I do not claim to be an expert or to have all the answers on this topic, but I have done my research. And although I know that there are blatantly evil aspects to this holiday, I believe there are ways for it to be redeemed for God’s glory. In order for this to happen, I do think we need to recognize the evil parts of this holiday for what they are and understand what Halloween is pointing to in its current content. Then we can discern what we can do about it.
The Icons of Halloween
Our culture has a strange obsession with these undead creatures, especially zombies, and not just on Halloween. The number of mainstream TV shows that feature them continues to grow, and it’s harder and harder to be friends in a group of teens or young adults and not have someone bring up preparing ourselves for the “the zombie apocalypse.” The fascination with mummy murders has been around even longer. Aside from the fact that I get very easily creeped out, it frustrates me than some of those I consider to be close friends are joining this cultural phenomenon, because I see one major problem with it from a Christian point of view.
The way I see it, zombies, mummies, and any other undead creatures all mock the concept of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is because in God’s created order, no one that dies comes back to life without divine intervention.
People have been telling ghost stories for thousands of years, and they have scaring people even since. In fact, much of the origins of this holiday has to do with attempting to keeping ghosts or evil spirits at bay. Two of the most common methods for doing this would be animal sacrifices and dressing in costumes to either disguise themselves from the spirits or scare the evil spirits right back. These traditions have evolved over the centuries, but in our culture, it has gotten to the point where many of us are either fazed by the concept of ghosts and use them in involve fear in others, or we are terrified of them ourselves and live our lives in that fear.
But from my perspective, I believe the concepts of ghosts and spirits of the dead distorts God’s design for the life after this one. When we die, our soul is no longer a part of this world, but the spiritual realm. Upon our death, our soul separates from our physical bodies. Although there is some debate about exactly where our souls go immediately after death (there is the biblical concept of sheol, a place where souls go until the final judgement, but there is a lot of theological mystery associated with this topic), it is generally agreed upon that our souls leave this world, and they don’t come back to this world without supernatural intervention.
These characters have become increasingly popular since the release of the Twilight series. Most specifically because of this cultural phenomenon, vampires have been romanticized and twisted into some strange version of a Disney hero, all the while ignoring what it means if someone would live their life as a vampire. The way I see it, the concept of vampires mock the design that God had for humanity and their ability to relate to Himself. First off, they really are “human monsters” that cannibalize humans. That's their instinct and their mode of operation. That is wrong, even if they “can’t help it.” But there is also the greater problem of the state of their souls. They either were born without a soul or they lost their soul when they became a vampire. Because they cannot die and don’t have a soul, it is not physically possible for them to have a relationship with God. They are stuck in this reality until the end of the world without God. I shudder at the thought of what it would be like to face such a reality.
These strange creature have been around in many different forms for centuries, but aside from the fact they easily freak me out, there is something else that is unsettling about them. I think that concepts of monsters distorts God’s design for His creation. They are often perversions of animals that God’s designed, the kind of creatures that we are to have dominance over. This is so that we don’t have to be afraid of them, not so we can change or distort to our benefit. Sometimes, monsters end up being a distortion of a human being or some cross-breed of man and animal(s) (like werewolves).
There has been a lot of details that has been fanaticized about witches over the years (green skin, flying broom, wears all black, etc.). Most of it actually started with Margaret Hamilton’s portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West in the classic film, The Wizard of Oz. Since then, a million different ways to portray them have been seen on screen and in popular culture, especially around Halloween. However, real witches and warlocks actually exist in our world today, and they aren’t something you would want your kids portraying for Halloween. They are worshipers of Satan or spirits of the dead, and will consult with either one or both, to predict the future or change the present.
This is something I have struggled to establish my exact view from a Biblical perspective, because I dressed up as Elphaba from Wicked the Musical a few years ago for a Halloween party. However, I did not do anything to infer Satan worship or calling upon spirit of the dead. I don’t know if I would do it again, because there is so much gray area on this subject.
One of the most bothersome parts of Halloween décor from my perspective is blood and gore. It’s just gross and disturbing to my soul to see hacked body parts or gapping wounds, even on the statues and decorations they use at Halloween. And what this fake violence sets itself against should disturb us too.
