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Should Christians Read Harry Potter?

The Harry Potter Series of seven books holds the distinction of the best selling series in history, with sales in the 400 to 450 million copies.  That’s a lot of books.  Along with a lot of book sales, Harry stirs up a lot of controversy.  Along with many admirers, there are also many detractors – from authors claiming plagiarism, critics panning the author’s methods, creativity, hidden agendas, etc.  As with anything so well known, it draws a lot of attention both good and bad.

Among those who take issue with Harry are Christian groups who maintain that Christians should not indulge, lest they come under judgment reserved for those who practice witchcraft.  Googling this question turns up predictable titles, such as our title question, and those with a “spin,” such as, “What would Jesus do with Harry Potter?” and “Harry Potter, Jesus, and Me.”

I understand and appreciate the position of the church on this issue.  But I also think we should tread lightly.  My own pastor is strongly against Harry Potter and has spoken about it many times in the years it has been in print, although he was more vocal in the past when Harry was at his heyday and children (and adults) were caught up in the spell (no pun intended).

He is entitled to his opinion, certainly, and his job, to a point, is to warn his “flock.”  But when you dish out condemnation as if none of the congregation were indulging, you must use caution.  I have no doubt in my mind at all that those who declare the books as being “of the Devil” would vehemently defend their position to just as vehemently denounce Harry and declare all who indulge as in grave danger.

But what if you hurt the innocent?  My daughter was in middle school during this period and we both read the books with fervor and excitement, devouring each new book as fast as we possibly could, and we loved it.  I still do.  But can I tell you about how my child felt?  Can I tell you she feared her beloved Sunday School teacher would find out and be disappointed?  Feared.  That is wrong, very wrong, that she should feel shame from reading and enjoying these books.

I know the Bible.  I know the books.  I knew my daughter – grounded by the teaching of that Sunday School teacher, loving the Lord and knowing and wanting to worship Him only.  The book to her was just a book.  A simple, captivating story of good versus evil.  A story where good triumphs over that evil, no matter the instrument of that triumph.  Not real life.  Just a story.

As a mother and a Christian, I felt no danger in allowing her to read the books.  I have God’s Holy Spirit living in me.  I know His voice and I know very well when He is speaking.  I have read other books that greatly disturbed me, and I could feel His prompting to put it down, and I did.  I know others will disagree.  I understand and I respect your choices in your own situation.

Each must choose his own path all of the time and God is our guide.  It is not wrong to be against Harry Potter, but it is wrong to heap condemnation so broadly that we have no idea who we are hurting.  What would Jesus do?  Bottom line:  It wouldn’t be to cause that little girl to fear the loss of His love.  Oh, and that Sunday School teacher?  I talked with her and, as I knew she would, she reassured me nothing could make her love my daughter less and that’s how it should be.

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10 comments

  1. Avatar

    Sonya,

    It is a very controversial issue within the church. I do not believe that God condemns a Christian to hell for reading a Harry Potter book, but He also warns us in His Holy Bible about the practices of sorcery and witchcraft. In fact, we’re told in Revelation that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.

    The problem I have especially with Harry Potter is that it glamorizes and glorifies practices that are considered dark. If a Christian shouldn’t practice something, then should they be entertained by watching it? I would say that in most cases, the answer would be “No”.

    Another problem is that Harry Potter becomes a gateway into occult practices. People start graving power that is unnatural and it can become their downfall.

    In my opinion and in my studies of scripture, I would assert that one should avoid Harry Potter. There are many other books available to read and I’m certain they can be just as entertaining to a child, if not more, without the risks.

  2. Avatar

    what about The Chronicles of Narnia? Should Christians avoid that because of the witch? It is filled with magic, good and bad. Can we condemn one and endorse the other? Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. If I read Harry Potter, God knows my heart is for Him alone. He knows I am not going off into sorcery because of it.

    Paul, in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 8, Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.
    So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.”

    If we cause someone to feel damaged by something done in innocence, we may cause that person to conclude he is unworthy of the Kingdom. God does not desire that. I am aware that, as Paul goes on, he makes the point that if we indulge because we know that idol is nothing but a weak Christian sees us then they might fall away because of it. In that case it would be wrong.

