Sometimes I marvel at God’s plan for marriage when I think that He chose two opposites and brought them together to make them one. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). God provides us a beautiful picture of taking two objects and combining them into one new object that cannot again be divided without doing damage to those who were joined.
We recently had to strip wallpaper off the bathroom walls as it had suffered at the hands of little children for many years. In addition to that, there were quite a few late nights running a steaming hot shower so a croupy little one could breath. That room full of steam had soaked the seams of the wallpaper to where they were opening up and peeling back. I was confident it would be quick work to remove as it looked like it was already falling off the walls. Unfortunately, when the original owners had hung the wallpaper, they had chosen to apply it directly to unprimered sheetrock. The glue had soaked into the sheetrock in many places, providing a great example of two becoming one. It was impossible to separate them without doing considerable damage to both. (In the same way, some marriages that are coming apart at the seams would appear to be easily dissolved in divorce, but severely damaged lives result.)
Imagine for a minute that your wife came to you with a special request. “Honey, I know this may sound a little funny to you, but you will never guess who called me today! Jack Howard. You know, he was the one I told you about who was the boy next door when I was growing up. I couldn’t believe it! It has been so many years since I saw him, and just the other day I was wondering what ever happened to him. We were neighbors for ten years; he was like a brother to me. There were no other playmates near us, so we were best friends and did everything together. We had such great times together. Well, he is going to be coming back to town once a year for a conference of some sort, and he wondered if I might be able to spend some time with him–for memories’ sake. He said we could go out for a nice dinner, and then he would bring me home before it got late. What do you think? I can hardly believe it. I’m so glad you know I love you and aren’t jealous in any way. I told him it would be okay as I was sure that you wouldn’t mind. It is so wonderful to be married to you. I feel such freedom in our marriage and I knew it would be fine with you.”
God gave us the marriage relationship to give us an earthly example of our relationship with Christ. That is why, when Israel sought other gods, God called them adulterers. “And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also” (Jeremiah 3:8).
God wanted the Israelites to understand the pain that He felt when they did not give Him their complete love and affection. That is why He had Hosea marry Gomer, so that Hosea would know how God felt when the Israelites left Him for “someone” else. “. . . And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD” (Hosea 1:2).
Why don’t we think of God as being jealous over us? We know how He was provoked to jealousy by the Israelites following after other gods. Why don’t we think that our attitudes and actions also cause Him to be jealous of us? “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:5-6). I have come to believe that for my family to participate in Halloween would be committing spiritual adultery. I have come to believe that to participate in the high, holy day of evil (from a Christian perspective) would be the equivalent of my wife going out with another man for dinner.
Just because Teri and I had pleasant youthful memories of going through the neighborhood on Halloween is no justification for us to participate in this holiday. I don’t want to teach my children that there can ever be sufficient rationale to forsake our Lord. Just because my wife is confident of my love, I do not want her spending time alone with another man. (Please don’t e-mail me and say you would have no problem with your wife spending time with another man in the above situation. It isn’t that I don’t trust her, but I prize my relationship so highly that I don’t want to take any chances. Also, one would have to consider the issue of the appearance of evil for a wife to be seen having dinner with another man.) I believe my Lord does not want my family spending time in a wicked celebration regardless of whether our intentions are good or evil. It would not matter how innocent a wife’s intentions could be in having dinner, or ours in participating in Halloween–it does not change the fact that we would be spending time with “another.”
I know some will say, “Steve, don’t worry about it, you are now free in Christ.” Many don’t understand the purpose of our freedom. Yes, we are free in Christ, but free to serve Him only–we are not free to do whatever we want. “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). God desires that we are pure and set apart to Him only. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). In good conscience I cannot let my family participate in a “holiday” where the dead, wicked, and evil are glorified. Some might encourage our family to participate in the neighborhood activities to better relate to them and possibly win them to the Lord. I would consider it if I saw in Scripture Jesus participating in evil activities to win the lost. He was with sinners, but He did not join in their evil practices. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Regardless of how Teri and I wanted to justify the children’s participation in Halloween, it was clear that we could not. It does not take much thought to see how wickedness is glorified and darkness triumphs. (If we want to win our neighbors to the Lord, we should serve them.)
Others might encourage me not to worry about “eating meat sacrificed at the temple.” I believe this analogy is often misused. To purchase Halloween candy at the store and eat it with a clear conscience is how I believe that verse could properly be applied. I don’t believe for a minute that Paul would participate in a pagan sacrifice at the temple. That is how I would feel if my family were to participate in Halloween.
Just how much attention would your wife have to give another man before you were jealous? What if she only went to dinner once a year? What if it was something that she looked forward to? What if he did nothing more than hold her hand as she got out of the car? What if she said the other man wasn’t special to her, but she wanted to use the dinner opportunity to witness to him? I want Teri to love me with her whole heart and want to spend time with me–not someone else. I would not be comforted if she told me the other man meant nothing to her, but she just wanted to relive those wonderful old times together.
My good intentions to let the children have fun and be a part of the neighborhood do not change the fact that my family would be participating in a wicked event. Halloween stands for absolutely nothing good! I can easily picture the Lord Jesus Christ being jealous and hurt when those He has bought with His own precious blood are participating in such a “celebration.”
What is there to “gain” by it? Wouldn’t I be teaching my children that participating in evil is acceptable as long as there is some sweet reward? Rather, shouldn’t I teach them to avoid evil? “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10). Let’s not quibble about where the line of sin is but use good judgment and choose things that are excellent. May God give each of us wisdom to lead our family in righteousness.