(Editor's Note: This was first published in 2016)
What do a panda and a princess have in common? Two words: my children.
For Halloween this year, my six-year-old son is dressing as none other than Kung Fu Panda. When he grows up, he wants to be a master of Kung Fu, so his costume is quite befitting of his aspirations.
My two-year-old daughter is dressing as Cinderella. She loves all things girly – shoes, dresses, jewelry, bows, and bling. Why not dress her as a princess for Halloween? After all, she is “our little princess.”
Now, for a moment of motherly confession: We already owned both of these costumes, so that’s what really made them the perfect choice for Halloween this year. No additional shopping and no additional spending make for a happy husband.
So tonight, a happy husband, an adoring mother, Kung Fu Panda, and Cinderella plan to participate in Halloween for the first time as a family. Until this year, we’ve been a family who shunned Halloween, locked the front door, turned off the lights, and hoped no one would ring the doorbell. We, as a Christian family, sat quietly in a dim house hiding our light from a dark and dying world.
As much as Halloween seemed wrong, our response to it just didn’t seem right.
So I began to question why we did what we did at Halloween. Our son’s plea to go trick-or-treating also motivated me to dig a little deeper so that I could offer him a real reason grounded in a biblical worldview for saying “yes” or “no” to his quest for candy.
My husband and I seek to be wise and discerning in all decisions that we make for our family, so choosing to participate in Halloween this year is not one that we took lightly. In all things that we do, we ask why. Why participate in Halloween? Why take a meal to our sick neighbor? Why invite a lost couple over for dinner? Why lead our children through a season of Advent each Christmas? The questions are endless.
But if our answer is a resounding and unquestionable “to point people to Christ,” then we have great reason to do what we do. If it’s anything other than that, we must check our hearts and reevaluate our motives.
So you’re probably wondering: How are you and your family going to point people to Christ on a night that is associated with evil?
Jimmy Needham, a guest writer for DesiringGod.org, explains it well in his article titled God, Frankensteins, and More: The Opportunity for Generosity on Halloween, and we want to give it a try.
Instead of drawing the curtains in fear and disgust at the end of every October, Needham views Halloween as an opportunity, among many others, to engage and surprise the world with the generosity of God:
I say generosity “of God” because our giving functions as a parable. In handing out the best candy or the most candy, in creating a welcoming home for trick-or-treaters, in surprising our neighbors with kindness, we are telling them about the character of God. He too is generous. He too is welcoming. He too is kind. Our simple, generous acts of love are yard signs pointing to our God.
This is why Jesus says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others” — the light on your front porch, the candy you give out, the conversations you have on your front stoop — “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
When we sequester ourselves, we may say something clear and definitive about Halloween, but we also lose our chance to tell the story of God’s love through our love for others.
Therefore, this is the desire of our hearts this Halloween – to be a shining light in the darkness and to make the most of “the one night a year [that] the mission field actually knocks on our front door.”
That is how Needham puts it, and I like it. … I like it a lot.
So tonight, I will participate in Halloween for the first time in decades since I innocently roamed my neighborhood streets dressed as Punky Brewster and clueless about this decision I would have to make as an adult and as a parent. Back then everything seemed so innocent and harmless. But now it’s different. I have a responsibility to raise godly children for the glory of Christ, and it is not easy.
Needham says: “Truthfully it’s much easier to be a hermit than a herald. The more difficult road requiring more thought, intentionality, and sacrifice is often the more fruitful road for Christians.”
May our efforts to engage others tonight not be seen as an endorsement of evil but as a herald of Hope.
For more reading on a Christian’s response to Halloween: