Don’t Be Tricked: Let Romans 14 Guide You

I loved trick or treating. My parents allowed me to dress in costumes and roam our neighborhood with my best friends in search of candy. After the heat of summer, October evenings felt like heaven.

After marrying Larry, our young family lived in Southern California where dressing up on Halloween reached a whole new level. Even the nurses at my doctor’s office wore extravagant costumes.

We later moved to a community that frowned on trick or treating. They associated it with witchcraft and devil worship. Fall festivals provided families and children a wholesome alternative.

In our transient world we may not know our neighbors or feel safe letting our children roam our neighborhoods. But apart from those concerns, is it wrong to dress up and collect candy on a pagan holiday? How do we weigh this and other disputable matters?

Is it wrong to dress up and collect candy on a pagan holiday? How do we weigh this and other disputable matters? #Romans14, #Wisdom Click To Tweet

Can Believers Have Different Opinions on Trick or Treating?

In Paul’s day, believers argued over whether it was wrong to eat meat offered to idols. While they agreed idol worship was wrong (Ex. 20:3), some felt it was fine to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Idols, after all, were nothing, and meat was meat.

Others willingly paid more for Kosher beef. Having been delivered from the gross immorality associated with pagan worship, they couldn’t bring themselves to eat meat associated with their former darkness.

Who Was Right?

I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong” (Rom. 14:14 NLT).

Jewish Paul had never been entrenched in pagan worship. Eating meat sacrificed to idols didn’t bother him. But someone pressing their beliefs on others or harming someone with their personal freedom did bother him.

Today, we don’t argue about meat sacrificed to idols. But this month we may hear conversations on trick or treating, women’s roles in church, or whether it’s appropriate to drink wine. Romans 14 addresses disputable matters.

Romans 14 Highlights

  • Accept and respect those with more limited or broader liberties than you (14:1, 3, 4).
  • Weak faith is associated with limited freedom (14:1-3).
  • Harmony and peace matter more than personal opinions (14:1,17, 19).
  • Don’t pressure someone to believe like you (14:1, 3, 22).
  • Each one must be convinced (14:5).
  • Honoring the Lord should guide our convictions; this always pleases God (14:6-9, 18).
  • Everyone will give an account of themselves to the Lord (14:10-12).
  • Determine not to cause someone to fall (14:13, 15, 20, 21).
  • Anything not done in faith is sin (14:22-23).

This passage speaks against legalism which turns personal convictions into rules for others (Col. 2:20-23). It also warns against causing someone to stumble. Stumble relates to being ensnared or trapped into potentially harmful behavior. It’s not about being offended. We don’t want someone to participate in something they can’t handle in faith or that violates their conscience.

We all want to protect our children from evil. As we mature spiritually and our culture changes, our convictions may shift. Who thought we’d come to a time we have to train our young children to beware of what they learn at school? Whether or not you dress up or let your children trick or treat, the important thing is to honor God in whatever you do and respect those with different views who also seek to honor God.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31 NIV).

Comment here.

Blessings,

Debbie Wilson

Photo by Haley Phelps on Unsplash

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Ashley Rowland | HISsparrowBlog

    Excellent post, Debbie. We can all use the reminder to follow our consciences and let others do the same. I loved what you said about how our convictions can shift. Wonderful reminder.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Ashley. I appreciate how the Bible gives us room to have different opinions on how to practice our shared beliefs.

  2. Jan

    This is such an interesting topic. I was once shunned by Christians because I wore a gift of what I was told was a prayer belt. I didn’t understand this. I think these things some hold as evil only have power and sway if we give it to them. Yet yes, we must be mindful of possibly causing the stumbling of others.

    • Debbie Wilson

      How painful, Jan. I appreciate Paul’s emphasis on building peace and harmony and pleasing God.

  3. Annie Yorty

    Well said, Debbie. Thank you!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thanks, Annie.

  4. J.D. Wininger

    Well said author! While I may not like Halloween and what it represents, that doesn’t mean that I get all sanctimonious and self-righteous and take out my dislike on children. Instead, I need to be inviting, kind, and an example of what Christ’s love towards children looks like. They (children) can remember me as a grumpy old fussbucket who refused to give out candy or they can remember me as a kind man who smiled as he shared a treat with them, and included a short gospel message that pointed them to God rather than the world.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Love that, J.D.! As Christ-followers, may we deliver the message of salvation with the sweetness of Jesus.

