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By Canon J.John
Many concerns have been raised concerning Halloween over the years. The most common are that Halloween encourages people to dabble with the occult and that it celebrates evil. Both are true, but let me add another: Halloween raises big questions but only gives lies as answers.
This is serious because the questions are about important issues and many children are involved in Halloween celebrations. What our children are taught today will affect how our adults behave tomorrow and Halloween perpetuates four major lies:
1. Evil is external. A host of 'evil creatures' will be banging on doors this Halloween: characters with artificial scars, fake teeth, claws and synthetic gore. What this says is that evil is threatening, but that it is something that is outside what we are. The reality is that while there is an external evil and children do need to be told that nasty characters exist out there in the big wide world, the really dangerous evil comes from within.
Jesus himself said: 'For out of the heart come evil thoughts – murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander' (Matthew 15:19). It’s not just them out there we need to worry about, it’s us.
2. Evil is ugly. The best Halloween costumes are considered to be the scariest and the ugliest. The message is that you can recognise evil because evil people look ugly. This is terribly offensive to people with genuine disfigurements. Ugliness does not equal nastiness. However, the bigger problem is that the most dangerous forms of evil appear wrapped up in a nice package.
The Bible tells us that 'Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light' (2 Corinthians 11:14). Fraudsters, corrupt bankers and seducers of all kinds specialise in appearing nice. Evil is far more subtle, sinister and seductive than any ghoulish figure dressed in a cloak.
3. Evil is trivial. Children are told at Halloween that even the scariest figure at the door is an ordinary person dressed up to look horrible. We tell them there is 'nothing to worry about'. That isn’t true. The Bible, common sense and history teach us that evil is a serious matter. Whoever does evil does real damage. To do evil is to walk along a path that leads away from God and towards destruction. And for all the fake skeletons on view at this time of year, death is no joke!
4. Evil is undefeatable. Nowhere in Halloween is there a sense that evil should be combated or that it can be defeated. The dead remain dead and the occult powers live to scare another day. Those who knock on doors in creepy costumes are confident that their demands will be met. The subtle lesson that Halloween teaches here is that all you can do is appease evil forces by making an offering and hoping they go away.
The Bible’s perspective is that we are to resist the devil (James 4:7). Best of all, we know that Jesus defeated all the powers of evil on the cross: ‘And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross' (Colossians 2:15).
The questions we should be asking
We should be asking questions such as: 'What does happen after death?', 'Where does evil come from?' and 'Who – or what – ultimately runs the universe?' The tragedy is that the only answers Halloween gives to these questions are lies. Our children deserve better, more honest answers.
So let’s raise these questions and answer them. And in the meantime, let’s pray as Christ Jesus taught us: 'Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'
Read Margaret Pritchard-Houston's Redeeming Halloween blog on the Premier Childrenswork website.
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