The blog where I rant about things that should be obvious to everyone

As a man with a 4 year degree in computer science, and a mediocre job doing web development I'm not really qualified to comment on politics, religion, or anything else, but I'll be damned if that stops me.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Celebrate the Damn Holiday

During this time of year a lot of Christians get their panties in a bunch over the celebration of Halloween. I admit that I am a recovering panty bunching Christian myself. But the simple fact is that there is nothing wrong with kids dressing up in costumes and walking around the neighborhood. In fact, there is no action that we can take that is sinful.

Sins do not come in the form of actions. It is not movement of molecules, or transfers of energy that are sinful. If it were any different than rocks would be capable of sin. If it were different, to go back to the topic of holidays, you could map out the orbit of the Earth and highlight the Halloween portion of the orbit, saying “See here. This is the part of the Earth's orbit that is sinful.” Of course no one preaches that rocks commit sins, or that parts of the Earth's orbit is are sinful, while other part are righteous.

The reason for this is that sin is exclusively the realm of the heart and mind. This is why so many actions can be considered righteous in some cases and evil in others. This is why when Phinehas butchered two people by driving a spear through them, it was attributed to him as righteousness, but when Cain slew Abel it was attributed to him as sin.

This is also why Jesus preached a new standard of righteousness in Matthew 5:28 when saying that to merely lust after a woman is that same as committing adultery with her.

So what is the key? How do we determine motivations? Jesus tells us in Matthew 22 when saying what the greatest commandments are: to love the Lord with all your heart and all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. He then goes on to say “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” What Jesus is saying here is that any action taken with a heart or a state of mind that does not put God first, or that puts yourself before your neighbor, is sinful. And conversely any action taken with a heart or state of mind that puts God first, or puts your neighbor before yourself (without violating the putting God first part), is righteous. So by this definition celebrating Halloween may or may not be a sin based on the reason for celebrating it.

If you are decorating your house and yard for Halloween so you can look down on the yards of your neighbors as their yards are not nearly as cool, you are sinning. If you don't decorate your yard or pass out candy because you dislike your neighbors, you are sinning. And of course if you celebrate Halloween by mocking God and preforming satanic rituals, you are sinning.

Laundry list Christians (that is those who have a long list of things that you must do or believe before being a REAL Christian) are fond of pointing out that the roots of the holiday are pagan rather than christian. And they point out rightly that we are not to follow pagan practices. What they miss however is the relationship with follow pagan practices and motivation. The Israelites were forbidden to following pagan practices in as far as they were related to idol worship. The pagans also made a practice of eating, but the Israelites were not forbidden from doing that.

In basically all cases where the Israelites were forbidden from partaking in pagan practices there is a direct idol worship link. Take for example Leviticus 19:28 “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” This is often cited as a reason to not getting tattoos. But this is not some incitement against all bodily marks, it is condemning the practice of ancestor worship. If you play football and you put dark marks under your eyes to cut down the glare, you are not violating Leviticus 19:28. Another example is Jeremiah 10:2-5 which is often cited to condemn Christmas trees: “Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.” Again, the take away should not be that decorated trees are intrinsically evil but rock gardens are okay. What is condemned is the practice of worshiping trees as idols. And don't tell me that by singing “Oh Christmas Tree” people are engaging in devil worship. Appreciation is not worship. You should sooner condemn songs like “The Star Spangled Banner” or “America the Beautiful” as idol worship than a song like “Oh Christmas Tree”. But very few laundry list Christians have that as an item on their list. The reason of course is that being a laundry list Christian is not about trying to serve God but rather to usurp God's role as judge.

So to bring it back to Halloween, boys that dress up in a bed sheet are no more worshiping ancestors, death, or the devil, than girls who dress up as princesses are worshiping the Queen of England. There once was a time when Halloween was about idol worship, but that time has long since passed. And as it is no longer intrinsically about idol worship, there is no longer anything intrinsically sinful about it. The fact that there is still some small sect of people who do practice Halloween as a pagan ritual does not change that. And for you laundry list Christians reading this who disagree, let me ask you this: if earth worshiping druids started to observe the Sabbath, even doing it on Saturday instead of Sunday like good laundry list Christians do, would you stop? If the answer is no, then unbunch your panties and go out and enjoy Halloween.

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