      • Stephanie Sudano

        Yes love that! Both your post Debbie and JD’s comment. I once looked forward with great anticipation each Halloween to visiting the Proctor’s house along my “candy route”. They were an older couple who would hand out a small brown paper bag filled with candy and a verse:).

        • Debbie Wilson

          I love your memory of that special couple who doubly blessed you with candy and a spiritual treat.

  5. Joan C. Benson

    Such wise words of truth, Debbie. I appreciated reading these ideas — there is a lot of “confusion” out there regarding all the holidays, actually.

    Blessings!
    Joan

    • Debbie Wilson

      Joan, that is a very good point!

  6. Ann Musico

    Debbie this is wonderful and I love the points from Romans. The actual act of trick or treating is less important than the belief behind it. My kids trick or treated when they were small but I never made a big deal out of it and we ended up doing other activities at home instead. My younger son still doesn’t like the whole dressing up in costume thing even though his wife does. My son in law’s family gets into the decorating and trick or treating and that’s fine – I don’t and that’s fine too. I think we have to give each other liberty.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Ann, I believe many things can influence our opinions and practices on these issues. When we see to honor God, He will guide us. Thanks for sharing your family’s experience.

  7. Nancy E. Head

    I love the grace you show here, Debbie. I loved Trick or Treat as a child, and I wanted my children to have that experience as well. I determined that the ‘holiday’ is would be what I taught them it was–an opportunity to engage in imagination and wonder. They have done the same with their children. And the thread weaves itself through the generations.

    Thank you.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Honestly, as a child, it was my favorite holiday. I loved dressing up, the candy, and roaming the neighborhood and seeing my neighbors at night. It was a community event. Today, the books and entertainment that are presented are very dark and evil. Not the fun we enjoyed.

  8. Katherine Pasour

    Debbie, you have done well in expressing how we should deal with a potentially controversial subject. We didn’t celebrate Halloween when I was a child and my children had limited opportunities because we live in a very rural area and I don’t believe in going to strangers’ houses and asking for candy. But in recent years, we’ve had Trunk or Treat at church and this allows us to provide a safe opportunity for our children and the community to come together and Trick or Treat. We view this as a valuable outreach to our community.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Katherine, I spoke at a church last week that was organizing a trunk or treat event. I think that is a wonderful idea. Kids can be safe and engage with adults and other children in a fun way.

  9. Jerralea Winn Miller

    Great job on a touchy subject, Debbie. It’s so funny you would post this now. We got into a discussion along these very same lines in our bible study class last Sunday. I’m going to take note of the scriptures you shared.

    • Debbie Wilson

      There are a lot of issues that believers have recently divided over. Paul’s call to harmony and respect is certainly timely. Thanks, Jerralea.

  10. Joanne Viola

    May all we do and say honor God and point others to Christ. Sometimes it may be offering a drink of water to a repair man. Other times, a little candy treat to the trick or treater at the door. But may it all be done in love.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Well said, Joanne!

  11. Anita Ojeda

    Thank you for this balanced viewpoint! All too often, we confuse our personal preferences with Biblical truth ;).

    • Debbie Wilson

      Yes, or put them on the same level. Thanks, Anita.

  12. Linda Stoll

    Debbie, this is a beautiful invitation to those of us who name the name of Jesus to be generous, kind, and gracious toward others … especially if we differ on preferences, of which there are many.

    A watching world takes note …

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Linda. I believe that is our calling. God bless!

  13. Janis Van Keuren

    Thank you, Debbie, for this eye-opening Scriptural basis to this controversial holiday. I agree especially with the stipulation to not impose our ideas on others. However, the culture has changed from a simple opportunity for young kids to dress up and get treats to something that resembles the pervasive evil surrounding us in this world. Unfortunately, the “decorations” in our nice neighborhood have turned grizzly this year. It’s sad.

    Thank you for your balanced point of view.

    Blessings,
    Janis

    • Debbie Wilson

      Janis, our culture has gotten very dark. Whether it’s my subscription to audios or commercials on entertainment, much of it is gruesome during this month. A relative told me her town is having a festival to celebrate paganism complete with curses. Lord have mercy on us!

  14. Ashley

    Thank you for sharing! This is an interesting topic. I was just speaking to my preteen about this. We used to celebrate Halloween regularly. Then I came into the knowledge that it’s opening so many windows to our children because we’re coming into agreement with what’s being worshipped on that day.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thanks for reading, Ashely. I’m glad you’re weighing the topic. We don’t live in the same culture I grew up in.

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