Wednesday, 7 October 2009

When One Evening Poses a Lifestyle Dilemma

I have long battled with the ethics of Halloween and whether I should allow my children to partake in parties, dressing up and going house to house Trick or Treating. Primarily my Christian beliefs err me on the side of denying them this experience as it is clear that any dabbling with the occult in any form is forbidden by God. I get that. But my children aren't going out to curse the neighbour who doesn't give them a Curly Wurly.

I spoke briefly to my older two children last night and asked what they understood from Halloween. Their instant response was that it was a way to get lots of sweets and it was fun to dress up and knock on doors in the dark. They see it as a simple fun night out. I see no reason to go into the history of witches, wizards and demons and frighten the life out of them and subject them to knowledge of that 'festival', that is unnecessary for them to be aware of at the moment. It can be argued that children are to be taught the Bible in its entirety and I completely agree, but age appropriate. Just as I don't deem it suitable for my children to learn about the intracacies of witchcraft, neither do I deem it appropriate for them to learn about Soddom and Gomorrah. At the moment.

I've mentioned to other Christians that I've allowed my children to Trick or Treat and some have fallen silent on me and others have pulled their breath in through their teeth. Some have offered ideas on how they deal with Halloween and others have simply said they don't see the harm in one evening of fun. So reaction and guidance has been mixed. Some Christian parents think it's wrong, others tend to let the evening go by with minimum fuss.

So, my thoughts are further extended when I pursue my line of thinking into what I consider to be the bigger picture. As a Christian if I refuse my children permission to Trick or Treat, should I then extend the ban to all Harry Potter movies? Or maybe Star Wars is dodgy because of the portrayal of good verses evil? James Bond movies - a man licensed to kill, who shoots without remorse and beds a few women - not very Christian is it? Should my children be told that although CS Lewis was a Christian man and wrote symbollic novels, the fact he characterises a witch in them deems the TV adaptations unsuitable to watch. Should my children read The Screwtape Letters with portrayals of conversation from the Devil? Or is it OK, because CS Lewis was a Christian, so therefore exempt from the blanket ban?

Do I admit to my younger children the truth about Father Christmas? Do I reveal to them that it is wrong to lie about a fictional character they never see? After all, they've never physically seen Jesus or God, so will they believe His existence to be as transparent as that of Santa? Of course, there are no similiarities, but take away reason, logic and education and see it through the eyes of a child, where do you draw the line about what you tell your children? Should I reveal the truth about the tooth fairy, or is she OK to exist as a lie because she's harmless?

As a parent and an adult I have a responsbility to direct my children towards a Christian life. To mould them and encourage them to live a life that Jesus taught them to live. I have been given charge of their lives to direct them as close to Christ as I can for them to come to Him when the calling is theirs. I have a major impact in the formation of their thinking and opinons, but there are some areas I am not content to force opinons on them, when I feel reaction is blown out of all proportion. The simple act of dressing up for one night to increase the sweetie stash is not going to result in my children putting a ouija board on their Christmas list or requesting a seance at their next sleepover.

What I'm trying to say here is that as a parent I have to weigh up the pros and cons of every activity my children partake in, be it Halloween, watching a movie, reading books, opening presents labelled from Santa, putting teeth under their pillow etc. As their mother I have to consider whether I am constant in my role to them and whether I am picking and choosing the parts that suit me best, because the connotation behind the deception in some cases is deemed as harmless. So, I have to ask myself that if I ban Trick or Treating, then how far do I extend the coverage of limiting the essence of their childhood?

1 comment:

Richard Walker said...

Not sure I have any easy pithy answers. Sometimes you need to lay down the law, sometimes you need to play the role of a wise counsellor.

In all things pray for wisdom. God doesn't need you to be perfect in your parental performance, just persevere in his promises and let him pick up the rest. The world is full of grey.

Beware the spirit of pharisee-ism pf trying to get all the bases too well covered. Love, faith and hope in Christ are the point of the law, not seamless moral performances.

It's also worth asking, what the essence of childhood really is. Classical western liberalism would say that it is about innocence, play and shelter from the harsh realities of life. Whilst there is some truth in that I'm not convinced it is the core, although I'm not sure I can articulate a better answer just yet.