Firstly, if your parents have said that you cannot read/watch a particular movie/book or any particular series, you do have to respect that rule no matter what anyone else says—even us! Ephesians 6:1 says to "obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." That's pretty self-explanatory. ☺
Of course things like Harry Potter, Twilight, The Golden Compass, Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia did not exist during the time the Bible was written. (Yes, we did just throw Twilight in with LOTR—have mercy, please. ☺) But since the Bible is our guide to Life, the Universe, and Everything Else, we can still take the principles we learn there and apply them to this part of our lives too.
If you haven't seen our article "What movies or books are okay for Christians?", go check it out. We've laid out those general principles for making choices about movies, books, video games, and other entertainment. When you get back, then we can address the specific topic of magic and fantasy media.
All done? No? Seriously, you should go read this. Allrighty...moving on.
Harry Potter is full of your usual magical stuff. Witchcraft and wizardry form the main backdrop for the story as characters cast spells, read tea leaves, gaze into crystal balls, and fly on brooms. Both the "good" guys and the "bad" guys perform magic acts. Though there are no real spiritual elements, we also won't find a higher power of any kind.
The Bible definitely condemns all kinds of witchcraft, sorcery and spiritism (Deuteronomy 18:10-11), but that is a rule for real life—not necessarily in entertainment like books, movies, plays, etc. Still, the things we watch/read can have a pretty powerful effect on us, can't it? Movies and books can make us laugh, cry, or even believe in things we normally wouldn't.
Harry Potter books and movies also don't have a very morally-positive worldview. The lines between good and bad are often hazy. For example, in the books, Harry, who is supposed to be a good guy, is one of the biggest liars I have ever seen, and most of the time, it turned out that lying was the best choice in that situation. Not exactly a good role model for life.
Still, that doesn't mean that there is nothing positive to say about Harry Potter. Friendship, courage, loyalty, justice, and self-sacrifice are all themes that get explored through the stories. In fact, Harry's own mother died trying to save him. (Spoiler: That's how he got his famous lightning bolt scar.) Also, as bleak as things get for our heroes, good always wins over evil in the end. Harry faces his darkest fears and learns to be courageous and selfless. These are definitely godly traits (John 15:13)!
We could go through every popular fantasy movie and give you a breakdown of the pros and cons, but what it really comes down to is this question: Are you personally able to distinguish between reality and fantasy, right and wrong, or good and evil? Would exposure to stories that involve magic or the supernatural leave you confused about God's views about the occult and/or demons or enchant you enough that you become desensitized to occult lifestyles?
If you're not sure, then it might be good to skip magical or supernatural books and movies—at least until your faith is stronger. If you are firmly grounded in your belief in God and you know how He feels about the themes in fantasy books or movies, then it is possible that you could read/watch movies like Harry Potter as mere entertainment and still know in confidence that it will not influence your faith in God.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I would definitely urge you to never judge a book or movie at first glance or based on others' popular opinions. If you have a firm grasp on your faith, then it is always good to make an informed decision about your own about media choices. Check it out for yourself, covering the experience in prayer, then formulate your own opinions before jumping on the love or hate bandwagon. —Cat
Image Courtesy Bad Wolf Costumes
Instead of going through every popular fantasy and break down the pros and cons, just ask yourself this: Can I tell the difference between reality and fantasy, right and wrong, good and evil? If exposure to this stuff leaves you confused, better skip it. If your faith is firmly rooted in God's truth, then all fantasy will be for you is mere entertainment.
Cat is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and regularly teaches local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, three socially awkward cats, and one curly-tailed dog.