Maybe your October has been as much of a whirlwind as mine has, and your thoughts about a Halloween costume came to mind a little later than usual. Perhaps you are still wondering how you can pull off a costume for your post-work party tonight or for shuffling the kids to the neighborhood Trunk or Treat. Whatever the case may be, it’s Halloween, TOMORROW (or are you reading this on Halloween? In that case TODAY) —and perhaps you still need a costume.
Picking the right Halloween costume can be a big deal, as I am sure you are aware. Over the weekend, Julianne Hough’s costume choice for a party did not go unnoticed. After the Twitter-sphere let Hough know how it felt, she made a public apology for her decision; we can thank the Lord for common grace in this instance.
Chances are the Halloween costume you and I have picked, or will pick, won’t be the subject of a news article or carry with it a new hashtag. So, does it matter what we wear? Does it matter if our costume is culturally insensitive or morally offensive to someone in our much smaller worlds—say just within our own neighborhoods or work communities? Yes, it matters.
Whether or not a Christian participates in the festivities, Halloween is a gray area of faith. Maybe you and your family make the decision to trick or treat in your neighborhood, attend a Halloween party, or even host your own. Or maybe you and your family have decided that Halloween will not be a holiday that’s given much attention to in your home; so, instead of touring the neighborhood with other ghouls and goblins, you carve pumpkins and make candy corn cut-out cookies. However your Halloween evening looks, there is a certain amount Christian freedom that comes with the holiday.
Christians look to their own convictions to decide if and how they will participate. And while convictions vary from person to person, and family to family, it is helpful remember that for the Christian, convictions are to be based on the whole of Scripture. We are called to align ourselves to the truth of the Word and the holy life it enables us to live. We are also living as part of a community, and it is in that community where our faith is lived out—where we treat others with dignity and respect, because we are image-bearers.
All too often I see Christians, in all stages of life, allow Halloween to be an excuse to let loose for a night. It gives a certain amount of permission to dress up in a way that is less-than appropriate, or even a bit offensive. There’s somewhat of an underlying attitude that whatever we choose to wear on Halloween will somehow not carry over to November 1. And yet we know, deep down, that is untrue. Nowhere else in life do we give the excuse that our attitudes, behavior, and dress simply don’t matter. On the contrary, we would say that it is in our attitudes, behavior, and even in our dress, that our faith is displayed. On a holiday that often highlights wickedness, death, and evil, Christians have an opportunity to participate in a way that is wholly other than what the world expects.
In this way, even the costumes that we choose to wear on Halloween carry an eternal weight because of whose we are. We represent the One who rescued us from darkness. That doesn’t mean we have to dress up as nuns or as one of the biblical characters, but our costume choices should reflect the faith that we proudly wear on a Sunday morning, even if it’s not expected of us this one night of the year as we celebrate with our coworkers or traverse our neighborhood sidewalks with our kids. However you choose to participate this Halloween, may the light of Christ be the memory you leave with others.