So, yesterday morning as I was waiting for a flight from Ft. Worth back to Nashville, I made a quick post on Facebook that basically said this: “early morning flight home to go trick-or-treating with my kids, then back to Texas tomorrow.” I never would have imagined the firestorm it would set off on Facebook. Much controversy over Halloween, it’s origins, what role Christian’s should play in the “celebration” or “non-celebration” of the holiday. A (very) few individuals were extremely critical of me and my faith and a whole host of people came to my defense. But by today, most of the critical post were deleted from Facebook somehow. The truth is, I’m sort of frustrated that all the harsh posts were taken down, because even though so many of them were attacking and distasteful, it showed what a beautiful contrast there is between all that can be so negative and condemning about Christendom and the true fruits of the Spirit that were so eloquently represented in so many of the responding comments.
I guess the first thing that I would say in response to the criticism is this: if my decision to take my kids trick-or-treating is reason enough for someone to “un-friend” me, dislike me, or worse, condemn me as a heretic or a member of the occult, I can, without hesitation, give you a thousand FAR better reasons to do so. Whether it’s flaws in my character or my judgment, the bottom line is that I am indeed a terribly flawed and imperfect man who loves, believes deeply in, and relies daily on the completely sufficient grace and goodness of a completely perfect God. If you’ve ever listened to my music or had the chance to know my heart at all, I have staked my life and all eternity on the fact that I am an inconsistent creature who has been saved by the COMPLETED, and completely consistent, work of Christ. Nothing less. Nothing more.
And please let me say right up front that I may be ENTIRELY wrong about my decisions with regard to Halloween, but I can say that, at the very least, they are thought out and intentional decisions, not off-the-cuff or blind cultural appeasement. So, for what it’s worth, here’s my take on things.
What man intends for evil, God intends for good. I absolutely LOVE that with the freedom of Christ we can take a holiday that was once intended by man for so much evil, and we can turn it on its ear. Imagine the idea that we get to take what was once (and perhaps, for some, still is) a pagan, ritualistic attempt to appease evil spirits, and turn it into a chance for children to dream and imagine and dress up in costumes (my boys were both their own versions of “Super Heroes” by the way), to spend precious time with their families and friends, to go out and actually see their neighbors face-to-face, and, at least in our neighborhood, watch entire communities literally come together and talk and laugh and eat way too much candy. I seriously LOVE that idea. And again, I may be absolutely wrong, but I am entirely convinced that that’s exactly what happened yesterday…at least at our house and on our street and in our neighborhood. I certainly don’t want to hyper-spiritualize it, but it’s almost as if we’re making a declaration, in a way, that old traditions that were once intended for evil, or that EVIL ITSELF, has no power over us anymore – declaring that that power was and is broken by the Gospel. We almost get to make a mockery of evil (one of the few “mockeries” we’re entitled to as Believers) when we take evil’s shining “moment in the sun” and turn it into a CHILDREN’S holiday. We take what was once intended for evil and we turn it into a celebration of youth and imagination and the lightness of childhood. And yes, we may tell a few spooky stories along the way and put scary spider webs on our front porches. The truth is, there is great merit to the more popularly accepted “Christian versions” of the holiday, so some may call it “All Saints Day” and go ”TRUNK-or-treating” in a church parking lot but some may take a less overtly spiritual approach, call it Halloween and go trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods. The bottom line is, best I can figure, is that I think it can be as simple as a fun day for neighbors to actually be neighbors – to actually engage with each other and build community and childhood memories at the same time…to be relational and build bridges. Halloween, for me, is not a celebration of an old, antiquated evil tradition; it’s a celebration of my children. It’s a celebration of my family, my neighborhood, and my community. And maybe a chance to look evil in the face and not be afraid. Not to mention, a good excuse to eat a whole lot of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Nothing more. Nothing less.