by Dale Reeves
True confession: I’ve never enjoyed visiting haunted houses this time of year. As an older elementary-aged kid or junior high teen, when my church youth group went to them, I often found excuses so I wouldn’t have to go. There was just something about them that didn’t seem right to me, even as a kid. Scary movies have never really been my thing either. Have you heard about the “Haunted Village” at Heritage Village Museum Center here in Cincinnati? Through the end of this month, the village has transformed thirteen of its historical homes into spooky-themed houses. According to a Local 12 post, “Families can wander through the homes and haunted woods filled with witches, spiders, a fortune teller, and hear ghost stories.” Billed as a “family-friendly” experience, in which children under the age of three get free admission, is this all just “innocent fun” or are there things that are actually prohibited in God’s Word for followers of Jesus?
I read this week about a woman named Hellen “Hellie” Schweizer who lives in Wooster, OH, and identifies as a vampire. However, rather than sucking people’s blood, she says she “sucks in energy,” which she “feels” all around her. She traverses Wooster in vampire garb today, and says, “When I grew up here, I felt that acceptance wasn’t the case. I was a victim of bullying as a child. . . . I am surprised and proud of my city for accepting me. Being a small town of primarily Christians, I thought I’d get burned at the stake . . . . I’ve never felt so free in my life.” When asked about her belief system, Hellen describes her faith as Norse paganism with Odin being her “top god.” She uses crystals and incense, and sometimes practices witchcraft, noting, “Magic is everywhere.”
Showing Hellen acceptance and love is the Christian thing to do—and we must teach our children about kindness—but for the Christian, being accepting of others who might be different from us and condoning their activity are two different things. Every year around this season, every parent faces a number of questions regarding Halloween:
“Should we allow our children to go out trick-or-treating?”
“Should we decorate our house with spooky and scary things?”
“Are we participating in the devil’s holiday?”
Without a sufficient knowledge of Halloween’s history, and an understanding of what God’s Word says, it’s hard to know how deeply involved in Halloween activities we should get.
A Holy Day or a Holiday?
During the “Dark Ages,” in the Celtic countries of Britain, Gaul (France), and Germany, the Druids, who were the priests and teachers of the Celts, set aside October 31 to honor Samhain, their lord of the dead. They believed that Samhain summoned the souls of dead sinful men and that these witches, demons, and goblins roamed the earth on the eve of November 1, which began the Celtic New Year. They believed that these evil spirits might inhabit themselves in an animal, such as a black cat. The Druids offered the spirits good things to eat (“treats”) in order to protect themselves. They put on masks and costumes, hoping to “trick” the spirits into following the crowd out of town, thus getting rid of the bad souls.
Later, in the sixth century, Pope Gregory III consecrated a chapel to “all saints.” In 834, the feast of “All Saints,” or “All Hallows Day” was moved to November 1. This day was set aside to honor all the saints who had no special days of their own. The night before was known as “All Hallows Eve,” or “Hallows E’en,” and finally “Halloween.” Elements of the pagan Celtic practices and Roman Catholic practices mixed together to form the Halloween traditions that are celebrated today.
Drawing the Line Between Good and Evil
Where is the line that Christian parents should draw for their kids when it comes to Halloween and all things spooky? Well, we know that certain things are forbidden for God’s people as outlined in the Bible. Because the pagan nations that surrounded Israel were steeped in divination, sorcery, and witchcraft, God warned his people about their involvement in such things: “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people” (Leviticus 20:6, ESV).
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the Lord your God will drive them out ahead of you” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12, NLT).
God is very clear in instructing us to avoid the occult in all its forms. We are to be self-controlled and alert because our enemy is like a lion prowling around, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). We must understand Satan’s ultimate goal, the destruction of our souls, and those of our children. For me, that means that Satan will not get any credit for the fun we will have as a family this season. The apostle Paul instructs us:
“So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them” (Ephesians 5:8-11, NLT).
Shining Our Lights
This past Sunday night at Christ’s Church, God provided a perfect evening for our “Glow with God” event. Last weekend on our church grounds, God got all the glory, and the devil got none. Many “difference makers” in our church showed up brightly shining the light of Jesus to families from our surrounding community. Our church came together to love on over 600 people total (kids and adults) at our event through trunk-or-treating, hayrides, s’mores, balloon animals, delicious food, and much more! Christ’s Church, you went above and beyond in making this event special and memorable for the families who attended from our church and our community. Jesus told his followers, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, ESV).
Our children’s ministry director, Holly LeMaster, shares, “I always talk with my kids before we trick or treat and let them know that there is bad in the world and we don’t support that or condone it, but there are kind people in the world and ways to bring everything back to Jesus. Attending the events that we host at our church are my go-to’s because they give children a faith-friendly, non-scary experience with all the fun and the safety measures already in place. And it is our job to show Jesus’ light to others. Just like a pumpkin glows, you can let your light shine for Jesus!”
This coming Sunday morning at 10:30 am, our children’s ministry is hosting another fantastic event called “Shine Like Jesus.” To register your child, pre-K through grade 4, click here.
“. . . that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15, ESV).