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  • Writer's pictureJayma Anne Montgomery

THOUGHTS ON CHRISTIAN PARENTING DURING HALLOWEEN (PART II)

I genuinely do not want to pass on my phobias and hang-ups to my children. I hope that I don’t inadvertently stifle their creativity, enjoyment, and personal preferences as a result of my disdain for the spectacle of horror. Ellie is certainly a creative tour de force and Ez seems to be captivated by the arts as well. It’s entirely possible that they will have interests that do not interest me or that I blatantly dislike. A part of me would love for them to be able to endure frightful experiences like what I described and feel no fear or even laugh at it.


As I dropped my daughter off at school a few mornings ago, she started commenting on various Halloween decorations as we passed them. The Evangelical in me who will never fully die (and I don’t think I want her to, by the way) started to tell her that we don’t celebrate this holiday because it doesn’t glorify GOD. I cut myself off mid-sentence and took a moment to reflect on what I was doing. Ellie was peering back at me curiously in the rearview mirror. I decided that I would instead have a conversation with my daughter to get a better understanding of her thoughts. I asked her a lot of questions and listened intently to her answers. What do you like about that ghost? Do you know what a skeleton is? Do you know what vampires do? Do you know what spooky means? Her answers gave me insight into the fact that she really doesn’t know what most of this stuff is and so I have a chance to shape her understanding on views on it while she is still at this stage. It's a clue to me that we need to be having more conversations like this about the things we are seeing around us and how it makes us feel.


Hubby and I have learned the importance of being flexible and adaptable in our child-rearing a while ago. But speaking from my personal experience as a child, I believe that some consistency and clear guardrails on this topic are very much needed to help our kids reason through this topic as they get older. I think the Anglican way has provided us with an excellent framework for this. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with harvest festivals. But it does strike me as strange that many Protestant-derived church traditions completely ignore or even deny the Christian roots of Halloween. The rich history of Christianity has already provided us with Hallows Eve (10/31) and All Saints Day (11/1). A church brother sent me an article on this that I found so informative and compelling that I will link it here: Concerning Halloween. My inaccurate views on the origins of Halloween until rather recently is just another example of disinformation leading the church body astray. Until I read this, I had no idea that the fire-engine red devil suit with horns and a pitchfork was originally intended to be a mockery of Satan. Furthermore, I had no inkling that spooky costumes were meant to mock the kingdom of darkness over which the Christian has gained power through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I'm sure the average person, Christian or non, doesn't know this either. But how richly will this add to my family's Halloween experience going forward having been equipped with this knowledge? It's as if I have been freed from the bondage of falsehoods that have cast an unnecessary shadow of discomfort over this season for me for as long as I can remember.


October 31st is the birthday of the Protestant Reformation, led by the great Martin Luther. My husband apparently has known this for quite some time since he hails from a rather uncommon, theologically dense non-denominational upbringing. Anglicanism is the 'middle way' between Catholocism and radical Protestantism. October 31st was once a time when people went door to door sharing scripture with their neighbors. November 1 was a sacred time to honor the memory of the Saints of our faith who dedicated their lives to the cause of Christ. I was taught that any recognition of sainthood was idolatry. But does remembering and honoring Christians who made wonderful contributions to the Body and lived sacrificial lives in service to the cross necessarily have to be idolatry? Have we not made idols of consumerism, technology, politics, patriotism, and even sacred things? The most captivating idols are the good and even GODly things, people, and practices in our lives that creep into the place in our hearts that should be reserved for GOD alone.


I think for our family, this time of year will look something like this: fall decorations in and around our house and yard; taking time to learn about the life and testimony of Christian figures (not necessarily just the Saints); talking about the Halloween festivities that are going on around us and rightly dividing what is good, neutral, and clearly sinful about those things; making it clear to our neighbors that we observe Hallows Eve and All Saints Day and staying open to questions and critique. I think it’s a better alternative to shutting off all of the lights and pretending no one is home when the doorbell starts ringing. It leaves space for people who are unfamiliar with it to ask us questions about it if they are curious. It gives our children a foundation that is firmly rooted in the Christian church that will help them navigate decisions about whether to participate in secular Halloween festivities when they are older. It will also give our whole family a chance to learn more about the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us. I am looking forward to learning and teaching our children about Martin Luther and Mother Theresa this year. Divorcing ourselves from the history of the Christian church has done many denominations a great disservice and left many Christians like me floating anchorless for years before finding a local church that is grounded in tradition and faithful rituals that have been held in proper regard.


It’s taken me a very long time to learn to let go of my tendency to judge other Christians for making different decisions than I would and having different convictions than I do about non-critical things. I have no interest in having heated debates about whether women should teach scripture, alcohol consumption, Christmas trees, dressing my kids in costumes, or pre versus post-millennial dispensationalism. In the words of Rabbi Hillel, "What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; go and learn it.” This is not implying that the remainder of Biblical study is trivial, but that all of it hinges on the laws that tell us to love GOD above all else, love yourself well, and love your neighbor just as well.


Let’s agree that Believers should not worship the devil or tamper with witchcraft, that murder and torture is immoral, and that consumerism is a god that needs to be repeatedly dethroned in our lives. Apart from that, there is plenty of room for people to participate or abstain from this season in ways that are not offensive to GOD and reflective of their internal spiritual ambiance. If you can enjoy CS Lewis's fictional work then you should be able to respect the artistry of JK Rowling as well. Both contain witches, dark magic, and mythical creatures. Death and violence is heavily discussed and portrayed in both series. There are some nuances that matter, like the fact that Lewis is a well-known Christian who intentionally incorporated Christian allegory into much of his fiction. Age appropriateness is the other big difference between these book and movie series as well. The long and short of it is that parenting was never intended to be a spectator sport.


My hope is not to persuade you to observe or not observe Halloween, Hallow's Eve, and All Saints Day as I now intend to. It’s meant to serve as a reminder that all Christians should mark the passing of time according to more than just the Gregorian calendar. Observing and keeping feasts and holy days is a way to orient our lives around GOD’s timing, place in history, and grand redemption story. As the unbeliever frets about election outcomes, inflation, the stock market, and what’s trending on Twitter, the believer always has one foot firmly planted in GOD’s sure, secure, and everlasting hands. How will you mark this season according to what’s on GOD’s heart and mind to accomplish through your life? Stay thoughtful.




This is hands down one of the best artistic expressions of a spooky theme ever created. I appreciate MJ putting the disclaimer out there that he is not endorsing the occult by doing this. Decades later, it's still a treat to watch.










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