Is Halloween Sin?

It’s a simple enough question: is the celebration of Halloween a sin? After all, Halloween is the American adaptation of the Day of the Dead celebration. Legend has it that the Day of the Dead was the annual time of year when your dead ancestors and relatives came back to life to haunt you. The trend then was to dress up like scary monsters and creatures, and decorate your house with scary features in hopes that you might scare the ghosts away. As is common these days, of course, American consumerism has turned a religious festival into a market driven holiday (complete with candy corn)! The question that has been presented to me, however, is the standard: should Christians celebrate Halloween?

Some are totally against the celebration, saying that it is tantamount to “Satan worship.” Their arguments stem from the historical origins of the holiday. I think such an answer is an over-reaction. If we were to press these same people on the celebration of Christmas I am quite sure they would want to honor the holiday, and express how much disdain they have for the “liberal media’s” anti-Christmas campaigns that we hear so much about around that time of year. But the origins of the actual Christmas celebration have their roots in the pagan winter solstice celebrations. Under Emperor Constantine the Roman Empire adopted the celebration as a Christian festival, but our Christian forebears for centuries following were strongly opposed to the celebration of Christmas. In fact Benjamin Keach, an early baptist father, would be appalled that his most famous hymn is sung as a “Christmas Hymn!”

So the issue then is why it is okay to celebrate Christmas and not Halloween. One can hardly find an adequate defense of such a concept. At the heart of the matter for me and my family is the reality that Halloween does not mean what it once did. It is no longer considered among Americans as a fight against evil, nor was it every considered worship of Satan. American Halloween is simply a time to dress up, play games, and eat tons of candy! It’s part of the American heritage that we’ve all come to enjoy from living in this country.

If we can change Christmas to mean something good, I am not sure what the problem with Halloween is. Perhaps it is again another attempt by conservative Christians to simply attack the culture we live in (we seem to be good at that). It’s hard to say, but perhaps we could all be better served by simply celebrating Reformation Day instead…or at least dress up like Martin Luther for Halloween.

About Dave Dunham
  • Garrett

    I’m afraid that in your oversimplification you’ve missed the issue in your post. It isn’t about whether participating is sin, but what it means for a Christian to celebrate Halloween, and how we can glorify God when this season rolls around. As Christians, participating in culture is not sin, but failing to consider our actions beyond “everyone else is doing it” and “it is fun” is naive.

    And as for your parallel with Christmas, it doesn’t hold. Or maybe I’ve misunderstood you, and you want us to Christianize Oct. 31. As you said, Christmas has been changed to mean “something good” and we accept it, while Halloween – well, it surely does not.

    But go ahead. It’s fun to attack conservative Christians and put up straw man arguments.

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    I’m afraid that in your oversimplification you’ve missed the issue in your post. It isn’t about whether participating is sin.

    Uhm, Garrett? Did you see the article’s title? Because I can promise you one thing about the article: it’s about whether participation in Halloween is sin.

    I promise.

    Of course, some good examples of how someone might glorify God while celebrating Halloween* might have been fun, but such examples aren’t any necessary part of the article as conceived.

    As to whether David makes a good case? I think he does if one grants his major premise—that celebrating Christmas is not sin. I’m prepared to grant him this, but I know past readers of the precursor to this site might not (as the sinfulness of Christmas came up a few times there), and I wonder how he would respond to those who believe Christmas and Easter are evil because of their pagan roots. I have an answer, but I’m always curious to see how others will make their case.

    As for the rest of what you said? Straw man. Straw man. Straw man. Straw man. Straw man. Straw man. Yeah. Straw man‘s pretty easy to say, but just because you say it doesn’t mean that there’s actually a straw man or that you know what a straw man is. Since you called Straw Man on this article, I’m pretty sure you’re not sure what one is.

    But! So long as we’re looking at fallacies, let’s try on Begging the Question with this little gem:

    Christmas has been changed to mean “something good” and we accept it, while Halloween – well, it surely does not.

