Jesus Would Go Trick-Or-Treating

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I have been blogging on Confessions Of A Parent for a little more than a year now. In that time I have rarely written about anything “faith-based,” as some would call it. Even though I’m a pastor in a local church, this has been intentional.

My reason is simple. Out of the thousands of readers I have monthly, many come from different belief backgrounds, and some, no faith, or religious backgrounds at all. I’m completely okay with that. My goal with this blog has never been to project my spiritual beliefs, but rather to dive into parenting discussions and issues and convey humorous and hopeful perspectives that every parent can relate to.

Tonight, however, I feel like tackling a question that I’m often asked, that does, in fact, relate to parenting, but has more to do with my family and Halloween. Yes, Halloween. It never fails- every year this question is asked. And every year I’m asked, it bugs me. It bugs me because it comes from a religious perspective and not from what I would consider an authentic understanding of the heart of God.

The question, and ensuing conversation, about my family (a pastor’s family) and Halloween goes something like this:

“What is your family going to do about Halloween?”

“What do you mean, ‘do about Halloween?'” I ask, kind of already knowing what they’re getting at.  

“Well, it’s Halloween tomorrow,” they reply. 

“And…” 

“And, you’re a pastor and a Christian, and you have children.” 

“Yes, all are true.”

“Well, are you going to let your kids go trick-or-treating?”

“Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I?”

“Well, it’s just that Halloween is the night that celebrates Satan and we Christians should be aware of the evil that lurks and not participate. You don’t want your children participating in something that glorifies Satan do you?”

It’s usually right after that last sentence that I check out, my eyes gloss over, and I cannot believe what I am actually hearing (even though I hear it every single year from at least one person).

Of course our kids are going to go trick-or-treating, and of course they are going to dress up, and of course we are going to hang out with all of our neighbors, and of course we are going to invite a bunch of people over, whether they’re a Christian or not, and have a huge costume contest. Why wouldn’t we? More importantly, what else would we do? Not participate? Why would we do that? What would that accomplish?

I used to know a Christian family who would lock their door, turn all of the lights in their house off, and sit in the basement while trick-or-treating took place out in their neighborhood on Halloween night. They would claim that they were trying to be “separate” from the world. Their frame of reference was either John 15 or John 17 where Jesus says that He has chosen His disciples out of the world, and they do not belong to the world.

You may disagree with me, but this family’s decision to do this was toxic. First of all, they were making Christians out to be cut-off, uninvolved, and un-human by doing that. Second, it’s Halloween- a night where children (CHILDREN, mind you) dress up as Jazmin from Alladin or Spiderman (hardly the material of Satanists) and go around asking for candy from kind neighbors. Third, and most important, they were taking Jesus words out of context. He was not telling His disciples to not be in the world, He was simply telling them not to behave like or identify with worldly customs or values so their lives would convey a greater hope.

When I look at the life of Jesus (who any Christian should be modeling themselves after) I see something very interesting. He went to the party. He participated in the party. He was the life of the party. Lots of people who would not have normally been invited to the party, flocked to him when he was at the party. When the party ran out of booze- He made more. And not just any booze, the good kind! Jesus didn’t flee from the world, He was in the middle of it. He hung out with everyone in it- sinners and saints, broken and fixed, lost and found! ALL people. EVERYone!

As a Christian, a pastor, and a father, I’m taking my kids trick-or-treating because, first of all, they’re kids. Secondly, because I think Jesus would go trick-or-treating. He would be hanging out with everyone in the neighborhood. And later, after trick-or-treating was over, He would head back to the house where the party was happening, have some chili, laugh and cut up with friends, and raise a glass in jubilee.

What would we say about Christianity, or Jesus, if we shut our door, turned off our porch light, and hid from everyone? We’d make Christianity out to be a judgmental, disconnected, unattractive, cold religion. That’s not what it is. It’s a beautiful relationship.

As for the comment about Halloween glorifying Satan? Unless someone is walking around sacrificing cats and performing incantations, Satan is not being glorified by Halloween. In other words- you only glorify Satan when you actually do things that glorify Satan. A 4-year old dressed up like Ironman with a plastic pumpkin bucket, and snot-stains on his upper lip, is not glorifying Satan. Seriously!

Question: Agree? Disagree? Anything to add? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

 

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  • Great post Mike!

  • Ryan Morgan

    While I don’t think Halloween is celebrating Satan per se, many of its traditions are very much rooted in paganism. For example, the Jack-O-Lantern was originally carved from a turnip and was used to mark the houses of those who would be sacrificed to the Celtic death god Samhain. Similarly, the dressing up of children in costumes was to confuse the spirits people believed “came through the veil” on Halloween night that night and spirit them away. Now, In sure most people are completely unaware of these origins and would never intentionally practice them in such a way, they are unsavory traditions.

    Also, I would like to point out that the parties that Jesus went to were not with pagans, they were with Jews like himself who would not have had idolatrous practices involved. That’s not saying they were all having godly parties, probably far from it, but at the same time there would not have been any paganism being practiced at them.

    Another thing to take into consideration is that everything Jesus taught was actually in line with the pharisitical interpretation of the Old Testament at the time, particularly to the school of Hillel, the more lenient and merciful of the two main schools (the other being Shammai, the Sadducees were a whole different sect entirely). While he might not have actively preached that people practicing Halloween were hell-bound, I do not think he would have participated or encouraged others to do so.

    Just my two cents. 🙂

    • Thanks again for your comment Ryan. Again, love the historical references.

    • John Boulton

      But I understand those paganists took advantage of this idea from children begging for food. Regardless, I simply don’t know anyone who practices these old cults anymore. I have found that goodness has displaced the evil that once was but is now surpassed… and would probably be forgotten if some would not find the dire need to insist that it is an evil holiday.

      • Ryan Morgan

        Well God did tell the Israelites not to mimic the religious traditions of the other nations even if they were directed at Him. Today there are plenty of Neo-pagans who worship the old gods. I’m friends with a few on Facebook.
        Think of it like this, say something absolutely horrible happened that you want to forget entirely, would you want your family to constantly remind you about it by reinacting it? God hates idolatry, it’s the first of the Ten Commandments. He wants a world were all forms of idolatry are gone. All of Halloweens traditions come from idolatrous religions, do we really want to keep reminding God about something that lures countless scores of his children away every generation?

        • Ryan, I don’t think children dressing up as a Marvel comic hero and trick-or-treating has a strong correlation (if any) to pagan idolatry or worship. My point is that Jesus would not have shown up and hidden away from people because of religiosity or an historical belief. He didn’t do that when he physically walked the earth. Thanks again for your comment! Love the dialogue.

      • John- good point.