I’ve noticed in recent years that Halloween has been added to the growing list of polarizing topics in Christian circles.
Although I grew up in church, I don’t remember people taking too big of an issue with Halloween. Nowadays, it’s apparent each year on social media that Halloween creates problematic issues for many Christians.
Some see it as a harmless holiday to dress up in costume and get to know neighbors. Others can’t get past the dark themes and focus on death.
I understand the tension. Halloween, like many American holidays, has a mixture of pagan and Christian origins. Most people take one of three different approaches to Halloween. I want to provide a Christian perspective for each.
All of us must answer the question, “How can we be holy on a day like Halloween?”
Approach 1: All In
For some people, Halloween is their favorite holiday. You might have nostalgic memories of trick-or-treating as a kid. Or maybe you have always enjoyed all things spooky. You could live in a neighborhood that goes all out with parties and decorations. Whatever the reason, October 31 is a day you look forward to every year.
As a Christian, you certainly have the freedom to participate in Halloween. It’s not a sin to dress up, decorate your porch, or hand out candy. Carving a pumpkin won’t open up a demonic portal in your house.
Still, it is important to recognize certain aspects of Halloween can cross the line from fun and spooky to dark and disturbing. Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus about the dangerous reality of the spiritual forces of darkness.
“Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:8-11)
Christians shouldn’t glorify death or use a holiday like Halloween as an opportunity to excuse sin. While practices like drunkenness and provocative dress (even as part of the costume) are commonplace in the world, they have no place in the household of God. We should also be careful not to entertain ourselves with graphic horror films or content that dabbles in the demonic.
“The fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.”
All of us must “try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” If you have children, Halloween offers plenty of opportunities for discipleship conversations.
Approach 2: Non-Participation
Other Christians prefer to stay away from Halloween altogether. You might come from a conservative background and have difficulty seeing any good out of the holiday. Or maybe you have a dark spiritual history and want to stay as far away as possible from anything to do with death.
If this is you, you have a good reason to sit this holiday out. Obviously, there is nothing inherently edifying about Halloween, and you don’t have to pretend to enjoy it. And yet, you should be careful not to allow your choice to refrain from turning into a judgmental spirit toward other brothers and sisters who are choosing to exercise their freedom.
“Be careful not to allow your choice to refrain from turning into a judgmental spirit toward other brothers and sisters who are choosing to exercise their freedom.”
In Romans 14, Paul addresses the issue of people in the church who follow certain holidays and dietary restrictions. Instead of advocating for one side, Paul encourages each person to “be fully convinced in his own mind.” Perhaps most importantly, he discourages Christians from passing judgment on one another.
“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God…So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)
There is a difference between judging someone over an action you disagree with and rebuking a fellow believer for outright sin. Each person will give an account to God for their own actions, not their neighbors’. In situations of freedom, I encourage you to follow your convictions and let fellow Christians follow theirs.
Approach 3: Outreach Opportunity
While I believe either of these first two approaches is acceptable, my favorite approach is to view Halloween as an evangelistic opportunity. Think about it. Halloween is the one day each year in American culture when all of your neighbors knock on your door.
Halloween is a big deal to kids. Kids love candy and dressing up. I know countless churches that use this holiday as an outreach opportunity to welcome many new families into their community.
Our church hands out Halloween stickers and encourages people to stick them on full-sized candy bars as a small act of generosity. We’ve seen numerous people’s faith journeys begin with these simple stickers.
“Halloween is the one day each year in American culture when all of your neighbors knock on your door.”
I think the Apostle Paul’s missional heart would support this approach.
“To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:21-23)
If you take this third approach, I encourage you to be a light for the gospel this Halloween. Find a way to deepen relationships with neighbors, show generosity, invite a family to church, or pray for someone. Jesus calls us to be the light of the world. The darker the world gets, the more noticeable the light of the gospel shines.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
For more from Joshua, check out joshuabranham.com.