To Trick or Treat…that isn’t the question

After having skipped a year (thanks, COVID), parents and children are venturing out this coming weekend to knock on people’s doors and receive free candy (or healthy options if you live in one of those neighborhoods). Prior to the shutdown of last year, I would perennially field the question of whether or not Christians should participate in Halloween festivities.

I love the thoughtfulness and intentionality behind the consideration. We need to be deliberate about the formation of our kids towards godliness, so it’s important to discern whether or not a cultural practice will form us in the right way.

For our family, we made the decision long ago that we would participate in our neighborhood’s Trick-or-Treat traditions, but with certain boundaries. Here’s a couple of my considerations.

The opportunity for engaging our neighbors. Halloween is the one night of the year when we can randomly knock on every door in our neighborhood and get something as a result! In all seriousness, if only to say hello and introduce ourselves, Trick-or-Treating is an opportunity for relational connections that we don’t want to miss. Over the years, our immediate neighbors have grown so fond of our kids, and it’s been a way to reconnect before the winter keeps everyone indoors. In past years, I’ve started a bonfire in our driveway with a few extra chairs or even had hot apple cider on particularly cold nights for parents who are chaperoning their kids. I love the feeling of neighborhood that this night fosters.

All this flows out of the sense of mission and purpose we feel for our neighborhood. We’re not here by accident, so we take seriously the call to be witnesses in our neighborhoods, to redemptively participate where and when we can. We see Trick-or-Treat as a small way to potentially get in In this regard, our kids have been one of the best connection points to our neighbors. Our littles are too darn cute, and just by the sheer size of our particular circus, people marvel at us. We have learned to take advantage of this by introducing ourselves and expressing the joy we have in being together (amidst the chaos). On more than one occasion, it’s been the starting point for ongoing relationship.

With all the opportunities for mission and relationship that Halloween night provides, there are two cautions I’d offer.

Be mindful of dabbling in, and/or celebrating any sort of witchcraft, sorcery, demonology, or dark arts. While we enjoy the opportunity to dress up for Halloween, we draw the line at any costumes that exalt the undead, monsters, or vampires. Costumes that have blood or are “dark”. Some people make the case could these characters are just parts of our mythology, but there are clear biblical warnings against necromancy, witchcraft, and sorcery. In fact, the Bible validates the existence of dark and evil spirits, and we must be careful that we don’t unwittingly celebrate or elevate these things in the name of “just having fun”. We also refrain from decorating our house in scary ways. We want to represent light and truth. We don’t watch horror movies as part of this night (nor any night for that matter). There’s already enough death and darkness in the world. We don’t need to magnify it needlessly.

The irony is that our secular culture encourages dabbling and playing around with these images and characters because it doesn’t believe them to be real. As biblically-formed Christians, we know that the spiritual realm is real, that spiritual rulers and authorities do affect this world, and that there is indeed a darkness to this present age. Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood. Because we believe this, we are very careful not to mess with things that are way beyond us. We don’t do this out of fear, but rather because we believe that these things should be treated with extreme caution.

A final consideration is one that might not be on most people’s radar. USA Today reported that Americans will spend about 10 billion dollars this year on costumes, candy, and pet costumes. 10 BILLION dollars. I don’t think I need to say anymore than as Christians living in view of the kingdom of God, this MUST NOT be true of us. May we steward our money well in view of the coming and already present kingdom, a kingdom of righteousness and justice.

So, however way you decide to participate or not participate in Halloween, be prayerful and loving. Refrain from judging believers who do participate, and at the same time be accountable to each other so that we truly see the missional possibility of this time of the year, not just empty worldly revelry. Be vigilant that the spiritual realm is not something to be trifled with, and above all, enjoy living under the Lordship of a Savior who is the light of the world.

What are you planning to do for Halloween? Leave a comment below.

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