Making The Secular Sacred (And Other Damnable Lies)

It’s amazing how many scripture verses an article can be smeared with while still denying the truth. The Pharisees were expert at this too...

I came across an article this morning titled, “A Note of Sanity about Halloween”, written by a “disciple”, Joe McKeever. After setting up with a story about someone who was literally afraid of zombies, he cleverly went on to describe the presumed imaginations of those who don’t celebrate Halloween (that innocent, non-lethal, and repurposed holiday so many Christians know and love; his sentiments, not mine).

He describes the scaredy-cat Christian’s imaginations in the following way:

“They are so much more spiritual than you” — he says.

They are people who take the devil too “seriously” and have a “razor-sharp sense of what is right and wrong”;

Overly fearful of the devil;

No doubt, “centering” faith and prayer around the devil;

And clearly “afraid of the big, bad wolf”.

He then proceeds to tell Christians they may turn this secular, cultural, pagan holiday – the mere ‘tradition of man’, if I ever saw one – into something sacredly glorious:

Saying, “Christians may actually celebrate his [Satan’s] undoing” on this day.

Asserting that “lampooning” the devil through “caricature” on Halloween is the definition of “victory”: Thanks, Jesus; now I can celebrate Halloween with my lost friends, dress like the devil, claim the blessings of a saint, and not have to explain myself!

And telling us to “laugh” it off and not give Satan “his own day”… as we celebrate his own day… (?!)

Saints, this article is the epitome of deceptive and cunning speech, a veritable “angel of light” patting conscience on the head so we can go back to sleep… It is full of so many seducing half-truths, it’s hard to know where to start.

For Starters

We didn’t start here either. This stand-off has been a long time in coming. Too long.

I’ve spent a lot of years riding the fence, as they say, on this one, trying to keep the social peace rather than the peace of God. Though my own parents stopped celebrating the holiday and taking us to events when we were pretty young, I’ve meandered between the lines as an adult, giving out candy some years, attending church ‘Harvest Festivals’ other years, and wishing I could don that smashing wig and stand-out make-up too.

It just so happens that my husband proposed to me at Disney World in October of 2009, during Disney’s big Halloween smash. What a pickle. We were there with family, neither one of us happy about Halloween, though we obliged by wearing costumes and doing the event… because it felt rude not to (an admittedly terrible reason for offending your own conscience).

Well, if we look happy don’t forget that we were newly engaged… 🙂

Did we die? Did worms begin to crawl out of our ears? Did we melt into puddles of green cauldron goo? Did God forever turn His back on us? Did the devil haunt our dreams from that night on?

No. Of course not. Only “immature and unstable” (Joe McKeever’s words, not mine) people believe the devil works like that…

But…

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

James 4:17

We have never celebrated Halloween with our children. If anything, that betraying of conscience beforehand made us more resolute with regards to how we wanted to raise our family later; for that, I am thankful.

Abstain from all appearance of evil.

1 Thessalonians 5:22

Now, to address McKeever’s presumptions about an abstaining one’s frightful “imaginations”.

Spirituality

The claim was made that people like myself think we are “more spiritual” than others (namely, those who celebrate Halloween). This is complete rubbish and unfounded and, regrettably, a falsely accusing moniker I’ve had to slay more than once in life.

I concede that there may be some who erroneously believe this and act this way, blowing trumpets of self-righteousness into every conversation and debate; but many who abstain from Halloween’s delicacies and fun, do so with a great deal of unspiritual angst and heat from the other side, constantly put on the defensive by other Christians or family members. What I mean is –

A lot of people who don’t celebrate Halloween, don’t celebrate it quietly.

This past Sunday, only those who directly asked what my kids were dressing up as (since it has become a cultural expectation) got the honest reply: “We don’t celebrate Halloween”, while others chatted about what they would “be” and what preparations they were making for the evening event.

Indeed, I would have said nothing… but leave it to kids to prod us out of acting cowardly.

