I am a reformed Halloween hypocrite.
The Bible is my personal roadmap – a handy navigational manual for the life’s hills, valleys, potholes and dead-ends. As a Bible teacher, I teach folks to make good use of it. But during 15 years in Scripture, I took an annual side trip into forbidden territory.
Like a marriage counselor immersed in adultery, it was, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Scripture contains unambiguous directives not to explore – nay, even dabble in – divination, witchcraft, sorcery, necromancy or consult mediums who supposedly chat with the dead.
But come Oct. 1, our Bible-believing household buzzed with plans for a fiendish display in our front foyer on All Hallows Eve.
This adulterous affair began simply, with my gorilla-suited husband cavorting across the roof, pelting passers-by with candy. And like any good intoxicant, it escalated from there.
Over time, he has been a ketchup-covered corpse lying prostrate on the floor with a string tied from his toe to the door so that he could tug it open when the doorbell rang. The candy sat in his bloody hand and only the most courageous trick-or-treaters reached down to snatch the goods before dashing back to the street.
One Halloween, he cut a hole in a draped card table and poked his masked head through to recreate a grisly decapitation.
New uninitiated neighbors sent in their little Tinkerbell. When she ran screaming from the house, her father peeped in and muttered, “What the [bleep] is the matter with you people?”
What was the matter with us? So blinded by the macabre merriment, we often prayed that God Himself would provide good weather to ensure a sizeable audience for our abominable displays.
The Almighty no doubt puzzled over our double-minded folly – it is impossible to reconcile Halloween and Scripture.
“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against … spiritual wickedness in high places,” says the Apostle Paul. His caveat unmasks the satanic energy behind Halloween’s playful facade.
The celebration has its roots with ancient druids – high priests of the Celtic religion who practiced ritual human sacrifice. It evolved through cultures and centuries, but remains a high holy day focused on supernatural evil and slaughter.
“Two major holidays – Halloween and Walpurgisnacht – are celebrated by the Church of Satan,” said the late Satanist Anton LaVey. Witches and disembodied malevolent spirits are invited to roam the earth on the night that marks the season of diminishing sunlight.
Slowly, my students embraced biblical truth and withdrew from Halloween. Instead, many dress their kids in biblical garb and cart mini-Marys, Noahs and Goliaths to alternative church fiestas where nary a witch is found. And the devil is persona non grata. Why introduce youngsters to the unseen entity dedicated to our demise?
“The first exposure most children have to the occult is Halloween,” says Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D., author of “The Dark Side of Halloween and The Bewitching of America.” “How does an emphasis on death, fear, horror, evil and the occult glorify God?”
But Halloween is hard to ignore.
“Fifty million Americans participate in Halloween,” says retailer Hallmark. “It is the third-largest party day annually, surpassed only by New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl.” An estimated $6 billion is spent decorating and celebrating.
A move to another town enabled us to end our annual fright-fests, though we still fork over the obligatory candy – we don’t want to appear unfriendly. Plus who wants soaped screens and flaming cow pies on the porch?
For our inaugural Halloween, our daughter defiantly carved a magnificent cross – with shooting beams of candlelight – into her pumpkin. My cowardly thought: “Oh no, the new neighbors will think we’re religious stiffs.”
Fortunately our first trick-or-treater said, “Wow, cool pumpkin!”
“The hypocrisy of celebrating Halloween is stupid,” says my friend Egan, satanic high priest at the Church of Satan in Salem, Mass. “I often chastise Christians: If you believe in the two opposing forces, good and evil, you can’t fight the Devil every day of the year, then join his side for one day.”
Egan has it figured out, and now I do too.
In the words of Israel’s ancient warrior, Joshua, “Choose you this day, whom ye will serve … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”