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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Eating Idol Meat This Halloween?

This coming October 31st kicks off the holiday season. Today, I received my first ever Halloween card from one of my brothers. And so it begins.

Along with the holidays, at least on the Christian side, comes the charges that participating in certain activities that are believed to be of pagan origin, will in essence put one in fellowship with pagan beliefs and practices. Of the three coming holidays, Halloween gets the brunt of these accusations.

After all, dressing up kids as witches, ghosts, demons, and other mythical pagan creatures certainly looks bad. Then throw in that Satanic worshipers deem Halloween to be their big feast day of the year, and it is understandable why many Christian groups shy away from it.

Like many churches, our parish plans on holding a "Fall Festival" this coming Sunday, allowing our kids to dress up as "safe" characters and play some games to win candy. Ironically, our churches are doing exactly what the Catholic Church did. Due to the pagan worship, they introduced celebrating "All Saints Day" in an effort to replace the honoring of pagan myths with heroes of our faith.

But as secular society is want to do, it incorporated elements of both. The evening before All Saints Day, known as "All Hallowed Eve," was condensed to Halloween. Over time, certain practices were borrowed, stripped of their religious meaning, and turned into fun times to enjoy. Like secularization did for Christmas, it did for both pagan and Christian elements of Halloween.

Which is why the common rebuttal to the above Christian concerns is it doesn't currently have any pagan meaning. Dressing up as a vampire and going trick or treating is no more participating in pagan rituals and beliefs than claiming reading a story about Santa Claus causes one to participate in Christianity.

Both sides have a point. Which is why this issue is very similar to the issue of eating meat offered to idols. For one person, to participate is to participate in paganism. For another, it is an innocent, fun activity for the kids. Paul says one's conscious is the guide in this case.

Which means two things, both of which Paul pointed out in his epistle to the Romans:
Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. (Rom 14:3 EMTV)

One, he who chooses not to participate in traditional Halloween activities, refuse to judge and convict those who do in hopes of stopping them.

Two, those who decide it is all right to participate in dress up and trick or treat should not belittle or encourage those who believe it is wrong to change their minds, causing them to stumble in their faith.

The "no judging" rule flows both ways, whether you are the weaker brother or not.

What are your plans this October 31st?

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