Vivian uses a common sense approach to explore the social issues of today.
Halloween isn’t the only time of year Christian families encounter the dark side of the spiritual realm. Our children are bombarded with varying degrees of occult messaging through books, movies, and recreational activities. Where do we draw the line?
While some parents unwittingly underestimate the effect of occult influence on their children, other parents simply ignore it and look the other way. No parent wants their kids excluded or regaled as oddballs, so they conform despite the inner inkling that certain situations are iniquitous. Alternatives do exist. If Christian parents take Proverbs 22:6 seriously, training up a child in the way that he should go requires them to provide clear boundaries and guidance on choosing paths that lead to life and liberty rather than death and destruction.
Help Your Kids Make Good Book Choices
Fall is the time of year when your kids tote home Scholastic Book orders from school filled with bone-chilling selections. As a Christian parent, should you allow your kids to buy these spooky tales? If you compare a kindergarten book list to a fourth grade one, you will notice a striking difference. Ghosts and goblins for young readers look cartoonish, cute, and friendly, but by fourth grade, they are clearly not so appealing. Take for instance, The Collector—a creepy story about dolls and dark magic. Would you feel comfortable with your grade schooler even looking at the cover, let alone reading the contents?
Also offered is the Haunted Kids Pack which contain “true” ghost stories about schools, kids, teachers, and pets because, you know, you want your child to feel terror about these integral components of their daily lives. You can imagine how demoniacal the book selections become in the 9th grade and up category. As for the most controversial series--Harry Potter--these books are available for nearly all age levels in some form. Harry Potter has been embraced by Christians nearly as much as secularists—why is this such a heated debate?
The Harry Potter series consist of witchcraft manuals so entertaining that even Christian parents overlook the fact that they deal with topics like human sacrifice, sucking blood from dead animals, demonic possession, sorcery, divination, and other occult practices like spell weaving, potion making, and curse casting. Shame on Scholastic for repackaging witchcraft as “fantasy literature” to make it look innocent and injecting it into classrooms all across America. In 1981, Terri Gibbs had a hit record with Somebody’s Knockin.’ Here’s the chorus:
Should I let him in
Lord, it’s the devil
Would you look at him
I’ve heard about him
But I never dreamed
He’d have blue eyes and blue jeans.
Since the beginning of time, the devil’s tricks have not changed. He always makes the forbidden appealing. Because his traps are so alluring, people fall into temptation and make choices they regret. There is a penalty to pay, and the price is too high for most. Let’s look at what the Bible says about dark writings, such as Harry Potter, Stephen King, and the plethora of horror on the market. In Acts 19:18-20: Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Whose power do you want your kids tapping into—the devil’s or God’s? Christian parents who teach their children to meditate on the Bible and its teachings to bring them closer in their relationship with Jesus, but then let them consume horror literature are defeating their purpose. Kids who devour dark writings later recall struggles with paranoia and fear. They have nightmares, sense an evil presence in their homes, and sometimes even hear unexplainable noises. There is no safe level of exposure.
Help your kids choose books that are equally entertaining without the occult element. For younger readers, choosing fun books about pumpkins and fall sensory experiences let them delight in the season without opening their souls to demonic harassment. The Imagination Station series written by Paul McCusker and Marianne Hering are fabulous Christian alternatives to The Magic Tree House series. For mature readers bent on fantasy, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings are compelling novels ripe with spiritual significance. Your goal as a Christian parent is not to provide your child with a banned book list—it’s to teach them how to choose books that encourage a love for reading and learning without inviting the enemy of their souls for an attack.
Help Your Kids Make Good TV Viewing and Gaming Choices
Just like a good novel, kids are easily engrossed by TV, movies, and gaming. Since the eyes truly are the windows to the soul, it’s important you monitor what is deposited. If you’ve ever watched The Shining, The Exorcist, Psycho, or A Nightmare on Elm Street, you know the mental images and fear they inspire last a lifetime. Just at the mention of those flicks, famous lines resurface from your memory—Heeeeeere’s Johnny! The power of Christ compels you! A boy’s best friend is his mother. Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep. Yet, you probably forget what you ate last night for dinner. Some people crave the adrenaline rush they experience from the tension in scary movies, but your kids must be spared. Whether their friends are watching the gripping Twilight saga or the latest film craze, teach them not to sacrifice their beliefs and principles to social pressure. Guard their tender and innocent souls from being branded with fear. Otherwise, they will never be the same.
Similar guidelines apply to gaming. If your child is engaging in violent games with bloodshed, witchcraft disguised as fantasy, or other gruesome imagery, it’s time to pull the plug. Philippians 4:8 charges us to think about things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy, and excellent. Even games like Ouija boards, Magic 8 balls, Tarot cards, and the like are welcoming beacons to demonic powers. In I Peter 5:8 we are warned to be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Consider the true story of newly married couple, Jack and Ava. After the honeymooners returned to set up housekeeping, finding time to unpack boxes while juggling careers was challenging. Most of the boxes were stacked in a spare room while the contents waited to be organized and assigned a space. Ava began having unusual experiences. She awoke with a heavy pressure on her chest, as if someone were trying to choke her. “Jesus!” she managed to shout, and the heaviness instantly ceased. While alone at the house, Ava continued to feel an evil presence, which seemed to be originating from upstairs. She couldn’t sweep the carpets on the second level when home alone because a wicked presence behind her sent shivers up her spine. At night, she would hear the hallway floor creak outside her bedroom door, as it always did when someone walked across it. She would sit up in bed and see a shadow pass by the crack under her door. Ava prayed. She anointed the doors and windows with oil. She commanded evil spirits to leave. Still, nothing changed. Ava knew the Lord gave believers the authority over devils, according to Luke 10:19, so what was the problem? Since the demonic activity emanated from upstairs, she decided to take a closer inventory. Could something in one of the boxes be giving evil a legal right to remain in her home? Ava urgently rifled through box after box until she came to one filled with her husband’s vast stash of video games. Without even reading the titles, she was struck by the covers—so many illustrations with depictions of sorcery and magic. She confronted her husband with the find, and he dismissed her qualms. He naively reassured her the games were only fantasy in nature. Unconvinced, Ava collected all the remotely questionable games into a large trash bag and left them at the curb on collection day. The strange phenomena ceased, and never again was an evil presence detected in the home.
Parents, don’t write off all video games as mere child’s play. Protect your kids from ones that serve as portals into the demonic realm. Are you playing these games yourself and hesitant to give them up? Time to set a better example.
Help Your Kids Choose the Right Recreational Choices
You can control what your kids are exposed to within the confines of your own home, but what about when they are with friends, at school, or shopping at the mall? Before your kids dart off to a friends’ houses for sleepovers or parties, be sure to know what activities are on the agenda. What movies are they watching? What games are they playing? If ghost stories around a campfire are on tap coupled with horror movies, your kids will have to graciously withdraw. True friends will adjust the fun to ensure everyone’s participation. Otherwise, consider hosting the party yourself so you can be in charge of the spooky-free entertainment.
Halloween is still celebrated in most elementary schools, with kids parading through the halls before playing seasonal games and munching on fall treats. Well-meaning room mothers, intent on making the class party festive, award prizes like spider rings, skull pencils, witch erasers, and other pagan trinkets you do not want your kids receiving. Talk to your kids before the party and remind them of what is appropriate and what is not. Rather than be rude, your child can quietly accept the rewards, with the understanding they will be disposing of them at home. Consider volunteering to help with the class parties—this will give you a better chance of regulating games and prizes. Design the party around a fall harvest theme instead of something creepy.
If you take your kids to the store with you on grocery day, avoid the Halloween aisle if you can—every shelf is festooned with symbols of death and witchcraft. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 says, There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord…. Christians should not include these decorations in their fall scheme and be sure to educate their kids on the reasons why.
Fall is a beautiful time of year, and there is so much to enjoy about it. Take your family to a fun corn maze, but not a haunted house. Jump on a wagon for a hay ride to a pumpkin patch, but avoid the ghostly versions. Enlist your kids to help entwine fall garlands around the lamppost and garnish flower beds with mums. Trim your landscaping with hay bales, pumpkins, and scarecrows. It brims with so much more life than a graveyard scene! Pass the cider around a bonfire on crisp nights and wow your family with special treats, like an apple bar—lather apples in peanut butter or caramel before sprinkling them with your favorite toppings, like nuts, chocolate chips, Reese’s Pieces, marshmallows, or M & M’s. Carve or paint cute pumpkins and play games with younger children, like Pin the Grin on the Pumpkin. Dip halved apples into orange paint to stamp pumpkins, or make pumpkin scented play-doh. Join fun events within your community, like a jack-o-lantern lit walk through the park or a Honey Festival. Teach your kids to relish all the delights the fall season brings while rejecting the pagan aspects injected via Halloween, and they won’t feel like they are missing out on a thing!
The Verdict on Celebrating Halloween
Many churches have tried to assign a positive twist to Halloween by offering an alternative—Trunk-or-Treat. Parishioners park cars and open trunks loaded with candy to offer kids who just want to enjoy getting sweets without the fright element. While you don’t want to encourage your kids to participate in occult-laced events, it’s tough to prohibit kids from the fun of dressing up and getting intoxicated with sugar. What message does this send to them? That Christians are boring, and the devil is more fun? If you ingrain in your kids from an early age that your family celebrates Fall but not Halloween, yet you concede to them dressing up as a favorite character (nothing fiendish) for the sake of whimsy and amassing candy, they will keep the annual event in the right perspective.
Deuteronomy 30:19 says, ….I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life….Not only does this verse apply to salvation, but it also affirms that a choice for good or evil always exists. Training your kids to avoid anything, big or small, that hints of the occult will help them make right choices that lead to life.
© 2018 Vivian Coblentz