12: Halloween and the Store Clerk
Question: I'd like to get some thoughts on the topic of Halloween. I know it's a touchy one...everyone in the Christian community handles it differently. As a couple, my husband and I have always been very convicted about not celebrating it in any way (not that that's the best answer for every family in every situation, but that's where we've firmly stood for all of our married life). So now we have our wee little son , and want him, too, to avoid this commercialized American "holiday." (We have nothing against candy or costumes, mind you, just the origin of the celebrations, and all the evil it can introduce kids to). So, I'm searching for some wisdom on how we can train him to succinctly, gently, and without judgment, answer the grocery store clerk's question, "So, what are you going to be for Halloween?" Every answer I come up with is either very long, or sounds very legalistic. Any input? We won't be offended no matter what your stand is, so ANY input from you guys would be valuable to us!!!!
Response: My answer is probably not very timely, but better late than never, right?
Obviously you want to be sensitive to people who hold other positions, without watering down your own position. It's good that you're trying to be winsome, and it's also great that you are sticking to your guns on what you believe is important. We're personally not too bothered by trick-or-treating, but we're not particularly fond of the Easter bunny. We tell the kids that Santa is not real, but it's fun to pretend that he is. I totally try to pull off the tooth fairy thing, but I think the kids are usually pretty wise to that right from the bat. We celebrate Thanksgiving (which I think is an excellent holiday), we don't do St. Patrick's (for no particular reason), and we either celebrate Valentine's or fight on Valentine's depending upon whether or not I remember it. I bet not a single person that reads this does exactly what we do in each of these areas. Each of us will have personal convictions in each of these areas, and we need to give each other some space to have different convictions on these things. You and your husband obviously already hold that perspective, which I think is very healthy.
In light of that I'd encourage your son to be very polite and say something like, "My family doesn't celebrate Halloween, but I love to dress up like a ninja (or fireman, cowboy, old man, etc...). By having him mention a dress up character he probably wouldn't kill the conversation or come across as judgmental. Instead it would naturally open up the door for the store clerk to respond with something like, "Oh, do you have a ninja sword?" If he just says something against Halloween the natural response is to wonder why, but most people would probably be reluctant to ask why. As a result, the natural flow of the conversation could be killed, and an awkward silence could ensue. Now, mind you, I've never tried this. It's just an idea, and it seems polite to me.
Of course in private you'll want to explain your convictions to your son and encourage him not to be judgmental of others with other convictions.
Romans 14 is a great passage that deals with being careful not to judge each other on disputable matters. It starts off by saying, "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters." It then goes on to explain that in these matters each person "should be fully convinced in his own mind" and follow his convictions, being careful to consider how his actions could cause others to stumble or fall.
Colossians 4:4-6 also addresses our need to be careful in responding to others. It says, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
The heart you have in this matter seems to reflect God's desire for you to answer graciously. You might try the Ninja thing. If that doesn't work, keep trying and let me know if you land on an idea that really works well.