Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How We Handle Halloween

There are so many confusing messages surrounding Halloween.  For example, every other day of the year, we would never allow our kids to accept candy from strangers.  But, then Halloween comes around.  Not only do we tell them it’s OK to take candy from strangers, but we put them in costumes, send them to a stranger’s home, and then ask them to grab some extra candy for us too!
So, yeah … confusing.  But, the confusion can be taken to an even deeper level, as well.  Is it OK for a Christian to participate in Halloween?  Why would I celebrate something so blatantly satanic?  Why would I participate in something with pagan roots?  Why would I open my children up to demonic influence?  I grew up in a very conservative church, and these were all reasons for NOT participating in Halloween.  So, for quite some time I found myself being afraid of Halloween.  Just like it’s the one day a year we can take candy from strangers, many Christians I knew seemed to treat Halloween as the one day a year when God couldn’t keep the devil in check.  So, if I was going to dress up in anything, it needed to be the armor of God. Protect yourself!  Don’t knock on the devil’s door … even if he’s handing out Reese Cups. 
What is one to do?
This is how our family has decided to handle things. You may agree.  You may disagree.  I think this is one of those topics that could be argued either way.  On something like this, I think it’s important to discover, discern, and then decide. (Meuller) 
Any Wikipedia search will help you discover more than you’ve ever wanted to know about Halloween.  Take the lead on this.  Do your research and seek to discover why some feel it’s a big issue and others do not.  After you take time to discover, then take the time to discern.  The word “discern” means to see or understand the difference.  So, in an effort to discern, you can ask a question like: “Is participating in Halloween impacting the way the Bible tells me to live my life?”  Finally, decide.  After you’ve researched the issue and prayed for discernment, you can now make a decision based on how God is leading you personally on this issue.
I feel there is freedom and grace in this approach.  We would not impose our Halloween views on others or say that if someone disagrees with us then we are right and they are wrong.  As a family, there are battles that we would choose to fight and areas that we firmly believe are clearly right or clearly wrong according to the Bible.  For us, this is not one of those issues.  So, that is why we try to live in grace and freedom in this area and try to extend that to others as well.
This is the simplest way I can describe how our family has decided to handle Halloween.  For 364 days a year, we would allow our kids to dress up in costumes.  We would allow our kids to eat candy or have a treat.  We try to engage our neighbors and build community in our neighborhood.  We try to be generous and friendly. Because we are responsible for shepherding the hearts of our children, we do set boundaries and standards for modesty.  We try to protect our kids from gore and violence in the games they play and the shows they watch.  As a husband and dad, I take seriously my role as “gatekeeper” in our home and pray regularly over our kids and our home.  Since these are things my wife and I do every other day of the year, we don’t feel a need to change just because one day is labeled as Halloween.  So, we have allowed our kids to dress up because we’ve found that our kids really enjoy dressing up in costumes. But, we do set standards for their costumes.  We walk around our neighborhood and trick-or-treat because it allows our family to engage our neighbors and build relationships.  We pass out candy and try to do it a little “over the top” because we want to be known as a generous and hospitable family in our neighborhood.  We will try to have something for the adults in our neighborhood as well ... some hot cider, de-caf coffee, or something else they may enjoy.  When our kids get back from trick-or-treating, we encourage them to swop and share candy with each other in an effort to help teach them how to interact with each other and do interpersonal relationships. And, on this day, just like every other, we pray for our kids.  We pray over our kids.  We trust that God is in control and so we seek to live in freedom, not fear.
Again, this is simply how our family has decided to approach this.  We certainly do not think our way is the “final authority” on how to handle this topic, but after discovering, discerning, and deciding, it’s how my wife and I have decided to lead our family.  I hope it’s been a help to you as you shepherd and lead your family as well. 

4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Kevin! Really appreciate that.

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  2. Rich, I love this! We always used this opportunity to connect with the families in our neighborhood. I usually dressed up too and made sure to have treats for the mom's and dad's. Now that we live in the country with only three neighbors, We never get kids stopping by - I really miss it. Thanks for sharing, wonderful reading. Bon Bon

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