Halloween is one of my favorite holidays (see, The Big Halloween Bash), not only because it’s always been a truly fun, family affair in our household, but because so many legalistic Christians decry it. I know, it’s naughty of me to think that way, and I’d say that my slip is showing, except that I’m wearing blue jeans. This might be a good time to mention that I’m a fan of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, too, and I definitely don’t confuse them with Jesus.
Call me a reprobate — it’s not like it hasn’t been done before.
But if you’re truly appalled about Halloween and the people who celebrate it, that’s okay. There are many issues we’ll never agree on, although the supremacy of Christ, His love and acceptance, His open and embracing arms — those are pretty major issues that we could probably sit in the same room and rejoice about.
It’s Okay to Hate Halloween
And I recognize that, for many people who abhor Halloween, there is a sense that the holiday is all against Christ and everything He gives us, and that’s why they react to it the way they do. But from the viewpoint of a joyful reprobate, I want to offer perspective on three common reactions against Halloween. If you do these things, you are not, as you think, promoting Christ so much as you are irritating — and potentially offending — the people you seek to minister to.
1) Don’t hide away. It’s fine to turn off your porch light and watch TV in your living room. Most trick or treaters know that the turned off porch light is a statement: “No candy here, guys. Please move on to the next house.” The unspoken etiquette of Halloween — which is surprisingly respected — is that one NOT egg bomb non-participating houses.
What gets irritating is when you turn off every single light in your house and lurk about in the basement, because you don’t want even the remotest chance that someone will knock on your door.
Don’t think that we don’t know you’re there. Don’t ask me how, but people know when you’re hiding, because rumor flies — in a hamlet or metropolis, a cozy church or a mega-watt — and you’d achieve more respect if you’d just sit in the Lazy Boy like any other night and watch TV.
We’re Not as Subtle as We Think
2) Do not give out Bible tracts instead of candy. This is not clever; it is not subtle; and it is certainly not working. While you may think that the child going through the night’s haul — or his parents — pulls out the little piece of paper with a sense of wonder, asking, “What is this? Oh, look, it’s about Jesus,” you would not like to eavesdrop on the conversation in that living room.
If you don’t like the whole candy thing, that’s fine — give out pencils. They can even have Scripture verses on them. Stickers with Jesus holding sheep — that’s edging over the line. Think about it: what are you trying to do? Alienate people, or draw them in? A big smile, a comment about the costume, and a generous bowl full of treats speak more loudly than you think.
Don’t Embarrass Kind People
3) Do not put the homeowners on the spot. We heard of one family who allowed their children to trick or treat, sort of, but required them to reject the candy and ask the homeowner, instead, for a donation to a worthy Christian cause. This does two things, neither of which glorify God:
It rejects the generosity of the homeowner
It non-plusses the poor guy, or gal.
I’m not even going to mention how sorry I feel for the poor kids, who would be better off staying home, watching TV, even if it meant skulking in the basement.
This Is the Kick-off to Holiday Contention Season
Holidays will always be a point of contention for people of faith, but come to think of it, within any family, holidays are sensitive times. Somebody, somewhere, gets offended, often over as small a thing as choosing Aunt Delphine’s mashed potatoes over Uncle Albert’s stuffing, and if we don’t watch ourselves, we can launch a multi-generational feud over something that, in the large picture, isn’t as big as we’re making it out to be.
I need to be more patient with you. You need to be more patient with me.