Can a holiday with wicked, ungodly origins be dressed up and made acceptable to God? Tune in to hear a surprising dialog.
[Steve Myers] It’s so much fun for the children. Isn’t it harmless? Jack-o’-lanterns, dressing up in costumes, getting treats from the neighbors. What could be wrong with that?
Okay, there’s the skeletons, and witches, and ghosts, and goblins and demons—but can we fix that? Perhaps revise it, remake it for family fun. What if we, as Christians, clean it up?
Well, some try. They carve the name of Jesus into pumpkins, add religious phrases and hope to evangelize trick-or-treaters. But can we sanitize Halloween?
For that matter, can we take non-Christian traditions of Christmas or Easter and somehow remake them to honor God?
What should you do? Can you bring respect and reverence to God in these celebrations? Or, does it even matter?
We’ll help you with the biblical answer to those questions on this “holiday” edition of Beyond Today called: “A Halloween Story.”
[Announcer] Join our host Steve Myers on Beyond Today !
[Steve] Harmless holidays or corrupt celebrations that miss the mark?
Have you ever wondered about your celebrations? Maybe you’ve asked yourself: How can I make Halloween a better holiday? Or perhaps: “How can I put Christ into Christmas?” And then there’s “What should I do about the Easter bunny and basket predicament?”
It’s a dilemma conscientious Christians face. Even Disney recognizes the difficulty and calls one of their family-friendly events a “Not so scary Halloween Party.”
But wait. Can we dress up a holiday to be something that it’s not?
As a Christian—can you pretend it’s not an issue? Would you say it’s best to adapt and rework traditions in an effort to be fun for the whole family, you know, kid friendly occasions? Or, should you consider setting the whole thing aside?
Maybe you’ve felt like this young mom…
[Mother] This is the last house of the night guys.
[Children] Aw good!
[Mother] You know it’s getting late.
[Girl] I’m glad. It’s freezing! Who’s house is this, anyway?
[Mother] This is Mrs. Hudson’s house.
[Girl] The same lady who helped with my party?
[Mother] Yeah, that’s her.
[Girl] She seems nice.
[Boy] I hope she’s got M&M’s!
[Children] Trick or treat!
[Mrs. Hudson] Oh, I don’t have any treats… but it’s getting so cold! Why don’t you come inside and warm up for a bit?
[Mother] Oh thank you, we don’t want to bother you. It’s so late.
[Mrs. Hudson] : Oh nonsense, nonsense. And it’s so cold and I’ve got coffee.
[Mother] Well, maybe.
[Mrs. Hudson] : And hot chocolate for the kids!
[Boy] Ooooh pleeeeease!
[Mother] Actually that sounds great.
[Mrs. Hudson] Okay, come on.
[Mother] Thank you so much. Hey kids, say thank you to Mrs. Hudson.
[Children] Thank you, Mrs. Hudson.
[Mrs. Hudson] : Oh it’s no bother at all; and I like having these guys around. It reminds me of when my children were home.
[Mother] Yeah, they’re growing up so fast. That’s what makes nights like this so special.
[Mrs. Hudson] Yeah, and you know I think you’re the first group I’ve seen tonight that wasn’t dressed up like goblins or witches or something scary.
[Boy] Yeah, mom won’t let us.
[Mother] Oh. Well, you know, some of those costumes, they’re just so creepy. They make me uncomfortable.
[Mrs. Hudson] : Yeah, I don’t care for Halloween myself.
[Mother] I mean, we want the kids to have fun with their friends and all, but—why don’t you like Halloween?
[Mrs. Hudson] : Well, it never seemed to make sense to celebrate death and evil like that. And, well have you see the stuff that Rick has got on his front porch?! I mean, a severed pig’s head?
[Mother] Is that thing real?
[Mrs. Hudson] : Oh, I don’t know, but it’s disturbing.
[Mother] No kidding. Some of the costumes are just gross. I kinda hate how Halloween seems like this day where people just forget how to act. We’ve tried to just stay away from the witchy scary costumes and just focus on still making it a fun time for the kids.
[Mrs. Hudson] Well that’s right. You know when I was a kid, it was fun to go out and get dressed up. Well, it was a little more tame in my day, too. I remember one year I went out as a princess. I think I’ve still got that tiara.
[Mother] Oh man, I never would’ve been a plain princess. I was a total tomboy. I did make the best Xena on the block though.
[Mrs. Hudson] Well, you know when my children were little, it sort of hit me. And it just seemed strange to put ‘em to bed every night and have them say their prayers, and then on Halloween I would have them dress up and put a pretty face on evil?
[Mother] Yeah, I guess it is putting a pretty face on evil, but don’t you think it’s different if something is just pretend?
