This post was originally published August 10, 2016.
So with a new volume of the Harry Potter story having been released recently, the question of “Should good Christian kids be allowed to read Harry Potter?” pops up again. Is a book about witches and wizards appropriate for Christian children?
Just to set up my answer: I have lots of experience in the occult and demons. They are absolutely evil. If nothing else, the occult degrades our view of the power and lordship of Almighty God. To practice the occult, you either are relying on your power, or the power of forces that are not God (there is us, God, and demons…if it isn’t our power, and isn’t God’s power, there is only one choice left). The occult is dangerous and deceiving and Christians should avoid occult practices at all costs.
With that said…
Harry Potter is fiction. There is a big difference between reading stories about the occult and actually practicing the occult. And the depth of simply enjoying a book or movie about witches and wizards should be a far cry from the depth of worship we show when we glorify God.
My opinion may be controversial, but I’m going to say the same thing I said about whether Christian families should do Santa: if your kids can’t tell the difference between a fictional Harry Potter and a very real Jesus Christ, you have failed as a Christian parent! A book about witches and wizards is the least of your problems.
In other words: Perhaps the real problem here are Christian parents who treat the Bible as nothing more than a book of old stories and who treat Godly worship as nothing more than another medium of entertainment.
There is a long tradition in Christian parenting of telling our children fairy tales. Why? Because children can’t always understand the complexities of morality in real life situations. If you can step into the exaggerated world of fairy tales, good and evil are much clearer. Heck, there are a lot of adults that have trouble understanding morality in real life situations.
“But the hero is a wizard and uses magic,” you may say. “Doesn’t that glorify witchcraft and sorcery?”
Let me ask you a question. What would you think if your child opened up the Bible and read about Moses, David, or Noah? Moses was a murderer and a liar. David a whoremongering pervert. Noah was a drunk. And those people are real and revered in our faith! Is the Bible glorifying murder, lying, drunkenness and perversion?
If you’ve done your job as a Christian parent, your children should know that the only one who deserves our worship is Jesus Christ. Not a fictional character, not a sports star, not anyone.
But really, even that misses the point. Harry Potter is a story. It is a wonderful story where good battles evil and good wins. There are even Christian themes and overtones woven throughout the story! It’s much like the fairy tales that Christian parents have been telling their children for centuries, the stories from which our sense of morality has been built for generations.
Still not convinced that reading Harry Potter isn’t going to damn your children to the eternal torment of hell?
Let me point you to a Bible verse.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
I get it. This verse has been abused and used to justify all kinds of craziness, but hear me out. Which is a richer experience in the faith for a child: 1). reading overly sanitized books full of fake Christian characters who have no personality flaws and do everything perfectly (and usually is poorly written because of that), or 2). reading an engaging book full of twists and turns and quandaries, and then having a parent sit down with them and talk through the issues of the faith that come up in the book and how a follower of Jesus might have made different choices or how God’s truths prove true even in a magical, imaginary world?
Anyone with any experience in raising Godly children is going to say #2, but that option takes work. It takes parents who have to engage their kids, get on their level, share the faith in a meaningful and theologically accurate way, and valuing your child the way God values your child.
Sadly, few church going parents are willing to step up to that challenge. It’s easier to let the church children’s ministry worry about their faith and spend your time making sure that your family looks like God-fearing churchgoers. As long as everyone else THINKS we are a good, Christian family, we must be, right? And my child being caught with a copy of Harry Potter wouldn’t look good.
I fear far more for the soul of those children than I do the souls of children who’ve been encouraged in the faith and can read a book about wizards and witches and see it for what it is…a really good piece of fiction.