In an anti-Halloween sermon, a pastor quoted I Thessalonians 5:7, which reads, “For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.”
In the exegesis that followed, the minister expounded that it was nearly a sin to do anything at night other than sleep as if to do so were some kind of mark of evil.
But what if you are a nocturnal type that is more alert at night?
Or what if, no matter what you do, you tend not to sleep the whole night through?
But is the text really so much about the condemnation of any activity at night other than slumber?
Earlier in the passage, the text emphasizes that the Day of the Lord is at hand.
The verses that follow remind the believer that we do not belong to darkness.
There is not much argument that significant carousing takes place while many of the more industrious and diligent are at home resting up for work the next day.
However, from the passage, one could just as legitimately conclude that both sleep and drunkenness are more metaphors for a lack of discernment and awareness.
The drunken could be viewed as those so overwhelmed by the despair of the world that the turn to overwhelming distraction.
The asleep are those that just don't give a tinker's you know what.
From such a comparison, a case could be made that the drunken might be better off because at least they are troubled by some kind of nagging sense that something is not right in the world.
If a pastor is going to position themselves as being so spiritual as to take a hardline position against Halloween, shouldn't they at least be as cautious as to consider the verse of scripture immediately prior to the one they intend to bash over the heads of those that do not agree with their interpretation of certain secondary matters?
I Thessalonians 5:6 counsels, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
This portion of the epistle under consideration is similar in motif to Christ's parable of the virgins in Matthew 25 that let their lamps go out waiting for the groom to arrive at the marriage feast.
If the passage is to be utilized to condemn Halloween on the grounds that it prompts people to participate in nocturnal activities other than slumber, shouldn't the next sermon in the series aim its condemnation at the mattress or pillow industry for abetting recuperative unconsciousness?
For in the passage, sleep is not portrayed all that positively either.
By Frederick Meekins