I understand why many in the Christian community, especially Christian
parents, are deeply concerned and opposed to a series of books that present
and divination in a positive light. I know that God hates divination;
and I hate divination. I would never allow my kids to be involved in it’s
practice, even under the guise of “just playing around.” I
understand how scary it can be to think about the overwhelming impact
the Harry Potter books are having on popular culture, aimed at -- and
winning -- the hearts, minds, and allegiance of millions of children while
seemingly making light of occult practices. As a parent, Bible teacher,
and volunteer youth leader, I had to know what the appeal of these books
means and decide how to protect my kids from any influence of evil. These
concerns led me to prayerfully read the first book in the series.
I have given this whole issue considerable prayer and thought, sought
godly counsel, read widely on both sides of the debate, and sought God
for wisdom. I came to a conclusion I did not expect. Even though I understand
why some Christians choose to forbid and guard against these stories
-- and I do believe this is the right decision for some -- after reading
the first book, I chose to read them aloud with our family. We used
them to educate and warn our children against the real occult influences
in our world today, and to train them in discernment of good and evil.
We have even found a way to use these popular stories as a connecting
point through which we have been able to preach the gospel of Jesus
Christ (read this testimony in Redeeming Harry Potter).
While this is not the right decision for all Christian families, I
would encourage believers to consider a biblically viable alternative
to simply forbidding these stories. The only way I can do this is because
I do not equate reading a story about fictional “magic”
with dabbling in the practice of anything the Lord has forbidden in
Deuteronomy 18 or anywhere else in the Bible.
Here's how you do it:
1. Instead of running from their popular culture or leaving them to
interpret it on their own, study it and engage it WITH THEM. Read the
books to them; never just let them read questionable material on their
own. Judge for yourself, don't rely on someone else when God gave you
responsibility for your children's spiritual upbringing. When you engage
the culture with them, you can use it to teach them to identify practices,
choices, and characteristics as good or as evil and potentially dangerous.
2. Give them the absolute measuring line of God's Word, the Bible.
Teach them to use it whenever they are trying to figure out if something
is permissible for them. For example: Go over Deuteronomy 18:9-14 and
teach them that it is always wrong to practice or engage in any of the
things listed there; they are never to look to any supernatural power
other than God to tell them the future or give them guidance for their
lives. They are not to look to the stars for their future but to the
One who made the stars, and everything else.
The key Bible reference that forbids involvement with the occult is
found in Deuteronomy 18:9-14. Here, Moses is speaking to the people
of Israel to prepare them to enter the promised land. He said,
"When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not
learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one
be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who
practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,
or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the
dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because
of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those
nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God."
... "The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery
or divination. But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you
to do so."
3. Prepare your kids to go into their culture without disobeying God.
Deuteronomy 18 clearly forbids God's people from "learning to imitate,"
practicing, engaging in, or listening to those who practice sorcery
or divination. However, we must remember these dictates were given because
they were getting ready to go into a pagan culture. They were to be
"in the world", but not live like the pagan world lived. There is a
significant difference between listening to occultic practitioners and
hearing about them. To listen to those who practice sorcery would be
like reading your horoscope or calling a psychic hotline to hear what
they have to say to you. That is forbidden; but it's different from
hearing about such practices. Make this distinction clear.
Once they understand this, let them test their discernment skills as
you encounter the occult in the culture. When the witch shows Dorothy
her Auntie Em in the crystal ball in Wizard of Oz, ask things like:
Do you think it is okay to use a crystal ball like that? Why not? Beyond
just disobeying God, what are the dangers of trusting in what might
be seen? How could that be used to trick or manipulate someone?
4. Help your kids use fictional situations and characters as a safe
simulated environment in which to define what the real dangers of the
occult are and to sort out the good from the evil.
That reminds me, real psychics do a lot of damage, too.
