Is it Sinful to Celebrate Halloween?

I grew up in a little fundamentalist community, one in which any mention of Halloween was met with a hellfire and brimstone sermon about how trick or treating would send you to hell. It may come as no surprise that my parents forbade my sister and I from telling people that we did, in fact, go trick or treating.

My parents believed that Halloween was a harmless holiday that was purely for fun. It had no spiritual bearing. Because everyone else hyped their concerns up so much, we’d often facetiously say, “Man, I hope I don’t end up a child sacrifice tonight” as we walked out the door in our costume.

As an adult, I’ve looked into the origins a bit to determine if there was anything to worry about. The only “proof” friends could produce of it being the devil’s holiday was from blogs with no footnotes, resources, or references that looked like the sites had been designed in the 90s (so, not gleaming beacons of credibility, to say the least).

What I found was that there are people who have left paganism and know a good bit about what goes down on Halloween night. The day is a big one for them and, understandably, many of those who have left that faith will not go out on Halloween.

I don’t believe that either side is 100% correct, but I think they both hold some truth. I think that folks who are convicted against participating in Halloween are valid in their concerns because there can be spiritually damaging activities in the holiday, but I also believe that it is just another day that the Lord has made and we shouldn’t fear it.

I think that this is an area in which certain Christians will have vastly different beliefs. Consider this passage that talks about believers eating meat that may have been sacrificed to idols. Some are confident that they may eat, but others are not. I believe this has applications to Halloween for believers.

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master[a] that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess[b] to God.”
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. – Romans 14:1-12 NIV

I have certainly changed my convictions on certain aspects of Halloween as I’ve grown, but I am comfortable with taking my son to the Reformation Carnival at church. That said, I fully support my friends who do not partake in Halloween and those who fully partake. I believe that this is an area in which we will have different convictions as Christians based on what is and isn’t spiritually good for us as individuals. As my former pastor says, let us be slow to define sin for our neighbor.

What do you think? Have your convictions on Halloween changed as you’ve aged?

Is it sinful to celebrate Halloween?


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

An Atheist and A Christian Coming Together: Episode 1

My friend Raymond and I have started a new podcast. It is also up on iTunes and Stitcher! I got a bit uppity on this one so there is a language warning. Here is the synopsis:

“An Atheist and a Christian come together to discuss social issues in the world. We want to show everyone that a solitary belief does not make a person and that we are more alike than we think. No-holds barred, we talk about EVERYTHING, and we discuss topics from our entirely different backgrounds.”

Here is the episode synopsis:

“Today on our very first episode, Rebecca and I talk about the good that men do, silly things that we see on social media, gun culture and lots more. Come on in and have a listen. Rebecca and I plan to run this every week, airing on a Sunday night. We plan to show others that two people of different walks of life can have more in common than we are different. Tune in, judge for yourself.”

Listen Online, in iTunes, or here on Youtube:

7 Self-Care Tips for Content Creators

If you’d rather watch this content, you can do so here:

Content creation is rewarding, but it can be a draining profession to be in. This is especially true if you talk about vulnerable topics like mental health, addiction, abuse, etc. Some people will welcome your content with open arms and thank you for all that you do. Others will do their best to be the nastiest, most vile creation that has ever left a slimy trail all over your comment box.

If you talk about religion or politics on top of the other topics I mentioned, the latter might be what you deal with the most. It can be hard to subject yourself to seeing some of the worst sides of humanity on a regular basis. I find myself envious of my friends who do not have a Twitter or Facebook, let alone a blog! But I know that what I do is important to the people who need it the most. That said, I do have to make sure that I take care of my emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being in the process.

I firmly believe content creators need to practice self-care, and while this may look different for every person, here are some of the things I suggest.

#1 – Have office hours

Boundaries are important, especially in business. Having office hours can help you be present with your business during delegated times. This also means that your business time won’t bleed into your private life. This will give you uninterrupted time where you can be present with your family or have time to yourself.

