I am always asked this time of year, "What should Christians do with Halloween?" Now, for most Americans Halloween is a fun night to dress up and eat candy, but it does have some connection to pagan ritual and is a holy time for neo-pagans. Therefore, many Christian families feel that it is inappropriate for a Christ follower to participate. So what is right?
A few years ago, Mark Driscoll, a pastor in Seattle, wrote a wonderful article on the broader idea of how should Christians interact with culture? He basically concluded that Christians can do one of three things with the culture: we can reject it, we can receive it or we can redeem it.
I tend to agree with his conclusion and I believe his paradigm can apply to Halloween. There is no getting away from Halloween; it is a big part of what it means to be an American. So as Christians, we can either reject it, receive it or redeem it.
We can reject Halloween, pretend like it doesn't happen, and keep our children sheltered from the notion, but let's be honest, this is impossible and will likely lead to some resentment in your child's heart for being left out.
We can receive Halloween and treat it like a fun day that the whole country enjoys, but where do you draw the line on how much of Halloween you accept?
Or we as Christians can redeem Halloween. The world has flavored this day in our culture to be a day of pointless costumes and expensive candy; how are we as Christians going to take back the flavor of this day.
Rather than asking, "Should we celebrate Halloween?" I think the better question for parents to ask is, "How should we celebrate Halloween, or Christmas, or Easter or any other holiday?"
In Christ, we are not called to live some days for God's glory, have a few days of sin, and then live a bunch of days somewhere in between; we are called to redeem every day, every hour, for the glory of God. So this Oct. 31, while the whole world is dressing up and loading up on candy, how are you as a follower of Jesus going to redeem that day for his glory? I don't think the answer is pretending like it isn't Halloween.
If you are a parent and your child wants to dress up for Halloween, know that dressing up can be a great tool for teaching. But rather than letting them dress up like Justin Bieber or Cinderella, get a warrior costume for your son and then read to them the account of Revelation 19 when the Christians go into battle with Christ.
Another idea is to dress your son or your daughter up like a Bible character or someone famous from church history. An example here is a man or a woman from the time of the reformation; after all, it was Oct. 31, 1517 that the reformation of the church began, when Martin Luther hung the 95 Thesis on the church doors at Wittenburg.
If you want to take your child trick or treating, make sure that they don't waste the hours with the only purpose of getting as much candy as possible. An idea here is to have your child make a few cards with words of truth or encouragement written on them. For example, "Christ Jesus came to save sinners" or simply "God loves you." Let your children write these cards and then have them give a card to every house they visit. This is a great way to teach your children about sharing God's truth with everyone they meet.
Redeeming the culture isn't difficult, it just takes some intentional thought and effort. Halloween is a big day in the life of children. I still remember being so excited about dressing up and going door-to-door to get my favorite candy.
As a parent, you have a golden opportunity to shape that energy of your child into something that is God-honoring and eternal. Don't waste this Oct. 31 -- redeem that day for the glory of Christ.
Jason Dees is senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Covington. He can be reached at 770-786-9031 or www.firstbaptistcovington.com or www.facebook.com/jasondees.