Halloween’s trick-or-treat dilemma: When Christians start judging and stop smiling

I distinctly remember the look on my husband’s face when I told him how I celebrated Halloween growing up. I was the kid who went to the “fall festival” at my church and my only options for costumes were women in the Bible. “Should I be Mary or Martha? Ruth or Esther?” Those were my options, and honestly, I didn’t mind much. I got to dress up, I bobbed for apples and ran through corn mazes with my best friends and I came home with just enough candy to get a week-long stomach ache, just like every other kid on my street.

As I entered my teenage years, my parents set me free to dress up as non-Biblical characters and run around the neighborhood rather than the fall-festival, recognizing that I was not going to confuse trick-or-treating for worshipping Satan. And in the end, I think most people would say I turned out OK. Meanwhile, I have really fond memories of the fall festival, even as my husband still gets a good laugh from trying to envision me dressed us as Esther for Halloween.

When we had children of our own, we chose to do it differently. We’ve allowed our boys, who range in age from 2 to 14, to enjoy Halloween like the rest of the neighborhood. They dress up in ridiculous costumes, ring the neighbor’s doorbells with friends and eat entirely too much candy.

We aren’t celebrating evil. In fact, we carry the light of Christ with us on Easter just as much as we do on Halloween. But here’s the funny thing I’ve found among Christian parents in particular. We’ve gotten good at judging what one another does for Halloween. Those who feel firmly that Halloween shouldn’t be celebrated gasp at those who allow their kids to partake in the festivities. And those who allow their kids to partake in dressing up and trick-or-treating enjoy poking fun at those who would prefer to wear Biblical costumes.

So I can’t help but wonder what difference could we make as Christian parents if we simply chose to proceed in love and without casting stones?

Several years ago when, I will confess, I was actually beginning to feel guilty for letting my kids participate in Halloween due to much of what I was hearing and reading in the Christian world about why they shouldn’t trick-or-treat. I read an article from a friend, and fellow author, Jessica Thompson, that brought much relief to my unnecessary burden.

She wrote, "But I am calling to all moms out there to remember for just a couple minutes that your standing before God doesn’t change depending on what you do on October 31. To be honest, it doesn’t change no matter what you do any day of the year. You could throw the biggest block party, and hundreds of people could get saved because of the light you were to your community – and God loves you exactly the same way he loves the other parent who listened to the convictions of their hearts and stayed home. So can we please remember that we are all made righteous before God because of the work of Christ? And can we please stop trying to find our righteousness in our own traditions?”

So there you have it. The pressure to make the perfect decision about Halloween is off. You are free to shine the light of Christ wherever you find yourself on this All Saints Eve.