#2 – Schedule things

This goes hand in hand with having office hours. I just recently was pointed in the direction of several free scheduling options like Gramblr for Instagram and Buffer for Twitter. My husband also showed me how to use the scheduling options on WordPress, Medium, and Facebook so that I can schedule all of my content and not have to lift a finger when it is published. This has freed up so much time and energy that I have been funneling into creating more, higher quality content or spending time other hobbies.

#3 – Turn off comments

I get a lot of nasty comments on this blog. Some of them would probably blow your mind. For this reason, I have always vetted every single comment that has been submitted. My top priority is protecting the community I have here, not the free speech of people who are not a part of it.

Recently, for the sake of saving time and sanity, I turned the comments off completely. Shortly after I set them to turn off after 24 hours on new articles. I honestly wish I would have done this sooner! Not only so I do not have to worry about comments, but I have actually seen an uptick in shares because people who want to react positively to the content will share it when they can’t comment!

#4 – Have someone else run social media

Social media is a place that I tend to get a lot of nasty comments. I have weeded out or blocked a lot of the repeat offenders, but I can’t do this with everyone. If you have the resources for it, I recommend having someone else manage your social media if the comments on it get overwhelming. If not, just don’t check it!

I have a policy now that if Facebook notifies me of someone having left a comment but they haven’t liked the post, I won’t check it. Usually, it is some irate person that didn’t even read the article! It has saved a lot of time and headache for me when I stick with this policy.

#5 – Commiserate with other content creators 

I highly recommend blowing off some steam with other content creators after a bad week. They get it, they’ve been there. All of us have the horrid comments, but in my experience, banding together and laughing over them makes them seem inconsequential and provides some perspective as to what is really important – the people you create content for.

#6 – Pray

Since I started blogging, some days have been incredibly hard. I am not a very forgiving person, especially when a perfect stranger comes out of left field and displays hostility. Sorting through hateful comments will make you want to give up on humanity pretty quickly.

I’ve talked about it before, but my anger issues are something that I battle with daily so that they don’t impact my ministry. There is nearly always some hurt that I am having to let go because of the blog and pass off to God in prayer. I find this helpful because it allows me to grow closer to Him and generally I find perspective in the fact that these people who comment are hurting and lashing out because of that.

#7 – Take a break

Sometimes content creation just gets to be too much. You fall behind schedule. You get a lot of bad comments all at once. You get a jealous streak with another content creator. Whatever the reason, you are stressed out about the thing that you usually enjoy doing: creating!

In these times, I recommend taking a step back and focusing on creating content that you won’t be sharing with the world. Work on some private creations to harness that energy without having to show it off and have it picked apart. My husband is fond of saying people are like chickens, you give them something nice and they will peck at it and crap on it. Sometimes, it is best to take a break from the chickens and create something for yourself to enjoy. During a break, you can regain hope so that when you come back, you’ll be refreshed and ready to share your message with the world again!

What are some of the ways you practice self-care as a content creator?

Rebecca
7 Self-Care Tips For Content Creators

How To Get Used To Sex When You’ve Been Raised To Be Ashamed

Since writing my book on purity culture, I’ve been doing a lot of interviews and guest posts for other podcasts, websites, and radio stations. For the most part, the reception has been good and I haven’t had many problems. We weren’t really expecting the attention the book has received because it was originally written for a very small audience and as such, specifically geared towards those select people. For this reason, I did not cover many of the things that I may have had I known how things would go (perhaps included more statistics and medical studies), but one thing that a few people have pointed out is that I never explicitly gave instructions for how to recover from purity culture. I give starting points, not a comprehensive guide for getting over sexual and spiritual dysfunctions.

I’ve had several requests for a follow-up book on healthy sexual ethics for Christians and for something geared more towards gaining healthy sexuality and spirituality. While I don’t feel equipped to take on a project like this, at least in book form, I can definitely share things that have helped me. I can’t give any hard and fast advice simply because recovering from indoctrination in purity culture and legalism is extremely complex and requires much more than just the experience of one person to come back from.

Sexual shame is a difficult thing to overcome, but it is a constant for many people who grew up the way I did. It is a shadow that follows us around, an ever-present skeleton in the closet.

