To Halloween or to not Halloween?

by Chad Allen, Cuyahoga Valley Church Lead Pastor

As a child, I grew up in a secular home and fully embraced Halloween. In fact, I think I was Dracula for several years in a row!  As a young Christian, I became aware of some of the occult history and practices of Halloween and then pushed my pendulum the other way and became legalistic about abstaining from Halloween.  As a youth pastor, I then went on the offensive and rallied teams to provide an annual harvest festival for the community with themes such as “the beach” or “the 70s,” etc. and presented the Gospel and rejoiced as teens came to the Lord.  Those were exciting times. Now, in a season of being a dad, and a person passionate about reaching my neighbors for Christ, I see Halloween as a unique opportunity to interact with my neighbors.  There are parts of Halloween that still rightfully disturb me, but I get excited about the unique opportunity this night brings me to love my neighbors.

Every year I have several people ask my opinion on Halloween and whether Christians should celebrate it or not.  Unfortunately, this is one of many non-fundamental topics that has caused much division and infighting in the church rather than unity and agreement.  In short, I encourage followers of Jesus to engage Halloween but not celebrate it.

We can study the pagan, superstitious, and religious history of Halloween and have cause for a distaste of the night.  We can become aware of how this is a high holy day for those in the occult and practice appropriate wisdom and prayer for what is revealed.  We can avoid the sinister and sensual immorality that some feel a license to express on this day by being fun, but with Christ-honoring integrity.  We can also get disgusted at the gross consumeristic nature of this second largest money holiday in the U.S. and ensure that we use good stewardship.  We can have innocent fun on this day without giving an indictment of evil behavior upon parents who dress their child up like an M&M and are excited about getting a little candy. And we can definitely get excited about the unique opportunity that Halloween brings us to be in the world and not of it. Here are four suggestions to help you do this:

  • Be Redemptive.  Yes, Halloween has superstitious, pagan, and occult influences in its traditions, but so do other holidays including Christmas and Easter.  Therefore, we engage every holiday with a redemptive effort to honor Christ and participate in ways that can bring glory to God.  The devil doesn’t own this day.  Every day belongs to the Lord (Psalm 118:24; 1 Corinthians 10:26)
  • Be salty and shiny.  Jesus has called us to be the salt of earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-16).  On a day that emphasizes death and darkness, find ways to counter it by bringing life and light.  This means you will refrain from some traditional elements and find fun and creative ways to start your own Gospel-driven traditions.
  • Be a good neighbor. Jesus calls us to love our neighbor (Mark 12:31).  This includes our immediate neighbors.  Be super intentional on Halloween and take advantage of the one night a year where you can interact with your neighbors as you knock on their doors and they knock on yours.  Connect, learn names, get to know your neighbors.  Walk the neighborhood with them, visit with them, follow up afterwards to get to know them more. #LifeHouse
  • Be Spiritually mature.  Halloween is one of the topics that leads us to study and practice Romans 14:1-8 and 1 Corinthians 8 where we see that we need to live with what the Holy Spirit impresses on our conscience.  Some Christians have views, beliefs, and backgrounds that will lead them to disengage from Halloween.  Some Christians feel the freedom to engage Halloween in a way that dodges the sinful and dark offerings of the day and to find ways to participate with integrity to their devotion to Christ.  Mature believers may find themselves on different pages of that scenario but can respectfully disagree or honor the other without condemnation or argument.

In addition to the verses mentioned above here are some additional Scriptures that I encourage you to pray and think over in the effort to engage Halloween without celebrating it:

Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Galatians 5:1 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:13 – For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

1 Peter 2:16 – Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

1 Corinthians 10:30-31 – If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks? So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

3 John 1:11 – Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

Romans 12:21 – Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

And for those who need just a little more specificity, here’s how we try to live this out in our home: We don’t celebrate or promote Halloween.  We don’t say “Happy Halloween” to our kids or others. Other than some harvest decorations, there are no traditional Halloween decorations in our home.  We try to teach our kids everything that I mentioned above, although I have to admit that this can be difficult because selfishness, immaturity, and the world can be difficult obstacles to maneuver around.  And we try to be fun and creative at our home by experimenting with ambiance that is more about life, light, and community (music, fire pit, coffee, conversation, fun ways to get candy, etc.).  Hope this is helpful!  Feel free to share below any examples or ideas you have as well!

Additional Resources:

Here is a link to a small interview I recently did on Moody Radio on this topic:
Moody Radio Cleveland

Here a  few other links I recommend it you want to look into this further: