Christian Perspectives on Halloween: Participation, Principles, and Conscience
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In this episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast, host Elizabeth Urbanowicz tackles a timely and controversial topic: Halloween. Drawing from biblical principles and the spectrum of Christian perspectives, Elizabeth dives deep into how Christians might approach the holiday. Through three discerning categories - what the Bible explicitly condemns or commands, issues not directly addressed but influenced by biblical principles, and matters of personal conscience - she gives a balanced view on Halloween participation. Whether you're a parent grappling with the decision to let your child trick-or-treat or simply seeking to understand this age-old debate better, this episode is for you. Dive in to explore the intersection of faith and festivities!
Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.
Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast, where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Now, today's episode is going to be slightly different in that I am not responding to one specific question, but I'm going to be covering a topic that we get lots of questions about at Foundation Worldview, and that topic is Halloween. We get lots of emails and questions from parents saying, "what do we do with Halloween?", "Should we have our kids participate?", "Should we not have them participate?". We get other emails saying, "my child doesn't participate, but everybody else at church participates. How should we handle that?" or, "my child goes to a Christian school and we do participate in Halloween, but none of his classmates do. How do we handle that?".
So today we're just going to be looking at the topic of Halloween and how we as Christians should view it. Now, before we dive down deep into looking at the topic of Halloween, I just have an exciting announcement, something that I've been looking forward to for a long time to announce, and this is at Foundation Worldview. We are launching our first ever picture book called "What Is Truth?" and I'm particularly excited about this book because when I was a teacher, one of my favorite things to do with my students was to read them picture books because I just love reading and I love getting to invite my students into really great stories and to teach them truths through those stories. So I'm really excited about the launch of this book. We have two really fun characters in this first book, Sebastian and Greg, who just take kids on this adventure learning what truth is. So to find out more information about this book and how you can get a copy for yourself and for others in your life with kids, just go to FoundationWorldview.com and you can find out more information there.
Now, as we think about this topic of Halloween, we know that Christians are all across the spectrum on whether or not we as Christians should participate in Halloween. And I think what we need to think through as we're considering, okay, what is Halloween, how do those in our community celebrate? What should be our involvement in it? Should we be involved at all? Should we avoid it? I think there are three different categories that we need to think through that can really be helpful to think through in any topic. Now, the first category is issues that scripture directly and explicitly condemns or commands. So the first one, again, is issues scripture directly and explicitly condemns or commands. Then the second category is issues not directly addressed in scripture yet based on biblical principles, there's a clear right and a clear wrong. And third issues that are a matter of conscience issues that fall under what's described in Romans 14, where different Christians can have different convictions about the same topic, and both of them can be biblical.
So I'll just give you an example with a situation other than Halloween just to talk about how these three categories apply to this situation. So when we're thinking about these three categories, an example of this would be thinking about how to honor God with our sexuality and with relationships that he's placed in our lives. First, thinking through issues that scripture directly and explicitly condemns or commands scripture directly and explicitly, many, many times condemns any form of sex outside of marriage. So that's a black and white issue. We look at scripture multiple times, there are direct condemnations of any form of sexual activity outside of marriage. So that's something that's very clear. Okay, can we have sex with someone before we're married to them? No. Can we have sex with someone who is not our spouse when we are married? No. Okay, very clear.
