By Anelese Holt, AFA public relations
August 2008 – The ringing phone jars him from his thoughts. He answers. A timid, frightened voice whispers, “Um, I need help. I’m worried about the safety of my family. I know this sounds crazy, but things are happening in our home, weird things.”
She’s just walking along minding her own business when her hand brushes a car and she suddenly sees a graphic vision in great detail. It’s horrible. She is witnessing a murder, and she doesn’t know if it is about to happen or perhaps has already happened.
Scenes like these are more and more commonplace on television today. But the supernatural events unfolding on television don’t stop with ghost busters or mediums and psychics. Witches, vampires, demons and immortals are main players in many television series spawned by today’s pop culture. Sadly, these shows are increasing in popularity.
Dr. Ron Rhodes, Biblical apologist and author of The Truth behind Ghosts, Mediums and Psychic Phenomena, told AFA Journal in a recent interview that there has been a virtual explosion of television shows and movies with supernatural themes over the past few years.
Conforming to the world
Christian parents are understandably concerned with this trend because television is often a child’s first introduction into the world of the occult. Rhodes said those introductions happen even in the most benign “family-friendly” shows. By having a character nonchalantly say something like, “Well, my astrologer said I should be careful today,” Hollywood introduces the occult right into our living rooms.
And most Christians may not realize the danger because they don’t realize what the Word of God has to say about such things. Deuteronomy 18:10-13 states, “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. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord. …”
Reflecting the same principle into the New Testament, Paul wrote in Romans 1:32, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
Donald C. Stamps writes in study notes in The Full Life Study Bible:
Today we know what great harm is produced by the portrayal of immorality that dominates the entertainment media; yet many approve of it and derive pleasure from it. Being entertained by watching other people sin and engage in ungodly actions, even while you yourself abstain, brings you under the same divine condemnation as those engaging in such evil practices. Sin is intensified in any society wherever it meets with no inhibition from the disapproval of others.
Those (and especially those who profess faith in Christ) who use the immoral actions of others for entertainment and enjoyment are directly contributing to public opinion favorable to immorality and therefore to the corruption and eternal damnation of an indefinite number of other people.
Rhodes suggested that supernatural themes on television have popularized such things as seances and Ouija board activities at teen parties. He said even well-known psychic James Van Praagh has warned against using the Ouija board because psychics themselves say that’s where people encounter the worst kind of spirits.
Even teens raised in Christian homes are likely to go along with Ouija boards, seances and other occult “games” when peer pressure is great. “So parents need to keep those lines of communication open with their teens,” Rhodes said. “Spend time with them, quality time. I’m not talking about watching TV together; I’m talking about eyeball to eyeball, and it needs to be a regular thing. It’s only then that you can notice any type of changes that they might be going through.”
Research indicates that a number of shows are aimed at teenagers, e.g., Charmed (syndicated on TNT) and Supernatural (CW network). “These shows often feature Wicca and witchcraft,” Rhodes said, “and even though that’s a little bit different than psychic phenomena, it still involves occultism and is very dangerous. Parents beware, spiritism (also known as ghost phenomena) and Wicca are the two fastest growing religions among our teenagers today.”
Rhodes’ research indicates that teens who get involved in the occult typically manifest one or more potentially dangerous symptoms. These teens are typically more self-destructive, more depressed and discouraged, and more suicidal. He noted that growing up is tough enough already, so parents should help teens avoid mixing in the negativism of the occult and supernatural.
“I don’t want parents to think that if their children should somehow slip into occultism, they are going to commit suicide,” Rhodes said. “But there is a higher population of people who commit suicide in the occult world than in the general population.”
If parents suspect or discover that a child is involved in the occult, the very first thing they should do (if the child is not in imminent danger) is to educate themselves about what their child is learning. Only then can they sit down and have an intelligent, loving conversation with their child. It may be helpful or necessary to consult professional help, a pastor or a counselor.
When the Bible asks Christians to “die to self” every day, what does that mean? Some Christians may say they’re willing to give up their lives for Christ, yet are unwilling to give up a favorite television show. Have you ever gotten angry because someone interrupted your favorite show? Have you ever skipped church to watch a televised sporting event?
In his article “Like to Watch,” Joshua Harris wrote, “Because the popular media so often speak to us through our emotions, we must grow in discernment. Otherwise, when violence comes disguised as justice, when lust masquerades as romance, or when greed and selfishness pose as success, we’re likely to be deceived.” (www.boundless.org)
To be salt and light – to their teens and to our culture – Christians should try to understand why today’s culture is so hungry for the supernatural. Rhodes suggested two main reasons:
People today are burned out on traditional religion, the kind of religion where you go one day a week to a stuffy building and sing old-fashioned songs and hear some guy get up behind a lectern and deliver what they consider a 45-minute, boring sermon. Many people have this idea of church being stale, outdated and irrelevant.
The contrast is that religious spiritism involves something that’s not just one day a week but something that is present every day of the week. In their viewpoint, every person has the ability to bridge that chasm between the living and the dead. As Christians, we know that this is not true, but that is what religious spiritism is teaching. And since we’re witnessing the aging of America, there are a lot more people interested in mortality and what lies beyond death’s door. Because of that fact, people are much more interested in the ideas which teach that, no matter what religion you subscribe to, all people cross over to the other side and all people are welcome. People don’t want any fear of judgment, they don’t want to believe that anyone goes to hell. In fact, [in their world] hell doesn’t exist. This is a much more palatable religious viewpoint for many people.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, Paul wrote, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” It stands to reason then, that Christian parents should monitor television in the home and insist on shows that are good and wholesome, shows that don’t go against the Word of God. They should begin teaching children Biblical truth when they’re still toddlers, and they should not compromise just because the child thinks something is fun or enjoyable.
Unlike television shows and undiscerning teens, Christians should be less concerned with the popular and the palatable, and more concerned with the truth.
For More Information
▶ www.ronrhodes.org – Ron Rhodes, Reasoning From the Scriptures, an apologetics ministry
▶ www.johnankerberg.org – Books concerning subjects related to psychic phenomena
▶ www.christiananswersforthenewage.org – Former witch and astrologer who converted to Christian faith
▶ www.parentstv.org – Parents Television Council
▶ www.boundless.org and www.pluggedinonline.com – Focus on the Family sites
▶ www.afa.net – AFA’s Web sites
Current shows with frequent occult content
Reaper – This show deals with a bounty hunter for the devil (not picked up for the new season, but will probably run in syndication).
Supernatural – Two brothers battle demons and spirits.
Smallville – It has the supernatural elements of superpowers and villains with extraordinary resources.
Medium – A strong-willed, devoted young wife and mother has the ability to talk to dead people, see the future in her dreams and read people’s thoughts.
Fear Itself – This new suspense and horror series is set to push the boundaries.
Pushing Daisies – When Ned touches something that is dead (plants, fruits, people) it comes back to life.
Eli Stone – Stone is a cutthroat lawyer whose visions and prophetic abilities cause him to change his outlook on life.
Popular shows still in syndication:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Compiled with the help of Parents Television Council (www.parentstv.org)