My son was clear about what he wanted to be for Halloween. I tried to steer him in the direction of a superhero. A cowboy. Or a cute little rugby player in honor of my husband’s favorite sport.
He wanted to be a black ninja.
Except that the costume he desperately wanted was not a black ninja garb. It was a phantom robe. Despite my explanation that this was not a ninja costume, in his mind, it was the MOST amazing ninja costume ever.
After some deep thinking on the matter, I was okay with that.
First, we believe that the “celebration” of Halloween is a matter of pure conscience and should be a personal decision. My husband and I are in agreement that it falls into the Christian freedom category of choices based on your own convictions. As a family, we did not trick-or-treat when I was young, so I do understand both sides of the coin. If you want a further explanation of our family's choice, Courtney from Women Living Well sums it up nicely, as far as our decision goes.
But here is where the rubber REALLY meets the road for me personally. I was faced with a dilemma. If I am not going to attach morality to the holiday itself, and it is simply a time to have fun, meet our neighbors (we started a relationship with a new family last year by ringing their doorbell), and show kindness to the people who live on our streets, then how does that apply to the actual costumes?
Where do I draw the line, if indeed I draw a line at all? Again, I believe it’s a matter of conscience.
Is it more acceptable for my son to be Robin simply because he “does good” as a superhero? My concern with this thinking is that “good” people are no better than “bad” people. If we want to view it as a spiritual matter, what makes Robin more fit for an appropriate costume than a phantom? Aren’t they both totally depraved and lost, both headed to hell if they are relying on “good works”?
I know. The thought process is a little goofy. I admit it. After all, we are talking about fictional characters. Except, we do this in real life too. So and so runs a charity so they are better than the secretary at the abortion clinic.
Wait a minute. That’s not what God says, is it?
"he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:5-7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Colossians 2:16-17
I couldn’t turn off the implications of what I was thinking-I like to ask myself the hard questions about my thought-processes-what am I REALLY saying when I make claims? Is it okay for ME to draw a line and say that cowboys and cowgirls are good enough but the Hulk has an anger problem and so he is off the acceptable costume list?
And so this circle of thinking brought me right back to the beginning. My conscience tells me that I am free to celebrate holidays and festivals because I am not doing evil or approving of evil by participating. For me, that stretches to the costumes themselves.
As a matter of personal preference, I’m not into ghosts and ghouls-nor do I fear them. We are secure in our trust that He Who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. It’s simply that I am a girly girl-I prefer sparkly glitter pumpkins and Fall centerpieces. Because I have boys, we do spiders. That’s as far as I like to go-but it’s not about religion.
Until this year, I never considered the subliminal message I was sending when I okayed the astronaut over the monster. God does not look at the outward appearance, but at the heart. My son’s heart? Saved by grace. Despite the black phantom costume. So even though I anticipate that others will judge me, I’m looking past the flowing black robe and remembering who we are. Sinners, all of us, whether the outside looks good or our superhero costume is known for fighting the bad guy or not. I’m removing the subtle but treacherous thinking that the appearance matters at all-that the good we do has any merit whatsoever, whether fictional character or not. Maybe next year I will be convicted otherwise about costumes. I'm open to the Holy Spirit's leading. But I love the lesson He is teaching me this year.
None of us is “good”, folks. No not one. I’m no better than you and you are no better than me.
It’s all about Jesus and the work that He did on the cross that makes any of us “good” at all, and even then, it’s the good that God alone prepared for us to do before the foundation of the world. I can take no credit.
And neither can Batman.