Don’t Be Scared. It’s Only Halloween.

I had some weird restrictions when I was growing up. I wasn’t allowed to watch Sesame Street, for instance, because it featured monsters. In fact, I couldn’t watch many popular shows – Growing Pains (stay-at-home dad who was also a psychologist), My Two Dads (obviously about a gay couple), and Alf (you don’t want to know).

And so, as strange as it may seem, even though I grew up fundamentalist with some silly restrictions, I was always allowed to celebrate Halloween.  

Ladybug costume 03Each year, I would pull the Make and Do Child Craft book off the shelf and look at their suggestions about how to make your own costume. Football player was always an easy choice. Or, I could go as a hobo, but I didn’t really know what a hobo was or how to make that sack-lunch-on-the-end-a-stick contraption. If I had a box, I could always make a robot costume. 

Once my costume was ready, I’d grab a pillow case and head out into our neighborhood. And I wouldn’t come home until it was too heavy to carry.

I am sure that my parents heard all of the arguments against Halloween from other fundamentalist Christians. But amazingly, they didn’t buy in.

Those arguments persist. This week, someone posted on Facebook an article entitled 10 Reasons I Kissed Halloween Goodbye. It read like a tired rehearsal of the same old, same old.

Halloween is Satan’s day.
Halloween is based on pagan rituals.
Halloween glorifies evil.
Halloween promotes an oversexualized culture.
Halloween is popular and celebrated by everybody, and so it must be wrong.

None of these arguments resonate with me at all. Not in the least. I find them ridiculous, and when I hear someone refer to Halloween negatively, I just roll my eyes. 

Here’s why.

The “Christian” arguments against Halloween are fear-based. They are intended to scare us. They emphasize the possibility of bad through sensationalism and shoddy logic. 

Here’s an example from my childhood. Even though I was allowed to go trick-or-treating, I had to be very careful with the candy I brought home. Every year, we heard stories about how evil people would put razor blades in apples or drugs in candy. 

Any fruit I got in my bag could not be eaten that night (as if that was going to happen anyway). It had to be left on the counter to see if it started to turn brown around where the razor blade had been inserted. Unfortunately, it never did. 

Any candy that had an open package had to be thrown away immediately, for fear that it had been tampered with by an nefarious drug dealer. Sad news, indeed.

Fear makes us do crazy things. Like believing that our fruit harbored razor blades. Like refusing to let our kids have some fun with their friends. Like equating a friendly exchange of candy with paganism.

The Christian faith is not built on fear. The Christian life is not to be motivated by fear. The Christian faith and life are about faith and love. Maybe Christians should think twice about buying into arguments that are built on fear rather than faith and love.

So, skip the fear-based trunk-or-treat event at a local church. And do something crazy and faith-filled and loving like celebrate Halloween the old fashioned way.

I think the best, most faithful and loving, way to celebrate Halloween is to get dressed up and go trick-or-treating. Have some fun with your kids. Get creative together. Do something together like come up with a cool costume. Take pictures. Hand out candy. Chat with your neighbors. Smile at the great costumes. And talk to the kids in your neighborhood.

Don’t be scared. It’s only Halloween.


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