It’s that time of year again. The leaves are changing (at least in the US), the air is crisp, the stores are decorated for Christmas…OK, they’ve been decorated for Christmas since July, but work with me here.
Thursday is Halloween. Depending on who you talk to, it’s either a day for small children to drive their parents crazy wanting to dress up as the most complicated figure ever (seriously–try turning your son into a Transformer) or it’s the day when all Hell breaks loose–literally.
The blogosphere is humming with post after post, and people, there is no middle ground on this one. As if the world needs another reason to not want anything to do with Christians, here we are gift wrapping it for them anyway. And here’s my take on the whole thing.
Whatever side you’re on…IT’S OK. You are ALLOWED to have your reasons for not wanting your children to participate, and you are ALLOWED to have your reasons for letting them participate. Dressing your child up as Winnie-the-Pooh and taking him down the block to show him off to your neighbors is OK. Keeping your children at home and having a family evening with them is OK. What is NOT OK is treating your fellow Christians like they are the scum of the earth for having an opinion, and doing what they feel is best for their family…no matter which side of the discussion they are on. And it’s NOT OK to teach your children that they are better than the little kids whose terrible parents allow them to participate in Trick-or-Treating.
Stop throwing rocks, people.
I have good Christian friends on both sides of the issue. One dear friend simply said “Please respect my wishes not to participate.” She didn’t give a reason, and she didn’t have to. For all we know she’s scheduled herself to be painting the kitchen that night, and that’s FINE. Another dear friend mentioned that all of the creepy decorations made her children nervous when they were little, and so they’ve never celebrated it. GOOD–it irritates the wax out of me for parents to purposely terrify their children by forcing them to participate in something that they don’t understand. Don’t want your kids to have all that candy? GREAT! Don’t want the neighbors to see that your house is already decorated for Christmas? AWESOME.
On the other side of the issue are parents who choose to allow their children to participate. GOOD CHRISTIAN PARENTS who allow their children to participate. AND THAT’S OK. This Thursday Patrick will Trick-or-Treat with a bunch of other missionary kids at a bunch of other missionary houses. Then we will gather back together in a central location and eat hot dogs. Hot dogs down here are generally so bad that they’re criminal, but they are by no means Satanic. (And before you call me out for having my son only Trick-or-Treat with Christians, please know that this is not an Ecuadorian custom. We’re trying to give our kiddos a bit of US fun.)
The discussions that I’ve seen on this subject tend to throw the rocks at the moms. REALLY, PEOPLE? Like we as mothers need ONE MORE REASON to doubt ourselves as we’re raising these precious kiddos. We are bombarded from every side from the moment our babies are conceived, and now we’re going to shoot each other over a Perry the Platypus costume and a Snicker’s Bar?
My point is this. We, as Christians, are called to love our fellow man. We are called to be salt and light to the world around us. If people are watching us (and believe me, they are watching us) and see us getting into our verbal playground brawls over things like Trick-or-Treating, WE ARE NOT SHOWING THEM THE LOVE OF CHRIST. Instead we are showing them our bratty, holier-than-thou attitudes that are the very reason that they don’t want anything to do with Jesus in the first place.
I am not trying to convince you to change your position on the issue. What I am trying to do is get you to understand that just as you have your feelings on the matter, so do the people around you, and that you all have the right to feel the way you do. What you don’t have the right to do is use your position on the issue to make yourself out to be some kind of “Super Christian” who is better than everyone else. If your neighbors ask you why you don’t celebrate, by all means use it as an opportunity to share your faith. If they know you are a Christian, and they ask you why you DO celebrate, by all means use it as an opportunity to share your faith. Just don’t use it as an opportunity to try and make yourself look better than them. Because as a Christian, you should already know better than that, now shouldn’t you.
One more point. I am well aware of the history behind Halloween. I am well aware that witchcraft and demonic activity are alive and well in our very messed up, fallen world. What I DO NOT BELIEVE is that allowing a child to Trick-or-Treat contributes to demonic activity, any more than I believe that letting my children read Harry Potter means that I am going to find them in the back yard boiling bats and casting spells. If you believe that your child is dabbling in the occult, you need to intervene, and quickly. Just please don’t blame it on Halloween, because that is most assuredly not the problem.