by Johnathan Arnold
Christians have taken a variety of stances on Halloween. Most churches have avoided it altogether, opting for a “Fall Festival” or something similar. Of course, we have a more faith-centered alternative in Reformation Day, celebrated each October 31st. This year is the 500th Anniversary of that day in 1517 when Luther publicized his 95 Theses. Still, ignoring Halloween doesn’t change the fact that horror movies will be streaming on Netflix and our neighbors’ houses will be littered with creepy pumpkins, dangling corpses, and bloody hand-prints on the front windows.
If we have not thought through the implications of Halloween, we will be unable to make a God-glorifying, gospel-centered decision about its observance in our homes and churches. Here are a few Bible verses to study, weigh, and meditate on as we approach the season.
The Line Between Darkness and Light — Isaiah 5:20
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
The lines between good and every kind of evil have been blurred into oblivion by rampant secularism. The squiggly semblance of a line that still exists in areas like gender and sexuality are threatened seemingly by extinction. This cultural commitment to absolute “freedom” in everything has also affected the way that spirits and the occult are viewed. Besides, who has the right to call someone or something else “evil”?
Deuteronomy 18:9-13 says, “…thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations…that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.”
Witch costumes are the most popular option for adults thirty-five and older according to one CNN survey. The devil is favorite option number five. Spells, witchcraft, and consulting with the dead are no small matters to the Lord. There are no “good” witches. The ouija board is not a joke. Harry Potter is not a cool role model. White magic is not an “okay” alternative to black magic. Wicca is not an innocent religion. These things are detestable and rooted in the occult.
Galatians 5:19-21 says that “The acts of the flesh are obvious.” Among them is witchcraft. Paul writes, “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Romans 1:31 is a solemn reminder that not only those who do such things, but also those who approve of them, fall under condemnation. Trivializing witchcraft is a serious offense to God because the practice of witchcraft damns living souls.
See also Acts 8:9-25 and 19:19 for occult practices in the New Testament. See 1 Samuel 28:3-25, 2 Kings 17:17, and 2 Chronicles 33:6 for occult practices in the Old Testament.
Whom We Wrestle Against — Ephesians 6:12
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Christians are in direct conflict with the alternate spirituality of this world. “COEXIST” is not an option for us — at least in the sense that it is intended by bumper stickers and banners across our country. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 is clear: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial [Satan]? …Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”
In the last several decades, there has been a growing interest in dark things. From pop stars like Katy Perry, preying on millions with her demonic subliminal messages, to out-in-the-open Satanists like Anton LaVey with fee-paying members to his First Church of Satan, our generation has been desensitized to the occult. As the pillar and ground of truth, we must fight back, guarding the lines between good and evil with all of our strength. For many, this has meant a decisive stand against Halloween, which makes light of witchcraft, spirits, and Satanic symbols. This is a decision we each must make for ourselves and our families. We are at war.
Martin Luther (1529) wrote in his hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God,
“And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.”
What We Fill Our Minds With — Philippians 4:8
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
You have likely heard this verse a hundred times in a hundred different contexts. Whether it’s “trash” on television or worldly music, the holiness movement has stood against all kinds of content because it does not pass the test of pure, lovely, or praise-worthy. Moreover, it dulls our spiritual sensitivity and threatens to grieve the Spirit.
During Halloween, our culture throws all of these qualities to the wind. Fear becomes the desirable “good.” Amusement park haunted houses may have been fairly mild a few decades ago; today, gruesome images and violent scenes are the norm. Large facilities are prepared to provide the ultimate thrill. Murder is glorified as crime-scene caution tape and fake blood are found on hundreds of porches. It is no wonder that people are fascinated with serial killers, zombies, and violence for the other 364 days of the year. We must ask ourselves: Do these themes pass as true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, and praise-worthy?
We are messengers of light in an age of darkness. We are people of life in an age filled with cruelty and death. We are saints, holy ones, in an age of perversion and wickedness. We are stewards of joy in a fearful, superstitious age. If we cannot glorify God in Halloween, we cannot celebrate Halloween. May He help us to exalt the pure, lovely, gentle Savior!
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