Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

29 October 2008

Hi. I'm Dave. And I'm a Christian who takes his kids out for Halloween.

This past Sunday (and throughout this week) we Freedom House peeps have been debating Halloween and it's been totally amazing. We decided to rip open the can of worms and serve them up hot... expose the pink elephant... and let everyone give their thoughts about one of the hottest of Christian Hot Topics around. It was great too! You know why? Because it's one of those disputable matters that Romans 14 talks about:

Don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. But since both are guests at Christ's table, wouldn't it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn't eat? Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience. What's important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God's sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you're a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters.
(paraphrased v 1-9)

... and who in the world wants to be a real family that holds things against each other? We've got enough of that crap to deal with already!

So how in the nuts can you celebrate Halloween for God's sake?

I've run the Halloween gambit. I've done church gym harvest parties. I've done carefree trick or treating. I've done guilted trick or treating. I've shut off my lights and pretended like I'm not home. I've had my heart broken for the debauchery of a city. I've handed out candy at my church. But here's what Halloween means to me this year...

I'm tired of being left out of society as a Christian. I'm done with it. The years of shutting my lights off and scolding others for dressing their daughter as a princess are over. Too many years we've been "that house". If you were a trick or treater you knew "that house". The lights were off and you talked to your buddies about how they sucked. I'm quite sure that little boys don't care much about our reasoning behind the silent protest. They just know that you're too damn good to participate in their world.

Are these families with a 2,4, and 7 year old dressed as the Muppets out just desperately searching for some dastardly act of evil to do? Nope... they are just looking for a smile and some tiny tarts! And for too many years they've discovered seldom-found community in the candy-apple and goofy jokes of our neighbors.

I'm done with the judging... both Christians and non-Christians. It's a heavy divisive load that I was not designed to carry. I'm sick of intentionally ostracizing myself from conversations over pithy quibbles of "food sacrificed to idols" which is what Romans 14 is talking about.

15-16If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don't eat, you're no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don't you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning

I can't stop thinking about Pete Greig's "The Vision" where its says:

"...they laugh at 9-5 little prisons. They could eat caviar on Monday and crust on Tuesday. They wouldn't even notice... They are free yet they are slaves of the hurting and the dirty and the dying"

They are words that are transforming how I live and what I do these days. Pete's word have intrinsic power too... since it's modern poetry reflecting what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:

19-23Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

but but but but... but...

But nothing. I'm a slave to the lost. I could give or take Halloween. It's a "who gives a crap" to me whether I do it or not. I don't buy the "you're openning your kids up to demons" argument either. In Ghana one day who came across a full fledged voodoo priest initiation ceremony, complete with blood sacrifices, idol worship, satanic trances... the whole bit. Albert (our friend) stopped the car and said, "would you like to go see that?". We were stunned. Shouldn't we flee even the appearance of evil? He said... "Nah... if you don't have any unrepented-for sin in your life, you're covered by the blood of Jesus. He who is in you is more powerful than he who is in the world. You're good."

Is there more demonic activity on Halloween? Maybe. VERY debatable though. The strongest demonic attack in North American... is the spirit of apathy. And the church LOVES that stronghold every day of the year. But guess what... Jesus wins.

This year in Southern Ontario on Halloween, an amazing event called "The Cry" is being held in downtown Toronto. It's a worship and prayer declaration of unity. It's totally the stuff I dig and it's gonna be amazing. And I'd be directly disobedient to God by going. Why? Because my son is gonna be so excited to dress up like superman. My daughter is going to be the first ever Hippy-princess... and my other daughter is gonna be the cutest dang Eeeyore this world has ever seen. And as someone who works full time... and is out almost every night of the week doing ministry (which is my PASSION) ... I WOULDN'T DARE miss out on such a time.

So how can you celebrate Halloween for God's sake?

- I will be worshiping God by being a Dad who is engaged with his kids.
- I will be worshiping God by creating memories with my wife and sister who are two of the people I most enjoy spending time with and laughing with.
- I will be worshiping God by hanging out with my neighbors and meeting the school mom's and dad's and kids that my wife has crafted wonderful relationships with.

And you know why we don't get to hold grey areas over each other? Because 3 years ago... I thought quite differently on the subject. I quietly judged of some of my closest friends on their liberty. It was wrong. I hated the feeling and I don't planning on resuming it... ever.

