Should Christian Kids See Harry Potter?

Or for you parents, will your kids be going to see the final Harry Potter movie released to theaters this week?  If so, for what ages do you think this movie is appropriate?

Given the focus of Janie’s interview yesterday on Chris Fabry Live!–Teens and Dark Fiction–it seems to be a question many parents are wrestling with.  From all reports, this movie may be the darkest of any in the series.  Any wisdom for newbie parents like me who may be facing the problem for the first time, either now or in the near future?

To read a few of our book-to-movie posts, see Janie’s review of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie, Jane Eyre, or Emily’s review of True Grit and True Grace.

COMMENTS

25 Responses to Should Christian Kids See Harry Potter?

  1. Sarah :) April 6, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    First, full disclosure: I am a young mom of 2 (toddler + infant) and I absolutely LOVE the HP series (books… hate the movies because they are not true enough to the story for my tastes). I also love Tolkein and C S Lewis.

    Gently Mad, I completely agree with you that the practice of Witchcraft is an abomination to the Lord, and that we SHOULD NOT give our children the impression or let them think in any way that it is good.

    HOWEVER.

    We should also teach our children to think and discern, not just follow the rules without thinking. In light of that, I have two things to point out.

    #1 – When God calls tells us to stay away from witchcraft, what is He actually telling us not to do? He’s telling us that the 1st and 2nd commandments mean that no other god/spirit/whatever may be worshipped or entreated/relied upon to help us or fix our problems or give us power to control or do anything.

    In the imaginary universe that Harry Potter exists in, the power that wizards and witches employ to cast spells HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SPIRITS, good or evil. It is an Ability that you are born with or without, and if you are born with it, it WILL manifest itself eventually, which means you should go to school to learn to utilize and control it correctly and wisely. Of course, there are those wizards and witches who choose to use their abilities toward evil ends, but the evil comes from within them, not from the ability to manipulate things by “magic”.

    In our universe, some people have the ability to carry a tune, and some people don’t. Some people have the ability to intuitively sense and respond to non-verbal cues in conversations and interactions, and some people have NO IDEA what is going on beyond the surface level words being spoken. In Harry Potter, some people have the ability to do “magic”, and some people don’t. It’s exactly the same kind of thing.

    #2 – Given that what God calls evil, and what is being described in HP are NOT the same thing, I see no problem on that ground with the books. Therefore, I believe kids who are interested SHOULD read these books BUT NOT without parental oversight and discussion. Our job as parents is to raise Christians who are wise as serpents, and helping them to realize that not all things named by one word are necessarily the same thing is part of that. Not to mention that there are a multitude of other good lessons to be learned from the mistakes and choices made in these books.

    I know this post is about the movies, so I’m sorry for inserting something that doesn’t address that….

  2. emily July 31, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Nice to see we’re still getting comments on this one. I think it’s a great discussion that Christians ought to take seriously. My thoughts on the subject would take far more than a comment to sum up, and I don’t really care to create a post yet when I haven’t seen the movie yet.

    However…I will say one quick thing. I think Tylah and Gently Mad bring up a good point. How can Christians in good consience even consider seeing a movie about something that the Bible calls evil?

    The problem with this logic alone is that most stories include evil. The Bible of course is filled with stories of evil-doers, and even a sweet story like Mary Poppins or Hiedi is filled with people exhibiting pride, selfishness, anger, and a multitude of evils.

    I know that some folks use that argument to justify watching/reading any and everything. I would not agree with that assumption either. (See Janie’s post Turn on the Light for more on where and how we draw the line.) But I do think that we’ll probably have to go deeper than “turn your eyes from evil” to find God’s wisdom in this area. Which is why I’m very happy to host the discussion topic on our blog!

  3. emily July 31, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Nice to see we’re still getting comments on this one. I think it’s a great discussion that Christians ought to take seriously. My thoughts on the subject would take far more than a comment to sum up, and I don’t really care to create a post yet when I haven’t seen the movie yet.

    However…I will say one quick thing. I think Tylah and Gently Mad bring up a good point. How can Christians in good consience even consider seeing a movie about something that the Bible calls evil?

    The problem with this logic alone is that most stories include evil. The Bible of course is filled with stories of evil-doers, and even a sweet story like Mary Poppins or Hiedi is filled with people exhibiting pride, selfishness, anger, and a multitude of evils.

    I know that some folks use that argument to justify watching/reading any and everything. I would not agree with that assumption either. (See Janie’s post Turn on the Light for more on where and how we draw the line.) But I do think that we’ll probably have to go deeper than “turn your eyes from evil” to find God’s wisdom in this area. Which is why I’m very happy to host the discussion topic on our blog!

