A lady in our town prayed twenty years for a pastor to come. Not long after we moved here (it’s my husband’s first pastorate after seminary), she heard of him and joined our church.
My husband happened to mention to her that we own some of the Harry Potter books and movies. I do not believe that by reading well-written FICTION that I am going to start holding séances instead of Bible studies. This woman believes that having it in our house is holding him back spiritually and that blessings are not coming because of it.
She proposed to give us a large amount of money for student loans IF we agreed to several of her terms: get rid of Harry Potter, read a book on spiritual housekeeping, etc. We declined her offer.
This morning she told my husband that she cannot worship under his leadership unless he throws out the Harry Potter books. I feel that she is acting in an un-Christlike manner. I don’t think my husband is a worse Christian or a worse pastor because of a novel that sits on our shelf.
Desperate & Frustrated
I see two separate issues in your letter: the emotional blackmail and the Harry Potter. Let’s deal with the blackmail first.
It is never OK for a church member to hold your husband, his ministry, or your family hostage by using “gifts” of money to gain control over you. You were absolutely right to graciously decline her offer.
I’m sure it hurts when she threatens to leave. But it is her choice. Your husband cannot, and should not, sacrifice his integrity just to make her stay. If he knows he has done everything appropriate to encourage her to stay and she still leaves, then he needs to be at peace that God will sort it out in His time.
Caving to spiritual extortion will open your family and your ministry to all kinds of manipulation in the future. Acts 5:29 is especially applicable here: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (NKJV).
That brings us to the Harry Potter books and movies—and how those fit with your desire to obey God.
Harry Potter, even though it is a novel, portrays witchcraft as being a good, desirable thing when used for good purposes. Each book gets progressively darker, and they tantalizingly familiarize children with sorcery. The books and movies make witchcraft appear nothing more than an innocent hobby.
Both the Old and New Testaments speak strongly against all forms of witchcraft, leaving no room for even fictional enjoyment of it. Deuteronomy 18:10, 11 says, “Let no one be found among you who. .practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead” (NIV).
Galatians talks about witchcraft too, in the same category as immorality, debauchery, fits of rage, and sexual orgies. Paul says, “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galations 5:19-21, NIV). And Acts 19:19 says that people who came to believe in Jesus publicly burned everything they had about witchcraft, including their books and scrolls.
The lady in your church obviously has control issues. But while you may conscientiously reject her manipulation, please prayerfully ask God if He isn’t calling you to throw devilish entertainment away and choose better, safer materials to have in your home.