It's IMPERATIVE that we know WHY we're doing what we're doing without being reckless and stupid... and maybe that's where the judgment comes from. Our assumptions that others don't THINK... because they don't think like us.

Maybe next year we'll hang out with our other close friends who we LOVE and who think the exact opposite as us and have a home wing ding. Why? Because I don't want my kids growing up CARING about Halloween. I want them growing up caring about not caring about things that mean NOTHING ... and intentionally living free as slaves to truth.

Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you'll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.
Romans 14:18


Anonymous said...

We don't do Halloween. It's our personal conviction as parents. We won't judge others -- Christian or non-Christian. If it's not a deep conviction by the Holy Spirit, for whatever reasons He has, then a decision to find alternative ways to enjoy Oct 31st don't need to be explored. But, for us, it is obedience. We are trying to obey what we feel deeply convicted about. Why doesn't God want us to participate with our kids to the judgment and ridicule of others? I don't know, but who am I to ask. I obey.

Have fun!

Heidi Reed

Dave Carrol said...

And i think thats the point of many of the grey areas. I'm not sure there even IS right or wrong.

in fact... seems to me that people who are very similar have very strong convictions on different sides of the fence.

I think some of it is a "how can we show Jesus in our context or culture?" I'd even throw out the idea that maybe we think differently just so we can learn how to disagree in the right way?

who knows. I can't say that I'll even always do it like we're going to this year.

Melissa said...

once again I have no words....(ok, well, maybe a few)....
great post. great, convicting post. i've been the judging goody-goody looking down my nose at people who are promoting evil. :) but last 3 or 4 years i've swung (swinged?) a little more to a neutral place. i realize, like you stated so eloquently, that most people are not going out dressed as Power Rangers to over take the world for Satan.

i personally have never loved Halloween. i'm not into the gross and gory costumes and the creepy part of it. but the pre-school, toned-down-dress-up-and-go-to-gramma's-for-a-laffy-taffy bit that my kid is now into is fairly benign.

i loved loved loved what you said about community---what a great thought. and quite a bit more Christ-like than hiding in a dark house judging my neighbors...

Amazing Kris said...

I always like to toss in my agnostic two cents on matters of conflict that interest me.
Morally-speaking, I am a Christian lean-to. Society needs to get a grip on itself. Freedom doesn't come without responsibility, and decadence isn't without consequences.
Most might agree with me if I say God knows his disciples. As long as you carry Him confidently in your hearts and act within a line of decorum befitting your idea of a Christian, there is no failure to be had.

It's giving candy to kids, and exploring our creativity as sentient people. Some try to scare the wits out of people, others try to make their kids as cute as possible, and a small percentage try to sex it up (boredom, 24-7).
Christians always worry about whether or not anyone understands the true meaning of Christmas. I promise you that even fewer know that about Hallowe'en. We celebrate Hallowe'en in modern times because we just plainly don't know the origins of it. A few of us do, and still don't see the relevance.
As five-year-olds in the seventies, my peers didn't march around in plastic Spiderman costumes in hopes of pleasing some unknowable Paganistic harvest god.
I knew infinitely more about Christianity than I ever did about "alternatives" all the way up until I was roughly twelve when I became vaguely aware that my world was a much bigger place.

I always say this to anyone who is worried about a loved one going astray and doing something they wouldn't do: "Inform them, and then keep a close eye on them."
But what do I know about child-rearing? Geez, I am talking about ADULTS.

We ought to be able to govern ourselves enough to realize that we are rocks, each one of us. A rock can sit in a stream for thousands of years and never will the water seep into the middle (cheap Godfather III reference). Going out and playing along with a silly tradition is just about one of the few joys in the world that doesn't come saddled with pressure and fear. Granted, danger exists for unsupervised children, but not exclusively on Hallowe'en.
Enjoy yourself, and keep those around you equipped with the knowledge of caution to protect themselves-- physically AND spiritually.
Mark and remember:

Alex said...

Hey Dave, that was a really good read. I didn't really give it much thought (I got dragged into something already, so I had no reason to think about it). Very cool, seems to me it's dead on what Jesus would have been doing.

It'll be in the back of my mind.

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