Resist or Redeem: The Power of Halloween Street

I live less than two miles from “Halloween Street.” Named the 9th Halloween neighborhood display in the country. Number one in my city. Almost every yard is loaded with an elaborate, overly gruesome display. For a good six weeks or so, I drive past guillotines, zombies, and hanging bodies, and find myself to be quite distracted.

Not by the sickening images no one should want to see. Nor by the thought of the hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into the gory event each year. But by the number of young families with young children who walk up and down the street and enjoy the celebration. 

And I wonder if our world has become what it is today because of Halloween.

I was in Ankeny, IA to go trick-or-treating with my nieces. They were super cute of course. But the funniest part of the night was a friend's too-young-to-know-any-better little boy grabbing handfuls of candy at each house. The first time he did so, his dad told him to take just one, but the woman handing out the candy responded,

Allow me to introduce you to the second most powerful being in the world. He manages to pull off an attractive and harmless appearance. And that’s exactly what he wants you to think as you admire the goulish décor – that all of this death and darkness is no big deal. I dare say, this devil’s main objective on Halloween night is to give the whole world the impression that he’s not actually real.

And he’s succeeding.

Little eyes behold his cute, playful nature. After all, it’s nothing but plastic, cloth, and makeup. Take a selfie. Fill your bag with candy. Enjoy a night of spooky make-believe.

The child in the stroller knows no difference. But that devil does. Is it possible that the harmlessness and familiarity of all things death and dying may very well take its toll on that little pumpkin you’re strolling down the sidewalk? Is it possible that what his little eyes see shapes who he becomes, how he thinks, what he does, and what power he chooses to control his life?

You tell me an annual death-celebration makes no difference. How do you think a person ends up looking at the bloody murder of an unborn child and saying, “No big deal”? How could someone gun down multiple bystanders and think nothing of it? How can a brilliant college student look at life and say, “We’re nothing but energy – when we die, we just dissolve into nothing”? Death is no longer death. It has become clean, cute, and unrealistic. Like those skeletons, ghosts, and gravestones in your front yard.

Darkness comes in many forms. But on the brightest of days, Halloween Street is powerfully dark. And it’s capturing little minds by the dozens, thanks to the crafty, serpent-like creature hiding behind it all.

And so you choose the “redeem” method. Be safe, dress up as Bible characters, and stay away from gruesome neighborhood displays. And maybe my words are, to you, just another extreme, anti-Halloween post to ignore like all the rest.

I leave it to you with one challenge. Look up three words: devil, death, and darkness. Not in your dictionary, as I imagine you know what they mean.

Look them up in the Bible. Because every time I see those words, I don’t pull out my selfie-stick. I tremble. I cringe. I run.

For death, for this resurrected saint, is a very strange thing. A thing of the past and a defeated thing. Since when do we celebrate the thing that is defeated? And so, when I see those words, I run to Light and Life. I look to the cross with eyes of gratefulness. And by the grace of that man who casts out demons and raises dead people, I plead for the power to turn my eyes from evil things.

I want death, and devils, and darkness to forever be strange to me. I live my days fighting for it. It’s called “resisting.”

And that’s why, for me, October 31 is just like any other day. Because if he invited me to his party, I wouldn’t come dressed in the godliest of costumes with a bodyguard at my heels. I’d stay home.

Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him.
1 Pet 5:8-9

 [image credit: flickr.com, journeyoftheword.com]


30 thoughts on “Resist or Redeem: The Power of Halloween Street

  1. Amazing post, reminds me of the reasons we don’t celebrate Halloween. What can we celebrate if we want to combat the devil in that way? Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses.
    God does not want death to be glorified. He wants us the glory in the eternal life we have Jesus Christ! He has conquered death! Risen from the grave!

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      1. Lydia, I have wondered about the celebrations for “Reformation Day” as well when I see photos of kids all painted up or in costumes and such. It bothers me when the alleged remembrance looks so much like a Halloween “alternative”.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You make good point. I think we’ve been on all sides of this argument. I do think that one can use the interest in the spirit world to have good conversations though… “always being ready to give an answer to the hope that lies within, with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 Thanks for your thoughts!

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  3. Thanks for writing this article and calling it what it is. My parents dropped Halloween when I was a kid and taught us why. We seldom even participated in “alternative” activities. We did get some flack for it too, even from some Christians I guess.

    A fascination with death is/can be an indication or devilish activity. Think of the demoniac of Gedara “Who had his dwelling among the tombs…” Mark 5:3. An attraction to death is abnormal even for unregenerate human behavior from what it appears in Hebrews 2:14-15, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Normally, people tend to live in fear of death (and the forces of evil, for that matter).

    The whole “redeeming it” ideology really bothers me too. If “we” are going to “redeem” Halloween, how far are “we” going to go with “redeeming” evil things? Shall cannibalism and vampirism be “redeemed” too? Or wait….when people in those things are redeemed they turn “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18) and stop doing those things. Well, whaddaya know…

    One of my favorite verses: 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

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  4. AMEN!! Your words speak so loudly and clearly! Shouting it from the rooftops! I think of a child (8 years old) who I tutor. She is so caught up in these Monster High dolls, these super heroes, these princess dolls with special powers. Reality is not real. There is such a mental shift starting at the very young that what you say here truly is scary for the children are so malleable. Let us mold them in Christ and things of life and joy and love.
    Thank you for writing this. It is a powerful piece.

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  5. My family doesn’t celebrate Halloween either, essentially for the reasons you described above. Thank you for sharing this as I am always interested in arguments for or against Halloween. It’s definitely an important decision to make.

