Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween

Among homeschoolers, Halloween is a tricky business. As a whole, Christian homeschoolers have certainly demonstrated their willingness to "walk the talk" when it comes to the importance of teaching their kids about God. The flip side of that is that homeschoolers can also come across as very judgmental of those around them who do not make the same decisions, and there's nothing like a good, old-fashioned Halloween party- or even a "Harvest Celebration"- to bring all those tendencies right out into the open.

During my years as a homeschooling mom, I've learned that for any given issue or activity, every family will draw the line at a different place. My neighbors who explained to my children that "they don't do Halloween because it's S-t-n's birthday" (don't want people searching for that to end up here!) were also the same ones who let their elementary aged children watch rated-R movies and listen to Brittany Spears and Eminem, which certainly wasn't allowed in our house. Some things you just gotta leave to God because there's no figuring it out. When I ran across this article today, I thought "My sentiments exactly."

What's up with Halloween?
Jim Liebelt

You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the evil powers of the world. So why do you keep on following rules of the world, such as, "Don't handle, don't eat, don't touch." Such rules are mere human teaching about things that are gone as soon as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, humility and severe bodily discipline. But they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person's evil thoughts and desires (Colossians 2:20-23, NLT).

At HomeWord, we receive questions from time to time about Halloween. Should parents allow their kids to "celebrate" or not? To avoid "giving the devil his due," so to speak, some Christians change the name of their festivities from a Halloween party to a "Harvest Party" (while pretty much everything looks exactly the same!). Churches throughout our country use Halloween as a means for outreach to the community. So what's up with Halloween?

There is no doubt that Halloween's origins can be traced to
pag_n beliefs and rituals. S_t_nic groups have also attached meaning to Halloween, celebrating it as a special holiday. These origins and meanings can be researched pretty easily on the Internet. Christians of good conscience differ on their views of whether or not believers should have any participation in Halloween celebrations. Certainly, Christians should not participate in the "dark side" of Halloween -- to in any way approve of the s_t_nic, or the focus on pag_nism, evil, death, etc.

Yet, the reality of Halloween participation for many - believers and unbelievers alike - is that of exercising a bit of fantasy, dressing up in costumes and having fun trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. To many, this is what Halloween is about, without any connection to occult or pag_n practices. I have a hard time saying that there is anything wrong with this.

Let me give an illustration: We know the source and heritage of Christmas. We also know that for many people, Christmas is a very non-religious holiday. People give Christmas their own meaning, regardless of its origins. We would never say that everyone who celebrates Christmas is a follower of Christ or honors God. Halloween, I believe, is similar. People give Halloween their own meaning, regardless of its origins. Consequently, just because people participate in Halloween does not necessarily mean they are promoting or encouraging occult or pag_n practices and beliefs.

Whatever conviction you hold about participating in Halloween, live it out for God's glory! In all these things, a person should follow his or her own convictions, while understanding that Christians may differ in their beliefs about this issue. So, if you run into those fellow believers who differ from your stance on Halloween, give them freedom to live out their own convictions. The Apostle Paul said it this way, "Who are you to condemn God's servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord's power will help them do as they should" (Romans 14:4, NLT).

1 comment:

The Wooden Porch said...

So very well put!!! In the seven years that I've been married, my husband and I have changed our minds almost every year as to what we should or shouldn't do as Christians in regards to Halloween -and other holidays. I always fear I could come off as judgemental to other people Christians and non Christians alike, which if they only knew we'll probably just change our minds again in a year. :-)