  4. Gently Mad July 30, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    The Bible is clear about the practice of witchcraft. In fact it’s one of the last things written in Revelation. (21:8 and 22:15) So why do some Christians call it good and watch movies where witches are presented as heroes?
    What if they weren’t witches? what if the “good guys” in the HP movies were serial killers or child molesters? Would it still be acceptable to watch these movies as long as they were the “good guys” fighting evil? As long as the story was fun to read or the writing good? Do you see how absurd that sounds?
    Isaiah 5:20 says woe to them who call evil good.
    In this day and age where our children are being relentlessly attacked in every direction by the Enemy, can you be absolutely certain these movies aren’t persuading them to consider witch craft good?

  5. Gently Mad July 30, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    The Bible is clear about the practice of witchcraft. In fact it’s one of the last things written in Revelation. (21:8 and 22:15) So why do some Christians call it good and watch movies where witches are presented as heroes?
    What if they weren’t witches? what if the “good guys” in the HP movies were serial killers or child molesters? Would it still be acceptable to watch these movies as long as they were the “good guys” fighting evil? As long as the story was fun to read or the writing good? Do you see how absurd that sounds?
    Isaiah 5:20 says woe to them who call evil good.
    In this day and age where our children are being relentlessly attacked in every direction by the Enemy, can you be absolutely certain these movies aren’t persuading them to consider witch craft good?

  6. emily July 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    Very glad to take the temperature on this one, guys. It’ll be awhile before I get a babysitter and can see the movie. But in the meantime, this article at Youth Reads is a good overview of Christian perspectives on the HP books and movies: http://www.breakpoint.org/features-columns/youth-reads/entry/40/17484.

  7. emily July 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    Very glad to take the temperature on this one, guys. It’ll be awhile before I get a babysitter and can see the movie. But in the meantime, this article at Youth Reads is a good overview of Christian perspectives on the HP books and movies: http://www.breakpoint.org/features-columns/youth-reads/entry/40/17484.

  8. Tylah July 15, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    I would “turn my eyes from evil things” and stay far away from this stuff. What really is the point of Harry Potter? I feel too strongly that I need to redeem the time because the days are evil. Witchcraft is an abomination to God. I have 3 children to train in the nurture and admonition of the Lord- not in the ways of HP or the like. The real world is full of enough evil for them to be exposed to and learn to discern from- we don’t need fantasy movies that glorify that which God hates. Here is an excellent website that exposes the demonic roots of HP. http://www.goodfight.org/a_co_twilight_harrypotter.html

  9. Tylah July 15, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    I would “turn my eyes from evil things” and stay far away from this stuff. What really is the point of Harry Potter? I feel too strongly that I need to redeem the time because the days are evil. Witchcraft is an abomination to God. I have 3 children to train in the nurture and admonition of the Lord- not in the ways of HP or the like. The real world is full of enough evil for them to be exposed to and learn to discern from- we don’t need fantasy movies that glorify that which God hates. Here is an excellent website that exposes the demonic roots of HP. http://www.goodfight.org/a_co_twilight_harrypotter.html

  10. Joy Tucker July 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    I find it interesting that many people who find Rowling “dark” or who, might quite rightly find Lauren Myracle’s YA fiction too edgy, often do not consider that Walt Whitman, L.M. Montgomery or Judy Blum might qualify as “dark” as well.

    There are lots of great books for children that consider dark themes, which might be good for a child at the right time in his or her development. But what parents ought to be thinking about is what is subversive – and that can be any number of things that don’t involve witches, cutting, incest or suicide.

    Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read many of his stories to my kids, but there’s one of his stories (The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg) that for all it’s light-heartedness I’d never recommend to anyone under 18.

  11. Joy Tucker July 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    I find it interesting that many people who find Rowling “dark” or who, might quite rightly find Lauren Myracle’s YA fiction too edgy, often do not consider that Walt Whitman, L.M. Montgomery or Judy Blum might qualify as “dark” as well.

    There are lots of great books for children that consider dark themes, which might be good for a child at the right time in his or her development. But what parents ought to be thinking about is what is subversive – and that can be any number of things that don’t involve witches, cutting, incest or suicide.

    Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read many of his stories to my kids, but there’s one of his stories (The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg) that for all it’s light-heartedness I’d never recommend to anyone under 18.

  12. John Gardner July 15, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    I have no problem at all with the HP books. In fact, I think there is much to value in them. But I agree with others that the movies don’t do the books justice. I would certainly require kids to read the books before watching the movies, and hope that parents have read them as well. Discussions of what was different between the books and movies can be a great way to help kids learn to discern!

  13. John Gardner July 15, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    I have no problem at all with the HP books. In fact, I think there is much to value in them. But I agree with others that the movies don’t do the books justice. I would certainly require kids to read the books before watching the movies, and hope that parents have read them as well. Discussions of what was different between the books and movies can be a great way to help kids learn to discern!

  14. emily July 15, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    Kathy, thanks for the link! I look forward to reading it soon.

  15. emily July 15, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    Kathy, thanks for the link! I look forward to reading it soon.

  16. emily July 14, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Well, given that my kids are 5 and 3, I think we’ll sit this one out. But I’m really glad that each of you has thought the matter through for your own family! Thanks for letting me in on your thought-processes.