    So I am saying there is now black and white here. Everyone’s choices must be for the individual incidence, assessing the situation as it is before them in that moment. The main issue is, when we get on our soap box, we should think of who is listening that might feel condemned. I used to teach the youth girls on Wednesday nights at my church and one night we were talking about purity, assuming everyone in the room was a virgin. After class one girl came to me and told me that she was not a virgin. It happened before she was saved, but it can just as easily happen after, and she thought they would be together always. She felt dirty and damaged. I thank God she communicated with me so I could set it right and let her know Jesus accepts her, but what if she hadn’t talked to me? She could easily walk away from church feeling unworthy. I’m just saying, be careful how vehemently, and verbally, you condemn something in a group setting. We don’t know who is listening and who will be hurt if we are insensitive. I am as guilty as anyone of “assuming”, but as I was that Wednesday night.

  3. Avatar

    My thoughts regarding this matter is the object being glorified or exalted in these issues regarding the Harry Potter stories and the Chronicles of Narnia. The Narnia series depicts the illusion and deception of evil and the means of being delivered out of these traps that appeal to the flesh and appear to provide self- centered gratification. We have Christ represented in these narratives. How does this compare to the solutions depicted by the Harry Potter series?
    I have to say that the best answer is how we believe our Lord would view the teachings of these stories. If He would not approve of their teachings or conclusions on how to make right choices in life and it contradicts His standards no matter how innocent it appears to be (Adam and Eve’s experience is a prime example) than we do well not to dabble in those areas. What may not affect one person because of their knowledge of God’s word can create in the heart of others an interest in the wrong things that keep them in darkness.

    • Avatar

      And I agree with your last statement, Cora. What Paul said in Romans 14 outlines it clearly. I understand and appreciate the opinion that Christians should not indulge in Harry Potter. I am open to debate because often times you will hear something that changes your mind. For example, before I began attending my current church, I believed in “once saved, always saved.” One of my first Sundays there, the pastor said you can lose your salvation. That shook me up and I disagreed; however, as I kept attending, he gradually filled in the basis of his statement and as I read my own Bible, I changed my mind. I now believe it is possible to walk away from faith and thereby lose your salvation.

      I firmly believe this is okay for me to do, and I say that because I know that the Holy Spirit will let me know if I should not . There are 2 fiction series that I used to read, the Stephanie Plumb series and the Kinsey Millhone series. I enjoyed them very much; however, as I grew as a Christian, when I would read one I would feel guilty. I felt the same way when watching “Friends.” I enjoyed the humor but I came to know that the Holy Spirit was convicting me I should not partake (there is much casual sex in all of these). I have since thought, well maybe it’s not so bad (the books) and, again, I would get that feeling. So I know that the Holy Spirit will convict the ones who need to abstain. Perhaps, since I have no leaning towards the occult (I mute any commercial for Long Island Medium) it is not a temptation for me.

      As for Long Island Medium, I asked God one time (during a muted commercial) about it because she seems very genuine and sweet, and I heard Him say, immediately, it’s a gateway. I don’t believe she is evil, but I don’t believe I should watch the show. For me it’s wrong because I know
      God doesn’t want me to watch it. But for you it might be alright. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your time in adding your thoughts. God bless! 🙂

  4. Avatar

    I think it is important to look at some of the verses in the Bible that deal with sorcery or seeking after it:

    Lev 19:31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.

    Lev 20:6 And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.

    2 Kings 21:6 And he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.

    Acts 19:19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.

    There are many more verses in the Holy Bible that address sorcery and witchcraft. None of them have anything positive to say. Typically it says something about being cutoff from the Lord and angering Him. If this is the case, then I do believe there should be no place in our lives for Harry Potter or any other book that glorifies sorcery.

    • JLC

      Yes, there are certain things that as Christians we need to totally avoid, otherwise we are not any different from anyone else. We are not being the light of the world and the salt of the earth as we are told to be in Matthew 5:13-16. Someone said once to never put a question mark where God has placed a period. It really is not a matter whether or not someone feels guilty; it is a matter of obedience to not do certain things that God’s word has spoken against.

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    That is the great thing about debates, though, everyone can express his or her opinion and even agree to disagree. My main concern is people getting hurt over choices they don’t know are wrong, you understand? I am glad for debate; it let’s me know this issue needs to be addressed. Love you all!

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    We actually need MORE articles that generate discussion that get people thinking and talking. That way we can give reasons for why we believe the way we do and, even though there will be still be disagreement, a greater understanding will be developed with one another.

    • Avatar

      Yes, John, I agree and that is what I was thinking with this one. I knew when I wrote this it would spark controversy, but I think we should not shy away from controversy. You are right on the mark, I think. Thanks for your comment.

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