Its mere presence in our lives fuel more guilt and shame due to the dysfunction it brings into our marriages and spiritual lives. It makes us feel like failures even when we did our best to follow the rules. The roots of the shame are more complex than just the messages we received that sex was “bad” or “dangerous” because many of us also deal with guilt from sexual assault, rape, or premarital sexual relationships. Many people like me were taught that our worth and identity was tied to our “purity” or virginity, so when we lost it (even if we waited for our wedding night), we also lost ourselves. Quite a few of us felt shame and guilt for participating in sexual intercourse within marriage, all because we were taught it defined who we were. There isn’t a quick and simple solution, though most everything begins with releasing these things to Jesus, which is where I left off in The Scarlet Virgins.

My peers and I have seen the side effects of these teachings, both spiritual and physical things like struggling with our faith, sexual aversion disorder, disassociations, repulsion toward bodily fluids (makes even kissing difficult), erectile dysfunction, sexual addictions, body image issues, etc.

The good news is that, for those of us who deal with shame surrounding sex, we aren’t alone. Jesus understands everything we’ve been through and forgives us when we fall short. He’s also given us each other and our experiences to help one another, so I’ll share mine in hopes that it will help you.

Here are some of the things I have found that can help when you are getting used to sex and intimacy.

#1 Address Misinformation

Think about the things you’ve learned about sex over the years. Things like “women who like sex are sluts,” “women don’t like sex,” or “men always want sex.” Now challenge those assumptions. Ask the men you trust what they really think about some of the things ascribed to them, ask women who are safe to talk to if they feel like they can’t be sexual because it would be abnormal. Confront the narratives you’ve known all your life and test their validity. Many of the common ones that I dealt with are false.

#2 Learn the Basics of Sex

When I was a young, I avoided learning about sex. Not necessarily because I was embarrassed, but because I was terrified. Since sex was “bad”, I didn’t want to poison my mind with knowledge about it. This knowledge included the basic anatomy and physiology of how reproduction works. This became a difficulty for me later on when I didn’t know my own anatomy or how sex and attraction naturally progressed.

Learning how your body is structured and operates isn’t shameful, and I don’t believe it takes any of the mystery away from sex. If anything, I think it makes it more amazing because you realize how intricate God made the human body. It also allows you to understand what is happening to you and to the person you are with, which can make it easier to avoid temptation when you need to.

#3 Seek The Positive

Unfortunately the message that some in the church often teach is all about not having sex, and very little (in my experience) about sex being good within marriage. Hearing this message of sex being dirty or bad over and over can condition us into believing that, even though it isn’t true.

To combat this conditioning, look for positive (and biblical) messages on sex like Song of Solomon to help ease your way into a new mindset surrounding sex. It may seem simple, but sometimes the things that seem like baby steps are some of the most helpful and powerful.

#4 Remove Expectations

Expectations about sex, whether they are from purity culture or secular culture, can really hinder intimacy on the wedding night. This can put additional pressure on newlyweds who were led to believe sex comes easily and naturally (with lots of sparks) on the wedding night. Certainly some people don’t have any problems, but those coming out of legalism and spiritual abuse tend to.

Let go of any expectations of how you think the wedding night should go, including going completing intercourse, climaxing together, and laying in bed to fall asleep afterwards (unless you want a UTI, you should probably go to the bathroom soon after). You both might be clumsy, will likely be nervous, and depending on how your wedding day went, might be more fatigued than you expected by the time you get home. There is nothing written in stone that you must have sex on the wedding night. It is okay to go slow with physical and emotional intimacy and take as long as you need, it doesn’t make you a failure or less masculine or broken. I’ve heard many couples say they wish they would have spent some time naked together and slowed down instead of nervously trying to have sex the second they got home because that was how they thought things worked.

Many of the expectations set by pop culture and even the church reduce sex to the physical or emotional, and while it is both, it is much more than that. It isn’t always easy and it may not always feel like anything beyond the physical, but often times it takes years to get to the point of sex “feeling” the way many people describe. Knowing that it is a learning process and that you don’t have to have it all figured out on a specific timeline is freeing.

