Christians and Halloween
Evil Vs. Beautiful
A few years ago, I wrote an article on Beauty. My main point was that God is the author of all true Beauty, God defines true Beauty, and God's church is in the business of furthering all things Beautiful. In addition to many Bible verses that associate God with Beauty, I also realized that there are plenty of examples where Evil (the opposite of God) is something that we associate with Ugliness (the opposite of Beauty).
You won't have to search far for evidences of this. Cinderella's Wicked Stepmother is just as frequently known as the "Ugly Stepmother." A child's rebellious spirit is often called an "ugly attitude." In any fairy tale, the ugly hag is the "bad guy" of the story. When there is an "angel of light" who suddenly reveals herself to actually be an evil witch, we call that "deception" without blinking an eye. This is because we expect Evil to be ugly, and Goodness to be beautiful.
Christian Culture Should Be Beautiful
As Christians, we are called to further the kingdom of Beauty. We are to ask, with Moses, that the beauty of the Lord be upon us, and that He establish the work of our hands. Our hands are occupied with crafting beauty, whether it is cleaning our homes, constructing our buildings, decorating our mantelpieces, coding our websites, writing our books, or picking up trash on the side of the road. And we realize also that the message of our lives is to be one of perfect optimism, perfect beauty. How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.
With every other American holiday, we Christians brim to the top with joyful, beautiful celebration. The rhyme and rhythm of Christmas resonates with our inner being. The glowing lilies and royal purples of Easter clothe us with vicarious majesty. The warm-hearted sanctum of the Thanksgiving turkey sets our joy to bubbling. These holidays mean something to us.
But when we Christians come to Halloween, the purpose behind it all runs dry. We're supposed to delight in that icy chill running up our spine when we bump into a dangling corpse on our evening run. We're supposed to enjoy wrapping our finely-swept porch in cobwebs. We're supposed to admire ourselves in our mirrors after we put in our greenish-brownish fangs.
We're supposed to delight in ugliness.
Halloween: the Ugly Holiday
Does it even make sense? Do we realize we aren't being at all consistent?
On Easter, Resurrection Day, we celebrate Christ's victory over death. He was dead, but He came back to life. This was no zombie-affect, no spirit inhabiting a rotting corpse. Christ's body itself was resurrected. His organs, muscles, lungs, and skin was healed and fully functioning. He even showed his scars (not open wounds, mind you) to his disciples, proving that his body was the same body that had died on the cross. Christ ate a meal of honeycomb and fish, showing that His digestive system was not worm-eaten and rotten, but living and functional! Halloween, on the other hand, wouldn't exist without death. And we know where death originated. In the Garden of Eden, God's perfect Paradise, the first man and woman brought death into the world by their act of rebellion against the order of the universe. Death is a product of the fall of man. It is the enemy of Christianity.
On Thanksgiving, we celebrate Christ's good gifts. We erupt in gratitude for the unexpected blessings He sent our way each year. We feast with thankfulness, realizing every bite is undeserved, yet delightfully, plentifully given to us. We feast because we know the meaning of fasting. We are grateful because we know both how to suffer loss and to abound. On Halloween, however, we teach our children to be gluttons. We dress them up and send them out, all for the purpose of getting lots of candy. If they don't get the "treat," then they can play a "trick," as tradition goes. They beg for candy, then play vindictive pranks if they are not given it. Please tell me if there's some deeper and more virtuous meaning behind Halloween than this, because I'm not seeing it.
On Christmas, we Christians celebrate God With Us. This world, completely given over to Halloween, experienced a complete shock when Christmas showed up. The birth of a Savior freed both kings and shepherds from their impending death, and rippled a glorious Laughter throughout the entire world. The utter irony of this tiny Child combatting the Dragon once and for all—and winning! It's hilarious! This Child's sweet gospel of peace unchained all captives, decimated all suicide, bandaged all brokenhearted, set the lonely in families, and planted beauty in the ashes. But Halloween's children dress up like dragons, carry pitchforks, and fog every angel's trumpet with sulfuric breath. Halloween sides itself with death and evil. Halloween is ugly.
Do Christians Decorate for Halloween?
I'm not saying that a Christian is not a Christian if he puts on a costume on October 31st and rings some doorbells. I'm not saying that a Christian will send his kids to Satan if he helps them dress up like squirrels to get candy once a year. But I am saying that if he does it, he needs to do it with his eyes wide open. He needs to make sure his kids' eyes are wide open too.
One thing that really brought this point home to me was when I visited some friends on Colorado's western slope last October. We were driving by some particularly grotesque Halloween decorations. You know the ones: rotten flesh hanging off sun-bleached bones, skeleton fingers reaching up through the grass. I commented on how trashy it made the front yard look, and my friends told me that those were their Mormon neighbors. I must have looked confused. "Oh yeah," she said, "There are lots of Mormons in our neighborhood, and they're the ones that go all out for Halloween. The most decorations. Those are the Mormons."
Interesting. I don't want to make a hasty generalization here if not all Mormons are like this, but I have to conclude that at least Colorado's Western-Slope Mormons don't mind making Halloween their own. (Mormons have no "official stance" on Halloween, according to MormonWoman.com). So we have to wonder what would compel Mormons to litter their yards with corpses. If Mormons truly do love Christ and the fact that He is triumphant over sin and death, then why plant a fake zombie on your front porch? I have to conclude that Mormons aren't that interested in the beauty that the life-giving Christ brings to a culture.
Which makes me ask every Christian out there: Why do the dead-guy stuff every hallows eve, if: 1.) You're not a Mormon, and: 2.) You love the fact that you're not a dead guy?
Dear Christians, let's create a culture of beauty, not ugliness. Let's decorate for Christmas, not Halloween.