Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in 2013. The ChurchandCulture.org Team thought it was an important read for Halloween.
I grew up in a day when Halloween was little more than pumpkins, fall festivals, hayrides, and dressing up as a pirate or a farmer to go trick-or-treating. And that is what it held for my now very post-Halloween-age children as well.
I know its history, but few celebrations in our day are free of pagan roots – almost all had a pagan heritage that were later seized and transformed by a Christian culture.
So that doesn’t mean much to me.
On the Christian calendar, it’s actually to be celebrated as part of Reformation Day, when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg church which sparked the Protestant Reformation.
So while I still hold to the child-like fun the night can hold, I no longer view the day itself as innocent. But it’s not because of the occult.
That’s not where I have a hard time with Halloween.
It’s the sex.
In an earlier article in the New York Times titled, “Good Girls Go Bad, For a Day,” Stephanie Rosenbloom wrote of the changing nature of women’s Halloween costumes in the last several years.
Little Red Riding Hood, in her thigh-highs and miniskirt does not seem en route to her grandmother’s house.
Goldilocks, in a snug bodice and platform heels, gives the impression she has been sleeping in everyone’s bed.
And then there is the witch wearing little more than a Laker Girl uniform, a fairy who appears to shop at Victoria’s Secret , and a cowgirl with a skirt the size of a – well, you get the point. As Rosenbloom notes, the images “are more strip club than storybook.”
No wonder Halloween costume stores have signs out front that say, “no one under 18 allowed without a parent.”
So my take on it all is pretty simple.
I think Halloween as an American cultural event for kids is no big deal. Dress them up as one of the minions from Despicable Me and have fun. It's just not a big deal from the paranormal or occultic side of things. In my opinion, this is an area where a lot of people are majoring on the minors.
So it’s not the kids and Halloween that are the problem, it’s the adults. I think as far as the kids go with Halloween, I think it can still be something innocent.
But a word to you adults who have made it “dress like a porn star and act like one” night.
You’re the ones making it dark.
James Emery White
Stephanie Rosenbloom, “Good Girls Go Bad, For a Day,” New York Times, Thursday, October 19, 2006, p. E1 and E2.
Michelle Healy, “Sexy teen Halloween costumes: What's a parent to do?,” USA Today, October 26, 2013, read online.
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.