Over the weekend I took my youngest son to the costume shop to pick up his Peter Pan Halloween costume. This year we’re doing the harvest festival at church, which includes dinner, a dress up party and ends with trunk or treat. We have always allowed our kids to trick or treat with their friends, either at the church or in our housing tract. Dressing up for Halloween is just a tradition my husband and I grew up with. We do not glorify Satan nor do we partake in any pagan rituals, unless of course a little over-indulgence in candy can be misconstrued as a pagan ritual. We do have friends who choose to not partake in anything to do with Halloween, and we respect their choice, as they respect ours. We, however, always have our porch light on and a big bowl of candy ready to hand out. The good kind of candy, by the way-- chocolate! (wink, wink).
As we walked into the costume store, I asked a young boy who worked there where the Peter Pan costumes were located. “Aisle 3”, I was told.
We made our way down the costume aisle, passing up Obi Wan, Spiderman, and a Ghostbusters costume, complete with proton-pack. Joey then spotted what he thought looked like a much cooler costume than Peter Pan. “Mom, can I be Dracula, instead?”
Dracula? “Um...well... why would he want to be Dracula?”, I thought to myself. I can’t even remember him seeing a vampire movie! Have I been too liberal with his TV viewing?? Think quickly, mama!
This vampire issue made me think about the week I just had in my professional life.
Besides writing for this blog, I write and am on the marketing team for the “What’s In the Bible” brand, and I do assorted contracted marketing work with other Christian media companies, as things come up. I also administrate a Facebook Fan page, titled “Christian Movies”. The company I was last working with promoted independent Christian film projects. That company has recently been dissolved. I was given the option to run this this Facebook page, solely as a ministry, since it didn’t any longer tie into a specific business. I chose to accept the admin role and I have tried to continue on with the same mission, adding to it a promotional aspect of all Christian media. This page allows us to highlight specific projects, artists, post production notices, as well as facilitating interesting discussions with the fans.
Last week I was contacted by a friend who runs a marketing / production company in Hollywood. She needed an established director for a film project that was ready to seek funding, and it was projected to have a $45M budget. For an independent film, those numbers are BIG! She knew I had filmmaker friends who may have had enough experience under their belts to run with this new project. They had a well known distributor on board, and in this industry, everything is needed “yesterday”...so there was a time element I was working under.
There were two hitches about this project, (1) It was a secular film AND (2) it was going to have a vampire in it.
The screenwriter and the producer of this project are both Christians. But this is not in the Christian film genre, per se. Redemptive storyline? Hmmmm...I guess that’s possible. Vampires for the most part play the antagonists, and are the evil which in the end usually loses the battle against the righteous.
But how did the FANS of the site react? Well... as you can expect, it was a hot bed of controversy. The filmmakers jumped on board and were grateful for the networking opportunity. Some fans could see that fact, and weren’t turned off by the genre, either. However, some fans chose to leave the FB site altogether, but not before telling me that, "I had probably never been saved", "Didn’t know God’s Word" and one person actually cast demons out of me before pulling her “fan” status. Seriously, I was exorcised online!
Let’s just say, I’ve had better weeks.
While I’m not into vampire movies, or anything in the horror genre for that matter, there are people out there (and I’m specifically NOT referring to teenage girls or the Twilight series in this example) who enjoy a vampire flick for sheer entertainment. Most people don’t necessarily watch scary movies with an intent to see a story beyond that of senseless terror which causes a few momentary rushes of adrenaline. Much like that of a roller coaster.
The point is this: Should Christians partake in horror movies? In my opinion, yes... and, no.
In it’s truest form, horror is neutral, just as fantasy or drama, are neutral. The writer is dealing in “types” and “devices” that make his story fall into a specific genre. Personally, I find that a lot of present day horror movies simply range from the absurdly stupid to the senseless and gory. Many times the best advice would be to not waste your time or money on these projects. Man can truly corrupt any good story, as we have seen countless times on the big screen, in all genres. But as for the power to corrupt our souls...that one I’m not so sure about.
