Darkness and Light Don’t Mix
My office overlooks a number of neighbor’s front lawns. One of them has a zombie in a cage on it. Yes, a zombie in a cage! The neighbor has gone to the substantial trouble of erecting a spiked prison of sorts on his front lawn and placing a life-sized gore covered zombie in it. Not only is it clearly meant to be an undead person, but it is also a horrifyingly realistic one. It is terrible to behold. My younger children get scared as we get near the house. Travel a mile or so further up the same road and you will run into further Halloween themed decorations. There is a large billboard advertising the local Halloween corn maze. Seems innocent enough, right? What could be wrong with that?
This giant billboard is for the gruesome monsters corn maze. It depicts realistic figures on it that were once confined to age-restricted movies. They are awful to look at. Yet, this is not unusual in my area. It is what is defined as “fun” and “festive” for Halloween. The sicker and more twisted the decoration the better it will look seems to be the thought process. Severed heads, zombies, dark and menacing serial killers, these are regular decorations around my town. Everything dark, evil, grotesque and horrifying seems to take center stage and be delighted over.
The embracing of all that is dark and depraved is why we choose not to celebrate Halloween as a family. We certainly don’t judge others who disagree, this is our decision for our family. We also understand it may be different where you are, reader. But for us, what once was a fun day to dress up and eat candy seems to have transformed into something new It seems like a season that embraces the twisted and evil in people. There is too much celebration of all things evil for this Christian family to take part in good conscience. As our 4 year old expressed it, “Halloween is about dead people and we are alive in Jesus.”
Our Journey with Halloween
It seemed like such a big deal to think about not celebrating Halloween. My wife and I agonized over the decision for a few years. Halloween was always one of our favorite holidays as a kid. We felt were taking away something hugely important from our kid’s lives. So we kept on dressing up and hitting the streets for a time even after the Lord was convicting us and telling us to stop. Until the one year, we came face to face with the twisted ugliness of evil that can be promoted by Halloween. God made our decision very clear for us and we have not regretted for a moment since then.
When I was a kid, my costume reflected my hero at that time. I was Superman or Batman most years early on. My friends wore similar costumes – policemen, fireman, baseball players, and army men for the boys. For the girls, they were Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman, princesses, and a good number of policemen and firemen. There was the occasional ghost, but it was of the white sheet Friendly Ghost variety. I know it sounds cliché, but it really was a simpler more innocent time.
After having kids, we continued the Halloween trick or treating even after we came to Christ. While the little ones were still small, pageants at school were cute and fun. The children proudly marched in their princess costumes, their fairy wings, and their fireman’s ax. They were innocent and joyful in playing dress up like all kids love to do Eating candy is pretty awesome for everyone involved as well. There is nothing wrong with dress up. The idea that we would not continue Halloween seemed very wrong, perhaps legalistic.
Darkness Took Over
As the kids got older, we began to see a change in the celebration and the type of costumes. Young children started showing up for 2nd grade Halloween pageants dressed as zombies, complete with carefully drawn in rotting flesh. First, it was the one kid whose parents were super permissive. Eventually, it was most of the class. Babe Ruth was replaced by slender man, a mythical creepy killer. Cartoon vampires were replaced with super realistic blood covered ghouls. Everything undead became all the rage. Dress up changed from innocent kids dressing like their favorite superheroes to serial killers, deranged monsters and other expressions of evil. Super sexualized versions of older costumes also were added in after a few years. It was as if the kids were directly reflecting the changes in a society that has embraced sin and darkness as time passes.
It was not just the costumes changing either. The decorations in the neighborhood went from cartoonish at worst and goofy at best to despicable. Who thinks realistic decapitated bodies on the front lawn is a good idea? “Hey honey, this will be a lark, let’s give the neighbors nightmares and cause counseling for the local children!”
Adults changed as well. Halloween became like a mini-Mardi Gras. Where once parents supervised their kids from house to house on the kid’s day, this changed dramatically. Extremely drunk parents roaming around the neighborhood in full costume became commonplace. Adults began to get in all sorts of mischief on Halloween they were way too old to be involved in. Halloween brought out the worst in people, young and old.
Despite this, we still clung on to the idea that Halloween was required for our kids to be “normal”. We just could not even contemplate depriving them of the joy of going to strangers doors and asking for free stuff. Don’t take candy from strangers, we tell them, except if you are dressed up in a costume then go directly to their doors and ask them for it. It is a weird message.