I believe that the use of blood, guts, and gore in this context distorts it as a symbol of Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross. Jesus bled on the cross that we would not have to fear death or pain. Blood is such a powerful symbol of the covenant God made with His people. It washes us, cleanses us, and makes us new. None of the bloody or gory characters portrayed on Halloween have the power to cleanse anyone with their blood, and will have no chance at redemption through the blood that was shed. So I encourage you to think twice about the use this type décor at Halloween.
I feel like the problems with these characters should be self-explanatory, but our culture has distorted the reality of the intent of these evil creatures. As Christians, we should all be aware that there is a spiritual battle going on for our souls between heaven and hell. It's a battle we can't usually see, except at times such as Halloween night. As a mentioned about ghosts, demons are spiritual enemies that really do exist, and they should not be taken lightly.
Although a lot of details have been fanaticized about them as well (Red PJ’s, cartoon horns, pitch folk, etc.), the fact of the matter is that there are real demons that are the enemies of our very souls, who work for our worst enemy, Satan. I would hope that Christians would have enough discernment to know that we should not do anything to portray demons in a positive light on this holiday.
Many of the previously mentioned symbols are scary because they are dead themselves or are able to take our lives. And it is often portrayed in our culture like it’s a funny game we should play every year on Halloween. I do not think it’s wise for a Christian to be honoring anything related to this aspect of the holiday, for a couple of reasons. First of all, death is part of curse that fell on humanity because of sin, and it’s one of Satan’s greatest victories in this world for those that do not accept Christ as their personal Savior. We should not celebrate any victories of Satan, ever.
Second, those who die without accepting salvation through Jesus Christ will suffer eternal punishment in Hell, and there is nothing funny about that. Our culture tries to makes it sounds like it is amusing, so much so that all to common to say something hurts "like hell," and then laugh about it. It all make to look like a joke or something inconsequential on Halloween night, and that’s exactly what Satan wants. We should not participate in giving him the chance to have that victory as far as we are concerned.
I know this is a lot of information to process, but I hope that you see there’s a lot about Halloween that is not just fun and games. Not only is most of this stuff evil and used by Satan, but much of it stands in direct opposition of the way that God designed it to be.
The Positive Aspects of October 31st
First, there’s the previous name for the holiday, “All Hallows Eve.” In the Middle Ages, “All Hallows Day” was November 1st, which is better known today as All Saints Day, the day the Catholic church honored all the saints. The night before, it was believed that the “evil spirits” were present before the spirits of the saints would be present the next day. On this night, they would try to keep the evil spirits away from them by disguising themselves in costumes so that they would not recognize them. They would pray that these spirits would leave them so that the next day, they could properly honor the saints.
Second, there’s Reformation Day. For those of you that may not be caught up on your church history, October 31, 1517 marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
What Should We Do About Halloween?
It is my personal opinion that the act of dressing up and giving away candy is not wrong! There is nothing inherently evil about this. When we dress up, we do need to remember to ask ourselves if our costumes are appropriate (like dressing up as a character we shouldn’t be honoring) and modest enough. If after you ask yourself those questions you can wear your costume with a clear conscience, then go for it! And again, passing out candy or participating in any sort of Halloween-type event/outreach is such a great opportunity to be a light in a dark world on a dark night.
I cannot answer the question “Is it OK to celebrate Halloween?" for you. I believe that this needs to be a personal conviction. I was not allowed to celebrate Halloween for most of my older childhood and teen years, and I respected my parents’ decision. When I got into college, I dressed up for parties for fun since I didn’t do it as much when I was a kid. But in the last few years, I have realized what an incredible opportunity it is to be involved in Halloween outreaches or help a busy mom with her kids on Halloween night. Aside from the fact that I love the costumes and candy as much as the kids, I also love the opportunity it provides to serve others and build relationships. These pictures are all examples of this. I participated in some sort of outreach or helped a family out every year for the last few years while wearing all these costumes, and I loved every minutes of it. The picture of me as Rapunzel is actually from one of those events, a trunk or treat for a church I attended in college. I love dressing for the kids as much as it is with the kids. I will never forget when a preschool age girl dressed as Cinderella saw me in my Rapunzel costume, and said with big wide eyes and a huge smile, "Hi Rapunzel, I'm Cinderella." It was the cutest thing ever! (Btw, I'm sure you notice a pattern with my costumes! lol)