In a day when good is called evil and evil is called good, it is very difficult to establish boundaries, especially involving questionable issues. Churches seem to accept more and more worldliness, while some Christians are getting less and less tolerant of anything except their version of the truth. Gray areas are widening by the minute. Choices aren’t as simple as they used to be.
This article seeks a balanced response to deal with the many areas where the Bible is silent by using Halloween as its primary example. I choose not to give a simple ‘Yes/No’ answer lest I offend some disagreeing soul without good reason, nor do I wish to lead any agreeable souls to a decision without conviction. Here are four guiding principles from the Scriptures:
#1 – Whatever I do should glorify God.
In I Corinthians 10:31, the Apostle commands that everything we do, including even eating and drinking, should be according to this rule. This is the greatest of principles. Many times, the first question a person asks about a ‘gray area’ issue is: “What’s wrong with it?” This is really the wrong place to start. The Christian perspective dictates we ask: “What’s right with it?” Eph. 5:10 puts the responsibility on the individual to “Prove what is acceptable unto the Lord.” The ultimate right is God’s glory.
In the context of Halloween, for example, pumpkin carving is neither moral or immoral. What you carve can glorify God and ‘give light’ or not. Dressing up in costumes is not, in itself, bad, yet the outfit may be God-honoring, flesh-appealing, or flat out Satanic. God must be glorified in our actions, as well as our motivations. One does not nullify or justify the lack of the other.
#2 – Everything I do should benefit the gospel.
I must consider whether what I do helps (or hinders) the salvation of lost souls (I Corinthians 10:33). If I participate in the questionable issue, will it spread the gospel by adding to the mission or hurt Christ’s cause by distracting from the message?
Halloween turns out to be one of the greatest annual opportunities to share your faith. People will actually come to my door, my church, my booth asking for a treat… If you miss this open door, well, here’s your sign! Light shines bright when the world is so dark; yet at the same time, worldliness can dim your ability to share your testimony (Matthew 5:15-16). Separation from sin should be practiced, but not to the point of isolation from sinners.
#3 – What I do has an end.
Everything has consequences. Have I considered where the gray area in question will lead? According to I Corinthians 10:23, some things are allowed (lawful), but not everything is beneficial to me (expedient). Although this is not an end-all, I must give proper consideration for where my actions will lead myself and others in the future.
Halloween often affects families with young children. And children often practice in excess what their parents did in moderation. As a general rule, each generation gets further and further from purity and piety. For example, Halloween was outlawed in America until 1845, and now it is very odd when families, even churches, do not celebrate this ‘holiday’ (holiday used to mean holy-day). It doesn’t take very long to observe the fairly-steady progression of wickedness in ones’ own lifetime, but you should take time to look far into your grandchild’s lifetime, too.
#4 – What I do affects my Christian family.
Does it bless my brothers and sisters (I Corinthians 10:32)? Will it edify (build up) or will it offend (tear down) their spirit? I must consider other Christians, especially those with weak(er) consciences (I Corinthians 8:9,13). Even if I do not necessarily have a conviction about it, I should seek not to offend someone else who might. If I have a conviction about it, must be careful not to offend someone who doesn’t. Romans 14:1-5 is clear that I have no right or basis to judge (condemn) another Christian and his views. I stand in danger of God’s judgment when I do so. I must be fully persuaded in my own mind, not in everyone else’s!
Halloween is a simple example of how well-meaning Christians can differ in opinion/conviction with regard to an issue where the Bible is silent. The best practice is liberty. Live by the ancient wisdom: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” When a Christian jumps to a judgmental conclusion against another Christian, he only reveals that he indeed is the weaker of the two. He is the immature, self-righteous ‘babe in Christ’ given to conflict (I Corinthians 3:1,3). Take the high road: determine not to offend nor to be so easily offended (I Corinthians 8:13).
Footnote: As to the question: Do I celebrate Halloween? My personal response is simply, No. We celebrate Harvest. This might seem like a cop-out justification to some, but consider this… Halloween is not evil because of pumpkins, costumes, and candy – but because of the culture of violence, fear, death, and especially the demonic occult.
Yes, our children carve pumpkins. This year, one carved ‘Jesus is Alive,’ one ‘God Hearts U,’ and the other, a cross. My boys even put their pumpkins out on the street to witness to the drive-bys. They have one heartbeat – that the light of God shine in the darkness. We usually don’t dress up – but we never dress up in fear-mongering, violent, bloody, sexual, humanistic, faddish outfits. We usually use a little creativity and share the common grace of simple, innocent, childish imagination and pretend. But we don’t limit this to one time of the year – we do it throughout the year. And just because the world is doing something doesn’t make it wrong, nor does it mean we cannot. For the last decade our family has participated in the biggest outreach of our church: Tract-n-Treat on Main St. We have averaged giving out 3,000+ tracts and toys to families in a one and a half hour time frame. We participate, but only for the glory of God and the salvation of lost souls.
Where do you stand and why? Do you stand upon the Word of God or upon your feelings? I’m only a student of the Bible and don’t pretend to be an expert… I only hope this makes you think. Take time to look up a reference above, research God’s intent, and take your stand. I welcome your comments – both of disagreement or of affirmation. (Thanks to Patch for the inspiring words)