    And if worse comes to worst, we’ll just make our own movie!

  17. emily July 14, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Well, given that my kids are 5 and 3, I think we’ll sit this one out. But I’m really glad that each of you has thought the matter through for your own family! Thanks for letting me in on your thought-processes.

    And if worse comes to worst, we’ll just make our own movie!

  18. Brandy July 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    This movie will definitely be more action packed and violent than the others but I don’t think it can be darker when the evil is finally beaten at the end and not still stalking around. I am of the opinion that the 5th and 6th books are actually the darkest in the series. If the movie follows the book (and from what I heard it does) there shouldn’t be anything inappropriate for an average teen or middle schooler.

    I don’t think there is an age you can designate as being ready for HP. It is going to vary from child to child based on maturity. My daughter (age 7) has read the first 2 books and seen the first 2 movies. We haven’t done 3 yet but I have a feeling we will within the next year. I do read them to her the first time through so that we can discuss and I can monitor her reactions.

  19. Brandy July 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    This movie will definitely be more action packed and violent than the others but I don’t think it can be darker when the evil is finally beaten at the end and not still stalking around. I am of the opinion that the 5th and 6th books are actually the darkest in the series. If the movie follows the book (and from what I heard it does) there shouldn’t be anything inappropriate for an average teen or middle schooler.

    I don’t think there is an age you can designate as being ready for HP. It is going to vary from child to child based on maturity. My daughter (age 7) has read the first 2 books and seen the first 2 movies. We haven’t done 3 yet but I have a feeling we will within the next year. I do read them to her the first time through so that we can discuss and I can monitor her reactions.

  20. Kathy July 14, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Our family loves the Harry Potter books, but we’ve decided to be cautious about allowing our younger children to read all of them. Our 2 boys, 17 and 14, will probably see the movie tomorrow. Our 8 year old daughter has read books 1 and 2 but we won’t let her read book 3 until she’s older and book 4 and beyond are definitely a teenager thing. For all our kids (except our 11-yo daughter who has Down syndrome), we have not let them watch the movie until they have read the equivalent book on their own. Check out Christianity Today’s article on Harry Potter and its Christian literary merit: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/july/harryherestay.html

  21. Kathy July 14, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    Our family loves the Harry Potter books, but we’ve decided to be cautious about allowing our younger children to read all of them. Our 2 boys, 17 and 14, will probably see the movie tomorrow. Our 8 year old daughter has read books 1 and 2 but we won’t let her read book 3 until she’s older and book 4 and beyond are definitely a teenager thing. For all our kids (except our 11-yo daughter who has Down syndrome), we have not let them watch the movie until they have read the equivalent book on their own. Check out Christianity Today’s article on Harry Potter and its Christian literary merit: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/july/harryherestay.html

  22. Kimberly July 14, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    I’ll answer this one regarding the books more than the movies. I enjoy the HP books immensely, I’m lukewarm about all the movies except the last two installments, because I just don’t think they did the books justice. Even though the first couple of books are not too intense, I have decided to wait until my kids are much older before I let them even start the books. I know that if they enjoy the books like I did, they will want to read the whole series, and they’re just not ready for the intensity that starts in book 4. I’ll play it by ear, and gauge the kids’ readiness as we go, but I’m thinking they can read them around age 11 or 12. And I will insist, as much as I can, that they read the books before they see the movie. That’s just my policy for all movies inspired by books. :)

  23. Kimberly July 14, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    I’ll answer this one regarding the books more than the movies. I enjoy the HP books immensely, I’m lukewarm about all the movies except the last two installments, because I just don’t think they did the books justice. Even though the first couple of books are not too intense, I have decided to wait until my kids are much older before I let them even start the books. I know that if they enjoy the books like I did, they will want to read the whole series, and they’re just not ready for the intensity that starts in book 4. I’ll play it by ear, and gauge the kids’ readiness as we go, but I’m thinking they can read them around age 11 or 12. And I will insist, as much as I can, that they read the books before they see the movie. That’s just my policy for all movies inspired by books. :)

  24. Aubrey in South Texas July 14, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Yep! All 8 of us will be going tomorrow:) Ages 7-40!
    We have found the HP series to be a beautiful and well-done Redemption Story. The amount of theology discussions we have had with our boys as a result of the books and movies has been astounding! My husband, a pastor, found the book “Finding God in Harry Potter” to be a valuable resource in dealing with questions and concerns.
    As for the “darkness”. Sin is dark. I want my children to be aware of that BEFORE they leave my home.

  25. Aubrey in South Texas July 14, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Yep! All 8 of us will be going tomorrow:) Ages 7-40!
    We have found the HP series to be a beautiful and well-done Redemption Story. The amount of theology discussions we have had with our boys as a result of the books and movies has been astounding! My husband, a pastor, found the book “Finding God in Harry Potter” to be a valuable resource in dealing with questions and concerns.
    As for the “darkness”. Sin is dark. I want my children to be aware of that BEFORE they leave my home.

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