Is Trick or Treating a Sin?
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Is Trick or Treating a Sin?

Halloween is right around the corner, which means costumes, candy, and trick or treating. As Christians, how should we approach this holiday? Is participating in trick or treating aligned with our values and beliefs?

There are differing opinions on this. Some believe trick or treating is harmless fun for kids, while others view it as promoting evil and the occult. In this post, we’ll explore what the Bible says about Halloween and trick or treating to help you make an informed decision for your family.

Key Takeaways:

  • The origins of Halloween are rooted in pagan Celtic festivals that honored evil spirits. This troubles many Christians.
  • The Bible speaks against witchcraft, divination, and idolatry – practices historically associated with Halloween.
  • Trick or treating shares similarities with extortion, which Scripture condemns.
  • Halloween costumes often glorify evil and darkness. As Christians, we’re called to avoid even the appearance of evil.
  • There are also valid concerns about the safety risks of trick or treating.
  • Christians have liberty in Christ, so participating in Halloween is a matter of personal conscience before God.
  • There are alternative ways for Christians to celebrate autumn and Reformation Day that avoid questionable Halloween practices.

The Origins of Halloween

To understand concerns about Halloween, we need to start with its origins. Halloween traces back over 2,000 years to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, celebrated at the end of harvest in regions that are now Ireland, the UK, and Northern France. The Celts believed that on October 31st, the boundary between the living and spirit world dissolved, and the dead could return to cause havoc and damage crops.

To appease these evil spirits and prevent harm, the Druids (Celtic priests) built bonfires and performed rituals, sacrifices, and divination practices. The Celts also wore costumes of animal heads and skins to trick and evade the evil spirits. After the Roman conquest, Samhain combined with the Roman festivals of Pomona and Feralia, adding apple bobbing and other harvest activities.

When Christianity spread through the Celtic lands around 800-1000 AD, the church tried to replace Samhain with All Saints Day on November 1st. But the old customs persisted with a new name – All Hallows’ Eve, eventually shortened to Halloween.

This dark history troubles many Christians who seek to honor God and avoid any association with evil practices. Let’s see what God’s Word says about these rituals and symbols associated with Halloween’s pagan origins.

What the Bible Says About Witchcraft, Divination, and Idolatry

The Celts practiced various occult rituals on Samhain to commune with spirits. As Christians, we must avoid any participation in these works of darkness. Witchcraft, fortune telling, mediumship, and other magic arts are clearly condemned in Scripture:

  • “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12)
  • “There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12 ESV)
  • “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)
  • “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

These verses make it clear that all occult practices, including divination, mediumship, fortune telling, interpreting omens, witchcraft, sorcery, and casting spells are detestable to God. He calls us to have nothing to do with these works of darkness.

The Celtic idol worship and sacrifices to evil spirits are also forbidden according to Scripture:

  • “My son, do not go the way of idolatry or take oaths in the names of false gods; do not follow other gods to serve and worship them.” (Deuteronomy 6:13-14)
  • “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” (Revelation 2:20)
  • “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:14)
  • “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5)

Christians must flee from idolatry, false gods, and sacrificing to evil spirits or pagan deities. This precludes us from imitating practices that honor the spirits associated with Halloween.

Trick or Treating’s Parallels to Extortion

Many Christians see little harm in their kids dressing up, going door to door, and collecting treats. But under closer examination, trick or treating shares disturbing similarities to extortion, which the Bible condemns:

  • “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9)
  • “Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.” (Proverbs 28:6)
  • “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a snare of death.” (Proverbs 21:6)
  • “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.” (Proverbs 11:1)

The concept of trick or treating is demanding a payment under the threat of mischief. This seems unbiblical and teaches kids to obtain goods through threats rather than honest work. Rather than learning to work, save money, and buy their own treats, children are trained to extort candy from neighbors.

Some defend trick or treating by calling it “harmless fun” or imaginary threats that children would never act upon. But everything we do teaches values to our kids. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Letting children trick or treat normalizes practices that God calls evil and duplicitous. As parents, we must train children in integrity, honesty, and earning rewards through ethical means.

Halloween Costumes Glorify Evil, Rather Than God

Most Halloween costumes depict sinful, worldly themes that do not reflect godly values. Kids may dress up as ghosts, zombies, vampires, witches, monsters, and demons. Many girls’ costumes promote immodesty and sexuality. God calls us to avoid even the appearance of evil:

  • “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV)
  • “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Is it possible to discern God’s perfect will while dressed as an axe murderer or sexy witch? Probably not! Just wearing a costume symbolizing evil and darkness opens doorways to the demonic, something we must avoid as Christians.

