Biblical Entertainment - Thoughts Provoked by Harry Potter
A review of Scripture shows that a preoccupation with entertainment was characteristic of some rather unGodly people. The bored Israelites “entertained” themselves with a golden calf while Moses was receiving the law from God (Exodus 32).
Pharaoh (Genesis 40:20) and Herod (Matthew 14:6) are the only people recorded as celebrating their birthdays in Scripture. Both hosted great feasts. During his celebration, Pharaoh executed his baker, as Joseph had predicted. Several centuries later, Salome's entertaining dancing, her mother's wicked request and Herod's drunkenness and pride resulted in John the Baptist's death.
King Belshazzar (Daniel 5) recklessly praised his idols during a feast while drinking from cups taken from the Jerusalem temple. God's judgement was swift.
In God's sovereignty, proud King Xerxes (see the book of Esther) fell out with his proud wife Queen Vashti during a feast. (He was later swayed to save the Jews by Queen Ester's humble pleas during a feast she hosted.)
Is all entertainment forbidden to Christians? By no means! The Bible encourages us to feast and celebrate God's abundance and blessing (Deuteronomy 16, Nehemiah 8:9-12). God is good - how can we resist worshipping Him with music and dancing (2 Samuel 6:14-16, Psalm 30:11,12, Psalm 149:3, Psalm 150)? It is shameful that sometimes pagans seem to take more delight in worshipping their idols with music and dancing than we do in worshipping God. Christian married people have a great gift of love to delight in (Song of Solomon). To top it all off, at the end of this life, we will join the Lord in Heaven for the wedding feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-9).
Yet entertainment must be kept in its proper perspective. We are called to take dominion of the earth (Genesis 1:26-28) and to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
David's seemingly minor neglect of his military duties led to his tragic adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11).
The Bible records that Solomon took dominion by speaking proverbs, writing songs and studying creation (1 Kings 4:32,33), and that he was a powerful witness to the world of his time, (see the visit of the Queen of Sheba in 1 Kings 10). Sadly though, his preoccupation with foreign women swayed his heart away from the Lord when he grew old (1 Kings 11).
Jesus warned against luxurious living with no concern for one's soul or for others in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).
What does all this have to do with Harry Potter? Well, just as Christians would not encourage or promote adultery or cannibalism to their children, no matter how entertaining it may be (consider the films Bridges of Madison County and Silence of the Lambs), we should not cause the little ones to stumble by entertaining them with witchcraft. Witchcraft is not merely distasteful, but detestable to God. It is an extremely serious sin - it caused the Canaanites to be driven out of the land (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Witchcraft is listed as an act of the sinful nature and those who practise it will not inherit the Kingdom (Galatians 5:19-21). As Christians, we have a mandate from God - let us encourage the next generation to take it seriously, rather than give themselves as slaves to whatever entertains them.
by Jeanine McGill, she has written a very useful 24-page booklet analysing the Harry Potter phenomenon - it is available from Christian Liberty Books. Consider buying additional copies for your local schools.