As a Christian family, we affirm the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as a historical event. Due to this event, we have placed our faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and also seek to follow and obey Christ with our lives. This desire for obedience often leaves us as at a crossroad when it comes to cultural practices. When at odds, do we follow the values and traditions of our culture or do we follow the values and practices of Christianity found in the Bible? When the Bible speaks clearly to an issue such as drunkness, violence, sorcery, gossip and the like, our decision is quite simple. But what about a new cultural rhythm like Halloween in which the Bible doesn’t speak to directly? How do we conclude as to what we will do or not do as a family?
An uncomplicated filter we use to guide our decisions and practices is ‘Reject, Receive or Redeem’. As a family, we often think through these before making a prayerful decision.
REJECT – This is to decide to not participate in it. Reject the whole idea or practice outrightly. As to Halloween, 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. 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 thoughtful 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 merely 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 – This is to decide to participate in it fully. Go along with it. It’s harmless fun, and everyone else is doing it. As Christians, we receive many things within our culture as a common good and not at odds with Christianity. The internet is a good example, while it is possible to use the internet for evil, in and of itself the internet is morally neutral. 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. Consequently, if your conscience does not allow you to participate in Halloween, be gracious to those whose conscience does allow it.
As a family, we have decided to take a third approach. We will participate in it but only to a certain degree.
REDEEM – As a family, we have decided to participate in it to some degree but with Christian intentionality and purpose. One of the great calls of the Christian faith is to love our neighbour. We agree with those who take the “Receive” approach and believe Halloween creates a great opportunity to meet our neighbours and spend time with them as friends. In fact, in our previous neighbourhood, this was the one time in the year that our entire neighbourhood roamed the streets together and participate as neighbours. In our mind, this is a great opportunity to love our neighbour through friendship and Christian witness. As with those who take the “Reject” approach we also 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 maintaining our values of life, love, faith rather than 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 superheroes 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. Sure we stand out a little. But we’d prefer to participate in Halloween to the degree our conscience allows, and hope we don’t offend our neighbours in the process.
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, and we don’t expect people with a different worldview than ours to live as we do. Instead, we seek to participate in it, in a way we feel reflects Christian values, and we aim to build friendships that give us an 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.
So whatever way you decide to approach Halloween, 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.