how one feels about it...I see no justification for turning that night over to Satan and removing our Christian witness from our neighbors knocking on our door. I'm not willing to give one single night to Satan...if God will give me the strength I will fight that lying bastard till I die! I hope the dozens upon dozens of the readers here will do the same!

On a lighter note…your community is divided? WHAT??? I'm just teasing you...


anonymous,

Pray about it. There is absolutely nothing unspiritual about pumpkins...Naomi's grandma makes pumpkin pie that is sinful...but...lol...

Just pray about it...ask God.

I don't see it as a big deal. But pray about it. Remember…your witness is more valuable than the décor of your porch. So with that in mind…pray about it.

Zac said...

Gary,

Hahaha, yes we are "divided"... or at least the three million of us in America are, over whether to send our kids out to get candy on that night. This is simply not an issue in places like Greece or Romania or Russia, because there's no such thing.

Mark said...

What amazes me about "trick or treat" is we teach our kids NOT to take candy from strangers, yet every year millions take their children to strangers and totally contradict the previous lessons.

I appreciated all of your comments. As a pastor myself I totally hate Halloween and all it stands for. That being said, it is also (sadly) the greatest opportunity to reach the lost in a single 2 hour period. We hand out candy and a tract. We also give parents a personal invitation.

Thanks for the post...

irreverend fox said...

thanks brother Mark...it's nice to hear a brother like you stand behind me...it can get lonely taking hard stands...especially one like this one...most people have never even been asked to think about it...

I agree...those 2 hours people are OUT and coming to your door! What a waste it would be to ignore these people!

Our pastor friend David will even go door to door himself that night...and instead of taking candy he rings their bell...they are already prepared for the interruption and come to the door with a smile...and he hands THEM something with a bit of information...he says it catches people off guard...but there is no better night all year long to do "door to door" evangelism because people are expecting the door bell to ring...and I bet he is right.

Zac said...

On a side note, have you ever had much success with tracts? I gave out hundreds of them in my funda-gelical days and even though I liked several of them and thought (at the time) that they presented the clear gospel message, no one seemed to care!

Have you had any better success?

irreverend fox said...

zac,

one word: nope.

The first thing people…evangelicals…BAPTISTS…need to understand…passing out tracks is easily the least effective, by the numbers, means of “evangelism”. They are impersonal and follow up is many times impossible. Our commission is to “go and preach” not “go, smile and pass out literature”. We’re supposed to be talking with people. Perhaps "tracks" are a planting tool...that they are not designed to see much immediate increase. There is truth to that line of thinking. Of course the wonderful promise Isaiah 55:10-11 would, it seems, apply as well.

There is nothing "wrong" with passing out tracks.

My concern is that Christ instructed us to "make disciples" not "make converts". I believe that since the big evangelistic crusades of the last 50 or 60 years...evangelicals view evangelism in far to narrow of a way. Many believe that if you did not share the 4 spiritual laws during the first encounter with a person that they were not evangelized.

Biblical evangelism is a process that begins with genuine relationship...and does not stop at conversion...rather it is a life long journey. We are saved by evangelism…and are being saved by evangelism. We’ve lost sight of that. That is the danger when one sees salvation ONLY as a one time event that happened way back. “Hey, I’m saved…I don’t need evangelized”. The problem with that is that the Bible speaks that His chosen people
”have been saved”, “are being saved” and “will be saved”. So evangelism is not distinct from discipleship at all. Evangelicals have divorced the two in the last 50 years and now we see how feeble and anemic our churches are as a result. Heck…no wonder baptisms are so far down. Why should I get baptized? I’m already saved…now leave me alone! We’ve told people that walking down an aisle is the public profession of faith…which it is not. Baptism is the public profession of faith. Anyway…evangelism does not or should not stop at conversion and I’m hoping our churches are seeing this. I do see hope.

Of course...as a good Calvinist I believe God can open the eyes of anyone at anytime under any circumstance...but also as a good Calvinist I caution against being presumptuous...I guess the Lord could just start saving people on your porch and that they'd drop their bags of candy and sit at your feet saying, "teach us more, teach us more..." That could happen. But I would not presume that...in that case a little gospel track with a card for ones local church is very appropriate...it's a kind gesture...and since most of those folks that night are people from the neighborhood...such a track isn't as "cold turkey" or “anonymous” as if one just stood on a street corner or left the tracks on the table before they leave the restaurant (that is fine…but if you did not speak to the waitress about ANYTHING…if you did not ask how she was…if you did not ask her if you could pray for her as you prayed over your food…if you did nothing other than be a nameless patron…your track, I PROMISE YOU, will be trashed with your uneaten fries.)

I'd be concerned if that is the extent of anyone's evangelistic effort. I'd be concerned if those gospel tracks were not printed with the information of a local church...if God saved them or if they started being drawn and have issues or question that need answered they MUST know where to go...that is the evangelists responsibility...to connect them with a local church. But at no matter what...we must never, ever, EVER...abandon personal evangelism. We must know our Bibles because the day will come when we've run out of tracks and we're talking with a co-worker or neighbor and we better have God's Word hid in our heart...because out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Crusades and TV and tracks are all fine...they really, really, really are as far as I am concerned. I applaud them when done in balance. I've done all three and will do all three again...balance is the key. But do not ever forget...personal evangelism…one on one…friend to friend…is the number one way to reach people. Paul would go into cities and spend time getting to know people…and then preach.

Zac said...

Gary,

Forgive me... isn't it "tracts"?

Maybe I am mistaken.