    God bless,
    Patty

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed reading your post. This can be such a difficult topic for sure!! It’s interesting that the original word for Halloween, Hallowe’en, literally means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening.” In the past when my kids were little, I did tons of research on the subject trying to get a better idea of how our family should approach this particular “holiday.” While I love make-believe and dress up and all such related things, I don’t like the idea of celebrating evil at all. A great question to ask for this and really anything a Christian does is “Can I do what I’m doing for the glory of God?”

    Making decisions that go against the flow is certainly difficult! A lot of people, including Christians, didn’t understand why we chose not to do the whole Santa thing with our children at Christmas. Sometimes it boils down to doing what you believe the Lord has led you to do and trying not to judge people who choose differently. Goodness, I’m ready for Jesus to come back – constant decision-making is so draining!! 😉

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  7. Although our church will not be having a party, some churches are having a dress up as a Bible character party to replace trick or treat. It is fun to dress up, and I too do not like the glory to the devil with witches, and various dead bodies and scary houses. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

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  8. I find that Halloween is such a struggle and we really need to think about our motives and listen to our conscience. I guess it can be a really great teachable moment with kids. We do participate (minimally) in Halloween because it’s one of the few chances we have to interact with our neighbors and we find that missional connection with people living very differently than us to be really important. Thanks for linking!

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    1. I certainly agree that Halloween can be such a great opportunity to initiate gospel conversations with people. Here are two ideas from a friend of mine that I would love to try sometime.
      http://tomorrowsforefathers.com/gracenotes/?p=13878
      http://tomorrowsforefathers.com/gracenotes/?p=11834
      I’m also hoping to gather a group to prayer-walk this “Halloween Street” this year.
      While I hesitate to get too involved for the sake of “missional connection,” I don’t want to waste the opportunity to reach people with true love and with the truth of the gospel of Life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  9. Lydia, I absolutely agree with you and if you’ve read my blog, you know I’m not afraid to take a firm stand on things. I do remind myself, however, that we need to be careful about imposing our convictions on others if they are not clearly delineated in Scripture. When we had children at home, we did not celebrate Halloween and still don’t. We do, however, answer the door these days in an attempt to share the love of Christ with out neighbors. Thank you for a very convicting post. God bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes, this holiday is really scary in this day. We try to keep the remote control close, so that we can turn off the awful commercials, too. So many terrible movies are being advertised this time of year. We always try to have a fun meal and candy for our family. Then we watch something funny 🙂 Thanks for sharing at Together on Tuesdays!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This topic comes around every fall, and I hate it. I hate that it’s an issue. I hate that I feel like I’m disappointing my kids. I hate that scary is distorted to be cute or funny. Sometimes calling something what it is can be hard. God never called us to comfortable living though. (not here at least)

    The part I find extraordinarily hard is what to do with the hard. I think, because we don’t “do” Halloween, we’re just thought of as the weird Scrooges of the fall. How do we show love? How do we say a firm NO to the devil without alienating people?

    How can we be part of redeeming this night rather than enduring it with the blinds closed and the porch light off?

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    1. Agh, so true! And such great questions! I will say that, as a kid, my family never celebrated Halloween {sometimes a Reformation party instead, sometimes an “alternative” party at church, but most of the time nothing at all}, and I never felt left out. It was just a normal part of life to me, and I think I grew up hating Halloween more than my parents did! Now I’m really trying to consider ways to use the “holiday” to engage people! Here are a few ideas I’m considering:
      http://tomorrowsforefathers.com/gracenotes/?p=13878
      http://tomorrowsforefathers.com/gracenotes/?p=11834
      Anyway, I certainly sympathize with you and agree our goal should be love instead of alienation. Thanks for your input!

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  12. Great post with lots of thoughtful points! When I was a child, our church held a Harvest Festival on October 31. The whole point of the festival was so children would not be involved in Halloween activities in any way but could still have fun with friends. No one came in costume, and we celebrated the harvest season. It was distinct from Halloween rather than a redemption of Halloween. I hope that makes sense. I have noticed more and more churches are increasingly picking up traditional Halloween traditions, and I do not like this. I think our family needs to carefully evaluate what we will do this year as I do not know of a church around us that does such a Harvest Festival.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A really timely and important post. We have one Halloween yard on my street and it is dreadful too. I do wonder if our kids are desensitized to violence because of our love of gore and violence? Hollywood glorifies in the macabre, and we have more mass shootings in the U.S. than anywhere in the world. Satan loves Halloween, but I do not celebrate it.

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  14. Hi Lydia! I think this is a great post. My family stopped celebrating this day when I was younger, after my mom was saved at the age of 26. I remember being so upset about it at first. It was a change for my family. My mom tried to make the transition a bit easier and we definitely did the Bible character thing. Eventually, any form of celebration (alternate or otherwise) was nixed. As an adult- I am so glad of that. You’re so right about the images and celebration of death desensitizing children from such a young age. It’s horrific, when one stops to think about it. I try to teach my sons, when they are bombarded with the images in every store and restaurant we enter- in addition to the neighborhood houses- that many people have been deceived into thinking these things are fun and entertaining. However, it is a great opportunity to spread the gospel. How often do you have people coming to your house asking for whatever you’ll give them? Chick Tracts have some great comics specifically for this purpose. My little guys love to read them and they give the gospel so clearly. We like to go out to the downtown area, where all the shops give out candy, and pass these tracts out. Thank you again!

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    1. How wonderful! Love your perspective and appreciate your encouragement! I’m looking into prayer-walking and other opportunities {such as handing out timely tracts} myself. Praying God uses you to reach people this Halloween season! Blessings to you!

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