Should Christians participate in Halloween activities? This is a question that I am asked almost every year and no matter how I answer there are people who disagree with me. If I had to guess, I would say that Christians are split 50/50 on whether Halloween is a wicked and evil day filled with Satanic activity, or that it is an innocent couple of hours for children to collect candy.
There are many web and magazine articles, interviews with theologians and historians and library shelves full of books that provide various historical backgrounds about Halloween — I haven’t read them all — I haven’t read most of them. The things I have read don’t come to a consensus. Is Halloween a pagan holiday that Christians have naively fallen for? Is Halloween a historically Christian festival that pagans encroached upon?
I’ve also read articles that say the same thing about Easter and Christmas. Is there a Christian sacred day to which the evil one has not attached himself? Is there a pagan festival that Christians didn’t try to influence for good?
The Apostle Paul faced a similar dilemma when he was asked if Christians who purchased and ate meat which had previously been offered to an idol, were participating in idol worship. This was a real issue for early believers.
Paul prefaced his answer by reminding the Corinthians that love is more important than knowledge in some decisions. Christians must be aware of what is going on in the world, but taking a stand based on knowledge alone can lead toward arrogant and legalistic thoughts and behaviors.
“Yes, we know that ‘we all have knowledge’ about this issue. But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.” – 1 Corinthians 8:1-2 NLT
Therefore, we must be very careful when we take a stand about things that are not directly related to salvation. If we determine that something is wrong for us: it is. But that doesn’t necessarily make it wrong for everyone else. Paul mentions this in his letter to the Romans:
“Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn… In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable.” – Romans 14:3-6 NLT
Whether or not to participate in Halloween activities is a matter between each individual believer and God. Once you know the facts, pray, and come to a conclusion about what is right for you, it is just that: right for you. It isn’t necessarily right for everyone else.
That said, once you make your decision, you must decide if your behavior will affect other Christians. If it causes them to stumble, then God’s Word says that as a Christian, you should set aside your right to do whatever you believe you are free to do because you love other Christians more than you love ourself.
“Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.” – Romans 14:12-13 NLT
“But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.” – 1 Corinthians 8:9 NLT
So where do I stand? I went Trick-or-Treating as a child. As a parent, I let my children dress up and go Trick-or-Treating. And, as a grandparent, I enjoy watching my grandsons Trick-or-Treat! In our family, it is an innocent event. It is all about wearing costumes and getting candy.
I have dear Christian friends who disagree with me and that’s OK. We continue to stand side by side for Jesus and we will sit together for all eternity and worship Jesus. It’s OK to disagree. It’s not OK to tear other people down for having different opinions on matters that are not a salvation issue.
“You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.” – Romans 14:22-23 NLT
God will tell you what is right for you. If God has told you not to participate in Trick-or-Treat, then by all means, don’t. If God has told you it’s OK to participate in Trick-or-Treat, then do. But most of all, remember that whatever you have decided it is between you and God. Your responsibility to other Christians is to refrain from passing judgment on brothers and sisters who believe differently, and instead act in love.