Marcelo is the pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, and the author of Biblical Prayer for Today's Believers: Transform Your Prayer Life.
The Witch in The Cherry Garden Drawing in Gerda's Boat with Her Crutch
Halloween and I
There were only a few times in my life when I did anything related to Halloween.
I remember that, when I was about four years old and lived in El Salvador, my mom carved a couple of pumpkins (they were white pumpkins with some green on them). I also wore plastic vampire fangs, a black cape, and some face paint. I don't recall going out trick-or-treating—we still have pictures somewhere.
Then, when I was in first grade or second grade, my Christian school offered a costume party a week or so before Halloween. Some of my peers "dressed-up" as tourists—meaning they did not dress up—but I dressed up as a werewolf. My mom did a great job painting my face and gluing hair all over it, so I won the costume/dance contest.
But as my mom and I grew in our Christian faith, we withdrew from the Halloween celebration. I never went trick-or-treating, and I never did anything Halloween related until much later in life.
Coming from a conservative background, I first associated myself (here in America) with very conservative Christians—the Baptist, independent, fundamentalist, pre-tribulational, premillenial, KJV-only kind of Christians. But, after thinking through things for a long time, I am now a Southern Baptist pastor.
However, since I have interacted with many Christians here in the U.S. (I often interacted with nondenominationals and Presbyterians), I have learned that not all Christians shun Halloween, they just draw a line somewhere.
For starters, these Christians don't think that they are celebrating Halloween in a pagan way, even though Halloween has pagan roots. They are dressing up like fairy tale characters and super heroes just for fun, but they are not subscribing to witchcraft or the occult (which are actually very popular in American culture today).
A couple of years ago, I went to a local church, here in Carroll County, to check-ou their trunk-or-treat event. My wife, my son, and I had a really good time. They had beautiful farm animals, they had many different vehicles with great decorations, and they even had a disc jockey.
Yes, there were some poeple with questionable witch, ghost, and devil costumes, but for the most part, people were dressed-up as super heroes, dinosaurs, and Disney characters. The first year my son went (he was only two years old), he was dressed like a little fireman. The next year, my son was dressed like Batman—really cool outfit.
Halloween doesn't mean much to me. There is nothing there for me to celebrate. I see it as a pagan holiday, and therefore I would have nothing to do with it if it weren't because of churches that offer fun events around that time.
I don't think churches are celebrating anything either. I think they are just offering a fun and family-friendly alternative to whatever it is that everybody else is doing. If churches want to throw a custome party on the very same day of Halloween, that's fine because the body and the day belong to the Lord, not to the Devil.
In principle, I don't think there's anything wrong with wearing a costume, so long as you aren't pretending to be something that is pagan or demonic. But I do refrain from using the words "trick-or-treat." Why? Because that's not what I'm doing. I say, "Hi, can we have some candy?" and "Thank-you." I don't practice tricks.
What then is the principle I am following? I think I am following Romans 14:5-6.
"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it." (Romans 14:5-6, KJV)
In the church of Rome, people were following different diets and observing different days because of their cultural heritage. These were not the biblical Jewish diet and the biblical Jewish holidays, but other gentile diets and holidays (notice that some people were only eating vegetables, which is not a Jewish diet). Most likely, some people were trying to avoid these diets and holidays because they thought they were associated with pagan traditions—they felt they couldn't do these things without offending the Lord. However, those who did observe them were not observing them to practice pagan beliefs, but to serve the Lord. They probably thought they were able to socialize with others and share their faith in this way. Consequently, Paul says that some refrain from these things for the Lord and others observe them for the Lord.
Yes, there are several commandments in the Bible that instruct us to keep away from Pagan practices, but these believers were convinced that they were not practicing such pagan activities. This is why Paul says, "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Romans 14:5, KJV).
I don't know how things will turn out this year for Halloween 2020 with the whole pandemic and all. My church and I are preparing to distribute some candy in one or two communities if we see some people out and about. Together with the candy, we will have some information about our church and the gospel. Why are we doing this? Not to celebrate paganism, but to expand God's kingodm on Earth.
© 2020 Marcelo Carcach