One of the most common questions I receive as a speaker and former witch is "What do you think about Harry Potter"? I have always found this to be a rather loaded question…because generally the person is looking for validation of their point of view. So regardless of my answer there will almost always be a mild challenge or protracted agrument on the topic, which I generally avoid.
2 Timothy 2:23 (NIV)
Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
However, with the new movie coming out in a month and the fact I was asked by two people in one day, I thought I'd take the time to address the issue. I personally have no problem with J.K. Rowling, her books, or the movies created from the "Harry Potter Universe". They are an allegorical story of the battle between good and evil, the foibles of humanity, etc.
I don't believe the Harry Potter books encourage young children or teens to explore the occult. In fact, a study by the Barna Group on Teens and the Occult in 2006 revealed this to be true. Most kids or teens read Harry Potter as nothing more than literature.
Teens who delved further into witchcraft as a result of reading Harry Potter were already experimenting or exploring the occult before reading the books. There is little to suggest reading the books or watching the movies develops interest in the supernatural beyond typical fantasy unless they are already interested in the occult.
Harry Potter takes place in a fantasy context (much like C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia)…the "wizarding world"…where witches and warlocks are born with magickal powers. Anyone who's not is a "muggle". Incapable of performing or learning magic.
I believe many Christians have missed an opportunity talk to children and youth about matters of faith, the nature of good and evil, sin, God's mercy, etc., by either ignoring Harry Potter or condemning the books outright. Many young readers were left to ponder some weighty subjects with very little guidance.
I read each of the Harry Potter books out loud to my children and we discussed the characters, their development throughout the series, etc. We learned you can't judge a book by it's cover, the ends do not justify the means, the value of love and friendship, life is not fair, the certainty of death, and more. The Harry Potter books are not Christian books. However, you can use them to discuss spiritual matters with children and youth.
There are no guaruntees our children or youth will adopt Christian values whether they read Harry Potter or not. No matter how diligently we teach or reflect faith in our lives, our kids will make their own choices. In fact, a troubling study shows young people are currently choosing to leave the church upon reaching adulthood. Many adopting new religions…but more and more opting for no faith at all. We need to ask ourselves why.
I believe the church needs to be more concerned with effectively communicating the message of God's salvation and grace through Jesus Christ. This truth is being lost or ignored by an entire generation. We have missed opportunities with the next generation. Do we really want to miss more?
I believe every person needs to decide what's best for their children and themselves when it comes to Harry Potter (or watching movies, or television, etc) as God leads them. And hopefully take advantage of the chance to talk about spiritual things using these books or movies.
Discuss the differences between fantasy and the real spiritual dangers of the occult and witchcraft. Explain the nature of spiritual warfare. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and rulers of this world… kids and teens need to know this. They also need to grab hold of the victory already achieved by God through Jesus Christ.
As I said before, every Christian needs to make their own choices about Harry Potter according to God's leading. Hopefully we will be able to respect each other a little more and trust the Holy Spirit.