Halloween – just a bit of harmless fun, right?

Halloween: Kids love it, the whole family gets involved, and it brings the community together. Too bad that while everyone’s having fun on Halloween in our Western culture that children aren’t having fun elsewhere in the world. They’re dying of starvation because their countries’ leaders are siphoning off the riches for themselves, they’re fleeing as refugees from war zones, dying as slaves in factories, as the prey of sexual predators, and as victims of Aids, infanticide and abortion. But ignore all that. Let’s make light of evil at Halloween, kids, as if evil isn’t real.

But evil is real, as all children find out in school, when bullies make their lives miserable, and every weakness and blemish is exploited. Our kids are never safe from those who wish to hurt them, and some resort to suicide to escape the pain. And that’s just school. At work they’ll be up against sexual harassment, destructive gossip and weird people who think only of their own appetites, none of which is fun. Evil is real, weird and brutal, and it’s not going away, but Halloween somehow makes it fun instead.

But God is merciful, as he revealed through Jesus on the cross, when Jesus cried out, “Forgive them for they have no idea what they’re doing.” So God doesn’t condemn us for being blind and stupid. Instead, he feels a great sympathy for us, which he shows by sending some into the darkness – where people are stumbling around – to “open their eyes,” Acts 26:18, and “turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.”

God’s great desire for us is that we “come to our senses and escape the devil’s trap,” 2 Timothy 2:26. So God doesn’t ridicule us for what we’re doing, but he does reason with us – just like a parent reasons with a child who’s blind to danger – in the hope that we’ll see how easily trapped we are into doing really dumb things, like warning our children all year to “never take candy off a stranger,” but at Halloween we encourage it, as though Halloween makes our children immune to evil.

But they’re not immune to evil the rest of the year, are they? Not when they’re being bullied, or worse still, they turn into bullies and get pleasure out of wrecking other people’s lives. Monsters aren’t so much fun when you see your own child turning into one. And when you see your child’s face blaze with anger and hatred, evil becomes real and very frightening. Why would anyone in his right mind, then, make fun of it?

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