The houses on our street are festooned with fake cobwebs, carved pumpkins glare from porches, and a witch on her broom seems to have run into a near-by telephone pole. A bowl of candy sits by our front door—ready for Tuesday night’s trick-or-treaters. I’m looking forward to seeing cute little kids in their princess and superhero costumes. But all the other stuff? I don’t mind cobwebs, spiders, bats, or pumpkins (even with leering grins). But witches? Seances? Evil spirits? No thank you!
In the past decade or two, I’ve noticed a radical shift in how Americans, especially young Americans, view the occult. Our beliefs are no longer based on a Biblical worldview. Even someone as culturally clueless as I am can’t help but take note: instead of shunning evil, our culture now embraces it.
According to an article in MarketWatch,
The psychic services industry—which includes astrology, aura reading, mediumship, tarot-card reading and palmistry, among other metaphysical services—grew 2% between 2011 and 2016.
The article continues…
Melissa Jayne, owner of Brooklyn-based “metaphysical boutique” Catland, said she has seen a major uptick in interest in the occult in the past five years, especially among New Yorkers in their 20s. The store offers workshops like “Witchcraft 101,” “Astrology 101,” and a “Spirit Seance.” “Whether it be spell-casting, tarot, astrology, meditation and trance, or herbalism, these traditions offer tangible ways for people to enact change in their lives,” she said.
Take a look at the new acquisitions at your local library. I delight in fantasy novels, with their elves, dragons, and dwarves. I even enjoyed most of the Harry Potter books. But lately it seems as if the genre has been hijacked by the dark side. Vampires feature prominently, as do werewolves and other shape shifters. A growing number depict demons, which are often portrayed sympathetically or as supernaturally sexy. More and more often, evil is portrayed as good, as in these library catalog descriptions [italics mine]:
Sierra Santiago is working on developing her shadowshaping skills. … It seems that when she channeled hundreds of spirits through herself in order to defeat Wick she woke up something very powerful and very unfriendly.
As a criminal profiler, Tara used science and her intuitive skill at Tarot card divination to track down the dangerous and depraved….
… Helping [Sabina] on the mission are her hot mage partner, her Mischief demon minion, and a Vanity demon named Valva. … Sabina seeks out an old ally—a vampire strip club owner….
And why is the library buying books (with my tax dollars) like the Divine Fornication Series?
Or how about TV? In the last 20 years there have been dozens of shows all dealing with the occult. For example, in “Medium,” a typical suburban mom receives visions from the dead, which she uses to solve crimes. “The Secret Circle” is about a teenaged girl who discovers that she, along with five friends, are witches. And “Lost Girl” is about a succubus, defined by Google dictionary as “a female demon believed to have sexual intercourse with sleeping men.” Just lovely.
You can argue that of course we know these are stories, not real life. Shows like “Being Human,” where “a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost try to live together and get along,” may be entertaining. But consider—familiarity (especially humor) eventually breeds acceptance. We no longer view these things as evil. Either we dismiss them as simply products of someone’s imagination, or we give them too much credibility.
Treating the occult as entertainment is extremely misleading. Some shows portray evil as something that can be overcome by mere human ability. Others overcome evil with evil, as in “Charmed,” a TV series in which “[t]hree sisters discover their destiny, to battle against the forces of evil, using their witchcraft.” Battling evil with witchcraft? Didn’t Jesus have something to say about this? (Yes—check out Matthew 12:24-26, Mark 3: 22-26, or Luke 11:17-18.)
And lest you believe that witchcraft and mediums aren’t evil, God has a different opinion, as clearly stated in passages such as Leviticus 19:31, Leviticus 20:6, Deuteronomy 18:10, 2 Kings 21:6, 2 Chronicles 33:6, and Galatians 5:19-21.
Google’s dictionary has a chart that shows how often a word is used each year, from 1800 to the present. I tried looking up a variety of words related to the occult (such as demon, succubus, witch, spiritualist, tarot) and discovered that all of them are increasing in usage. At the same time, the force behind the occult is being trivialized. A 2009 Barna poll found that “Four out of ten [self-described] Christians strongly agreed that Satan ‘is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.’” Have they read their Bibles?
The good news is, with all this exposure, people are more willing to believe that evil exists. On the other hand, evil is being called good. Moreover, as these books and shows attest, we don’t have any idea how powerful Satan is. There is no way we can stand up to the devil on our own (see Acts 19:13-16). It takes God’s power and authority to confront and defeat him.
How should we respond? The next time we pick up a book, turn on the TV, or pick out a movie, we need to remember that Jesus promised His followers that He would be with them always. Is this something you feel comfortable reading/watching with Him?
As Paul wrote, “I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” (Romans 16:19) Or, as he added in Philippians 4:8—
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.