At the risk of angering or offending many, many, many people, I post this article with a note at the beginning to you, the reader. Please don’t jump to conclusions until you finish. Then send me your objections. Realize that I am attempting to come at this issue with the utmost humility. I don’t have all the answers. But I pray this will help you think twice before you just head out and do what you’ve always done in the past.
Imagine a roller coaster. If you’re one of those that hates them just imagine with me for a second that you actually enjoy them. You’ve been waiting in line for an eternity, and finally you get the opportunity to hop on the ride. You buckle your seatbelt, exit the station, and begin the climb to the top of the hill. Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, clickety-clack…higher and higher.
Your heart is racing and knuckles white. You try not to look down at the diminishing size of the people below you. The girl behind you lets out a scream. Your friend sitting beside you puts his hands up in the air.
“No hands! Woo!” He screams then flashes you a smile.
Then it comes.
Time begins to slow as you peer over the precipice and begin to drop. You start racing down the hill.
But suddenly you see in the distance that there is no more track left. The only thing left is destruction.
You snap your head towards your friend in a panic.
“I thought you said everyone rode this ride!”
“Well, sure they do. It has the greatest drop in the world. What a rush!” He yells and smiles from ear to ear. You are not amused.
“We are going to die! This ride is suicide!”
“No, no, no! This ride is fun! I love it!”
Then there’s no more track.
Not Hopping On
I’d hate to be on a ride like that. There’s no way I’m hopping on a ride that is missing track.
The bottom line: we need to make sure we hop on rides that have tracks that lead somewhere. If that track leads to death, we had better not hop on. Certainly this example is extreme. However, it makes my point
I happen to see one of those particular “rides” is the ride of Halloween.
Tim, you ask, are you saying Halloween is a ride heading for a death? Not exactly. But it sure is a ride that celebrates death. And I don’t want to ride on that. And I don’t think you should hop on that ride without a second thought.
“The real danger for the majority of people,” a reader Andrew told me, “is not that [people] are going to turn into human sacrificing Satanists, but into apathetic followers of whatever comes along, believing it to be harmless.”
Just realize that passivity can mean death.
A Brief History
The history of Halloween is hard to trace, and is contested at all levels. It is a mix of many different traditions of the past, but one solid story seems to emerge from each account — a history of paganism, Christianity, and a fusion of the two that form one day at the end of October.
Halloween began with a Celtic festival of the dead. This festival was called Samhain (prounounced Sah-ween or Sow-in), that was a celebration of the beginning of winter. It was a time when the Celtic people believed that the ghosts of the dead were mingling amongst the living. The Celts gathered together to sacrifice their animals and their crops. They lit bonfires to honor the dead, to aid them on their journey and to make sure that the dead would not haunt the living. It was a time of great darkness.
Christian missionaries transformed this celebration to what we see today by combining the elements of pagan worship with that of Christian elements – perhaps attempting to be all things to all people. Yet were these missionaries doing the right thing by bringing together two completely opposing belief systems and smashing them together? One might wonder whether this would be equivalent to bringing two positively charged magnets together or attempting the old science experiment of mixing water and vegetable oil.
A Biblical Understanding
The Bible does not say much about Halloween – at least, not specifically. But many verses in Scripture teach us to avoid all evil. Psalm 101 has always stood out among many Scriptures as an example of this:
I will be careful to lead a blameless life?when will you come to me I will walk in my house with a blameless heart.
I will set before my eyes?no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me.
Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil.
That last line is absolutely amazing, and utterly astounding. The Psalmist will have absolutely nothing to do with evil, no matter what. Never will he stoop to the level of faithless men. The standard is astounding and stunning—someone who is willing to have nothing to do with evil. How many of us can say that we have this pattern of thought? Instead, many of us today are seeing how close to the line they can get, instead of running as close to the holy throne of God as we can.
A Biblical Response
It is a tough situation. One might quickly respond to the idea that we should avoid “everything evil” with an argument just as strong. A reader has said, “We should not be distancing ourselves from a society that needs us more than ever.” Another said, “Atheists participate in Christmas, what’s the difference?” (To which I might reply, the difference is that we are not atheists).
“Jesus commands us to be in the world but not of it.” said another man, “To me, distancing ourselves from a holiday that demonstrates that people need God even more is not a good idea. We need to use this holiday as an example of what God’s love means –no death, no pain, no suffering in Heaven, but in Hell.”
Personally I see Halloween just like that roller coaster. It sure is a lot of fun. I get a rush out of the fear. But I see Halloween as a pathway to destruction. I do not want to celebrate destruction or death. I celebrate the gospel. There is no gospel in Halloween.
And please remember this doesn’t apply simply to Halloween. It applies to many more areas of life. Too many Christians are apathetically hopping on “rides” without a second thought of the repercussions of such actions. They take the word of their friends, and hop on, never checking out or perceiving what the ultimate outcome of their decisions leads to.
Music, movies, relationships, whatever.
John Piper reminds us in the book Worldliness “..we will never be useful to the world if we are being deeply shaped by the world. And we will be shaped by the world without intentional efforts not to be” (pg. 22).
You might still celebrate Halloween. That’s fine if you can do it in good conscience. However, I implore you not to apathetically jump on. Don’t do it in any area of life. Your decisions matter and they always lead to someplace. Be careful not to be shaped by the world. Be intentional about your decisions.
Don’t jump on a path that leads to destruction.
“The more the Church is distinct from the world in her acts and in her maxims,” said Spurgeon, “the more true is her testimony for Christ, and the more potent is her witness against sin” (Worldliness, pg. 23).