Sunday, November 1, 2009

When Attitudes Change

"Is Halloween evil?" That's the question posed and discussed on our daughter C. Beth's blog yesterday. It's a great question that will keep stimulating discussion long after this year's sugar highs are over. Beth discussed her own metamorphosis on the issue, then referred to Cathy and me, "Interestingly, my parents don't think it's a terrible holiday anymore either."

That brings up an important topic. Is it okay for a person's attitudes to change on a subject so centered on the eternal conflict of Light and Darkness?

Well, obviously, people can change opinions almost as quickly as ping pong balls skip back and forth across the net. But, when is it appropriate? I will take a stab at a few questions we can ask ourselves. Hopefully, they will help.

1. Is my current opinion consistent with my other views on life?

Beth correctly pointed out that we had changed our mind. Why? First, because we were inconsistent. We were rejecting Halloween because of its history in paganism, but we weren't rejecting Christmas for the same reason. Yes, Christmas has it's December 25th roots in a pagan celebration.

But there is another inconsistency. On the one hand, we were trying build up bridges to engage our culture with the love of Christ. The more we embraced legalism, the more we built walls instead. I wrote about the positive side of our changed attitude last year.

2. Is my current opinion firmly grounded in my belief system?

One day a group of religious leaders pushed a woman to the feet of Jesus and said, "She was caught in the act of adultery." (John 8) Their attempt to trap Jesus was a sign of their own hypocrisy. It takes two, you know. Where was the man? If they were interested in righteousness, where was the man? In other words, they were more concerned about pushing their opinion on others than they were dealing with sin.

While a bit humorous, the radio commentator whom Beth mentioned; the one who considered Halloween a Democratic holiday -- because kids get something for nothing -- was just as dangerous as those religious leaders. You see, the religious leaders felt justified (some of them had likely used her services before) because they had paid for their sins by religious acts. What Jesus offered the sinful woman was something for nothing.

For Cathy and me, we came to grips that we are broken, sinful people in a broken sinful world. We can either embrace other sinners as we have been embraced or we can shun them because they don't live up to our religious standard.

3. What is my attitude toward those who disagree with me?

I think this question is very self-revealing. Many years ago, during the same season I went on the warpath against Halloween, I legalistically began driving the speed limit. Then I promptly got mad at every driver who passed me on the highway (which was most of them).

As God continues to do heart surgery on me year after year, I have an observation about my anger. I'm not so sure that I was really angry at those who drove like I used to. I was more angry that I couldn't do it anymore because of my legalistic choice. So much for, "Beloved, let us love one another..." (1 John 4:7)

If you find yourself constantly angry at those who disagree with you, perhaps it's because you aren't fully comfortable with your answers to the first two questions.

All that said, Happy Halloween. Enjoy your candy! I'm pretty much abstaining.

And, no, I'm not angry about it!