Faith and Fantasy Pt. 2

In my last post I touched on my journey reconciling writing and reading fantasy while being a Christian.  There is so much more that could be said on this topic.  It is true that many Christians do not have a problem with Fantasy as a genre, and many enjoy it just as much as I do.  Yet, there is a culture and expectation amongst certain circles that one should not engage in it.  Certainly, this isn’t a topic worth being a martyr over, but it is worth exploring deeper.

The first thing we should get out of the way is that the Bible has been used to justify or condemn every sort of behavior imaginable.  This leads to anything from judgmental Pharisee-like attitudes to downright destructive behaviors.  The condemnation of Fantasy comes from the Bible speaking out against magic users and sorcerers, and the call for us believers to use good judgement and discernment when it comes to our entertainment.  Not a bad intention.  On top of that there are those who have more sensitive consciences, which makes it difficult for them to comprehend why someone would enjoy something that appears so “evil” to them.

Putting blanket rules around entertainment is difficult for these reasons.  Often times people read into Scripture their presuppositions and try to impose them on others.  I understand that, especially since believers are called to rebuke fellow Christians if they are not following God’s commands.  However, it is easy to take it too far and become judgmental over things that ultimately do not matter such as enjoying a specific genre of books.

There is something important to note.  Most of the time magic and sorcery in fantasy does not even closely resemble occult/pagan magic condemned in Scripture.  Magic in ancient times often took the form of astrology and divination or summoning spirits.  Fantasy magic such as in Harry Potter is invented as a plot device and for fun.  Fiction authors don’t pretend their works are real either which is something that distinguishes itself from true occultism.  We are told right away these stories are fake and meant to teach lessons of friendship, love, and what it means to be human among other things.

As believers it is our job to discern what entertainment we consume.  Instead of cherry-picking Scripture to back up our biases, we need to look at the Bible in its entirety.  Yes, sorcery is condemned in Scripture, but Paul also makes it clear that different people are sensitive to different things.  Our only job as believers is to not create a stumbling block, not reign judgment upon other people.

Faith and Fantasy

When Harry Potter became popular, there was debate amongst Christian circles whether it was healthy for children to be exposed to or not.  After all, Scripture condemns sorcery, and that in Harry Potter, children go to school to learn magic.  As a Christian who enjoys fantasy of all kinds, this was a struggle for me growing up.

As a young man who attended an extremely conservative Christian college, my hobby of writing and reading fantasy became a point of contention in some conversations.  Later, in my college career, something happened to me which caused an existential crisis of faith.  For a few years I questioned everything, researched everything, learned varying perspectives on all matters in order to find out what I believe and why.  Ultimately, I learned that obsessively researching online only leads to confusion and depression, but I digress.

In the end my faith remained intact, and I came to a few conclusions on important matters, one of which is that being a Christian doesn’t mean I have to be against it, but the opposite.  Deciding to condemn fantasy and avoid it is a personal conviction, not a Biblical truth.  For me, the genre is not mere fun, but a part of me, it reflects important timeless truths.  If you are one who believes reading or watching fantasy is wrong, that is your choice and conviction.  However, it is far from Scriptural to condemn stories simply because they have magic.  The words of Jesus seem aptly appropriate for this, “Beware the yolk of the Pharisees.”  I know, that doesn’t give us a pass to do whatever we want, but Paul makes it clear that some people have more sensitive consciences than other.  That is okay, however do you like Football?  The argument could be made that its evil if Scripture is twisted to say that due to scantily clad cheerleaders that football is evil.  I know that sounds silly.  So are most arguments against enjoying fantasy.

In the end a walk with Christ is more important than fiction choices, and those who enjoy stories different than what you like do not deserve condemnation.  So much more could be said on this topic, which is why I will continue this in my next post.