To Treat or Not To Treat

By October 29, 20175 Comments

Halloween is coming up, with its emphasis on witches and warlocks and ghosts and ghouls. Should we let our kids dress up and go trick or treating? Many people have a perception of Halloween that is linked to the occult, to witches and ghosts and all sorts of evil that is forbidden of followers of Jesus. Yet there are parents and grandparents, who love and obey Jesus, and still let their small children dress up in costumes and go door to door to trick or treat. Isn’t this terribly wrong? What are they doing?

Well, to answer that I need to go back a couple of thousand years to Greco-Roman paganism. At that time, when sacrifices were offered to pagan gods, the better parts of the animal sacrifice were eaten at special banquets or sold in the market place. For some Jesus followers in those days, the origin of the meat made it unacceptable for them to join such a banquet in a pagan temple or even to buy this meat from a local market or to eat “Zeusburgers” somewhere else, because of the taint of paganism. This issue was more troubling than Halloween and Paul answered it this way: “About eating food offered to idols then, we know that ‘an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but One’” (1 Cor 8:4). So, if someone chose to go to a banquet where meat that had been offered to idols was served or if they wanted to go to Zeus’ butcher shop, that was a neutral issue, not one that was right or wrong. The only limitation would be not participating in the pagan worship or sacrifice itself (1 Cor 10:19-20).

The point is that all parts of paganism, like idolatry, are forbidden. But practices associated with it, like eating meat sacrificed to idols, are not pagan in and of themselves. The pagan roots should not necessarily affect the practice of eating the meat. And that leads me back to trick or treating.

It’s absolutely essential that followers of Jesus have nothing to do with any kind of occult beliefs associated with Halloween. But remember this, if there are two things little kids love, it’s dressing up in costumes and eating candy. So why rob them of their joy? I always felt it was ok to let my kids dress up in costumes. They went out as puppies, or cowboys, or newsboy or Superman or Batman or Zorro or whatever fun idea they had, but never any costume associated with the occult. Then we walked to our neighbors houses who “oohed” and “ahhed” at their costumes and gave them candy. Afterwards all the candy went into a huge jar and their Mom strictly limited the intake of candy so as not to have wild kids buzzing around our house with a sugar high. The candy jar seemed to last for months.

Someone might object that there are people who don’t have the freedom that Eva and I felt about this. Paul also wrote about them in 1 Corinthians 8:9-10, saying, “But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you . . . won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols?” Paul goes on to say he would limit his own liberty rather than cause a fellow believer to act against their conscience and thereby make them fall (1 Cor 8:11-13).

If I thought that letting my kids trick or treat would force people to take their kids out to engage in some sort of occult practice, then I would limit my liberty as well. But, the people who might not like trick or treating would never do it themselves; they’ll just be annoyed that I did it with my kids. The biblical concept of stumbling has to do with causing people to engage in behavior that is contrary to their consciences. It is not simply annoying them. Think about how many people the Lord Jesus annoyed with his practices and associations. They complained that “the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Luke 7:34). There is a big difference between stumbling people and annoying them.

So this Halloween, dress your kids up as a hippo or a hero or whatever they like (as long as it’s not occultic). Then get some candy from the neighbors, take pictures, have a party and remember to enjoy your kids and let them enjoy the fun of Halloween.


  • Avatar Carolyn Stockland says:

    My sentiments exactly Michael. Thank you for posting this, I just had a lady at my Bible study group ask me how I felt about Halloween and my answer basically was the same as yours. Love to you and Eva, as aye Carolyn’

  • Avatar Marnie Masterson says:

    I appreciate and agree with your perspective. I have also wondered about the displays people put on their lawns–not what I would do, but reminiscent of the momento mori of the Middle Ages. I am in favor of whatever reminds people that this life is not all there is, and that they face a choice about their destinations.

  • Avatar Leslie says:

    Excellent! I heartily agree! We were talking about this very thing in the car the other day, and I said I thought kids liked the costumes and candy, rather than the spooky or occult meanings of it. Also, I read one time thst jack-p-lanterns were used to drive away evil, and we certainly need to do that!

  • Avatar Jim Clayton says:

    Thank you for this! It is very helpful and I will be sharing it with our church. Keep up the great work.

  • Avatar Matt says:

    thank you for clarifying the Halloween issue. I also enjoy your call in show on Saturday mornings….6am in Alaska Time…sometimes I listen “in spirit”…lol

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