I did not let my children read the Harry Potter books when they first came out. The first and most obvious issue is the "witchcraft". Second, as a believer, I tend to be leery about anything the world loves as much as they loved Harry Potter. I held the position that with so much other good that there was to read, why did they need to read the Harry Potter series?
Years later, I was reading a book by Gladys Hunt called Honey for a Teen's Heart. This author had also written a book that was a superior resource for finding great books for my children called Honey for a Child's Heart. Her recommendation of the series was enough to cause me to more thoroughly investigate them. I was at a place in my life where I had started reevaluating everything that I had put on a list of things we "don't do", to thwart a root of legalism that had been encircling my ankles much like a boa constrictor. I also read What's a Christian to Do With Harry Potter, and Harry Potter and the Bible. Both books were very informative, but allowed you to take the information and come to your own conclusion. Then I cautiously picked up the first book on a trip to the beach. I read the book in a matter of 3 days while sitting in the sand and sun and then allowed my 11 year old daughter to read it. She devoured it even more quickly, and we talked about it all along the way.
What I found first was that the books contained well developed plots and characters. The books are fantasy, on the same lines as Lord of the Rings or the Narnia Chronicles with both sides having magical powers. I also found it curious that our society accepts so many other things benignly that are laden with witchcraft - for instance, the Wizard of Oz containing both good and bad witches, and the occultic practice of astral projection used in the Christmas Carol movies as Scrooge is transported to the Christmas past and future.
I used to speak my opinions vehemently against the Harry Potter books. However, as I have taken a closer look at the books for myself instead of leaning on the investigation and opinions of others, I have been amazed at the things people will say to set up a defense against Harry Potter. One family told us that the author J.K. Rowling has claimed to have had sex with Jesus. (It feels wrong even writing that!) This was unconfirmed by an internet search, and while that is not watertight proof that it was not said, it is likely it would have been on every Christian website as a legitimate reason to avoid the books and movies. Another lady told me that she burned a set of books that were given to her child, and that they heard screaming when the books were set on fire. All sins being equal, is lying not as much a sin as witchcraft? And the lady that practically went to the floor repetitively saying the name "Jesus" in front of the life-size Harry Potter display advertising the next book do anything short of making Christians a mockery?
One thing that I was always concerned about culturally is that in a world that is spiritually hungry, the hype surrounding the Harry Potter and witchcraft may have piqued an interest in actual occult practices. I wonder if Christians may be inadvertently fueling that hype. Our culture has an epidemic of uninvolved parents - who put all of these things in front of their children and never discuss it, or help their children sort reality from fantasy.
Biblically, if your conscience tells you to refrain from something, then you should refrain, and if your conscience gives you freedom, live in that freedom. I refer you to I Cor. 10:
23"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 25Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."[c] 27If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake[d]— 29the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? 30If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? 31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
I would not promote Harry Potter to someone who has a spiritual weakness in this area – just as I would not pour a glass of wine with a friend who had a tendency toward alcoholism. If it is someone that I do not know, then I would refrain in both areas, as well as many others. For my family and I, we have enjoyed the Harry Potter books. We discuss the themes of love, redemption, good versus evil, etc. The movie last night made some pointed statements about “school” – with one professor stating that the point of education is to assist students in passing their O.W.L.S. (exams). The movie also illustrated the dangers of over-regulation and micro-management, and the importance of resisting evil – both physically and mentally.
When I was a little girl, watching Sesame Street, the "a la peanut butter and jelly sandwiches" used by the count did not make me want to do spells. I watched the Wizard of Oz and A Christmas Carol and was never had my interest piqued in witchcraft. I watched magicians on television make things disappear and reappear, cut things in half and put them back together, and made people levitate. As a child I found it entertaining, and nothing more than that.
I am interested in a respectful discussion for both sides of the issue. I am sure there is much I haven’t articulated here, or haven’t articulated well. I am not attempting to convince anyone, but merely sharing my journey through this issue, from one Christian mom to others.