[Mrs. Hudson] Well, I looked into it and I really had to be honest with myself. And I came to realize that I don’t think God’s going to be happy with us if we continue to pretend that evil things are good.
[Mother] That is really something to think about.
[Steve Myers] This scene gets right to the heart of the matter. It is something to think about—and we as Christians shouldn’t take it lightly. We need to think about how God looks at the issue. What’s His perspective?
Certainly no Christian wants to blatantly “put a pretty face on evil.” But, could we be overlooking something that’s critically important? Shouldn’t you look more deeply into it? Like Mrs. Hudson—be honest with yourself. Is God happy with us if we pretend to honor Him with our own traditions?
I spoke with someone about this who told me they had searched the entire Bible and couldn’t find one passage that says that Halloween is wrong.
Well, that’s true. The Bible doesn’t contain an explicit statement saying, “Thou shalt not celebrate Christmas, Easter, or Halloween.” But does Scripture allow us to believe and worship God the way that we want… well, as long as we are trying to be religious? Does it mean we should celebrate those holidays with a just a few adjustments? Then it’s okay?
Well, here’s why you have to be careful about that kind of thinking: Certainly, there’s no biblical passage that says, “Thou shalt not celebrate Christmas,” or “Thou shalt not celebrate Halloween,” or “Thou shalt not celebrate Easter.”
But, think about this: There’s also no specific verse that condemns the use of cocaine or “Thou shalt not use heroin” either. Yet, we know true Bible-believers would never condone drug abuse. Christians recognize there’s an overarching principle involved. We know that the Bible directly condemns getting drunk from alcohol and so by extension, we know it also condemns getting high on drugs.
So here’s an important holiday connection. Are there any passages that say it’s wrong to adapt customs? Any Scripture that says we shouldn’t borrow from non-Christian traditions? Or is there any Bible verse that tells us not to use holidays that were used to worship false gods—and then somehow rework them to honor the true God?
Absolutely! There are many that point out—it’s wrong. In principle, these scriptures apply to holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. These holidays have most, or all of their customs based in unchristian paganism.
Notice what’s on God’s mind in this passage: “Do not fall into the trap of following their customs and worshiping their gods. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations worship their gods? I want to follow their example.’ You must not worship the Lord your God the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the Lord hates (Deuteronomy 12: 30-31 NLT).
Most everyone can look at that Scripture and deduce that it applies to Halloween and its origin from the wrong worship of evil spirits. Biblical principle teaches us we can’t get involved with those customs. So that one’s pretty obvious.
Now most everyone knows that Christmas traditions are not from the Bible but instead people fall into the trap of customs.
And most people know that Easter also originated from unchristian sources. If you haven’t discovered these facts, I hope you’ll take the challenge and check them out.
God clearly says—whether it’s Halloween, Easter or Christmas—we cannot take those wrong holidays and modify them, or sanitize them or adapt them to somehow honor God. He says, “You must not…” take those customs and try to transform them—because He’s not honored by it! In fact, He says that is rises to the level of worshipping a false God. No wonder He hates it!
Why would God be so strong on that point? You see, it’s because there is something critical you’re missing in the holidays. And you need to know about it. In fact, I’ll have more to say on that in just a moment.
But, consider the question: Should we approach the holidays like the video of our mom? The mom in our film clip was uncomfortable with the evil trappings of Halloween but she tried to clean it up in order to still have fun for the kids.
So should a Christian revise it, reform it, or replace it? Applying the biblical principle—God says He hates it and it has to go.
Now I can speak to this from personal experience. My mother was like the mom you saw in the video earlier.
At a certain point in my childhood, she became aware of the unchristian origins of Christmas and it began to bother her. God began to open her mind to understand that Jesus wasn’t really born on Christmas and that Christmas traditions and all the commercialism just didn’t quite fit with biblical principles.
My mom’s solution—she tried to put Christ into Christmas. So she started by decorating our front door. No longer with candy canes, and reindeer and Santas—well, she knew that wouldn’t be biblical. So instead, she chose beautiful biblical themes—themes like: glory to God in the highest or a scene depicting peace on earth. That certainly seemed more religious.
She certainly felt she could reform Christmas and sincerely make it godlier. So she had us read Bible passages each night and light candles, because she intended to honor God as Christmas drew near. How could that be wrong?
But you know, the more she tried, the more she realized Christmas really doesn’t represent Christ. She learned that she couldn’t put Christ back into Christmas because He’d never been there in the first place. She found so much unbiblical baggage that went with the holiday that something had to give.
And that Bible verse, it kept bothering her and she couldn’t get it off her mind. The one that says: “…true worshipers are being led by the Spirit to worship the Father according to the truth. These are the ones the Father is seeking to worship him (John 4:23 John 4:23But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him.
American King James Version×, CEV).
