What To Do With Halloween?
The man was wearing a grotesque mask and holding a bloody knife. Across the room hung an array of “Hail Satan” tee shirts and other demonic regalia. Nearby was a booth containing “spooky baby” costumes.
Spooky? Of course! It was the 40th anniversary celebration of the release of the initial Halloween film. As one of the original actors, I was there to sign autographs and hand out my autobiography (Love Hunger) in hopes that the Lord would use it to save some. The man with the mask was a man acting the part of the gruesome murderer, Michael Myers, from 10 of the 11 “Halloween” films.
Separating People From What They Do
During breaks, I was able to talk with many of the exhibitors and was surprised to find them exceedingly friendly. One young lady, dressed as a zombie, told me horror fans were the kindest and nicest people she had ever met.
On the spot, therefore, I had to re-learn the lesson that as believers, we must be careful to separate who people are from what they do. After all, weren’t we all once blind to the horrors of darkness and the unequalled glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?
It’s an issue we face all year round, but especially at Halloween. What a strange holiday Halloween is. Its roots are Christian: the vigil of All Saint’s Day, November 1, earlier known as the eve of All Hallows Day; hence the name. Yet it pulls together all of the images of fear and horror that we’ve come to know — some terrifying (Frankenstein, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Edward Cullen, zombies, etc.) — and others more sensual (Dracula).
Is this all harmless, or does the demonic realm play a part in any or all cases? Do Halloween’s occult activities qualify for the warning in Deuteronomy 18:10-12?
There shall not be found among you anyone … who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord. (NASB)
Why Do Some Celebrate Halloween?
Some Christians are concerned that Halloween’s sensual aspect could be used by the demonic realm to lure someone “just wanting to have fun” into the darker regions of sexuality. Indeed, it’s been said that such a convergence of sex and violence adds a thrill to sexual experiences.
Or could it be instead that horror junkies are manifesting deep fears and premonitions of a judgment that they know is coming? According to Hebrews 10:27, unbelievers live with “a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (NIV)
It’s human nature to rehearse in our minds the things that deeply move us in some way — things that are important to us, that thrill and delight us, or experiences that have brought us great hurt and pain.
So, what do we do with Halloween? Believers respond to that question in varying ways.
As we get older, many of us begin to ponder death, particularly our own. This rehearsal can either increase or decrease our anxiety. I’ve often told the Lord that it’s not death that I fear, but the pain of getting there!
If we see ourselves as being under judgment, though, or if we hate ourselves, this fear can be much worse. Our fears can reflect a soul in discomfort over sin not yet taken to the Cross, as well as anxiety over the judgment to come.
There are some who involve themselves in occult activities who really believe in dark powers, and have been lured into pursuing them for their secrets. Others dabble in them as a form of entertainment, unaware of the supernatural danger that they may be putting themselves in.
How Do Christians Respond?
So, what do we do with Halloween? Believers respond to that question in varying ways.
One group believes celebrating Halloween is okay as long as you replace occult-related costumes and practices with more positive ones, such as biblical or historical costumes and celebrations. They see no need to prohibit innocent play-acting of that sort, and may also fear losing their kids’ ear by imposing needless restrictions.
Another group believes celebrating Halloween is okay if you have no occult intentions. The demonic realm cannot touch you, they believe, as long as your motivation is good and you have no background, interest or bent toward the dark side. Their key scriptures have to do with Paul’s instructions regarding meat that has been sacrificed to idols. (See Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10:14-32)
A third group says believers should avoid Halloween completely in any form, even completely non-occult events like “Harvest Celebrations.” Former Satanists teach that even innocent celebrations may put a curse on the celebrant and their offspring to the third or fourth generation, and therefore must be renounced and repented of in Jesus’ name. In addition to Deuteronomy 18:10-12b, their core biblical support is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:22: “Abstain from every form of evil.” (ESV) and Ephesians 4:27: “Give no opportunity to the devil.” (ESV)
The Warning of Doubt
Who’s right? Here’s the hard part: We don’t know all the factors that allow demons and fallen angels to gain ground in us. Some are obvious (found in the Deuteronomy passage already cited), but the three options above involve more nuance and subtlety.
Is it spiritually dangerous to approach the enemy’s territory, even innocently? Or does the risk require intentionally searching for things in the spirit realm that God has chosen not to reveal? Does re-engineering the holiday to make it Christian, neutralize the dark powers behind it? How can we know for sure?
Some take the doubt as sufficient warning. Given the possibility that such things could be dangerous and might open us up to demonic influences, why take the chance?
As for me, I find former Satanists’ warnings worth taking seriously. They are all too familiar with the demonic realm and how it operates in relation to Halloween. Particularly compelling is Steven Bancarz’ new book, The Second Coming of the New Age, and his very strong warning to believers NOT to engage in Halloween in any form or fashion.
So I side with the third option. It’s quite possible that people in groups one and two haven’t encountered or engaged in the things of the occult. They may have never experienced demonic power, never felt its chilling, evil presence. Their position may be sensible according to the information they have, but they need more information.
Celebrations of Darkness
The Halloween film was my final acting job in Hollywood. Many of my closest friends were involved in making it, and I had a great time working with them. There was no sense of foreboding on the set, no powers of darkness anywhere as far as I could tell. No one thought that the film would amount to anything — just another “B” movie.
And I had enough problems with the demonic even before that. Like the demoniac in the Bible, I would rove the Hollywood Hills unclothed early in the morning, darting from bush to bush. When I’d look in a mirror, demonic eyes would be looking back at me. When I met God a year later, the first order of business on God’s agenda was to deliver me from that. The spiritual battle was strong and protracted, but when it ended I felt light as a feather and freed from the dark oppression that had kept me in bondage.
I have seen other undeniable expressions of the demonic. It’s biblical, but not merely ancient. It’s nothing to play with. Yes, with the Holy Spirit, we have more power and can see the devil overcome in the name of Jesus. But to willingly enter the devil’s dark territory is unthinkable to me.
Granted, few people see that happening through their Halloween participation. Satan is too skilled a liar to be that open about his work. Nevertheless, if we enter territory controlled by the demonic realm, even innocently, or out of the darkness that remains in our hearts, he and his minions can take advantage of our naïvete. Why take the chance?
What would Jesus do?” He would visit people entrapped by the powers of darkness, but participate in their celebrations? I think not.
Ultimately, as the Billy Graham organization notes on their website: “Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God.” However, it is something that should be given serious thought and prayer lest we end up living by the slogan of Wiccans and other Satanists, “Do what though wilt shall be the whole of the law.”
Dr. David Kyle Foster is the author of Transformed Into His Image, Love Hunger and Sexual Healing and is the founder/director of Mastering Life Ministries (www.MasteringLife.org). A major revision and expansion of Sexual Healing (The Sexual Healing Reference Edition) is slated for publication in November of 2018.