Then when we think about the second category, issues that are not directly addressed in scripture yet based on biblical principles, there's a clear right and wrong. This would be something like living together before marriage. Nowhere does the Bible condemn, specifically condemn a couple living together before marriage, mainly because in the ancient Near East and in the Greco of Roman world, that just would've been out of the question that a man and a woman never would've been allowed to live together before they were married. So what we need to do in a situation like this where there is no direct condemnation of something, we need to say, okay, "what biblical principles can we apply to this?" Well, in second Timothy chapter two, we are commanded to flee from youthful passions. Living together is clearly just the opposite of this, that rather than fleeing from youthful passions, a couple who is choosing to live together, even if they're saying, "oh, we're not having sex, we're going to remain chased until marriage", when they're living together in the same house, they're not fleeing from youthful passions, but they're directly running towards them. Also, in Ephesians chapter five, we are commanded that sexual immorality should not even be named among the people of God. Where if a couple is choosing to live together before they are married, they are giving everyone the impression there's everyone, whether in the Christian community or just in the secular culture, is going to believe that they are sexually involved. And so living together, it directly contradicts this command of not letting any sexual immorality even be named among the people of God. And then in Ephesians chapter five, Paul makes clear that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. When a couple chooses to live together before they are married, they are incorrectly painting a picture of Christ and the church that Christ loved the church so much that he died for her, that he was willing to lay down his life for her. When a man and a woman choose to live together before marriage, rather than the man laying down his life for his future bride and choosing to sacrifice for her, he is putting her in temptation's way. So this is a situation of the Bible doesn't explicitly condemn living together. However, when we look at broader biblical principles, we can see, oh, Christians should not live together before they're married.
Then in the third category, issues that are a matter of the conscience, that would be something like kissing before marriage, the Bible nowhere condemns or condones kissing before marriage, and it's one of those things where some people might be convicted, you know what? We're not going to be tempted sexually if we just lightly kiss on the lips before we're married, and that is fine, and they might be convicted that way. Where another couple might be convicted, no, you know what? Even kissing, that's going to put us in too much sexual temptation. So we're not going to kiss before we're married. Both people can be fully convinced in their own minds as Romans 14 says, and as long as they're not causing anyone else to stumble, they can move forward in confidence with that.
So those are those three categories and that I think we should apply to any situation that we're looking at and determining what should our involvement or lack of involvement in this situation be.
So when we look at this and apply it to Halloween, so the first question is, "what are issues that scripture directly and explicitly condemns or commands?" Now, it's very clear in scripture that any participation in witchcraft or sorcery is condemned throughout God's law with his people, the Israelites in the Old Testament, in the Mosaic Covenant, that it was directly condemned, participating in any form of witchcraft. So that's something that we know. It's also included in the New Testament as well. We know that we should not be involved in any form of witchcraft. And so now if there's any part of a Halloween celebration that is directly involving in witchcraft, we are to avoid that. I think of myself when I was in college, I went to college on the north shore of Boston, and I did part of my student teaching at an elementary school in Salem, Massachusetts. And so I'm sure most of you have heard of the Salem Witch trials before. That's where they took place in Salem, Massachusetts. And on Halloween, Halloween is not just the same celebration in Salem, Massachusetts as it is all over the country. That there is actual witchcraft that is practiced in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween. That sometimes there are sacrifices of animals, there are other just strange things that have their roots in the occult. And so when I was at college in Massachusetts, I would make sure that I would always avoid being in Salem on Halloween. One time when I was student teaching there, I was in Salem during the day of Halloween, but I made sure that as soon as school was over that I left and I went back to college because I knew that there were things going on that actually had a cultic practices involved, and I knew that I was commanded in scripture to stay away from them. So anything Halloween may involve that actually has direct roots in the occult where people are actually trying to cast spells or sacrifice to different spiritual beings or anything that has its roots in the occult we are to completely avoid. So anything with Halloween that has to do with that, we are explicitly commanded to avoid that. So that's the first category.
The second category is issues that are not directly addressed in scripture yet based on biblical principles, there's a clear right and a clear wrong. So since we know that participating in any form of witchcraft is a sin against God, we can then apply that principle and say, pretending to be someone who is practicing in witchcraft, that is not something that we should do because really being involved in witchcraft is sinning against God. So how could pretending to be doing something that's sinning against God, be honoring to God? So this is going to directly address if we allow our children to participate in trick or treating in Halloween events, that there are certain things that we're going to need to avoid. And that means allowing our children to be dressed up, like things that are evil or that are associated with the occult or that involve practicing, spell casting, anything that is remotely related to the occult or to witchcraft are things that we are to avoid even in jest. So this is something the Bible says, "thou shalt not dress up like a witch", but that's something that when we're applying broader biblical principles of how witchcraft is an affront to God, that we should not allow our kids to participate even in dressing up like these things just for fun.
