by Laura Morrison

Sexy cat, sexy Snow White, sexy pregnant nun … Walk down the women’s Halloween costume aisle at any big-box store and the selection is essentially the same: skimpy. The fully clothed costumes are on the shelves with all the blood and gore. Unless you make your own costume, you can find no in-between. For the modern female who is not out to show her goodies, finding a costume to celebrate Halloween (a secular American holiday) can be daunting.

Halloween and church

Halloween used to really be a kids’ holiday. Children would dress up in cute ghost and princess costumes and walk around the neighborhood requesting candy from kindly neighbors. Families carved pumpkins together. However, in the past decade, Halloween has become an event those of us older than the young trick-or-treaters are expected to participate in.

In college, the holiday is another excuse to party in costume for a week. In the young adult world, Halloween translates to dressing up and gathering at bars. Some churches have taken the stance that Halloween, since it falls on a pagan holiday, is associated with the occult and death. And so, church-sponsored harvest festivals have served as a great alternative. But celebrating Halloween isn’t inherently wrong either.

With the holiday falling on a Tuesday this year, the National Retail Association reports 2014 will boast more profits than ever. But even with those record numbers of people celebrating Halloween, I, as a woman in my 20s, do not want to join those who dress for the holiday in revealing ways. But on the other hand, I’m not going to wear a modest outfit just because that’s what a “good Christian” would do–even though I am committed to loving and worshiping God.

The double standard of dressing modestly

“Women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

I grew up hearing at youth group that modesty was important because immodesty would cause men to stumble. Men’s brains are wired to think about sex more than ours, this is proven. But where the church fails here, is by turning a male problem into a female one. True, we should not want to cause our brothers in Christ to falter because of the way we dress. But when we’re told over and over to cover our bodies, we begin to feel there is something wrong with them.

Our naked bodies are beautiful as God created them. Yet, it is important for many women to feel beautiful and empowered in the clothes they wear, whether that be a sexy Halloween costume, princess outfit or a business suit. Clothes can be empowering and God loves us in any outfit. A Christian who chooses to wear a sexy nurse costume one night of the year is not going to be any less loved by God. Still, you should choose to wear a Halloween costume that makes you feel better about yourself. You can even choose to forgo the holiday celebration entirely or volunteer to take some neighborhood kids out trick or treating, giving their mom a break.

Just remember, Halloween falls on only one day a year, and being loved by God is a daily celebration.

Love the Lord’s creation. Love what God has deemed good. And on Halloween night, don’t be afraid to indulge in a bit of candy and dress up…or not.

Discussion Questions

1. What are your plans for Halloween? Do you feel pressure to dress up in a more sexualized manner?

2. Should we as Christians even celebrate this holiday?

3. Is it OK for Christians (women AND men) to wear revealing clothing in public and/or at home? Are we called to a higher standard?

4. When do you feel most beautiful? What are you wearing/doing/being?

5. When it comes to any holiday, how do you bring God into the celebration?

Closing prayer

Dear Lord, I admit to you there are days I do not believe my body is beautiful. There are days I do not perceive myself as your creation, but rather a creation of and in the human world. I am often far from you, but always I know you are there. Help me to use my body to best glorify your name. Thank you for this gift of life; for this gift of exploration walking towards you. Amen.

Laura Morrison, a journalist, is moving to Cleveland, Ohio. She wants people to know that she’ll always be a Seattle Mariners fan.