Friday, October 31, 2008

"Mom, why don't we go trick-or-treating?"

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8

"The Lord is my light and my salvation -- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life -- of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1-2

"So do not fear, for I am with you." Isaiah 41:10a

"I will set before my eyes no vile thing." Psalm 101:3

"Candy is bad for you!" my dentist

We have a "tradition" of not trick-or-treating. This is the first year Sam asked about it. For the first time, I was really struck by the command not to fear. Here we are, trying to show our kids that there is nothing to fear in the dark, nothing to fear when they have bad dreams. God is with them. And we (the Christian culture) then choose to expose our children to sights on halloween that we would never allow them to view in a movie! Yes, even if you dress your child up in a cute little puppy costume, guess what? Not all parents do that! I'M even disturbed when I see the gruesome graveyard display one of our neighbors has out, or when I walk into the party store this time of year. The blood and gore and focus on DEATH!! We stand for LIFE!! Remember? Jesus is THE TRUTH. Jesus is THE LIFE! Everything about halloween - hey, let's not play dumb here and pretend it's all about the candy - glorifies things that stand for death. Just look at the "spooky" halloween decorations.
And what are we trying to do when we decorate our homes with those things (again, I'm speaking to the Christian culture here)? We're trying to give the kids a delicious scare and make them feel spooky. And yet the Bible says, "DO NOT FEAR!"
I will never understand a believers' ability to gloss over these facts. Yes, a child may see only loads of candy, but a parent's responsibility calls for a higher plane of thought.
Now, contrary to some "halloween extremists", we do answer the door and hand out candy, along with a little story sharing the gospel. I'm not about to pass up a witnessing opportunity when they're flocking to my door!


Anonymous said...

There is nothing to fear because Jesus has conquered death! Halloween is what you make of it and I'm personally offended that you are standing in judgement of all other Christians who participate in the holiday in some form. You CAN participate without having to be involved in scary/death filled images. Trunk or Treat and other church events are a perfectly Christian and fun way to allow your children to experience the fun of dressing up and getting candy without making it a big bad forbidden event. I would also add that I don't believe that it is glossing over anything or choosing to live for the world instead of Heaven. If that were the case, you might as well become a Jehovah's Witness and cut out celebrating any holiday including birthdays. I don't think you realize how close minded you often are in pursuit of Christ-like behavior. While this IS an honorable pursuit and it does call for discernment and heart/mind guarding - it does not call for closure and judgement.

Sarah said...

I think that "judgement" has a very broad definition nowadays among fellow believers. We are, in fact, called to make judgments - yes, sometimes against fellow believers - and it is called standing for TRUTH. Now, I know it sounds arrogant to say that I stand for Truth and you do not because you participate in Halloween - and maybe there's some Truth! to that - but I am not standing in judgment of you. You are! Based on my blog post. If you were personally offended, and yet still believe that you are doing right, why are you offended? Maybe that alone states that the issue requires some deeper examination on your part.
Now, to address specifically some of the things you brought up, I am not "standing in judgment" over all the church alternatives and such for Halloween. I AM calling for Christian parents to open their eyes and do a little thinking before going along with something that's so socially acceptable that no one even thinks twice. So often, we are called to live in opposition to the world, and it doesn't make sense. If you can stand with a clear conscience before God and have your child participate in Trunk or Treat, I do not "judge" that. I do have to say that I HATE the fact that halloween is a holiday - you have to admit that everything about it does stand for things that normally are associated with Satan's camp. That's just a fact. If you can bring your child to a more sheltered (and this is NOT always a bad thing, especially when we're talking about our young children) situation where dressing up is a fun activity and candy is distributed, I really see nothing wrong with this. It's out in your neighborhood where you never know what you're going to run across. Our neighborhood was filled with disturbing and scary images, as well as costumes! I believe we do have a responsibility as parents to shelter our children from this as much as possible.
Yes, it calls for judgment - that IS discernment. My definition of (bad) judgment would be if I told you that you were going to hell because you "celebrated" halloween. Now that would be crossing a line. I just feel so strongly about the Truth of this issue that it is not an area I can simply discern for myself and then keep silent about it. *Blogs ARE for airing the blog writers opinion, by the way.
Wouldn't it be great if we could be so "backwards" AS WE ARE CALLED TO BE, that we just do our dressing up on a totally different day? I would love that! `Cause I love dressing up. I don't think it's a sin.
We're still figuring things out as a family with 3 fairly young kids. The past few years, we've done charades at home and distributed candy and tracts to the kids coming to our door. And all 3 kids dressed up. But we were at home.
How can you compare Halloween to birthdays??
And one more thing, yes, Jesus HAS conquered death! AMEN!! So let's not glorify it (death), revel in it, pretend like we're not enlightened to the fact, look at a witches costume and think "how cute!"! I actually saw a whole line of costumes this year (to prove my point earlier about the day being death-focused) where the tag line of the costumes was "In Goth We Trust!".

Anonymous said...

I think we all need to relax and stop focusing on finding "ungodliness" and sin in every single thing in the world. Can't we just let some things be what they are? Like A Sister... said "Halloween is what you make of it." Spend your energy on more important things than seeking out sinfullness in the world. RELAX!

Sarah said...

