Some debates you just can’t ignore. And with almost 62 million Google results for “the halloween debate”, we’re probably going to get some angry comments on this one.
Pat Robertson calls it “the night of the devil.” A certain conservative group insists that it was “conceived in evil” and is used to promote a fascination with superstitious fear. There are even churches that hold “hell houses” on Halloween every year; haunted houses that purport to show what awaits those who are out in costumes asking for candy.
But what is the deal with October 31? Is it truly Satan’s day?
The Reality of Satan
Let’s get one thing clear. Satan truly is a terrifying, real being. Far from a short fat man in a red jumpsuit with a pitchfork, or even a terrifying horned mask with bloodshot eyes, the true Satan is actually much worse: he’s insidious. He convinced Adam and Eve to disobey God, throwing the future of the human race into jeopardy. The Bible says that he appears as a beautiful angel of light when trying to convince us to pursue the sinful desires that he places within us. He’s the father of lies, the tempter, the accuser…you get the idea. His standard operating procedure is not overt satanism, but a beautiful lie that slowly leads people into a consuming sin.
That’s part of why a celebration which uses the imagery of death to cover joyful costume play and children pursuing candy doesn’t really sound like his M.O. As Frodo says in The Lord of the Rings, a servant of the enemy would, “well, seem fairer and feel fouler, if you understand.” Like Aragorn, Halloween looks rather foul, but feels more fair.
Not to say that Satan wouldn’t trick us all into attributing a whole day to him, if he could.
The Maker of Every Day
The good news is, though, that the maker of every day isn’t Satan. “He prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8) – he doesn’t wait on his day for someone to come to him – because God made every day.
Refusing to celebrate something because a pagan co-opted it can really only lead to one place: not celebrating anything. Because God made a lot of good things that we, idol factories that we are, turn into an opportunity to worship something other than Him. He made the sun, and called it good. He made plants, and called them good. He made sex, and called it good. All of His creation is good, regardless of how we might use it all for evil.
And He made all 7 days of each week. He made Sunday, though we attribute that to the Sun. He made Monday, though we named it for the Moon. Tuesday is named after the Germanic god of war, but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob made Tuesday, as well. Wednesday isn’t Odin’s. Thursday isn’t Thor’s. Friday does not belong to Freya. Saturday is not Saturn’s. And Halloween isn’t Satan’s.
Satan doesn’t get a day
Just because God made every day good doesn’t mean that we always treat it in the right way. The Brant and Sherri podcast touched on the two big mistakes you can fall victim to when talking about Satan in a recent episode:
One is to act like Satan is a non-fact; there’s no such thing as evil. That’s a mistake. But there’s another mistake, which is that you attribute superpowers to Satan; everything’s his responsibility, and you just quake with fear. The truth is, October 31st – just like every day – is God’s. [Do we hand over Sunday to worshiping the sun?] No! This day is God’s. The sun is good. People worship the sun, but it’s still good. [On October 31st], some people are like ‘THIS IS SATAN’S DAY.’ No, it’s not! He doesn’t get a day. (emphasis added)
Now, I’m not saying that we should all go trick or treating every October 31. Paul notes in Romans 14 that it’s important to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, and not cause another person to stumble into sin. But don’t give Satan power he doesn’t have. Don’t cower and hide on Friday just because we think Satan’s going to get us. Celebrate God’s power and ownership over October 31, whether with Reformation Day, Trick-or-Treat, or a good old hayride.
Satan is real, but God made every day. Halloween is only Satan’s day as much as you let it be. Let’s not hand it over to him.
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