A couple of days ago my family and I were walking through Home Depot. Towards the front of the store were some cartoonish inflatable Halloween decorations for a front lawn. You probably know the type: Graves, skeletons, tombstones with humorous inscriptions. And as we walked away from them I felt strongly that I needed to tell my oldest (5) that our family doesn’t celebrate death. And then she started to tell me all the things that we’ve talked about as a family that are from God’s stories of Creation and Consummation in Genesis and Reveation: That death is bad, that it came from sin, and that someday Jesus will come back. And when He does, she said, “No more death, and no more tears, and no more boo boos.” These are the truths we’ve tried to communicate to our 3 little children.
And so while I don’t think there’s anything sinful in dressing up or in giving away candy, we won’t go door-to-door on Halloween this year because so much of what my kids would see would be a playful or morbidly curious attitude towards death. At least 1 of my kids heard us sing “Laid Death In His Grave” this Sunday at our church gathering. I don’t want us to sing joyfully that Jesus conquered something on Sunday and then playfully observe it a few weeks later.
God grieves death. And He hates it. He gave up His own Son to defeat it. He will someday cast it into the Lake of Fire with Satan and all his demons and the (finally) unrepentant. And because of all that, my family shouldn’t view death as a game or a joke. I love games, and I love jokes, but the goodness of each comes in knowing what’s fun and what’s funny. And death is neither.
God built this world without death, and it is sin that unleashed it upon His beautiful work. Death distorts and deteriorates God’s marvelous creation, and He allows it to for a time. But while I wait for His Son to return and put this enemy under His feet, I want to have the same posture towards it He has.
Death is nothing to play about. It is not natural. It is not something to entertain a morbid fascination for. Death is the outworkings of an awful rebellion. I don’t want to celebrate it any more than I celebrate idolatry or adultery.
One of the best gifts I can give my kids is the awareness of what is good and beautiful as opposed to what is ugly and passing away. And so for me, this isn’t about forbidding something just to forbid it, and it isn’t about laying down some sort of distinctive Thomas family law. It is about preparing my kids’ hearts for the beauty of Jesus’ return, and teaching them to grieve what God grieves, hate what God hates, and hope for what Jesus is bringing.
Death is monstrous. I don’t want us to celebrate it. I want us to celebrate its defeat at the hands of the greatest of Kings.
Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:24-26