Seeking out sinfulness? No - believe me, with 3 young kids, that's the last thing I want or need to do!! I believe there is a growing apathy, unconcernedness (if this is, in fact, a word), tolerance, among believers today. We accept too much as just a part of our society. Nobody THINKS about it anymore! That's the problem. No, I don't need to seek out sinfulness, but I do need to be vigilant - especially when we're talking about something that so directly affects my 3 young boys. It does!!
I guess it can come down to this: do you believe that it's wrong for a Christian to focus on evil/elements of evil?
"Lighten up - RELAX!" That's exactly what Satan's pushing for.
Please rethink your stance! We desperately need AWAKE believers, standing for light and truth.
If you are not a believer, please disregard this response (and this post).

Beckie said...

Just because Jesus conquered death doesn't mean we can/should celebrate it. "What then shall we say? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" Should we honor death just because we don't need to fear it? The apostle Paul says "by no means!"

I don't think the intent of this post was to judge Christian parents who celebrate, in some form, Halloween. I do think we need to be careful and very deliberate about the worldly things we introduce to our children. A parent's excitement about dressing up their infant/toddler in a costume (understandably so - there are some really cute ones out there) will be interpreted in a way that upholds - even if it's just a little bit - a day that, for many people, celebrates and honors the death that Adam and Eve brought into this world when they disobeyed God. Is this what we want our children to learn from us?

I think Sarah was just challenging Christian parents to think about the worldly things they are introducing to their children, understand the potential impact and be deliberate about the way in which those things are treated.

Anonymous said...

Don't misunderstand me - I don't want to celebrate death, I just think there is NOTHING in this life to truly fear because Jesus has conquered it. Also, I don't feel offended because I am guilty of something or need more examination. Wouldn't you feel offended if someone told you that you are a bad parent because you do X,Y or Z? Or if you were told you were a horrid driver because you sometimes listen to music, or talk to your children in the car, therefore causing undue distraction? Did you grow up dressing up and trick or treating? Did you grow up in a Christian household? I did both and pardon me, but God had me in His hand and I didn't turn into a satan worshipper.
I chose not to give satan the power to take Oct 31st from me (or any other day for that matter), or my children but instead chose to celebrate the day God gave celebrate the fall season and for petesake to let my children dress silly and eat some candy!

Jennifer Mulvihill said...

Woah! I need to read your blog comments more often! With Josh overseeing our church's young marrieds ministry, we often are asked about Halloween and whether or not it is appropriate to participate.

Our response is to treat Halloween as we would treat any other secular holiday. Do we do Easter Bunny at Easter, St. Patrick's day, Valentine's, etc? Personally, in our home, our desire it always to keep Christ the focus. So on Halloween we do wear fun, non-scary, costumes and go to a party, but we also set aside time to read about heros of the Christian faith, celebrating All Saints Day and those who have so bravely gone before us.

I commend you, Sarah, for your consistency with your boys as you approach the holidays. Evangelizing to the neighborhood on Halloween! Way to go! AND I'm sure your boys had fun in the process! This will become a tradition in and of itself. I remember the years in our apartment waaaaaay back ago, when you continually kept the focus on Christ at holidays. I am glad to see you continuing this with your own family!

Sarah said...

Kind of a side note on what I get offended about: I don't get offended easily. I feel like if I really think something is right, why should I be offended? Not to aim this right at you (the loggy sister), but just to the general populace, I think that getting offended when someone says something contrary to your own "beliefs" means you have shallow beliefs that are easily shaken. Now, if a good friend said something like she thought I was a bad parent for such and such a reason, I might be hurt, but that's different than offended. And hopefully I would respect that friend enough to examine what she was trying to say closely and see if she was indeed right.
Long side note.
As for the whole "nothing to fear", you're right. However, that does not mean that forces of evil/Satan are not still very real and at work. We're not in heaven yet! And although we know that death has been conquered, Satan and his helpers are still given leeway to roam the earth until the appointed time. Therefore, we have a responsibility to be on our guard. And that responsibility is just magnified when talking about our children!
I do understand traditions. Halloween, I understand, is something that many grew up participating in, therefore having fond memories of and wanting to pass those down to their children. But just because it is a tradition doesn't make it right! And I'm all for healthy family traditions. I know that there are plenty of "halloween alternatives" out there at churches and whatnot where they may even regulate which kinds of costumes are appropriate to wear and which kinds are not. But for us, we have chosen to not even really celebrate it, so as to not give the kids a mixed message. We DO let them dress up (this was the first year for all 3 since my oldest needed a costume to wear to school), and we have a fun family time of playing charades. They look forward to it and don't feel like they're missing out by not going out trick-or-treating. Not at all! They love handing out the candy and the tracts, and I think my oldest enjoys that we're different in this respect. And yes, they eat some of the candy too. In fact, they eat candy throughout the year at times.
So it's not like we all sequester ourselves under our beds over here and pray until it's all over. We have chosen to be as much of a LIGHT as we can in what is a very DARK "holiday"! (See previous comments as reference).
All for Jesus.
Oh, and Jenny, I love the idea of talking about Christian heroes and martyrs. This is a Christian tradition at this time of year that tends to be forgotten about. As our kids get older, I'm sure we'll incorporate more into what we do in this way.