“Mom!!! There’s weird stuff”… my 4 year old calls out and covers his eyes, as we walk into the grocery store and try to quickly bypass the Halloween sections that seem to take over more and more of the stores every year
sigh… it’s October again… a time of the year I love and look forward to for many reasons… pumpkin spice latte’s, the ability to dress like a lumberjack and still be trendy, the most amazing cookies ever- pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, our annual trip to a near by farm for hayrides, the pumpkin patch and carnival games, and the beauty of changing leaves and seasons….
However, there is one component of the fall season that grieves my heart every year. My concern for the way our culture celebrates Halloween has grown even deeper since having my own kids.
Whenever my oldest was about 18 months, I began to train him to turn his eyes away from things that are “weird”- what qualifies as weird…
Anything that does NOT fall into one of these categories found in Phillipians 4:8:
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.
This may be the giant almost naked Victoria secret models pictures at the mall, or stores like Spencer’s.
It didn’t take long for my son, to start pointing out to me things that were “weird” and turning away. The awesome thing is now he is helping me train his younger brother.
The crazy thing is I thought I would have to explain to my son why we turn away from images that celebrate evil and darkness, but turns out the purity in his heart and the conviction of the Holy Spirit is an incredible guide. I have never even told my son that Halloween is weird or explained why we don’t celebrate it. Because he has never asked or wanted to celebrate it. Why? Because he doesn’t want to look at the Halloween decorations in the store… the reaction of his heart is to turn away.
I have talked with several friends lately who have felt conflicted about Halloween. These are incredible Godly parents who are trying their best to train their kids in purity and righteousness.
First and foremost I would encourage any parent to seek God, read the Bible seek wise counsel about their families decision.
In my conversations with friends I have felt like they were waiting for someone just to say it – Halloween is a celebration of evil and its not helpful for our children to be around it. And its ok to be even labeled “weird or strange” maybe even be misunderstood by other friends or family who do celebrate the holiday. I have sensed concern that others will feel like they are being “judged” because their family has made a choice not to celebrate Halloween.
Today I want to encourage you that if you are feeling some confliction about Halloween it might be the Holy Spirit’s conviction and here is why:
To me a holiday should bring joy and hope into our lives, it should provide opportunities to reflect on the most important things in life, most of all I desire holidays to draw me closer to God.
If Halloween was only about carving happy pumpkin faces, dressing up little munchkins in fuzzy animal costumes and going door to door saying “trick or treat” I wouldn’t have a problem.
But there is so much more that surrounds the holiday in our culture that causes my issue with Halloween:
I find it ironic and disturbing that in our American culture where news reports and social commentators condemn scenes of mass genocide and murder (which should be condemned!) that in the same nation we allow scenes of death and decapitation to cover our front yards, public areas and even our school corridors.
Several years ago, I substituted in public schools for primarily kindergartners. 5 year olds, innocent children who still take naps, need snacks and cry because they miss their Moms. In the hallways where these 5 year olds walked to the cafeteria, the gym, library were displays that featured bloody ligaments, frightening masks and creepy scenes portraying decay and death.
We don’t allow weapons at school, but we are ok, with images of the grim reaper displayed on the walls.
I didn’t just find this to be true at one elementary school, these displays were rampant across an entire community. A community where most people would claim to believe in God, be a good Christian and go to church every Sunday. I am not saying that people are not saved if they celebrate Halloween. But I am commenting that even amongst those in the Christian community there is a often a collective blind eye to what we are inviting into our neighborhoods, schools, and homes when we celebrate Halloween.
Halloween is a celebration of fear. Most of the symbols and images associated with the holiday celebrate evil, darkness, death and fear. Fear is not from God.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Images of de captated heads, the grim reaper with a sheath in hand ready for destruction, bloody costumes are not appropriate for children, period. And they are not appropriate for ME!
Phillipians 4:8-9 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. 9 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.
I can’t think of how any kind of bloody, grotesque or scary Halloween display, movie, image or costume could fall into the pure or lovely category.
I can’t put it in there – so even if as an adult I could rationalize “that stuff doesn’t affect me” – God says to not even think about it.
Whether you have children or not you are responsible to protect the innocence and purity of children. You don’t know who is driving by your house, walking into your home or viewing pictures of your Halloween costume on facebook or instagram.
God is fierce and clear about the protective heart He has over children and their innocence. He is also very clear about our role in protecting children.
After Jesus answers the question about who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven by placing a little child on His lap (Matthew 18:1-5) He then says:
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around Btheir neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Jesus is not neutral on this issue (protecting children’s innocence) – He is extremely blunt…it would be better for you TO DIE a painful death than for you to cause a child to stumble. Whoa…that is intense…ok…take a few deep breaths.
How is celebrating Halloween causing a little one to stumble? You are inviting fear into their lives.
Besides having 3 kiddos of my own, I have worked with kids in a lot of different capacities: children’s pastor, substitute teacher, nanny, and camp counselor. Kids struggle with fear, because kids are human – and humans struggle with fear.
When you allow decorations that are scary and grotesque to cover your home, watch movies or tv shows about vampires or the walking dead, when you take your child to a haunted house to “get scared….” you are inviting fear and his close relatives death and evil into your house….pulling out your recliner for them to sit on and offering them cream and sugar with their coffee.
I don’t think most people are aware of what they are giving partnership to when they watch horror films or set up inflatable witches in their front yard.
I believe most Americans just think they are celebrating another holiday – and to them it’s the same as turkey carving or setting out cookies for Santa…but its not the same.
Today, I want to encourage you to ask Jesus how He would have you respond to Halloween this year. And then simply obey what He says.
Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday there are still ways to show the love of Jesus to others around Halloween. I shared about one way we do this last Friday.
I would love to hear your thoughts on Halloween. Do you celebrate Halloween, why or why not? Parents of children how do you approach Halloween?