Rather than glorifying darkness, we should use Halloween as an opportunity to shine Christ’s light. Setting a godly example starts with avoiding any semblance of evil. If we must celebrate on October 31st, better alternatives include dressing as Bible characters, saints, animals, or positive heroes. As followers of Jesus, all we do – even our costume choices – should aim to glorify God, not the powers of darkness.

Safety Concerns

Beyond the spiritual implications, there are valid safety concerns associated with trick or treating:

  • Young kids roaming neighborhoods after dark with limited supervision
  • Increased risk of pedestrians being hit by cars
  • Potential for tainted candy or sharp objects in treats
  • Older kids threatening pranks if they don’t get “good” candy
  • Stranger danger from predatory adults taking advantage of the situation

While most communities take precautions to protect children, trick or treating does expose kids to more dangers than a normal night at home. As Christian parents, we are called to be protectors and advocates for our children’s well-being. Allowing trick or treating requires seriously evaluating and addressing any safety concerns unique to your neighborhood and child’s maturity level.

Halloween is a Matter of Christian Liberty and Conscience

Given the questionable origins and practices associated with Halloween, many Christians choose to abstain. But others see it as a harmless tradition. The Bible does not specifically prohibit celebrating Halloween. Some Christians allow certain activities while avoiding more overtly occult elements.

Romans 14:5-6 states:

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord.

This indicates that Christians have liberty to decide if celebrating holidays like Halloween is right for their family. Each believer must prayerfully evaluate their stance based on their conscience before God. There is room for disagreement among Christians on participating in Halloween.

However, our liberty should not become a stumbling block for other Christians. 1 Corinthians 8:9 warns us:

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

So while participating in Halloween may be acceptable for some Christians, we must be careful not to flaunt this freedom to those who feel conviction to avoid the holiday entirely. A spirit of grace and understanding is needed, along with respecting the firm biblical stance many Christians take against Halloween.

Alternative Ways to Celebrate Fall and Reformation Day

For those seeking to avoid Halloween, many churches and families choose to celebrate the Reformation and autumn harvest instead. Here are wholesome activities to consider:

  • Host a Reformation Day party on October 31st focused on learning about Martin Luther, the five solas, and Protestant history.
  • Have a bonfire, make s’mores, and serve fall treats like caramel apples, pumpkin bread, and apple cider.
  • Decorate with autumn wreaths, leaves, gourds, and pumpkins.
  • Make Reformation Day themed treats like scripture cookies or cupcakes with Christian symbols.
  • Hand out bulk candy treats with gospel tracts.
  • Carve crosses and Bible verses into pumpkins rather than scary faces.
  • Host a Light the Night alternative event at church with games, candy, and gospel-centered teachings.
  • Do a Bible character costume party focused on heroes of the faith.
  • Volunteer with church to host a Trunk or Treat in the parking lot for safer trick or treating.

There are many ways to enjoy autumn festivities while avoiding the objectionable aspects of Halloween. With some creativity, Christians can still have fun and share Christ’s light during this time of year.

Conclusion – Evaluating Halloween in Light of Scripture

Halloween’s origins in the pagan festival of Samhain trouble many Christians striving to honor God alone. The Celts’ occult rituals, spirit worship, sacrifices, and witchcraft are clearly forbidden according to Scripture. God detests these practices, and warns His people to avoid them completely.

While most contemporary Halloween activities seem harmless at face value, the holiday does share disturbing parallels with unbiblical extortion, falsehood, and threats. Dressing up as evil characters also seems to conflict with avoiding even the appearance of wickedness. Additionally, the risks of trick or treating warrant careful consideration to keep kids safe.

With prayerful evaluation, families can decide whether limited, selective Halloween participation is right for them. Other Christians may feel convicted to avoid Halloween altogether, which is a valid biblical position when the holiday is understood in light of its dark roots. If opting out of Halloween, alternatives like Reformation Day parties allow celebrating autumn and our Protestant heritage in a God-glorifying manner.

In disputable matters like holidays, what’s most important is following our conscience based on Scripture, while extending grace to fellow believers who may hold a different stance. When evaluating Halloween in light of God’s Word, we pray the Holy Spirit will give wisdom and discernment to honor Christ alone in all we do.

Pastor Duke Taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.