    Yeah, emphasis mine. So what did you do there? You argued that Halloween is cannot “mean something good” because you presume it cannot “mean something good.” The awesome thing about this kind of argument is that I can simply prove you wrong by providing any real-life example of Halloween as something good.

    So then: I threw a Halloween party and all the believers who came had sweet fellowship with one another and we all had a good time (to God’s glory) and the few non-believers who came were able to witness honest Christian charity and fellowship. They were able to see a tangible example of the love of Christ.

    Hey look, argument defeated.

    The Danes last blog post..20081030.ProLifeChoice

  • Alan Noble

    I think Halloween is one of the clearest examples of a “food sacrificed to idols” issues in our current culture.

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    Except for that the culture has not sacrificed any food to idols on Halloween in so long that we can’t even be sure that the original sacrifice was real or mere rural legend…

    The Danes last blog post..20081030.ProLifeChoice

  • Dave Dunham

    Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever had The Dane rush to my defense…and while I might have been a bit more gentle in the response there’s nothing left to say…so ummm…yup

  • http://nathanbriscoe.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/i-hate-halloween/ Nathan

    Haha–the contemporary celebrations of Halloween and Christmas in our culture are night and day, my friend! To compare the two in terms of pagan practice is worthy of ridicule!

    Let us rather be serious about how we celebrate things today. We can celebrate on Halloween without celebrating the darkness, death, and fear. If we do celebrate those things, do not be deceived: these are not from the Lord.

    Here is why this Christian doesn’t celebrate Halloween. Maybe my reasoning will resonate with you!

    Nathans last blog post..I hate Halloween

  • David Dunham

    Nathan,

    With a cursory glance over your post I find nothing that adds any clarity to the conversation…only the same tired, and unfounded arguments that Halloween glorifies Satan. I guessed I missed the Bible verse where it says that tiny tikes dressing up like goblins, knocking on doors to ask for candy is glorifying to Satan. The notion you promote on your post that it is in “American Culture” rooted in satan worship is totally bogus, I am sure you could ask any average mom if she thinks this and you’ll find that nearly 99% don’t. So you’re claiming something that first of all hasn’t been proven, and second of all would be hard to prove.

  • http://nathanbriscoe.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/i-hate-halloween/ Nathan

    @David Dunham -

    Haha! Indeed David–you missed that because it isn’t there!

    Nothing is wrong with dressing up and handing out candy–this much is obvious.

    Now is something wrong with celebrating darkness, death, and fear? This much is also obvious. The answer is a resounding YES.

    If one isn’t celebrating darkness, death, or fear, they’re not celebrating a machination of Satan!

    We need wisdom, and we need to flee worldliness. Let your critical eye fall on Halloween. Let your spiritual eye fall on Halloween. Hear God.

    Nathans last blog post..I hate Halloween

  • David Dunham

    Nathan,

    I don’t desire this to turn into some kind of “battle,” but here again you’ve not added any clarity to the conversation. What is about Halloween that is celebrating “darkness, death, or fear”? The Halloween American’s, at large anyways, celebrate is trick-or-treat. If you’re attacking something else than say so. If you’re just suggesting that Halloween is bad because of it’s historical roots in paganism then I defer you back to my article.

  • http://nathanbriscoe.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/i-hate-halloween/ Nathan

    @David Dunham -

    Ohh okay. I’m sorry about the misunderstanding.

    If you don’t see the darkness, death, or fear, we’re not talking about the same holiday!

    Nathans last blog post..I hate Halloween

  • David Dunham

    Fair enough

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    Speaking of celebrations of fear, how ’bout that Focus on the Family letter from the future? You can almost taste the author’s glee in every melodramatic sentence.

    The Danes last blog post..20081031.NetNeutrality

  • Zach Trimble

    Hmmm..Ok. I’ve been thinknig a lot about this whole topic and reading these posts…and I’d like to throw out there what I’m currently hashing through. But first…a couple things to clarify concerning where I’m currently at here.