My wife and I researched the origins of Halloween. We took the Bible seriously and concluded that there was nothing explicitly banning the celebration. For our results, read 39 Comprehensive Bible Verses on Halloween. It is clearly not a salvation issue. It is also a generally secular holiday. We are free to take part and should never argue with other believers about their decision on the subject. We also rationalized that since it was associated with All Saints Day it is not bad in itself. The earth is the Lord’s, the candy is the Lord’s, and simple fun is the Lord’s. There was nothing stopping us. Just because pagans may have used the same day for something previously, it doesn’t mean it is bad. This is true of Christmas and other days the pagans co-opted, so why not Halloween? The more we told ourselves this, though, the more it still felt just…wrong. Something was not sitting well with us and we couldn’t figure out what. If it is not outlawed, why should we stop? If it is fun and not sinful, why would we not do it?
Don’t Wrestle with God
We were wrestling with the conviction of the Lord. His question for us was simple. Could we look out at the drunk people roaming our neighborhood, the evil costumes on small children and the celebration of darkness and honestly honor Him while going along with it? What fellowship does light have with darkness? Yes, we have freedom, but is this how we wanted to use that freedom bought by Jesus on the Cross?
The Night We Met Cowboy Bob
The answer for us became clear. Yet, our emotions and memories kept us from admitting this until the night we met Cowboy Bob. This was the moment God used to get His point across very clearly to His struggling children. Though the incident it still gives me the willies, I am thankful for it.
Welcome to Cowboy Bob’s House
The house that ended our trick or treat experience felt wrong from the very beginning. It was dark and eerie. It felt just yucky and evil. This is the mood people are trying to give off on Halloween so we just ignored the creep factor as we approached with our then very small son. The Holy Spirit was telling us the house was just wrong but the theme of the night embraces that wrongness. So even though my wife and I were independently repulsed by the house we sent our then little boy walking up the sidewalk to the very darkened doorway. We ignored the flashing warning signs that parents would run from on just about every other day of the year and told our child to ask the owners by himself for free stuff.
Our son was dressed as a sweet innocent little cowboy. He toddled up to the front door all proud of his cowboy hat and vest. He knocked on the door, opened his candy bag and waited for someone to answer. He was obviously put off by the house as well, but we had been prodding him all night. “It’s okay, just go to their door and do it on your own” was our message. He wanted to be a brave and strong cowboy and eat some candy. He trusted his mom and dad as we went along with society.
A very different type of cowboy answered the door. There was nothing sweet or innocent about this cowboy. He was an adult dressed up in a costume as Cowboy Bob, the fictional serial killer from the movie Silence of the Lambs. The character did horrendous things to people in the movie without remorse. He is a fictional version of the worst evil in humanity and an adult was greeting children dressed as him. We put our son, the sweet and innocent cowboy, into the position of looking up into a half-darkened house at an adult who took joy in dressing like a cowboy character who skinned people alive.
Trick or treat, Mr. Serial Killer.
If that wasn’t enough, the man responded in character as Cowboy Bob. He tried his best to get my very small son to understand his costume. He tried to get him to see that he was playing the serial killer character.
Ok, wrap it up, that’s it – we are done with this holiday.
Sometimes it takes really clear messages from God for us to understand what He is saying.
Where once Halloween may have stood for All Saints Day or a harmless time of dress up and candy, those days are long gone. As evidenced by the caged zombie that stares in my general direction, they have been replaced by horrors. Another former neighbor sets up an entire backyard of terrible scenes that he guards with a chainsaw and invites people to tour.
Sickening realistic displays of the worst man can do to one another – one day only, come and enjoy!
When looking at Halloween, what it celebrates, and what it brings out in people, it just became a contradiction for us. Our family seeks to walk every day with Christ in the light. Why would we one day willingly join in this celebration of dark? We do not want to say we love the light and then willingly choose to embrace darkness for even a minute.
What fellowship does darkness have with light?
So we stopped joining in Halloween. Surprisingly, the change was not at all big deal in our home. The parents had way more trouble with it than the kids. We would much rather just stay home and watch tv. Our kids play dress up all the time and already eat enough candy.
Though it certainly is an issue that we as followers of Christ can disagree in good conscience, we have not missed Halloween at all and have no plans to join in. It is just too much darkness for us.
This is how the Lord has led our family and based upon our area. Christians can lovingly and reasonably disagree.
Love to all,
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