#5 Express Yourself

I have always been ashamed to express myself romantically. There is a running joke among my friends from 4-H camp about my utter lack of ability to own how I felt about a guy beyond being frustrated and angry. I never even drew my first name with the last name of the boy I liked on paper like many preteens do. It was too dangerous, especially since I was taught that having a crush meant I had, “given my heart away” and that I had an “emotional STD” because of the attraction I felt. This led me to stifle all of my romantic and sexual energy, which was not only unhealthy, but ended up having emotional and physical consequences. Denial and suppression are powerful and often destructive things.

If you have difficulties owning your own sexual energy because of shame, you aren’t alone. Some of the things that have helped me overcome this in myself have been listening to music, writing poetry, writing fiction, writing nonfiction about what I’ve been through, writing my own songs, and drawing. You don’t have to ever show your creative work to anyone, but it can be very helpful to let the feelings flow onto paper or a canvas.

#6 Get Professional Help

When all else fails, there is no shame in seeking out professional help through a doctor or counselor. Some conditions may require professional help to overcome, like Vaginismus, Erectile Dysfunction, Sexual Aversion Disorder, etc. Sometimes just having a name for the problem you are facing can help bring you healing. Getting help is worth it, for you, for your spouse, and for your relationship together.

#7 Don’t Overcorrect

After growing up in sexual shame, many people end up overcorrecting in doctrine and sexual practices. I cannot count the number of marriage group I’ve been added to that use the phrase “the marriage bed is undefiled” to endorse no boundaries when it comes to sex in marriage. Not just things that could be considered gray areas for some Christians, but things like threesomes, bestiality, pornography use, etc.

The problem with these behaviors is that they are not biblical. We cannot correct unhealthy sexuality by turning to another form of it. This only compounds the issues and makes them harder to unravel and correct. While some issues do need professional help from earthly means, I truly believe that the only way to heal a broken sexuality is to seek the One who created it as whole and perfect. No amount of medication, therapy, or lashing out can fully take the pain and fear, only Jesus can.

How To Get Used To Sex When You've Been Raised To Be Ashamed

Pornography and Purity – Life After Purity Culture

The Scarlet Virgins“Secular culture and Christian purity culture both push certain narratives about pornography, but are they correct?

In this episode, Rebecca discusses the social scripts on both sides of the spectrum and identifies issues she finds with both. Her belief is that we need a new approach to pornography, one that is truly empowering.”

Listen in iTunes

Please consider support this podcast by downloading, subscribing, rating and/or reviewing it in iTunes!

For more bonus content and to get your copy of Rebecca Lemke’s “The Scarlet Virgins” – visit scarletvirgins.com or buy directly from Amazon:

Everything Wrong With “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”

The Scarlet Virgins“Joshua Harris’ famous (or infamous) book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye is a major piece of purity culture’s history. The content of this book is so controversial that many parents and children who grew up in the era this book influenced are still sorting out their thoughts about it!

In this episode, Rebecca discusses her current attitude towards the author and respectfully challenges many of his assertions.”

Download in iTunes or Listen Online

Please consider support this podcast by downloading, subscribing, rating and/or reviewing it in iTunes!

For more bonus content and to get a copy of Rebecca’s book, “The Scarlet Virgins” (digital version out on the 1st of June), please visit scarletvirgins.com!

We Saw Pro-Life Figure Abby Johnson

I had the privilege of attending God’s Best Gift with a family member, and Abby Johnson: ProWoman, ProChild, ProLife was a speaker there!

We learned so much from her and her testimony, some of which you can find in this video on our way home, but the most shocking thing for both of us was the rates of suicide among post abortive mothers.

Post abortive mothers are 6 times more likely to commit suicide. Please do not be afraid to reach out and get help! If you are post abortive (it doesn’t matter by how much) and struggle with what happened, please find a local Eden Clinic where they can offer you counseling tailored to your needs and if you need to, call the national suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

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