I never read a Harry Potter book until this year. My parents didn't allow me to read them, and I wanted to respect their wishes. However, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was required reading for my adolescent literature class this fall, and I decided I'd read the whole series after that one. (Plus one of my best friends kind of pressured me into reading them. She's such a bad influence.) Anyways, I wrote my second take-home essay on the topic shared in the post title. And now I'm going to share my essay with y'all.
Many Christian parents will not allow their children to read the Harry Potter series, simply because the books feature wizards, witches, and magic. They believe the series is in direct contradiction to the Bible, which in several instances in the Old and New Testaments, condemns witchcraft. For example, in Galatians 5:19-21, Paul says, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” However, there are also many Christians who believe the Harry Potter books are acceptable to read and are not contrary to God’s Word. In fact, there are reasons why the books not only can be read but also should be read by preteens and teenagers.
Readers must acknowledge that the Bible lists witchcraft as a sin; however, the two kinds of witchcraft—that of the Bible and that of J.K. Rowling’s book series—seem to be quite different. The former is used only for evil, for contact with Satan and his demons and to carry out Satan’s orders; the latter, in the hands of the right people, is used for practical daily life as well as for good. Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley, among many of the wizards and witches in the series, use magic to protect the innocent, stop the forces of evil, and save the wizarding world. Of course there are wizards who use magic for evil, such as Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange, but they are shown to be in the wrong time after time.
The Harry Potter books also teach many valuable moral lessons. First and foremost is the lesson of good prevailing over evil. Early in the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry learns about the existence of Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who murdered Harry’s mother and father. Voldemort tried to take over the wizarding world 11 years prior, but the powers of good prevailed. Harry learns why Voldemort is so bad—he hates Muggleborn students, uses the Unforgivable Curses (curses that control, torture, and kill) with reckless abandon, and craves power so he can dominate others. In contrast, Harry befriends anyone who is kind, no matter if he or she is a pureblood wizard or Muggleborn; only uses the Unforgivable Curses when he has no choice; and does not desire to be the Chosen One.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone also teaches the value of friendship. Harry, Hermione, and Ron learn to depend on each other, and each young wizard or witch has strengths that balance out his or her friends’ weaknesses. The three are considered one of literature’s golden trios because they are stronger together and so iconic. Later on in the series, Harry also befriends Luna Lovegood, a girl who is a bit of an outcast because she is eccentric and dreamy. Rowling uses all of her younger characters to prove that friendship can win wars, as so many wizards and witches stand beside Harry in the Battle of Hogwarts because of the kindness and courage he demonstrated.
Also important in the Harry Potter series are the Christian values of courage and sacrifice. Harry must be brave on several occasions, but it is Neville Longbottom, who stands up to his friends when they break the rules, who could be to said to be the bravest of them all. In fact, thanks to his courage, Professor Dumbledore awards Gryffindor ten extra points, thereby winning Gryffindor the House Cup. Throughout the series, Harry and others sacrifice themselves for the greater good. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Ron sacrifices himself in the game of chess so Hermione and Harry can go forward and stop Professor Quirrell and Voldemort. Later on, in the third book, Ron has broken his leg, and yet he tells Sirius Black that Sirius will have to go through him and Hermione to get to Harry. Throughout the series, many of the good wizards and witches exhibit courage and sacrifice much to save their world.
Finally, many Christian parents allow—and often encourage—their children to read The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings series. Both of these series feature witches, wizards, and magic. So what makes them different from the Harry Potter series? Perhaps it is the Christian intent with which C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien wrote their books, but all three series teach the difference between good and evil, as well as the values of friendship, courage, and sacrifice, among many others.
Therefore, it is clear why the Harry Potter series not only acceptable but should be promoted for Christians to read. Most children, if properly communicated with during and after they read the books, will understand that Hogwarts and the wizards are part of a fictional world. They will understand why the witchcraft of our world is evil and contrary to God’s Word. Perhaps they will even learn important lessons from Harry Potter and his friends.
If you're a Christian, have you read Harry Potter? Why or why not?