    #1. A few years ago I was starkly against celebrating Halloween and trick or treating, etc.

    #2. I’ve sorta loosened up about this lately; I’m kinda in flux right now about it…I’m not sure where I stand now but I have ideas…

    #3. Halloween originally had pagan roots..(so did other celebrations, I know).

    #4. There is a strong poplulation of people in our country who directly use halloween as part of their pagan rituals…and always have. and I’ve seen it as I went to college close in proximity to what some claim to be the “wicken” capitol of America (although there are a ton of those claims).

    #5. With #4 in mind…Most Americans don’t know or care bout the dark stuff that is in bed with Halloween…thereby making American “Halloween Culture” that of dressing up and candy, etc.”

    Some Thoughts…..
    Well what I would challenge David on is the comparison of Christmas to Halloween. The difference is that Halloween has always been associated with pagan rituals, at least to some degree…and it still is..and we’re not talking 30 people in New England here…we’re talking a lot of people all over the world. However, the celebration of the birth of Christ has been celebrated as a holy thing ever since it happened…and although the pagan “Christmas” celebration was sorta melded with Christianity at one point…the root of what Christians celebrate about Christmas has always stayed the same, although tainted in our current culture with santa clause and what not. So the two are sortof opposites. Halloween was always pagan and is now “tainted” by american candy culture..etc. and the birth of Christ celebration was a Holy thing celebrated by Christians until “tainted” by the melding with pagan stuff.

    A Cultural Issue then…

    Well I don’t think anyone who’s been posting here is saying it’s ok to celebrate darkness…the Bible always tells us to have nothing to do with darkness. and I think this is where culture comes in…because in some isolated groups (let’s call them parties)…it’s realy just about dressing up and candy…and for others…it’s a mixing of exploring darkness a little (i.e. a little kid dressing up as dracula and fantasizing about biting necks and draining blood)..and for others…all out satan worship (although the populating is small overall).
    In our church…we had a dress up party where we dressed as bible characters or non-scary/evil things…and we had an awesome time of fellowship and I believe Chrsit was honored.
    However, I still don’t want to give out halloween candy at my front door because I frankly…in light of the Bible..see it as wierd at the least..and sin at the most…for little kids to be just relishing in the fact that they are dressed up as something evil. When the Bible tells us to flee from that kinda of stuff…I think it’s kinda wierd and sad for kids to dress up as evil stuff (and enjoy that fact too).
    The fact is…I may think it’s cute to give out candy to the 4 year old bunny rabbit…but I’m also helping to promote a culture that enjoys playing around with darkness…see…it’s a mix…and it’s a mix I’m not comfortable with yet.
    Now frankly…I’m going to a party in a couple days my mom is throwing where we’re dressing up our small dogs like hot-dogs and lions…and frankly…I shouldn’t have just said that out loud…but I’m taking my pomeranian. I don’t see a problem because in our isolated group…darkness is not involved. I just think that to say that it is not involved in halloween culture on second street waverly where my doorstep is…is simply naive…so I think again this year i will be the grumpy man who doesn’t give out candy…but I’m open to thoughts on this…

  • Amy

    I have been reading everyone’s comments and I still am very confused about this subject. I have been doing some research on halloween and in every website there are different answers. Here is my issue.

    I am very religious and have been ever since I can remember. I used to go trick or treating but I never wanted to be anything evil. I would always dress either like Cinderella are an angel. There came a time when my mom go involved with Jahova’s witness and we were not allowed to celebrate any holiday. Than we started to figure out that Jahova’s witness was not the way to go for us because we believe in Christ and that he is God’s son. But after this, we stopped dressing up and trick or treating. I never really liked Halloween that much so that did not bother me.

    Now I am incredibly confused because my friends are throwing a Halloween party on Friday, October 30. I do want to go and so does my husband because all of our friends will be there. The only thing is that the “Ticket” to get in is to dress up. Now, if I am dressing up and going to a friends party, am I worshipping Satan? I don’t want to do something so wrong knowingly. I do not take my children out trick or treating because I will buy them candy if they want. They don’t need to go door to door for candy and I certainly don’t want to have my children participating in something evil.