5. Use fictional situations and stories whenever you can as object
lessons at the expense of the fictional character rather than your child
in real life. In such a story, when a character has to make a moral
decision you can use that to help your children think through what would
be the right choice. If the character makes a wrong choice and suffers
consequences, or makes a right choice and is rewarded, you can use that
as a virtual learning experience. The benefit is that your child is
spared the real danger while you guide them through the stories, helping
them measure the character's decisions by the measuring stick of God's
Word. Such practice reinforces their biblical understanding while building
6. Establish that there are real spiritual forces of evil that can
be dangerous. God says so!
7. When you present the battle between good and evil to your children,
make it personal. Present a compelling picture of a powerful God who
loves them and wants what is best for them. Present "the evil one" (Satan,
the devil) as and evil being -- murderous, deceitful, and tricky --
who was kicked out of heaven for his rebellion against God. Now he is
out to destroy those made in the image of God, while God sent Jesus
to defeat the works of the devil. Jesus came to give people life in
the fullest measure of all that is good. The devil comes to kill, steal,
8. Use stories! Facts tell; stories sell. Facts only touch the mind.
Stories also touch the heart, imagination, soul, and spirit. Using stories
and parables was one of Jesus' favorite way of communicating God's truth
to hungry hearts.
Tell them Bible stories where there is a show-down between the forces
of God and the forces of evil -- Elijah vs. The prophets of Baal, Jesus'
temptation by Satan, Moses and Aaron vs. Pharaoh's magicians, Daniel
vs. all the best sorcerers and magicians of Babylon. Kids will always
want to be on the winning side in a battle between good and evil.
Don't just use Bible stories, find stories they love -- like Harry
Potter or Little Mermaid -- and relate the battle between good and evil
in the story to the true battle between good and evil in our world in
a Christian context. For example, in Little Mermaid the evil one is
like Ursula who tries to trick and destroy Ariel to get back at her
father, King Triton. King Triton could be likened to God -- a loving
father who gives all to protect and redeem the child he loves from the
clutches of the evil one. In Harry Potter, you can relate the evil one,
Satan, to the murderous Voldemort who is out to kill Harry using deception
and cunning schemes. They will figure out for themselves that they don't
want to do anything that would leave them vulnerable to that kind of
9. Explain the difference between "magic" used as a literary devise
in a fantasy or fictional story and spiritual realities that may seem
just as fantastic. You need to clearly communicate that the miracles
of the Bible may seem like fiction, but really happened by the supernatural
power of God; the fictional magic is just pretend. You might say something
like, "Authors sometimes use magical powers in a story to make it more
exciting and do things beyond what we can do in real life. A fantasy
or fictional story is not real. If we read a story that does use magic
as a literary device, that doesn't mean the author endorses using magic
in real life. When we read such a story, we are pretending. Reading
a story where we hear about something occult does not mean that we would
ever participate in anything occult. In real life, whenever anyone looks
for supernatural power or knowledge apart from God it is wrong. Kids
understand the difference.
10. Make it clear that a fantasy story may use "magic" as a literary
device framing the battle between good and evil within a story where
there is "good magic" and "bad magic" but in the real world God forbids
all use of occultic magic. In real life there is no such thing as good
witchcraft, white magic, or acceptable sorcery. We may accept "Glenda
the Good Witch" vs. "The Wicked Witch of the West" in The Wizard of
Oz, or Lucy reciting an incantation from a book of spells in C.S. Lewis'
Narnian story The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but in real life we are
never to emulate or believe in "good magic" or "good witchcraft".
What do you think about the Harry Potter books? How should
Christian parents approach these and other things in our culture
that can have an effect on our children? Where does a Christian
draw the line between fantasy and the occult in the things their
children are exposed to in the media?
Fodder -- Click here to find out what our readers have to
say about the Harry Potter controversy.
I: Harry Potter: What's A Concerned Parent To Do?
Copyright 2000 Connie Neal. All Rights Reserved. Used by
Connie Neal is an inspirational speaker and
author. She has written numerous books and magazine articles.
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a Christian to Do with Harry Potter?
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