Holidays (Other), Mailbag

The Mailbag: Halloween vs. Yoga?

I read your article Should Christians Participate in Halloween? and I am hoping to get a point cleared up in my head. I don’t want to be legalistic, and hope not to come across that way. I am just very confused about it. I agree with you on every other theological point. But I don’t see this as [adiaphora] in the same way I don’t see practicing yoga as [adiaphora]. I asked you this same question last year and did not get a reply. Maybe I asked in an offensive way. Honestly want clarity on this issue. How is partaking in any way with a pagan practice any different than practicing yoga? Thanks in advance.

This is a really great question. I appreciate how you’re thinking this through and wanting to be biblically consistent. I want to be biblically consistent, too, so let’s dig into this:

I asked you this same question last year and did not get a reply. Maybe I asked in an offensive way.

Let me quickly address this point of policy first. Although I don’t respond to people who come after me in an angry, argumentative, attacking way, that isn’t the only reason I don’t respond to emails, messages, comments, etc. In fact, it’s not even the main reason, because that’s a very small percentage of the correspondence I receive. So it’s very unlikely that’s the reason I didn’t respond to your question. (I apologize, but I don’t remember receiving the question.)

The main reason I don’t respond to most of the correspondence I receive is that I simply don’t have time. If you’d like a longer explanation about that, click here.

How is partaking in any way with a pagan practice any different than practicing yoga?

It isn’t. “Partaking in a pagan practice” is the reason yoga is unbiblical.

But that’s not what my Halloween article said nor what it was about. I know you actually read the article, and I really appreciate that, but a lot of people either didn’t read the article and only responded (vehemently) to the title of it, or they skipped, missed, or didn’t understand these very clear statements in the opening paragraphs:

…Halloween activities available to you that do not violate scriptural principles or your conscience or cause you to become a stumbling block to someone weaker in the faith…

Please understand that when I say [should Christians participate in?] “Halloween-related activities,” I am including things like handing out candy and tracts to your neighborhood trick-or-treaters, participating in your church’s trunk or treat {assuming no sin is being committed and the gospel is being shared}, etc.

The article in no way suggests that it’s OK for Christians to take part in paganism or sin. It just doesn’t. In fact, the Scriptures I quote in the article as well as my commentary on them, and all of the additional resources at the end of the article explicitly say that Christians are not to take part in those kinds of things.

But sharing the gospel with the children who come to your door, the acquaintances you talk with in your yard, the neighbors your kids trick-or-treat from, or the families who drop by your church’s candy-fest because it’s safe and non-scary is not, in any conceivable way, sinful, demonic, unChristian, celebrating Satan, or any of the other epithets that come my way every year when I run that article. And it certainly isn’t participating in paganism. How could sharing the gospel in any circumstance be demonic or any of those other things? It’s blasphemous to say such a thing.

Dear sister who sent in the question, I know you didn’t mean it that way, but please indulge me a tangent for a moment: I think some of the others who commented on the article didn’t think things through enough to realize this is what they were inadvertently saying with their broad brush remarks – that sharing the gospel in the midst of evil is itself evil.

Do we not remember that Jesus was a guest in the homes of prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners – as evil an environment to the “Christians” of His day as Halloween is to Christians today? Do we not remember it was the Pharisees who rebuked Him for doing so and for (supposedly) defiling Himself?

Jesus didn’t defile Himself by going into those homes because He wasn’t participating in, nor approving of, any sin which took place there. He met those people where they were, called them to repentance, and planted the seeds of the gospel. And that’s exactly what many Christians do on Halloween. (And they often receive from their fellow Christians the same Pharisaical judgment Jesus received.)

And this is the crux of the answer to your question, my sister. Participating in dark, evil, pagan, or debaucherous aspects of Halloween is just as wrong as participating in yoga. How is participating in non-sinful aspects of Halloween different from participating in yoga?

Think of it this way: A kid rings your doorbell on Halloween. You hand him a tract and some candy. That tract is the good news that the celebration of death, evil, and darkness all around him is wrong and that Jesus is the light of the world and the Lord of life. You’re leveraging the good news of the gospel against the evil, pagan, and sinful aspects of Halloween. When you do yoga, you’re taking part in paganism, cooperating with it, and tacitly approving of it – not fighting against it.

I don’t see [Halloween] as [adiaphora] in the same way I don’t see practicing yoga as [adiaphora].

That’s good, because while participating in non-sinful aspects of Halloween, such as the aforementioned, is an issue of adiaphora (Christian liberty), participating in the pagan (Hindu) worship ritual of yoga is not, so you shouldn’t see them the same way.

All of this, of course, is not to say that you can’t avoid Halloween altogether if it makes you uncomfortable. You don’t have to take part in your church’s fall fest or hand out tracts at your door. You can go out to dinner, go to a Reformation Day worship service, go to bed early, or whatever you like. But what you can’t do is bind the consciences of your brothers and sisters in Christ who want to do something on Halloween that isn’t sinful and might even be evangelistic. You cannot unbiblically judge them by your personal convictions. And you certainly can’t call them names or question their salvation as I’ve had the misfortune of seeing some professing Christians do. You have to follow your biblically-informed conscience on issues of Christian liberty. Your brothers and sisters have to follow their own consciences. You will answer to God for your decisions. They will answer to God for theirs.

Additional Resources:

Christian Liberty at A Word Fitly Spoken

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

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