There is a fair amount of controversy about whether Christian families should celebrate Halloween. Whether or not you choose to observe this specific holiday, we are called to behave like Jesus in our communities every day, including Halloween.
In fact, Christian parents can use Halloween as a tool for teaching kids about community and loving their neighbors as Jesus calls us to do. Instead of being “for” or “against” Halloween, let’s be in support of building community and showing the love of Christ in every situation. Let’s be known for all that we are in support of–love, family, acceptance, grace, and community–and teach our children to have the same mindset.
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Should Christians Celebrate Halloween In Their Community?
Halloween is an opportunity for teaching kids about community, whether or not you choose to celebrate the holiday according to our cultural norms (i.e. scary costumes, candy, trick-or-treating, etc…). But, the answer to whether your family should observe or celebrate Halloween becomes clear when you simply consider others’ needs above your own. Let’s look at a few scriptures to try and see God’s heart toward cultural norms and how to navigate them.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4 NIV
This passage goes on to say that we should behave like Christ, who sacrificed himself even though he was God in the flesh. It doesn’t say that we should love like Jesus every day except October 31. Quite the opposite! It says that we should be eager to share the good gifts that we have because of Jesus. We should be out looking for ways to do so! Could that mean that you and your family could find a way to love others on Halloween that doesn’t violate your conscience? Of course! We can all do that!
There’s one more point to consider about Christians, Halloween, and building community. Paul writes in his first letter to the church in Corinth:
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 1 Corinthians 8:9-11
In our efforts to love our non-Christian neighbors and win them for Christ, we cannot forget that we must also consider other believers. This passage tells us that, even though we have knowledge–that we should be actively seeking ways to love others, even on Halloween–our Christian brothers and sisters may not understand what we are doing.
So, we must be careful to celebrate and build community in a way that is above reproach and brings honor to Christ and his church. And, if we hear that what we are doing is causing another believer to sin (not be annoyed, irritated, or to think what we’re doing is wrong) then we should absolutely stop what we’re doing.
How Can Christian Parents Use Halloween To Teach Our Kids About Community?
Now that we know that Christian families can celebrate Halloween, let’s look at some practical ways that we can use Halloween to teach our kids about community and how to love our neighbors.
Teach Our Kids About the Christian Roots Of Halloween
No doubt our children are exposed to the pagan roots of Halloween, with its focus on all things scary and supernatural. These things have their roots in the pagan holiday called Samhain. However, Halloween has some beautiful, Christian origins as well. All Saints’ Day is all about celebrating the community of Christians, or saints, so it is actually an excellent opportunity for teaching kids about community.
All Saints’ Day is a time to remember, in gratitude, those who came before us in the faith and to pray for all the living believers on earth. Because we have been covered by the blood of Christ, we do not have to fear death, we can, in fact, rejoice that death is just the beginning of a glorious eternity with Christ.
“They [martyrs and those who came before us in the faith] were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
If we are to celebrate Halloween, we shouldn’t focus on the “darker” view of death as promoted by the pagan tradition, but rather the hopeful view of death that All Saints’ Day represents. On this day, we can have community with the current body of believers and celebrate those who have already finished the race, leaving us a legacy of faith.
Teach Our Kids To Be In the World But Not Of the World
Halloween is an excellent opportunity for teaching kids about how to be part of their community without compromising their values. It is possible, and we should show our children how. Paul writes:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case, you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 1 Corinthians 5:9-11
So, we are actually called to be more cautious of sin that comes from within the church than from outside it. We cannot expect our non-believing friends and neighbors to live a biblical lifestyle, but we are called to love them in an effort to win them to Christ.
To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 1 Corinthians 5:9-11
Where there is a time and a place to take tough stances on cultural issues, celebrating Halloween is definitely a gray area. Halloween presents an excellent opportunity to show our children that we can have fun, we can participate in our culture, and we can be in community with our friends and neighbors without engaging in sinful activity. We can glorify God, even if those around us are not.
Halloween Is An Excellent Time To Teach Our Kids About Community
Halloween is a gold mine of opportunity to share our faith with our neighbors and to build community! Instead of rushing around and not getting to know their neighbors, the people in our neighborhoods are out and about. They are coming to knock on your door! You don’t even have to go to them; they are coming to you. How often does that happen? Only on Halloween! But, how can we take advantage of this incredible opportunity to share the love of Christ with our non-believing neighbors and teach our kids about community if we don’t participate?
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
To be clear, there is a fair amount of evil and worldliness associated with Halloween, and as Christians, we should not participate in those things. However, if we are actively seeking to love our neighbors, to be grateful for our community of believers, both living and dead, to participate in our culture in order to win our neighbors to Christ, and to teach our children to do the same, we can’t go wrong! In doing these things we can show our children the real meaning of community. We can teach them to love like Jesus every single day, even on Halloween.
We would love to hear of how you are using Halloween to teach your kids about community or how you are using this day to share God's love with your neighbors! Leave us a comment below and tell us some of your plans for Halloween!