    My husband says that it is not even on Halloween night, it is the day before but the party is for Halloween. Isn’t it still celebrating? I don’t know what to do and I would really like as many Christian opinions possible. I don’t want to pretend I am ignorant when I know about the holiday because that is a big sin in God’s eyes.

    If I don’t believe in Halloween and I am not going to celebrating darkness, is it still a sin to go to my friends party? My husband really wants to go not because of Halloween but to have fun with his friends and I don’t want to argue with him because of it. If we don’t dress up as evil is it still evil?

    Please, please help me. I need an answer from a true participating Christian.

  • Alan Noble

    Amy,

    Here are a couple of thoughts which you might prayerfully consider:
    1. It might be helpful to chat with a pastor or elder from your church, with your husband concerning this issue.
    2. If you believe that your husband is the spiritual head of the household, and you have no good reason to believe that his is in willful disobedience on this issue, then it might be good to trust his spiritual discernment. I know headship and submission are tricky subjects, but I feel like this is something to consider at least.
    3. I would also consider what Paul has to say about eating food sacrificed to idols. The food (which some intended to worship a false god [satan?]) was in no way in itself evil. Even after the food had been used as a part of a pagan (satanic?) ritual, Paul tells us that it is in no way inherently evil. I would say the same thing goes for halloween. There is nothing inherently satanic about dressing up and having a party, even if the party in some way refers to a pagan tradition, and even if some people still celebrate it as a pagan holiday (remember, Paul’s food sacrificed to idols refers to food that was recently sacrificed!). Satan does not own Oct. 31st, the concept of halloween, dressing up, or having parties, just like he doesn’t own food that is sacrificed to him. God is Lord over all. And if you go to this party to glorify God, I believe He will be honored by that.

  • Nathan

    Amy -

    It will be good for you to submit to your husband on this. Even if he is wrong, you will be blessed for your obedience to God and he will be blessed and will change!

    You should not think that is a matter of sin unless the Spirit convicts you! It is not a sin to dress up, but it is a sin to go against the leading of the Spirit of God. (He who knows to do good but does not do it, to him it is sin)

    For me personally, I will not attend a Halloween party. I’ll attend a costume party, but I will not attend a party which either trivializes or glorifies Satan’s constructs of darkness, death, and fear. There are just some places that Christians have no business entertaining themselves at.

  • http://www.myspace.com/554030573 Sharon

    These are all pagan holidays yet I participate not using them AS pagan holidays and always have Jesus first in mind, not worshiping the tree or anything like that.

  • JJM

    Seems to me that the Bible has given enough clarification throughout the book to demonstrate what God finds acceptable and what he doesn’t. Obviously Halloween has no place in a Christian’s life. You can’t follow the world and God both. Make a choice.

    Christmas is also a sinful world’s holiday. It no longer represents what it used to. And the fact that people come out of the woodwork to “put aside differences” but cannot do that every other day of the year tells me that they are still “of” the world.

  • JJM

    “Christians are to stand in the evil day, not participate in substitutes for the evil because they think it is mean to deny their children the devilish trappings of the world!”

    This is a statement taken from another website. I thought it made the point. The world has everyone so brainwashed that the mere sight of many children participating in some evil, and our kids NOT participating, leads us to feeling like we’re neglecting them. This weakens our faith in God’s Word. We are to despise evil and should be setting the same example every day of the year regardless of what the world does. Just because a world’s “Holiday” occurs doesn’t mean we have to put up a big sign that says “Jesus shed his blood for us all”. That just makes Halloween look more glamourous.

