By Candice Lucey, Crosswalk.com
Eerie lighting reflects from the second-story windows of a dilapidated home, paint faded and shutters drooping. Your friends say “come on, it’s just a bit of harmless Halloween fun,” but as a Christian, you wonder “Is it okay for me to visit this creepy place?” Here are four points to ponder when deciding whether or not to visit a haunted house this Halloween:
1. Are Zombies Real?
A good friend of mine, not a Christian (yet), says she always thought Jesus must be a zombie. She sees the prophecy of Ezekiel 37 specifying God’s intent to restore Israel (wherein God brings the skeletons of his people to life) as a biblical horror story:
I will breathe life into the bones of My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.(Ezekiel 37:12)
Israel was an oppressed nation, but God promised to restore His nation from the hands of their enemies. Their walking skeletons represented the resurrection of a people-group, not a zombie apocalypse.
Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, Dorcas, and Jesus Himself, were not raised as the living dead but restored to full life. They were fully dead, then they were fully alive, eating and drinking. There is no in-between state, so even if a haunted house features a graveyard, an army of the dead is not going to claw through the dirt and come after curious visitors.
If watching frightened people jump and scream entertains you, that’s simply unkind. After all, what is the point of dropping $25 to wander through a dusty old house when the primary purpose—a good scare—is nullified by biblical wisdom?
God doesn’t tell us to leave our ability to reason at the door under certain circumstances, or to take pleasure in the fear of others, but to “keep your hearts with all vigilance.” (Proverbs 4:23)
2. Can Haunted Houses Have Demons?
We know demons are real, puppets of Satan, such as the Son of Perdition: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9)
But they are always portrayed as inhabiting a person (or in the case of the possessed man in the graveyard, a herd of pigs). Demonic power is limited. That’s not to say the demonic cannot find a way into a person, but one has to allow room in his or her own spirit for demons to occupy.
That’s why Jesus tells the disciples in Matthew 12:43-45 that if a person is cleansed of demons, but does not fill the rooms of his soul with good things, that demon will come back “and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself.” (Matthew 12:45)
Does one only find demons in haunted houses, however? No, they don’t restrict themselves to specific locations. The best protection is the fruit of the Spirit; there is no space for evil spirits in a person filled with and guided by the Living Word of God. In other words, it’s not the haunted house that makes you vulnerable to demons or sin in general but allowing yourself to be distracted from the Word’s direction and protection by secular, even dark sources of entertainment.
3. Warning to People with Weak Hearts
Our pastor tells us that Satan isn’t interested in scaring us to death; he prefers using subtle methods to undermine faith, whispering lies which often begin with “did God really mean (blank)?” or “just one won’t hurt you.”
So, ask yourself: “why do I want to visit a haunted house?” Paul writes “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Perhaps an interest in psychology or set design contributes to a kind of scientific curiosity. We are not commanded to be super-serious Christians with no room in our minds and hearts for light-hearted fun.
On the other hand, are you visiting a haunted house to fit in with your friends? While it’s okay not to credit Satan with too much power and there is no power in a dilapidated building, a desire to be like others might have undermined your sense of identity in Christ. It might be a warning that you spend too little time pondering God’s word. “Do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance” (1 Peter 1:14)
Maybe you doubt there is a world of evil ready to tempt us. Do you remember why Christ died? He died for our sins, so to behave as though Hell is just a Halloween invention could be seen as mocking the Messiah and His sacrifice on the cross. If some part of your conscience feels uncomfortable, that’s the Holy Spirit asking you to pay attention. Pray about it.
Taking part in Halloween events such as visiting a haunted house does not put your salvation in jeopardy if you are secure in Christ, but check your intentions and motives.
Being overly curious about demons and Hell may be a sign that you don’t quite grasp the importance or meaning of Jesus’ sacrifice which has freed you from destruction. Seeking emotional stimulation and a feeling of fear from such houses might be an indication that you don’t fully believe in Christ for salvation from death.
4. What about Christian Hell Houses?
A phenomena called the Christian Hell House arose in the United States several decades ago and has grown in popularity. This alternative to scary secular attractions combines the entertainment of a haunted house with the religious purpose similar to a Live Nativity.
Directors of Hell Houses aim to scare people into repentance and belief by depicting the reality of Hell to the best of their creative ability on a small budget. One cannot truly represent the horrors of Hades, but imaginative minds do their best by way of visual elements, special effects, and emotional storytelling, to contrast Heaven and Hell.
According to this article, in Hell Houses, relatable, ordinary characters are challenged to ask themselves where they will spend eternity. Visitors are told (or reminded) that being “good” won’t save them. A journey through one of these houses “will ultimately cause you to ponder the reality of life beyond the grave.”
Are these attractions good or bad; Gospel-focused? There is no easy answer to this question.
One spokesperson in the article reported “It’s the greatest evangelistic tool that we have as a church. We reach a lot of unchurched people.” One might argue that the method isn’t as important as the result, but are people really saved or just scared into attending church? That is, are hearts changed or only behaviors?
We might not learn the answer to that question until we enter the Kingdom of God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22 that he became “all things to all people” to reach them. But He also told the truth in love and we are exhorted to do the same thing. (Ephesians 4:15)
Christ wasn’t in the business of scaring people silly; He invited them to salvation with mercy, grace, kindness, gentleness, and love. These qualities won over the hearts of sinners. Hell Houses warn visitors about death; the Gospel is good news about life.
I’m not saying it’s ‘wrong,’ and my aim isn’t to ‘scare you.’ But maybe it’s best not to visit any special “Houses” this Halloween. Take advice from Philippians 4:8; fill your minds with “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” and you can’t go wrong.
Candice Luceyl oves writing about Jesus. She lives with her family in a beautiful, mountainous part of British Columbia, Canada, where she studies and practices Gospel counselling. Catch her other writing at wordwell.ca.
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