Thursday, October 28, 2010

Spooky on Your Mind?

The holiday called Halloween is almost here, unleashing hordes of little children to do the dirty work of gathering candy for their parents who are in little need of it! The planet has generally embraced the holiday with capitalistic fervor. Haunted houses alone draw in between 300-400 million dollars and over 400,000 visitors eager to be spooked.

It's hard to know what Halloween even celebrates. Unlike most holidays which celebrate something or someone, this holiday seems more like an excuse. An excuse to eat lots of candy. An excuse for adults to relive their childhood and play dressup. An excuse to play Michelangelo on a pumpkin. An excuse to watch horror movies.

I don't pretend to offer the final word on this subject, but I would like to point out a few pros and cons to help us analyze this holiday biblically. After all, if I completely solved the problem this year, Christianity would be without a problem to discuss at this time next year!

  • Time to work on our relationships - Should we need a holiday to slow down and notice those around us? No! However, life gets busy and often we neglect to spend the time with our spouse, kids, and friends. Relationships require investments, but often we get so busy with work, bills, meetings, and raking our dumb lawns that we neglect to enjoy those God has blessed us with. Let's not forget that "the man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord" (Pr 18:22). Enjoying time with ones spouse, kids, and/or friends is definitely a good thing!
  • Fun - "Come on!" you say. "This is hardly a theological reason." Well, since when has fun been a crime. Carving pumpkins are really fun, especially when your brother knows how to transform the seeds into an amazing snack. Dressing up in costume might not be everyone's cup of tea, but hey, if being a cowboy for one night is your idea of fun then go for it! It's not that different than the escapism from reality evidenced by those who enjoy fiction novels, action movies, or reality TV shows. God is the one "who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Tim 6:17).
  • Cultivates creativity - For all of you who have more creative thoughts in one second than I do in a year, this is your day. Honestly, how creative can you be with a turkey? Sure, a Christmas tree might give you a few opportunities, but nothing beats a pumpkin!
  • Connects you with your community - When's the last time you talked with all those neighbors? Last Halloween? Did you forget you have neighbors? Intentionally involving ourselves with the community isn't a negative. In fact, it could potentially gives us inroads to do the most important thing - share the gospel!
  • Free candy - Need I say more :)
  • Economic realities - Money is a resource from God. An awful lot of mulah can be spent on consumables. Candy costs a bunch (until the post-Halloween sale). Costumes certainly aren't cheap either. And how many times a year are you going to don your Captain Jack Sparrow costume?
  • Trivialization of spiritual beings - In my estimation, this is one of the biggest dangers. You can dress up as demons, angels, or the devil himself without ever taking time to appreciate the character you are representing. Spiritual warfare isn't a joke. It's for real. It's for keeps. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." Granted, we don't know what this spiritual beings look like (if such a "look" is even possible for spiritual beings), but trivializing and representing the enemies of God is a frightful position to be in.
  • Cavities and obesity - These dangers can both be mitigated by a trip to the dentist and another New Year's resolution that will come in less than 2 months. Be careful that we don't give in to one of America's favorite sins - gluttony.
  • Provocative costumes - It's concerning that this holiday is so sexualized, but it's hardly surprising. In a culture that's using sex to sell everything from shoes to cars to a season worth of entertainment on a TV show, the influence of evil hearts and minds on Halloween should not be surprising, but that doesn't make it any less wrong. There is a vast array of sexual costumes for any adult party you might attend. Even more concerning is that the provacative costumes available for adults come in kid sizes.
An Alternative
A healthy alternative for Halloween is Reformation Day. The idea of running around in an itchy, hooded robe nailing pieces of paper on all your neighbors' doors is just too good to pass up (aside from having to shave part of your head for one night of fun)!
What about you?
I think there are some serious postives as well as some grave negatives. The answer - a Spirit-controlled, Word-dependent personal decision.

What about you? Do you and your family celebrate Halloween? If so, how? Why? If not, why?

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