Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Faith and Halloween: Can They Mix?

With Halloween just around the corner I have already seen several social media postings from Christians I know objecting to the celebration of such an event.  I find this happens every year and each time I read them, I let out a big sigh and think about writing a long response.  As a Christian and now, as the parent of two young children, this is something I have thought long and hard about.

I believe there are a number of ways to approach Halloween as Christians.  The first is the one I am talking about above, the vehement opposition of the holiday.  Not allowing yourself or your children any contact with it, not opening the door to trick or treaters and removing yourself from it entirely.  I think this is the one most Christians think is the correct response.  After all, the whole premise of Halloween is a celebration of dead spirits and evil things is it not?

Well, I have to disagree.  Yes, that was part of the concept behind what formed Halloween but I don't believe that it is the general idea of Halloween in this day and age.

The thing is, as a Christian I do believe in a spiritual world, a world of good and a world of evil.  What I don't think is that 'evil' spirits are any more prevalent on Halloween than they are any other time of the year.  Nor do I think that allowing my children to dress up and knock on doors asking for sweets is the same as inviting them to be part of a satanic sect (trust me, I've been told this before!)

Meg and Eli have no concept about 'evil' - what they know is that around this time of year the shops become filled with dressing up outfits and people give out sweeties.  I can just imagine Meg's face if we tried to sit her down and explain the reason why she couldn't dress up...I think she'd probably say, 'okay but can I still have the sweets?'  That doesn't mean that I don't find the idea of dressing my two year old up as a blood-soaked zombie distasteful, I think we have to be realistic when our children are still so young.  I wouldn't sit them down and allow them to watch a horror movie either, it would be vastly inappropriate and I do have to question the logic behind exposing our children to some of the items available on the market.  But at the same time I don't see anything wrong with them knocking on a couple of doors on our street, and asking for some treats.

If dressing them up for Halloween makes them worshippers of the dark side, then what does it mean when I allow Eli to wear a princess dress?  It doesn't automatically make him a girl does it?  It's about the intention behind the act and as long as we are behaving in a way which honours our beliefs then what difference does it make?  As a person of faith I will be ensuring that as my children grow up they are aware of what we believe and why we don't necessarily agree with the whole ghosts and ghouls and bumps in the night kind of thing but as they are currently four and two, that kind of thing is way off their radar and I don't plan to expose them to it any time soon.

Meg, two years ago.
I believe it is possible to participate in Halloween in a way that doesn't compromise your faith, I do not believe that there is anything immoral about dressing up, eating sweets or knocking on doors in your street.  As long as you are not engaging in anything which goes against your beliefs, then it really isn't any different to any other kind of activity.

I also don't think that rejecting it completely serves any kind of purpose.  As a child, I always felt I was missing out on being with my friends.  I didn't learn anything from not being involved and it didn't make me feel any more holy or spiritual for not being able to join in, just excluded and different.  I understood the reasons my parents had but again, I don't think there is anything inherently evil about Halloween if your intentions are innocent and you are mindful of your actions.  In fact, what better way to be part of your community than by putting a pumpkin in your window, letting parents know that you are a safe place for their children to visit and handing out goodies to local kids?  Shutting yourself away and refusing to be involved in actually counter-productive if you want to be seen as a part of your neighbourhood.

I also don't think that the majority of parents allow their children to go out trick or treating and believe they are introducing them to a world of satanism and evil spirits.  I am fairly certain that the vast number of children on the streets come October 31st are simply in it for the sugar rush and nothing more.  There aren't people standing on street corners just waiting to grab our children and sign them up for a life of servitude to the evil ways of the world and it's been a long time since I've seen trick or treaters out unaccompanied...so we are hardly releasing our children to the wolves.

So, to all those people who feel like informing me that I'm setting my children up for a life of sin and disgrace because I am going to let them dress as a fairy and a pumpkin (probably) on October 31st...I refer you to the above.

Let's not fight shadows for the sake of it.

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