And then the third category is issues that are a matter of conscience that fall under Romans 14. And so these issues are going to be things like going trick or treating dressed in fun costumes. If you think of a little girl who's dressed up like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz or dressed up like something fun, like a piece of pizza or taco or something, whatever fun costumes. That is vastly different than someone going out dressed like something that is evil and is actually practicing spell casting. So allowing our children to go out dressed in fun costumes, knocking on doors saying trick or treat. This is going to be a matter of conscience. That there's not anything that specifically or even broadly condemns such a thing in scripture, but it can be a matter of conscience. Just like in Romans 14, Paul talked about some Christians are convicted that they cannot eat any meat that was sacrificed to an idol, where other Christians are convicted that they can eat meat that comes from anywhere. And Paul says, you just have to be fully convinced in your own mind. You need to not cause your brother to stumble, and you need to make sure that you are fully convinced because whatever does not come from faith is sin.
And so I think of my own personal conviction. Those of you who have watched and listened to this podcast for a while, you know that I don't have any biological children of my own. My experience with children is in the classroom. However, if I did have children so long as my husband was in agreement, I probably would not let them participate in trick or treating in any form. That's just a matter of my conscience. And again, my spouse would have to agree with that. We'd probably still, I would still love to have candy at our house so that we could participate communally in blessing our neighbors by giving out candy, but I would most likely choose to refrain from this. However, my brother has four children and he and his wife, they live in Wheaton, Illinois, which is a great town. There's so many fun innocent things that take place for Halloween in Wheaton, Illinois. In fact, trick or treating, you can only trick or treat. I think it's from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM so they shut it down early so that no bad things happen, shut it down before the sun sets. But my nieces and nephews, they dress up in really fun, cute costumes every year and they go trick or treating, and I love getting pictures of them, seeing them dressed up and going out and trick or treating. My conscience might tell me something different, but I can respect that my brother and sister-in-law's conscience tell them something different. And I know that they're fully convinced and they're not sinning when they do that.
So that's what's something that's really important that we remember as we're thinking through this Romans 14 principle, that if we are convicted that our children can go out and that they can participate in Halloween in innocent costumes and enjoying festivities in the neighborhood. We need to not make the people who have different convictions feel bad, like, "oh, you should be letting your children participate. Why are you not?" We should be supporting them in their decision. And similarly, if we are convicted that our children should not participate, that we don't think that this is something that is honoring to God in our family, we need to make sure that we're not condemning others whose consciences have driven them to a different place.
Now, it's a different story. My story would be different if I saw my brother and sister-in-law letting my nieces and nephews dress up just as things that were vile and evil and things stemming from the occult. But they don't do that. But if they did, that would be a conversation that I would have with them because I would be concerned because that is something that there are clear biblical principles that speak against any participation in things that stem from the occult or stem from witchcraft.
So I hope that as we have gone through this just thinking about these three different categories. First, issues that scripture directly and explicitly condemns or commands. Then second, issues that are not directly addressed in scripture yet based on biblical principles. There's a clear right and a clear wrong. And then third, issues that are a matter of conscience. I hope that this can just help give you a paradigm for your thinking as you are considering what you are going to do or not do for Halloween with your family.
Now, if you found the content of this podcast beneficial, please be sure to like and subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes. Also, ask that you would invest time writing a review and rating the content. And if you have a question that you would like for me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview podcast, you can submit that by going to FoundationWorldview.com/podcast.
As we leave this time together, my prayer for you as always is that no matter the situation in which you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourselves that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more into the image of his son. I'll see you next time.
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