Harry Potter: Sinner or Saint?
Witches, potions, curses, and fortune telling: what do these things make you think of? Most times these days anything to do with “witchcraft” makes one think of Harry Potter. Some devout believers in God from all walks of life, be they Jewish or Christian, believe that it is an evil thing to allow children to read books about things the Bible says are sins. Others, just as devout, think that it is merely make believe and nothing more, nothing harmful. Is there real harm in Harry Potter, or is it as harmless as Snow White?
Let’s begin by examining what the Bible says about witchcraft. Galatians 5:20-22:
“(20) Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, (21) Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…”
Now, verse by verse. Verses 20 and 21 state that those who practice witchcraft shall not inherit the kingdom of God. It also mentions murders, drunkenness, hatred, envy, wrath, and other sins, not only witchcraft. And verse 22 says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith. So, by these verses we have established that witchcraft is indeed a sin, as well as many other things. We also learn that the Spirit is of love and joy and peace.
Indeed, the Harry Potter books involve witchcraft, but they also incorporate love, joy and a desire for peace. They stress the values of loving all creatures great and small, that it is better to judge a man by how he treats his inferiors not his peers. Love, joy, peace, longsuffering. The Bible says that this is what the fruit of the Spirit is. Perhaps there is a bit of the Spirit in these novels? Maybe it is because of their popularity that only the wrath toward the Harry Potter books are broadcast all over, or maybe it is because no other books are criticized as these are. (And, yes, please note that I said WRATH; even these devout believers are guilty of wrath, especially when they burn the books.)
So, let’s look at some other things that, by these standards, we ought to burn as well.
- Snow White — The witch queen in “Snow White” changes her appearance by magic, she poisons an apple, not to mention she tries to have her step daughter murdered. Yet we allow our children to watch this movie.
- Worst Witch — This is a series of novels about a girl who goes to an academy to learn magic, written before the Harry Potter books and containing less plot but still containing magic lessons and flying broomsticks, all very similar. Yet these remain on the shelves, unmentioned, untouched.
- Sleeping Beauty — A baby princess, put under a SPELL that causes her to prick her finger at age 16 and sleep for a hundred years. An evil fairy witch who can change into a dragon.
- Macbeth — A group of three witches, whose prophecies cause the death of one king, and then the death of his successor.
- The Sword in the Stone — Merlin the Magician comes to the aid of Arthur, turning him into a squirrel, and a fish, while guiding him to become King. Merlin also owns a talking owl, and has a duel with the witch Mad Madam Mim, changing into several animals at will and ultimately winning.
I could go on for a long time with examples. Now, you may argue, many of those examples put the witchcraft done in a negative light, but please note, two do not. Merlin, for instance, has been regarded for a long time as a hero, and in legend he aids not one but three kings with his magic. Would you ban your children from learning about that? Or from reading one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays? Much like guns and murder and terrible crimes, are we to pretend that such make believe and things taken as similar to witchcraft, like Wicca, do not exist? Do we not owe it to our children to tell them the truth and allow them to explore the world under of course, our careful guidance?
Many parents would not shield their children from the realities of death, war, hate crimes, or the fact that there are indeed bad people in this world, nor should we shield them from something the Bible calls a sin when we wouldn’t shield them from other sins. What of the parent who would not allow their eight-year-old to read Harry Potter, but allows their teenage daughter to watch MTV?
In short, magic and make believe fairies and creatures are out there, just as murder, hate, and other sins are. We talk to our teenagers about the dangers of sex and our values in that area; is it so much harder to talk to a child about magic and make believe?