  • dbj

    where are the scriptures in this discussion? Does the bible not say that God and mammon do not mix? God has given us feasts so why are we looking around for others? Yeshua did not give an order to observe his birthdate or Easter but God gave us feast which pertain to salvation. All I see here is feelings, opinions and thoughts but sadly nothing Biblical

  • http://goodokbad.com Seth T. Hahne

    Complains that discussion is missing reference to Scripture. Provides no reference to Scripture.

    ^_^

  • dbj

    My point was that the person who wrote this seems to have the title pastor. If you want scriptures I can give them to you but to study is far better than just taking some lines out of context. Read Mathew and you will find references to Yeshua observing the feasts. Read the Torah and it will tell you about the different feasts. Yeshua spent a lot of time in study and prayer and its time we (including myself) did the same and stop riding on the waves of our feelings, and the opinions of others.

    :-)

  • Noelle Sumlin

    Hey, to Everyone WHO thinks and believes Halloween is a Sin, is a Bad thing, is Evil, or is Wrong to do. If You believe or think this then You are so very WRONG. Nathen this goes out to YOU too. My name is Noelle Sumlin and I am a 22 year old Christian. I have been a Christian since I was 13 years old. Halloween is NOT a SIN, it is NOT EVIL, and it is NOT WRONG is the Eye’s of God and God’s Son Jesus. Halloween is not just full of Badness, Darkness, Death, Fear, and Evilness and if You Believe or Think that then YOU are So Very WRONG. I have taken my younger cousins out every Halloween Night since I was 13. So I have seen GREAT things about Halloween and I Know God and Jesus LOVE Halloween. They LOVE Kids so much. It says in the bible, to be in Heaven You need to be like a child. I LOVE seeing they my younger cousins faces light up when they get all dressed up and get and eat Candy. So I have since Halloween be Fun, Happy, Loving, not scary, and Bright. If some of ya’ll are going to not like Halloween because it seems to be Bad, Darkness, Death, and Fear then just look around every day. If U live here on Earth then if you are a TRUE Christian then U know that on this Earth every day is full of Bad, Darkness, Death, and Fear , not just on Halloween. So then Halloween is not a Sin, Evil, or Wrong to do. If U think Halloween lifts up Satan or if U think Halloween is Satan’s Day then U are So Very WRONG. Halloween DOES NOT Lift up Satan and Halloween is not Satan’s Day. First of all Who made Earth God or Satan, it was God. Who made the Years, Months, Weeks, Days, Hours, and Minutes God or Satan, it was God. So if God made Oct. the Month and if God made the Day that Halloween is on then How can it be Satan’s Day when God made it. Yes that is RIGHT God made Halloween not Satan. Satan can’t still a day away form God when God made that day. If U say Halloween is Satan’s Day then U are saying God is WEAK and Satan is STRONG and that is WRONG of YOU. Halloween is JUST a DAY and a Day can not lift up Satan but a Day can not lift up God either though. See People CAN lift up Satan and People CAN lift up God but Days, Weeks, Months, and Years can NOT lift up Satan or God only People CAN. So YES there are some people that do stuff and make Halloween a Sin to them but there are some people that dress up and eat Candy on Halloween but they make Halloween a Good Day because they show Gods LOVE on that Day. So just remember Halloween is just a Day. People make Days Bad and people make Days Good, so which are YOU going to do are U going to live your Life and make Halloween a Bad and Evil Day or are U going to make it a Good and Loving Day.

  • http://stevescrosstraining.blogspot.com/ Steve Miller

    The major problem with saying “Halloween is evil because it causes an immature brother to sin by violating his conscience” is there is no meat being sacrificed to idols by pagans. What I mean is: meat sacrificed to idols was done as a form of worship by the pagans; today’s pagans would be equally offended (as super conservative Christians) if you told them Halloween was celebrating witchcraft. No one is celebrating evil on Halloween, it is a rumor. Perhaps a few wiccans are performing spells or getting skyclad, but that is a miniscule periphery matter, no one witnesses it, no one is influenced by or associated with them.

    It does seem to become a form of isolation from the culture rather than being missional and pursuing the lost.


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