As someone left the church noting they had to get ready for “trick-or-treating”, my dear son, 5, pipes up:

“Tri-ck-or-trea-ting?”

He dragged out every syllable to the mostest.

“We don’t go-o-o trick-or-treating.”

Emphasized by his eyes-all-sideways, looking clever.

I replied, “I can’t take him anywhere.”

What does an abstaining mom say after that?

There was no recovery. Just awkward silence. Not even crickets. They didn’t know what to say, and neither did I. My private convictions had just been obliterated by a 5-year-old’s darling confession.

He’s five. He’s not super thrilled that he can’t go knock on people’s doors and get bags of candy, but he understands that “we” don’t do that.

Do you think he feels more superior or more spiritual for it?

I know I didn’t in that moment. I just wanted to go home.

The next truth that needs pointed out on this topic: We are all spiritual beings first.

How exactly is one more spiritual than another? Can you fly or walk through walls yet? Have you brought a dead person back to life recently? I mean, if one has, I might concede that they have something I don’t yet possess…

But it can’t possibly be “spirituality”: We are all spiritual. That’s how God made us.

As spirits we are already dressed up in flesh and blood. God-breathed, God-fashioned, God-designed. That’s pretty sweet. Why do we want to distort that?

Folly

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

Does he “devour” them literally? — Not that I know of, so whatever does this verse mean? (Selah.)

The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

Matthew 13:39

Hm. What exactly did that devil sow?

Now since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15

Who were held in slavery by their “fear” of death? — Oh, all of us. That’s right.

And who “by His death” freed us? — Ah, yes, Jesus. That’s why we’re told to preach “Christ crucified” rather than boasting about our standing against death.

Personally, I wait for lightening to strike when someone begins boasting about their supernatural authority over the devil. (It’s not about you, boo… and Job was a righteous man, by the way.) I’m not scared of him; I’ve seen and heard and been given too much good in Christ. I also don’t go around flexing, like I’m the one with the flex.

I probably err on the side of caution, but –

But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Jude 1:9

Bunny trail. Sorry.

So, we are freed from the fear of death (the devil’s power) in Christ Jesus. So now:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.

Ephesians 4:14

McKeever seems to suggest that those who abstain from Halloween 1) fear the devil, 2) pray prayers centered around the devil, and 3) take the devil too seriously. So then, he says that not celebrating Halloween is mutually inclusive of fearing Satan rather than God.

That is cunning.

That is wicked.

That is perversion.

The inverse is the devil’s speciality. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it: he is not so subtle in his subtleties.

Let me make it plainer with an example. What this author is suggesting is no different than telling someone who wants to abstain from marriage that in abstaining they clearly fear having a spouse more than they fear (trust) God to give them a happy marriage.

Umm… no. Maybe God just asked them not to marry. Yeah? That isn’t a sin.

Surely, we’re not arguing that to NOT celebrate Halloween is a sin? — Though McKeever comes about as near to saying so as one cleverly can. At least, he accused us of the sin of fear and obsession with the devil… which is an awkwardly backwards accusation, if appearances count for anything on Halloween night.

Secular-to-Sacred: That Old Hat

This sort of speech, this Christians-can-do-whatever-they-want-because-they’re-Christians, was super popular when I was a young adult. Many reasoned that because God lived in them, they could go to bars to, eh, ‘minister’ to people, as they sat with them, smoked with them, maybe even got drunk with them, because God in them excused all of those behaviors: The ends and our spirituality justified the means.

It wasn’t a new thought, though I’m sure it sold plenty of books in Christian bookstores.

I am a sacred vessel, so everywhere I go is sacred.

Well, yes… but no. Definitely not.

Let’s see what that passage actually says in Scripture:

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

“Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Oh dear. That passage is clearly about abstaining from sexual immorality AND about who your body really belongs to…

Does your body belong to God?

Or to yourself?

Or to the world?

Every day?

Every night?

Or, like so many in our culture, have you claimed jurisdiction there?

