Magic in the Media – What’s a Christian to Do?

I am one who has grown up in a home where Harry Potter was frowned on, and Lord of the Rings was a favorite. I was often accused of having double standards among my peers, or called weird because I would rather read a classic book for adults than a series of books that is widely called “childrens” or “teens”. For a long time, I believed (not because my parents told me) that Disney, Lord of the Rings, and Narnia, were the only “magical” stories that were ok for me to read/watch. But, as I have grown more mature in my walk with God and have gained more discernment when it comes to media, I have discovered that it isn’t exactly as black and white as all that.

Obviously, the Bible tells us that certain practices are wrong. Some of these things are practiced in Disney movies, and yet we let our kids watch them. Thing is, the Bible also says that divorce is wrong, and yet we watch movies where a divorced person gets married to someone. The Bible says that foul words should not come out of our mouths, and that we should not use God’s name in vain, and yet we watch films and TV shows that have one or both of these things. I confess, some of my favorite TV shows have cussing in them (obviously not the every five words and nothing worse than the occasional “a” word), and I watch Hallmark movies about divorced people. That doesn’t mean I am promoting that behavior, of course. What it comes down to is some questions that you must ask yourself. These can go for all content issues, but I am specifically focusing on magic.

1: Is magic used irresponsibly? And is the person who used it praised for using it in such a way? This is something I ask myself whenever I watch these shows. If magic is shown as some sort of “get out of death free” card, then you might want to watch yourself. When I watched Once Upon a Time, the hit ABC show, one of the first things I noticed was a phrase that was repeated over and over again throughout the show: “All magic comes with a price”. Characters who used magic were always cautioned about the price of it. And in Merlin, the main character (Merlin of course) often does things with his magic that could get him and other people hurt or in trouble. He is constantly cautioned by Gaius(his mentor) and an old dragon that he must use his gift responsibly.

2: Do characters who use magic selfishly and/or for evil succeed? If a character who uses magic for selfish reasons is praised, succeeds in all they do, or is not shown to have any reason to change their ways, then there is a problem. One of the biggest things in Lord of the Rings in terms of magic is that everyone who uses magic for their own selfish/evil reasons is ultimately doomed to fail. In Once Upon a Time, the characters who use magic for selfish reasons are the ones whose behavior is shown to be the most undesirable.

3: Does what you are watching make you think that sorcery is ok, even if the Bible says it isn’t? This is where you have to be careful. Another way of looking at this is: I watch TV shows with cussing, but I don’t think cussing is ok. The key is that you watch the show/movie with the understanding that it is not ok to do these things. The Bible clearly outlines that sorcery is wrong, foul language is wrong, etc. That doesn’t mean we should hole ourselves up and hide away from it all. It means that we should form a strong relationship with God so that we can know when to turn away from things that are wrong for us to watch.

Fact is, some of our greatest childhood enjoyment comes from Disney movies. And even Veggie Tales, one of the greatest Bible-based shows for kids, has magic in some of its stories. Each person must understand what their limits are and spend time in prayer about what they are watching. Sometimes you might get a strong conviction that something is wrong, and might not even understand why. For example: I used to love to read the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. But when I tried to reread the series when I was about 14, I suddenly found myself uncomfortable with what I was reading in terms of magic. I had really grown in my walk with God, and realized that I was experiencing a “conviction” that what I was reading was not right for me to read. So I stopped reading. Whenever I watch a show that has magic in it, I will watch the first few episodes, then reflect on what I have watched to determine: “Is this something God would be ok with me watching? Is this influencing me in a bad way?” In fact, I do that with any TV show, book, or movie.

Saying that you can’t watch something because it has magic in it is like saying that you can’t watch something because it has violence in it. Pretty much EVERYTHING has violence to some degree, it is how much violence there is, and how it is portrayed, that makes the difference. We have to learn to be discerning about what we are watching.

If you are looking for some shows to try out, I do recommend Once Upon a Time and Merlin (the latter was canceled in 2012). There are some content issues outside of magic, and I recommend you check out my review of Merlin ( and my weekly reviews of Once Upon a Time, which only started with the 4th season. Stay nerdy everyone!


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