My mom came to understand that God wants to be worshiped in truth, not with fables and unchristian customs and unbiblical holidays. Now here’s the critical part she finally came to see: Misrepresenting or misinterpreting biblical teaching by celebrating the holidays is in fact opposing God. Now that may sound shocking, I know. But no matter how many warm feelings or how many fond memories or how much it means to the kids—she came to understand that God’s opinion is most important.
The truth is: God established how He is to be worshipped. How to worship in spirit and truth—on His Sabbath and Festivals. Not with man-made holidays.
True worship stands in stark contrast to the silliness of the tradition of the holidays. And if you stop to think about it for a moment—it can even make you laugh. Here’s comedian Jim Gaffigan giving his humorous perspective:
[Jim Gaffigan] I love holiday our traditions like the Christmas tree where we go out and we chop down a tree and we put it in our living room. Kind of sounds like the behavior of a drunk man really. Some woman wakes up: “Honey why is there a…a pine tree…in our living room?” “I like it! We’re gonna, we’re gonna decorate it for Jesus.”
[Steve] As comical as that seems—he’s right. Taking unchristian traditions and just saying “we’re doing it for Jesus” isn’t something approved by God. Pine trees, presents, hanging stockings—they don’t honor Jesus.
Most Christians know, and its historical fact that Christmas was celebrated by sun-worshippers for thousands of years before the birth of Jesus.
So the question is—can I somehow honor God in this? Can we take an unchristian celebration and add some biblical ideas and then justify it by saying “I’m doing it to honor Jesus”?
No. Notice what the New Testament tells us: “Be sure that no one leads you away with false and empty teaching that is only human, which comes from the ruling spirits of this world, and not from Christ (Colossians 2:8 Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
American King James Version×, NCV).
You see, some Christians are surprised to find that the Bible doesn’t mention Christmas or tell us to celebrate Christ’s birth anywhere. But the fact is it leads us away with empty teaching. Instead, the Bible tells us to commemorate a different and even more significant event. That event is Jesus’ death, not His birth.
In stark contrast to the unchristian celebration of His birth, the New Testament teaches we Christians should observe the memorial of Jesus’ death once a year. Scripture says by doing so “you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-28 1 Corinthians 11:23-28 23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
24 And when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come.
27 Why whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
American King James Version×).
This passage describes one of His Festivals—the New Testament Passover celebration for all Christians to observe. That’s what Jesus Himself called this observance—Passover (Matthew 26:18 Matthew 26:18And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say to him, The Master said, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at your house with my disciples.
American King James Version×). It’s through this significant annual Festival and the rest of His Holy Days—that God reveals Himself as a spiritual Creator who desires a relationship with all people.
Think of it this way: Worshiping God properly helps build a right relationship with Him. That’s ultimately what God wants. He wants to be close to us. Scripture says He wants to give us the desires of our heart. He wants to be first in our lives. He wants to be with us and spend premium time with us. He has a better way—in fact, the best way—and He deserves our love and our loyalty. He’s our great Creator God and we love Him, we honor Him, we respect Him.
Now, if someone disrespects us—we don’t like it. We don’t want to hear someone putting down our brother, or our mate, or our children, our mother, our father. It’s upsetting. So why then would we want to disrespect and insult God with improper worship and inappropriate holidays?
Jesus said “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? (Luke 6:46 Luke 6:46And why call you me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
American King James Version×).
Unfortunately, all too often many beliefs and practices of religious denominations are not based on the Bible and right worship. What about yours?
God says the holidays and the trap of following customs miss the deep meaning of true worship and how to have a profound relationship with our God.
Here’s a straightforward analogy to help explain this biblical principle. Let’s suppose a man and a woman get married. After the wedding, they move into their new home and begin to decorate. The woman begins to display in prominent places, all around their new home, quite a few beautifully framed photographs of her ex-boyfriends.
How do you think her new husband would feel about these reminders of her previous lovers? Would her husband be really convinced that her devotion to him was unshakable and wholehearted? Do you think he would believe it if her explanation was, “Well, whenever I look at them, I really think of you now instead.” Would that be all that convincing? But you see, that’s what we do when we substitute our own ways, our own days to worship the true God.
We’re told: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28 Hebrews 12:28Why we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
American King James Version×).
Now, most would not disagree that it’s probably most evident in Halloween. All Hallows’ Eve is the night before All Saints’ Day. Where did it originate? Well let’s be clear. It comes from a Catholic adaptation of pagan festivals for the dead—unchristian holidays that honor evil spirits.
Don’t believe it? A quick internet search will give you more information on Halloween’s ungodly origins than you probably have time to read.
It’s a disconnect to think that we, as Christians, should have any part in this kind of celebration. In fact, we’re warned not to take part in customs and traditions like this throughout Scripture.
