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).