Perhaps no other day in our culture raises more questions among Christians than Halloween. Reasons for this include the fact that the meaning of it might not be as clear as some of the other holidays that are part of our culture.
For some, the first mental challenge in dealing with Halloween is its symbols and themes of evil, gloom, horror and death. Together with the seemingly harmless practice known as “trick or treat,” it is easy to understand why many Christians are conflicted.
Nevertheless, the majority of people in our culture—especially those of the younger generation—look forward to this annual event. To deny them the enjoyment of dressing up in costumes and interacting with neighbors and friends can appear harsh and unfair to those who don’t take the symbolism seriously, and who regard Halloween customs as little more than innocent fun.
Christians should recognize that, with the possible exception of Thanksgiving, other major holidays involve some practices that are also questionable. For instance, there is the Christmas myth of Santa Claus and associated commercialism that can lead to excessive spending; Valentine’s Day with its secular focus; and Easter with its pagan associations; Regardless, most Christians believe that these holidays draw special attention to major biblical events and are a way of honoring God.
Regarding Halloween, the Scriptures provide some helpful guidelines. The Bible tells us that while we, like Jesus, are in the world (John 9:5), we are not to be of it (John 8:23). This means that as part of society, like Jesus who observed the secular Festival of Dedication (John 10:22), while exercising discretion we can engage practices and traditions that are part of the general culture.
Clearly, God has given freedom to determine the extent to which we allow our consciences and personal preferences to dictate our behavior. As Paul instructed the Colossians who were being influenced by heretics with ascetic (self-denying) practices, “Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” (Colossians 2:16). Nevertheless, we should avoid violating our consciences (Romans 14:23).
Part of spiritual growth is improvement in our ability to determine the difference between good and evil (Romans 12:1). Today, many Christians use Halloween as an opportunity to build relationships with those in their neighborhood and to share the Gospel. I explain how spiritual growth protects us from evil in my Life Essentials Study Bible, Principle #6 page 1652 in Colossians: “We should become more and more grounded in God’s message of salvation and sanctification so that we will not be led astray by false teaching.”