Trick-or-treating is a beloved Halloween tradition where children dress up in costumes and go door-to-door to receive candy from their neighbors. As Christians, how should we approach this custom?
Is it harmless fun or something we should avoid? In this comprehensive post, we’ll examine what the Bible says about Halloween and trick-or-treating to help Christians make wise, biblical choices about observing this holiday.
- The Bible does not directly address Halloween or trick-or-treating
- Christians have liberty in Christ, but are called to avoid evil and influences of darkness
- Some origins of Halloween are pagan and occultic, which Christians should avoid
- Trick-or-treating itself is morally neutral, but parents should exercise discernment
- Alternatives exist like Harvest Festivals, Reformation Day events, or Bible character costumes
The Bible Does Not Explicitly Address Halloween
Surprisingly, the Bible does not directly reference Halloween or trick-or-treating. These modern practices developed over many centuries and became popular in America in the 1900s. The Bible was completed nearly 2000 years ago, so we cannot point to specific verses prohibiting Halloween activities.However, this does not mean the Bible has nothing to say that applies to this issue. We can examine scriptural principles about influences of darkness, discernment, liberty, and more. Just because the Bible does not explicitly condemn something does not mean it affirms it. We must look deeper.
Christians Have Liberty, But Are Called to Avoid Evil
Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” As Christians, we are free in Christ from strict religious regulations. We are also free to participate in cultural holidays according to our spiritual convictions.
However, 1 Thessalonians 5:22 instructs, “Abstain from every form of evil.” By regularly engaging in evil, we open the door to demonic oppression in our lives. As Christians, we are called to avoid overtly dark, immoral, or sinful practices that displease God.Therefore, we should thoughtfully and biblically evaluate Halloween and trick-or-treating to determine if these customs promote evil or darkness. We have liberty to participate or not, but should avoid influences of evil.
Halloween Has Pagan and Occultic Origins to Avoid
While debated, many scholars agree that Halloween originated from the pagan Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts believed that on October 31, the boundary between the living and spirit realm dissolved. They appeased evil spirits through sacrifices and customs on this “death festival.”
When Christianity spread to the British Isles, the Church attempted to replace this pagan holiday with All Saints Day on November 1. But Samhain customs continued and blended with Christian practices, birthing modern Halloween traditions. Additionally, Halloween later adopted spiritistic and occultic elements like séances, Ouija boards, and witchcraft.
As Christians, we should be wary of Halloween’s pagan and occultic roots. Deuteronomy 18:9-12 condemns occult practices like divination, sorcery, interpreting omens, witchcraft, casting spells, and summoning spirits. Even symbolic connections to these dark practices are dangerous for followers of Jesus. Ephesians 5:11 says, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Therefore, we should avoid any Halloween practices linked to paganism, spiritism, or the occult.
Trick-or-Treating Is Morally Neutral
On its own, trick-or-treating is a morally neutral activity. Children dressing up as superheroes or princesses to receive candy from neighbors is not intrinsically evil. In fact, many neighbors enjoy interacting with and bringing joy to kids in the community. Like most cultural practices, trick-or-treating can be handled in either positive or negative ways.
Because trick-or-treating is not inherently sinful, Christians have liberty in Christ to allow their children to participate or not. Romans 14:1 says, “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” Whether to trick-or-treat is a disputable matter that Christians can handle differently.
However, while trick-or-treating itself may be harmless fun, parents should exercise discernment regarding costumes, decorations, behaviors, and overall influences involved. Even neutral cultural practices can open the door to spiritual oppression if mishandled. Parents must keep their kids from evil (John 17:15).
Parents Must Exercise Discernment for Their Households
The Bible gives parents authority and responsibility for their children’s spiritual development. Ephesians 6:4 instructs fathers to bring up children in “training and admonition of the Lord.” Therefore, Christian parents must carefully consider Halloween and prayerfully determine what is appropriate for their households. Below are some questions parents should ask when evaluating trick-or-treating:
- What are my child’s costume and character portraying? Do they promote evil, darkness, immorality, or spiritual confusion?
- Will my child be exposed to decorations, costumes, or behaviors that are inappropriate, dark, or evil?
- Does trick-or-treating open doors to occult practices like divination, necromancy, witchcraft, or sorcery?
- Will trick-or-treating expose my kids to ungodly influences or detract their focus from Christ?
- Am I able to use discernment, vigilantly monitoring what enters my home/family? (Deuteronomy 7:26)
If the answer to any question gives parents pause, they should consider if modifications or alternatives may be needed. The same discernment should apply to assessing Halloween parties, events, or media content as well. Parents must guard their homes according to their biblically informed conscience.
Alternative Options Exist for Christians
For Christians seeking alternatives, many churches offer Harvest Festivals or “Trunk or Treat” events on Halloween. These provide fun community and candy in a Christian context. Churches also host “Judgement Houses” depicting the realities of sin and Christ’s redemption. Some Christians use Halloween as an opportunity for outreach by offering games, candy, and gospel literature.
Other believers celebrate Reformation Day on October 31 instead, commemorating Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg door in 1517. Christian-themed costumes like Bible characters, saints, or angelscan also help children celebrate All Saints Day versus Halloween. Of course, Christians can simply abstain from Halloween festivities altogether if desired.
Philippians 4:8 gives guidance here: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Parents must decide whether Halloween practices reflect these godly virtues. If not, they should consider alternatives that align with scriptural values.
Practicing Discernment and Grace
Halloween is a complex subject for Christians. Two believers can thoughtfully examine the same scriptures yet reach different conclusions in good conscience. Romans 14:5 says, “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.”
Therefore, we must show grace and extend liberty to fellow Christians who handle Halloween differently. Whether participating or abstaining, our choices should be motivated by love and faith, not legalistic regulations. Romans 14:6 states, “Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord.”
Above all, Christians must exercise discernment to avoid evil influences, while extending grace to others who hold different views on disputable matters. Philippians 1:9-10 summarizes it well: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”
The Bible does not explicitly prohibit Halloween or trick-or-treating, but gives principles for Christians to evaluate whether these practices are appropriate. Halloween’s pagan and occultic origins should cause believers to exercise extreme caution and discernment. Trick-or-treating may be permissible for some families in moderation, while others avoid it entirely. Christian parents must carefully decide what is suitable for their households. If participating, caution is needed to avoid dark influences. Alternatives like Harvest Festivals or Reformation Day also exist for those desiring other options. Above all, Christians should demonstrate grace and extend liberty to fellow believers, while avoiding condemnation over disputable matters. With prayerful wisdom and discretion, Christians can make thoughtfully biblical decisions about Halloween activities.