As Christians we believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as an historical event. Due to this event we believe Jesus to be our saviour as well as our Lord. In other words we are not only eternally grateful to have our sins forgiven, but we seek to follow and obey Christ with our lives. This desire for obedience often leaves us as Christians at a crossroad when it comes to cultural practices. When at odds, do we follow the values and practices of our culture or do we follow the values and practices of Christianity found in the Bible? This really is a simple choice when the Bible speaks clearly on a topic like drunkenness, violence, sorcery, gossip, orgies and the like (Gal. 5:19-20). But what about a cultural rhythm like Halloween in which the Bible doesn’t speak to since it wasn’t practiced years ago?
Mark Driscoll once taught 3 ways to prayerfully filter family decisions and practices through. As a family we often think through these before making a prayerful decision.
REJECT – Don’t participate in it. Reject the whole idea or practice outrightly. This is a reasonable approach for a Christian. As Christians we often reject things all-together like pornography or polygamy. We view these as antithetical to the Christian worldview. Halloween has become a social event which associates itself with death, murder, horror, blood, fear and the list goes on. Obviously these traits are not things we as Christians celebrate. “So why would you be participating in such a thing?” Well let me get to that in a bit.
If your family chooses to reject Halloween, which is reasonable, please consider being reasonable in how you do it. The Bible calls us to love our neighbour, even when we disagree. You may not want to get out in the streets as a family but you can still find ways to love your neighbour rather than judge your neighbour for not holding the same values as you do. Our neighbours are simply attempting to have some fun and maybe we as Christians differ on where the line is. So be kind, be loving, be a good neighbour. Reject the party but don’t reject your neighbour.
RECEIVE – Fully participate in it. Go along with it. It’s harmless fun and everyone else is doing it. As Christians we receive many things within our culture as commonly good and not at odds with Christianity. The internet is a good example. It is morally neutral and while it is often used for evil, the internet itself is neither good nor bad and therefore a Christian can freely receive it and use it for good. Those I know who fully participate in Halloween do so with the intention of being a good neighbour and having harmless fun.
Due the values of Christianity that we hold as a family we find it personally difficult to justify fully participating in Halloween.
REDEEM – Participate in it to some degree but with Christian intentionality and purpose. What I mean by this is that one of the great values of Christianity is loving our neighbour. As with those who take the “Receive” approach we would see this as a great opportunity to meet our neighbours and spend time with them as friends. In fact in our neighbourhood this is the one time in the year that lots of people roam the street together. Everyone comes out of their homes and engage as neighbours. This is a great thing and a great opportunity to love our neighbour and be a Christian witness. As with those who take the “Reject” approach we see many things that stand at odds with Christian values. Therefore we seek to participate in it with the intention of enjoying our neighbours and friends while at the same time participating in it in a way that doesn’t contradict our values of life, love, faith with death, hate, fear etc.
What this means for us as a family is that we are slightly the odd family out. We dress up as super heroes and princesses. We don’t do blood; we don’t do horror, we do dress up but it’s on the bright side of things. This makes us stand out a little and we hope it doesn’t offend our neighbours, but we can’t, in good conscience, participate in the same way as others. We give out lollies and we receive lollies. We meet new neighbours and hang with our neighbours for an hour or so building friendships and attempting to be good witnesses. We don’t judge, we don’t expect people with a different worldview than ours to live like we do. Rather we seek to participate in it, in a way we feel reflects Christian values, and we seek to build friendships that give us opportunity to love our neighbours as Christ has called us to do.
We also use it as an opportunity to speak to our children about cultural engagement. As parents we can’t protect our children from everything they are going to face in our culture but we can prepare them. We sit down our children every year and teach them why we participate the way we do. We teach the gospel, talk about Christ’s gift of life and how we as a family seek to redeem the culture in which we live.
However you and your family decide to participate this weekend. Please prayerfully consider all aspects of the Christian faith and how you can love your neighbour, be a great witness and bring glory to God.