True horror represents good as good and evil as evil. However, in all fairness, there are some projects which are considered to be false horror, which blur the lines within the story, glorifying evil. Those projects, I would advise people to tread into cautiously.
True horror shows the absolute ugliness of evil. It can show how the most pious even fall victim to the slippery slope of evil. In story there must be an arc, otherwise the story falls flat. There must be an antagonist or an antagonistic situation. In true horror evil is always portrayed as the villain. It is never put on a throne and glorified. It reminds us that justice should prevail over injustice and courage over cowardice. Good always trumps evil! It also forces us to confront that sense of humanistic, chaotic thinking and behavior. Ultimately, it reminds us that we need God. We need His salvation. In this aspect, even this genre can have a redemptive message.
On the other hand we don’t want to enter into horror films flippantly. Whether natural or supernatural in theme, I believe demons exist as much as I believe angels exist. I believe that there is evil around us, and that we must be discerning--even prayerful before we watch anything that addresses evil, directly. We must never fall victim to the thought process, “this is just a movie”, because that is the time that the enemy can confuse and blur our thinking. Perhaps even enticing some to delve further into occult-ish devices. For some, a little is too much. They must abstain from this genre of horror, and that’s ok. For others, this genre presents no more spiritual challenge than any other genre. It’s my belief that we must allow each Christian, wherever his walk of faith may be, to allow God’s grace and the Spirit’s conviction to guide his decisions on all matters.
But what does the Bible say specifically about vampires? Well, I looked, and I couldn’t find anything specific to vampires. Probably because vampires are mythical creatures, found on the other end of the make-believe rainbow from the unicorn or leprechaun.
But the Bible does speak of evil.
Evil is found to be represented specifically in three books of the Bible; Job, Habakkuk, the Revelation, and part of the Psalms.
The most relevant Biblical reference that I came across, which discussed our responsibility to stay aware that our actions and decisions could make a brother stumble was from 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 (The Message):
8-9But fortunately God doesn't grade us on our diet. We're neither commended when we clean our plate nor reprimanded when we just can't stomach it. But God does care when you use your freedom carelessly in a way that leads a fellow believer still vulnerable to those old associations to be thrown off track. 10For instance, say you flaunt your freedom by going to a banquet thrown in honor of idols, where the main course is meat sacrificed to idols. Isn't there great danger if someone still struggling over this issue, someone who looks up to you as knowledgeable and mature, sees you go into that banquet? The danger is that he will become terribly confused—maybe even to the point of getting mixed up himself in what his conscience tells him is wrong. 11-13Christ gave up his life for that person. Wouldn't you at least be willing to give up going to dinner for him—because, as you say, it doesn't really make any difference? But it does make a difference if you hurt your friend terribly, risking his eternal ruin! When you hurt your friend, you hurt Christ. A free meal here and there isn't worth it at the cost of even one of these "weak ones." So, never go to these idol-tainted meals if there's any chance it will trip up one of your brothers or sisters.”
There are people who can watch a scary movie about vampires, zombies, or Michael and Jason and are simply not affected by it. There are others who when viewing anything within the horror or fantasy genre, are tempted to delve further into stuff that really is off limits for people of faith. Things of the occult, psychics, Ouija boards, seances, etc. These things are spoken about specifically in Scripture, and we are told to NOT partake. If you are someone who knows that a horror movie would make you stumble, don’t watch it. If you are WITH someone who you know would stumble after watching a horror movie-- you must take up Paul’s example in 1Corinthians, and abstain, as well.
Getting back to the Dracula costume, we decided that since my son’s faith is still maturing and things CAN easily become blurred, we opted for the Peter Pan costume, instead. He was fine with it, and it gave us a chance to discuss what evil really is about. I’m not sure he understands it, and in a way, I’m really glad that evil is a topic that is a little foreign to him. At 8, he should be surrounded by joy, and all that’s good!
Besides for us, Halloween is all about the candy!