Should Christians take part in Halloween celebrations?

 
Mike McKinley | October 27th 2015

Jesus-loving, Bible-reading, well-meaning Christians disagree about whether it is appropriate for a believer to participate in Halloween activities. Those who think that Christians shouldn’t participate in any way cite the holiday’s roots in the pagan celebration Samhain. Those who think Christians can engage with Halloween celebrations point out that there’s nothing inherently wrong with carving gourds and begging for candy.

These kinds of disputes are not uncommon in the history of the church. In Biblical times, believers argued about all kinds of things like food, festivals, celebrations, and rules (for example see Colossians 2:16). So what guidance does the Bible give us as we think through how to respond to Halloween? (Full disclosure: we carve pumpkins and go trick-or-treating in my house).

Perhaps 1 Corinthians 8 is a good place for us to start. In that passage, Paul is addressing a dispute in the church about whether it is acceptable for Christians to eat meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols. Paul’s conclusions seem to be:

  • It is permissible to eat that meat, because the idol isn’t really a thing. It’s just a hunk of wood and there is only one true God (v 4-6).
  • Some people have a past association with idols that means that they can’t eat without feeling condemned in their conscience (v 7). This person should not eat meat sacrificed to idols.
  • “Food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do” (v 8).
  • Those who do eat meat sacrificed to idols should make sure that their use of their “right” to do so (v 9) doesn’t hurt those whose conscience won’t allow them to participate (v 11-13).

Perhaps there is a helpful pattern there for us to apply to Halloween. There is nothing inherently demonic about carving Jack-o-lanterns, wearing costumes, and trick-or-treating. Some people might do those things for wicked reasons (like the people who sacrificed animals to idols in Corinth), but that doesn’t mean that everyone who participates is similarly guilty (just as Christians in Corinth could eat those animals with a clean conscience).

Whatever you choose to do this Halloween, do it to the glory of God! (1 Corinthians 10:31)

With that in mind, here are a few humble suggestions for thinking about Halloween as a Christian:

  • Some ways of celebrating are obviously unacceptable for Christians. Any sort of participation in witchcraft, fortune-telling, or demonic activity are expressly forbidden by Scripture.
  • Outside of those forbidden activities, Christians have liberty to participate in Halloween.
  • However, a Christian should not violate his or her conscience (Romans 14:20-23). If you come to the conclusion that you shouldn’t celebrate Halloween, then you should not do it.
  • We should not pass judgment on other believers for the different choices that their consciences lead them to make (Romans 14:4).

Finally, whatever you choose to do this Halloween, do it to the glory of God! (1 Corinthians 10 v 31)

It’s not too late to see our selection of fun Halloween themed tracts and leaflets for children—perfect for helping you share a little bit of the Christian message with Trick or Treaters.

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Mike McKinley

Mike McKinley is the author of Passion, Did the devil make me do it? and Church Planting is for Wimps. Since 2005 he has been pastor of Sterling Park Baptist Church in Sterling, Virginia. Before that, he served on the pastoral staff of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC, having received his MDiv from Westminster Theological Seminary. Mike is married to Karen, and they have five children.

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