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Give it back!” We all heard anguished screaming and arguing echoing down the once-­peaceful hall in the guys’ dorm. It was my sophomore year at my parochial high school, and it was three or four o’clock Saturday morning. All of us guys had been sound asleep before the noise started.

I groggily stepped out into the hall only to be hit in the side by a flying chair! Oh, I was awake now—and mad! I looked across the hall and saw a guy I barely knew. He was new that semester and kept to himself. He and our guys’ dean were in the battle of their lives over something. I couldn’t make out what it was. What could be so important that this guy would risk getting suspended or kicked out of school? Then I saw it—a spiral notebook and a pen! What could it contain? Maybe a private note written to a girl?

Once the dean had the guy restrained, he told all of us onlookers to go back to bed. We were consumed with curiosity, but we slunk back to our rooms. The next morning, there was an emergency meeting to discuss this student and what had happened in the middle of the night.

Apparently, he had become obsessed with a role-playing game called Dungeons and Dragons—to the point that he stopped doing other things, such as going to class, working, eating, and sleeping! But it didn’t stop there. Earlier that fateful Friday evening, our dean had found him using his computer to play the game and create several of his characters. The dean had taken away his computer, so the student decided to use his typewriter to continue playing this game. When that was ­confiscated, he resorted to his notebook and pen. And that’s when the battle woke all of us up.

To make matters even worse, this student had begun to practice a type of witchcraft called Wicca, or white magic, and had begun to “educate” other students in the practice as well. He always wore black clothes and was very serious all the time.

At this point I want to clarify my position: I’m not saying that everyone who participates in role-­playing games (now called massively multiplayer role-playing games, or MMRPG), such as World of Warcraft and other popular games, is going to start practicing witchcraft like the guy at my academy did.

However, I am saying that God doesn’t want you to involve yourself with anything having to do with witchcraft, sorcery, wizards, and the occult. Period! That means Harry Potter books and movies and Twilight books and movies; it means TV shows such as Ghost Whisperer, ­Medium, and Ghost Hunters; and it means any similar books, movies, TV shows, and games—video, online, and ­otherwise—including Ouija boards (and yes, they are, sadly, sold as harmless toys at toy stores).

what does God say about it?

That was my own story and, admittedly, it can be perceived as subjective, so it’s important to see what God has to say about these things in His letter to us, the Bible:

  • “Do not practice divination or seek omens” (Leviticus 19:26).
  • “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:31).
  • “I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people” (Leviticus 20:6).
  • “A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads” (Leviticus 20:27).
  • “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19).

so what’s the big deal?

At this point you may be asking “What’s the big deal? Why can’t I enjoy these forms of entertainment? It’s not like I’m going to start worshiping the devil or anything!”

There are several reasons, the most important being that God has asked us not to. If we love God, we’ll be happy to obey Him—even if we don’t understand why He’s prohibited something. We’ll obey Him because we believe that He knows what’s best for us and that He always has our best interest at heart. When God says, “Don’t,” He’s really saying, “Don’t hurt yourself!” But there are other good reasons for saying no to Harry Potter and similar books and programs.

Many times, when people get involved in the supernatural, the para­normal, the occult, or witchcraft, they do it to gather knowledge and/or power that others don’t have—to make themselves special or to try to gain control over others. But God wants us to get knowledge and power only from Him. He doesn’t want us to make gods of anyone or anything else—whether it’s ourselves (which is the draw with MMRPGs) or the ­forces of nature or the earth (Wicca, paganism, and/or witchcraft). The first commandment that God gave us is found in Exodus 20:3: “You must not have any other god but me” (NLT).*

When we get involved in occult practices, we try to do an end run around God and make ourselves power­ful without Him. We aspire to “be like God” (Genesis 3:5; see also Isaiah 14:14). That’s the idea that the Harry Potter books and movies promote—overcoming the powers of darkness by being able to control white (good) magic ourselves. And there are other reasons this kind of entertainment is dangerous:

1. Regarding those MMRPGs such as World of Warcraft, getting involved in something that allows you to create characters and people and give them certain quirks, characteristics, and powers actually begins to fool people into thinking that fantasy is in fact reality. Life is complex and confusing enough without adding that extra problem!

2. When you get involved in watching, reading, or playing things related to witchcraft or other occult practices, you automatically give Satan and his evil angels (demons) the green light to waltz right into your life and—more dangerously—into your mind and begin to set up shop there. Again, I’m not saying that just because you watch or read or play these types of things you’re going to be instantly possessed by demons. But little by little, bit by bit, the devil will get his hooks in you and begin to lead you away from God and from your desire to follow Him.

Leviticus 20:7, 8 says: “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.” If we love God, we will want to be holy like Him. And if we turn our life over to Him, He gives us the power to be holy—to be different from the world—and to witness for Him. Your life and my life may be the only “Bible” or “Jesus” that some people ever see, so we need to strive to live in a way that represents Him well and doesn’t make Him look bad.

When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows hit theaters, some of you, no doubt, were very tempted to go see it (or to see it on DVD later). But I hope you talked it over with God and did some serious soul-searching before you decided. And while you were at it, I hope you reviewed all your entertainment habits to see whether there are other things that God was asking you to walk away from as you draw closer to Him.

so what’s OK for me to watch?

Right now you may be asking, “What kind of entertainment is OK for Christians?” Again, the Bible has the answer for us. It’s found in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Perhaps you aren’t sure what kinds of games, TV shows, movies, reading materials, or other entertainment fall into this category. Ask a godly friend or pastor. Pray daily that God will give you the wisdom to make good choices and the strength to stick to them.

If you and others are involved in the occult together, consider choosing new friends who hold to your standards. You heard me right! If your current friends want to do things that you know will undermine your ­relationship with God, then you need new friends who are also committed to God. As Jesus said, “Anyone who loves their father or mother [or friends] more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).

At this time of the year—when Halloween is celebrated—there are often people who will ask or expect you to do or say things or go places or watch things that you normally wouldn’t do, say, go, or watch. Now, let me be very clear: the devil is real, but God is more powerful, and He can keep the devil at bay (see the Old Testament book of Job). But—and this is a big “but”—if you decide to do, say, go places, or watch things you know you shouldn’t, then don’t expect good things to happen.

Demonic activity is very real! Don’t mess around with it on purpose! Stay far away from anything or anybody that has anything to do with it!

* Bible verses marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Omar Miranda is a healthcare professional, regular writer, and proud parent. He lives with his family in Georgia, USA.

What’s Wrong With Harry Potter?

by Omar Miranda
From the September 2019 Signs