Caveat: This article does not seek to malign, diminish, ridicule, or degrade the Pagan faith, beliefs, customs, or understanding of existence. Instead, it seeks to protect, further, uphold, and encourage the Christian faith, beliefs, customs, and understanding of existence. While the issue of witchcraft is an area of conflict between Pagans and Christians, I trust that you will remember that this article is written to a Christian audience, and will thus understand that it does not offer an unbiased evaluation of both faiths, but instead expect that it seeks to aid Christian parents to raise Christian children.
Halloween and Beyond
The discussion of Halloween in Christian circles is a clear indicator of a certain amount of helplessness among parents when it comes to protecting children from the lure of Paganism. As we discussed in the last Halloween article, if you and your children can view Halloween as harmless fun consisting of dressing up in appropriate costumes, going door to door asking for candy without being tempted to play tricks on those who do not give out any, all the while refraining from activities that may glorify the occult with its trappings of witchcraft, evil, divination, etc., then your Halloween experience is truly geared more to the dress-up and playing-pretend aspects of childhood, and is therefore not inappropriate in light of the Scriptures. Nonetheless, many a Christian parent is uncomfortable with celebrating Halloween simply because of the occult trappings it presents. Many of the same parents are also very aware of the current set of television fare, some of which is contrary to Christian values.
Television...the Root of all kinds of Evil?
Whether the old show "Bewitched , depicting a nose-twitching Elizabeth Montgomery, or the more modern depictions of witches such as teenaged "Sabrina (a cartoon, no less!), or the gals from "Charmed , network television is rife with depictions of witchcraft. It is immaterial if these shows depict witches accurately. The very fact that they have found their ways into Christian living rooms gives some room for wonderment.
While the individual Christian is able to simply turn off the television when this kind of programming comes on, s/he will not have the same power over his/her offspring's friends. Hence, it behooves the Christian parent to be able to deal with the influence of witchcraft, since sooner or later her/his child will come in contact with someone who fancies her/himself a witch.
The Lure of Witchcraft
One of the many aspects of witchcraft that make it very enticing is the lure of power.
Whether depicted accurately or being simply figments of the screenwriters' imaginations, witchcraft is portrayed as a source of power on television. Children who are desperately trying to find their places in society and within the strict pecking order of the peer group, are easy prey for the promises of power and control, even if it is only the notion of such attributes. Considering also that Christianity by its very definition is the abdication of personal power and control, witchcraft with its secrecy, spells, etc. is undoubtedly attractive!
While it would be wonderful to simply excuse away such behavior in our children as a "phase , Christian parents must remember that there is a vast difference between junior coming home with a head of dyed jet-black hair spiked in every direction, humming the tunes to "Lucretia My Reflection and junior exchanging the worship of God for the worship of created things and deities of a variety of Pagan pantheons. The former is most definitely a phase (although affection for the music of the Sisters of Mercy is said to last a lifetime) while the latter is a paradigm shift, which may very well result in a child's losing her/his love for and faith in God.
One of the reasons why witchcraft is a dangerous philosophy for the Christian child is its very denial of evil as personified in the figure of Satan. By denying the very existence of the devil and thus not acknowledging the power he holds and seeks to bring to our lives, a child will become easy prey for his schemes. Additionally, such a mindset propels the child into the center of her/his universe (instead of God being at the center), since now s/he gets to decide what is moral, and what is not. This gives rise to self-justification, rationalization, and shifting values.
The second danger the Christian parent must be aware of is the high-wire act of divination, with the Ouija board on one side, and the reliance on spirit guides on the other. While some parents simply shrug their shoulders at the dangers of the Ouija board, it is worthwhile to remember that demons, demonic possession, and the conjuring of spirits are all real-life events, all of which are very clearly described in the Bible.
The Bible is also very clear that such activities must be avoided. While many a child dabbling with witchcraft would like to believe that the spirits s/he conjures are benign, harmless and actually helpful, the very denial of evil, and Satan as the father of lies, will leave the child as a quick and easy target for the destructive powers the spirits hold. Christian parents will do well to remember that Satan can easily masquerade as an angel of light!
So what's the Christian Parent to do?
If you realize that some of your child's friends are beginning to dabble with witchcraft and its trappings, gently redirect your child to make new friends.
Otherwise, your child's friends will either succeed in luring her/him to dabble with the occult as well, or, in the alternative, your child's stand in favor of Christ will quickly lead to ugly scenes between those who feel "judged by your child's refusal to join in their "fun and your child who is simply refusing to give in to idolatry.
If your child has already fallen under the spell of witchcraft, seek to find out which aspects of her/his life s/he feels the most powerless in. Attempt to give your child the tools s/he needs to excel in these areas without resorting to manipulation of the situation via witchcraft.
Be prepared to listen to your child. don't simply dismiss her/his new-found beliefs; instead, keep the doors of communication open. Allow your child to explain to you the new-found beliefs s/he is embracing. Sooner or later s/he will come to the crux of the self-centeredness and self-reliance s/he has come to put her/his hope in. At this time, review with your child the power of God versus her/his limited human power. God made the world. The child...well, you get the idea.
In closing, while a child's being lured by the power of witchcraft is nothing new, for the Christian parent it should be an alarming reality, which, with prayer, faith and open communication, may be averted or redirected.
Portions of this article were previously published at Suite101's Christian Parenting Topic.