“Do not participate in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11 Ephesians 5:11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
American King James Version×, AMP). Other translations say “Don’t get involved”; “Have no fellowship”; “Have no part in”; “Have nothing to do with” darkness.
Could it be any clearer? Yet God’s instructions go even further. The Bible adds to this: “Have nothing to do with the bad things done in darkness. But… Instead, show that these things are wrong” (NLV).
So think about that. Do you recognize what lies beneath the candy and the costumes? Do you expose Halloween for what it is? Do we show it’s wrong by not participating in it? If you do—you’re going to stand out as different. The challenge is that much of Christianity accepts and even incorporates it into church celebrations. But if we really want a close relationship with God, we can’t accept that point of view.
But most of us probably recognize it—and like our mom in the video I showed earlier, you may be distancing yourself and your family from this dark holiday, and that’s great!
But, what may be more difficult to recognize is the fact that it’s no different for another Christian holiday—Easter.
Consider Easter for a moment. Where did its traditions and customs originate?
Well it’s not too hard to find out. When you do a quick study of its history—it may really amuse you as how such things became a part of Christianity. Take a look at Jim Gaffigan’s comical perspective on this holiday.
[Jim Gaffigan] Easter, that’s a weird tradition. “Easter, the day Jesus rose from the dead. What should we do?” “How about eggs?” “Well what does that have to do with Jesus?” “Alright, we’ll hide ‘em.” “I don’t follow your logic.” “Don’t worry, there’s a bunny.” Ridiculous…
[Steve] It is funny, especially when you see it for what it is. Eggs, baskets and bunnies it may be laughable, but there is a serious side.
I hope you’ll take the challenge and follow the logic. Because if you do, you’ll realize that, not only these traditions, but the holiday itself has nothing to do with true worship. Easter, Ishtar, Semiramis, the Queen of heaven—they’re all intertwined and rooted in unchristian festivals to the fertility goddess of the east. And whether it’s sunrise services, Easter ham, lent, and most of the other Easter traditions; it’s evident they’re all connected to ungodly worship.
The question then becomes: Can Christianity remake these false ways of worship to be an acceptable way to worship the true God? The answer—no. Not if you’re truly trying to please Him.
If we’re honest with ourselves, all the trappings of eggs and bunnies; and Christmas trees and presents—doesn’t it take our attention away from the true factual understanding—the real spiritual meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection? Lost in the Santas and hot cross buns is our Savior who demands that we live a life that imitates Him.
We cannot attempt to somehow show Him honor by using unbiblical fertility symbols and expect Him to like it!
I hope you won’t fail to ask yourself the vital question: “What does God say about this? What is His opinion?”
“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32 Deuteronomy 12:32What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
American King James Version×).
Jesus said that our worship of God cannot be determined by false tradition but we must follow His teachings in the Bible. It’s by observing His Sabbath and His Festivals—the ones that God has designated—His Holy Days—those are the celebrations that really bring Him honor.
After the resurrection of Christ, the apostle Paul powerfully commands the Church to avoid deception and wrong worship and he says: “Therefore, let us celebrate the feast…with sincerity and untainted truth (1 Corinthians 5:8 1 Corinthians 5:8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×, AMP).
God is the supreme ruler of the universe and He defines what’s right and what’s wrong—He gives us instructions on how to properly worship and honor Him. We have no right to make up sacred days of our own trying to honor God. He has already created and presented us a system—including Sabbaths and Holy Days—the feasts that He commands us to observe.
God plainly tells us: “How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong? That’s not partnership; that’s war. Is light best friends with dark? Does Christ go strolling with the devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple? But that is exactly what we are, each of us a temple in whom God lives.
God Himself put it this way: “I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people. So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,” says God. “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself. I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to me” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 14 Be you not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion has light with darkness?
15 And what concord has Christ with Belial? or what part has he that believes with an infidel?
16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Why come out from among them, and be you separate, said the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
18 And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×, MSG).
It does become plain. When people attempt to take unchristian, unbiblical celebrations and gloss over them or adapt them or rename them or revise them or use them to try to worship Him—God is insulted.
Now’s the time to see Halloween and the holidays for what they truly are. Let’s put them behind and commit ourselves to worship in spirit and in truth.
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I hope you’ll take the challenge today. Consider giving up these holidays. Halloween is evil. Easter and Christmas not only lack biblical authorization, but they entered traditional Christianity through people who deliberately replaced God’s commanded festivals with their own.
Now instead of missing out, you’ll have so much more to gain. You have a choice. I pray you’ll choose a closer relationship with God and try to understand His festival days—the ones that He established. May your heart and mind be open, as God leads you.
Well that’s the program for today. Don’t forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again for another edition of Beyond Today and join me in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
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