By Douglas W. Phillips
"As well as being extraordinarily popular, the [Harry Potter] books have encouraged millions of children to start reading for the first time.... For those who have a problem with the idea of fantasy and alternative universes alongside ours, we need to recognize that almost all children play imaginative games in their minds starting at a very young age and have no difficulty whatsoever in distinguishing between fantasy and reality.... Additionally, the Harry Potter books send a strong message about moral order. There are beautiful and enjoyable human relationships among the characters, and there is a depth of commitment and service among them.... Finally, I see the books as valuable because they consistently include the three fundamental themes that can be found as a subtext in almost all good literature: the beauty of creation, the appalling reality of evil, and the universal human longing for redemption.... J.K. Rowling does not profess to be a Christian, as far as I am aware, but she has insight into the themes that are at the very heart of what Christians understand to be true about the nature of the universe in which we live.... All truth is God’s truth, and non-Christians recognize that truth to one degree or another.... It is said that because magic is a part of the ... books, they may have the effect of interesting children in the reality of the Occult.... The magic is simply a part of the imaginative worlds.... Some people have gone on record as stating that they believe that J.K. Rowling is purposely and explicitly teaching Occult and even Satanic practice. As a Christian, I have to say I am profoundly ashamed of those who have responded with this kind of malicious gossip. We must recognize that whenever she talks about evil magic she presents it as evil.”(Jerram Barr, Professor of Christianity and Contemporary Culture and Resident Scholar at The Francis Schaeffer Institute)
This morning, the publishing industry surprised the world by releasing a new, unexpected companion volume to last week’s sixth installment of J.K. Rowling’s hugely successful Harry Potter series. As word of the new release spread like wildfire, crowds of frenzied children and teenagers began thronging at the doors of hundreds of local bookstores in the United States and U.K., hoping to be among the first to receive their own copy of a book bearing the title: Harry Potter and the Lavender Brigade.
Harry Potter and the Lavender Brigade continues to perpetuate all the sorceries, incantations, and spells which have delighted children around the world. But this installment of Harry Potter introduces a new theme — homosexuality. In Harry Potter and the Lavender Brigade, we discover that the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is expanding its curriculum base to provide mandatory training in homosexuality for all of its recruits. Harry discovered in Book One that he was born with witchcraft in his blood. Now, recent discoveries show that the same students born with the gift of magic also possess a genetic predisposition toward homosexuality. With this in mind, the goal of Hogwarts is to teach its students the proper and moral way to be homosexual witches. Students must learn about safety, monogamy, and even social etiquette. But the race is on. A second witch training academy run by evil witches has also discovered their own homosexual predispositions. Unlike Hogwarts, they intend to use their homosexuality for evil. They teach their students evils like sexual promiscuity. They openly encourage pedophilia. It is the mission of Harry and his intrepid gang of sodomite warlocks and lesbian witches (dubbed “The Lavender Brigade”) to once again stop the menace of bad witches.
No Cause for Concern
Perhaps some Christians have concerns about children’s literature in which homosexuality is both a defining characteristic of the protagonists and a thematic element which runs from beginning to the end of the novel.
Relax. Don’t be so uptight. Don’t worry, Christian parents. Harry Potter is not the real world! It is an imaginary world. Children know the difference between the two. They are not going to start dressing up like their heroes or pretending to do the same things their heroes do in the stories. After all, it is just a pretend story. Thoughtful Christian critics will recognize that the author has created an alternative reality with a completely different set of rules. Sodomy may be wrong in the real world, but it is not wrong in Harry Potter’s reality, and it would be sophomoric to think that, just because the book is one long story about the glories of good homosexuality in the world of Harry Potter, that it desensitizes children to the problems with homosexuality in the real world. We should be ashamed of any Christians who would claim the author is promoting perversion. She makes strong distinctions between good homosexuality and bad homosexuality. Bad homosexuality is always presented as really bad.
And here is the clincher: Harry Potter and the Lavender Brigade is a brilliant, well-written adventure that includes all the great themes of classic literature — the creation of an alternative reality where different rules apply, a carefully-executed plot, and clear elements of good versus evil. The story presents the beauty of creation and the appalling reality of evil. (Keep in mind that all truth is God’s truth.) There is even a strong redemption theme in the story as the leader of the pro-pedophilia group realizes the wrongness of his ways and joins the good sodomites of Hogwarts. In the end, good sodomites triumph over bad sodomites and order is restored to the alternative universe.
Okay, so there is no Harry Potter and the Lavender Brigade. I made it up.
What I have not made up is the fact that Pottermania has engulfed the youth of a generation, setting an unprecedented frenzy of sales of the recent installment, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Within the first twenty-four hours of its release, nearly seven million copies were sold in the United States alone. Assuming a 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. sales schedule, that means they averaged nearly 600,000 copies an hour.
Also not made up is the fact that there are growing numbers of intelligent, reasonable, Christian teachers and scholars — some are friends whom I dearly love and respect — who are on record as giving their blessing to Harry Potter and supporting the inclusion of Harry Potter books as a healthy, positive part of the literary diet of Christian children. I disagree with them for many reasons, but it is the limited purpose of this article to focus in on and address what I see as their root argument.
My question is: If we may bend God’s moral laws in fantasy realities, then why is “Harry the Hero-Witch” okay for our children, but “Harry the Hero-Homosexual” not? Both witchcraft and perversion are deemed “works of the flesh” and “abominations” in Scripture. Both are immoral acts for which the practitioner stands condemned. Why would one be cute, fun, appealing, and — most importantly — legitimate in a fantasy reality, and the other unacceptable?
The character of God is challenged when we posit alternative realities which redefine the moral law order of God to allow men to delight in that which would be deemed wickedness in the real world. Creating worlds of good witchcraft versus bad witchcraft is a prime example of the problem. No such world can exist — anywhere — not even in our own imagination, without redefining the nature and attributes of God Himself. The essence of witchcraft and the desire to employ the tools of witchcraft are an assault on the Lordship and sovereignty of God. By virtue of the fact that Harry and his friends are “good guys” in pursuit of the very powers reserved to God Himself in the real world, the god of Harry Potter’s universe is, ispo facto, a different god than the God of our universe.
And no one need ask, “What Would Jesus Do?” in the real world to Harry and his friends, because the Bible answers the question with deafening specificity:
"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)
Doug Phillips is the president of Vision Forum Ministries, the founder of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, and a faculty member of the Christian Filmmakers Academy, dedicated to bringing a presuppositionally biblical approach to film and culture.