Childish Thinking & Conclusions

There is one more point to address here, as the author also referenced that in all of his years of taking his child trick-or-treating, “no children were harmed” in the process.

Who is the judge of that, I wonder?

Who was harmed when Saul did not wait for the prophet to show up and conducted the sacrifice himself (1 Samuel 13)?

Who was harmed as the medium called out the identity of Paul (Acts 16:17)?

Who was harmed when Moses struck the rock (Numbers 20)?

Who was harmed when one prophet ate lunch with another (1 Kings 13)?

And yet, all of these incurred judgement.

This reminds me of something one of my children likes to say. I might say, Don’t do this or that because (usually followed by a lesson about safety)... To which, one of my children often replies, “But I didn’t get hurt and I did it.”

Our experiences are not apt standards. They aren’t our judges either. This is childish thinking: Susie went to wild parties; she didn’t get hurt: it’s just a phase. Why can’t I?

It was considered strange and inappropriate to see older youth and adults dressed up for Halloween when I was a kid; we’d think nothing of that today: It’s all around us. That’s not just a ‘phase’ of childhood…

And it’s no longer restricted to Halloween either. Cosplay holds no more godliness, though many love it. But one thing at a time.

As for Halloween:

Fun (FOMO, Matthew 15:9)

nor vanity (I like dressing up too! Jer. 4:30)

nor candy (“their god is their stomach”, Phil. 3:19)

nor staying ‘in’ with my friends (conforming to the world, Romans 12)

nor boasting (of a victory I did not win over the devil, but was wholly Christ’s work)

make apt excuses for violating the conscience or offending the Holy Spirit.

So I say this, and affirm in the Lord, that you are to no longer walk just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their minds, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves up to indecent behavior for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Ephesians 4:17-19

I would not think that very many celebrating Halloween are willfully serving the Devil (though some certainly do). No one is thinking about the devil while taking pictures of a cute baby dressed up like a pea-in-a-pod.

Indeed, few think of the devil when engaging in sexual immortality either; that doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve his purposes.

But I would say that they are ignorant or deceived.

That is not superior Christianity; we’ve all been deceived at some point. But Christianity does bear the fruit of set-apartness… something different from the world.

With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 

1 Peter 4:4-5

Halloween is a blatantly worldly holiday that in no way or shape of mental-ascension honors God. One may say they “feel” no conviction regarding it, but they cannot rightly argue for its righteousness nor rightly accuse those who abstain of being unholy or fearful of the devil simply because they do suffer convictions on the matter.

In short, Halloween may or may not be “lawful”, but it certainly is not “helpful” for the Christian nor the Church.

Satanists do believe that you are celebrating the devil with them on that night, whether you believe it. (Reference any number of ex-satanist/witch videos.)

Others see it as a compromise, a black-eye upon the Church. Why do we celebrate such dark holidays with the world?

You may not feel that way, but whatever your feelings, Paul is clear enough about what the stronger brother’s reaction to such convictions amongst saints should be:

It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

Romans 14:21

The celebration of Halloween has caused some to stumble in their faith regarding the Church. It is my personal opinion that the Church has no business doing anything on this particular night. What fellowship has light with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14)?

Why not make a celebration of Reformation Day instead? That makes far more sense for a Christian.

It is also my opinion that in terms of ‘revival’, Halloween should be an obvious first-thing-to-go and be repented of in American Christianity. It is too obvious… yet so seducing. We’re not even avoiding the “appearance” of evil with that one — C’mon man!

An argument often follows that all of the festivals have pagan roots. True enough, so far as I can tell. But that is hardly an argument for continuing in one or any of them. Personally, I can’t believe we make that argument with a straight face.

These are dark days for our nation. It is long overdue to overturn excuses, examine motives and practices, and shake the opinions of the world off of our feet.

Let’s stop riding fences… skating on thin ice… walking on eggshells… where worldly opinions are concerned. That is not what you were called to in Christ. If you needed a sign, here I am holding one:

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5:29

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