My child reads Harry Potter. And I don’t think that’s wrong.

UPDATE:

Becky joined TheCourage as part of the weekly roundup on Facebook. Watch her explain her position below:

Harry Potter? Friday roundup 7/21

Is Harry Potter OK? We talk with the author of one of our most popular pieces of the week.

Posted by TheCourage on Friday, July 21, 2017

Original article below.

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I’ve been keeping a secret. But it’s time I come clean. Are you ready for this?

I let my daughter read Harry Potter.

Whew! There, I said it! I feel so much better now. It’s been a heavy burden to hide, know what I mean? So I might as well let it all out now and confess my 10-year-old doesn’t just read the books. She watches the movies, too. What?? Yep. It’s true. And so do I. Heaven help!! I even hosted a little Harry Potter theme party at our house for a small group of fifth grade enthusiasts a few weeks ago—all of them fellow students at our conservative Christian school—gasp!! For real.

Now some of you are thinking—so what? Big deal. My kids read Harry Potter, too. (And I thank you for your grace.)

But some of you, well, I’m aware you disapprove. Let’s just say I’ve heard opinions on this subject, which is why I’ve chosen to stay quiet up ‘til now. I’m picturing a few of you preparing to tie me to a stake, and that’s okay. That’s your conviction.

But it’s not mine.

In our house, Harry Potter opens wonderful discussions about good vs. evil, what’s fiction and what’s truth. The books engage my daughter’s imagination and feed her voracious appetite for reading (which also devours plenty of Christian and classic novels, too). The protagonists are smart kids portrayed as problem solvers and heroes, yet with realistic and endearing flaws. They navigate the rocky terrain of friendships, family relationships and academic demands, learning valuable life lessons from their mistakes and their victories. And they stand up for what’s right, overcoming tremendous adversity in the form of bullies, demons, deceivers and fears. Tell me that’s not preparation for real life.

Maybe you don’t agree. And that’s OK. But that doesn’t mean we have to be enemies.

See, I’m discovering a big problem in Christian parenting circles these days, and it goes way beyond what books our kids read. We judge each other for the clothes we allow our kids to wear, the schools we send them to, the food we let them eat, the activities we permit them to participate in, the disciplinary measures we use and the holiday traditions we observe. As if parents are more or less holy depending on where they land on these subjects.

Sugar or no sugar?

Santa or no Santa?

Spanking or no spanking?

Sleepovers or no sleepovers?

Yoga pants or no yoga pants?

Public school or private school?

Private school or home school?

Organic lunch or—heaven help us all—Lunchables? (Yes, I totally broke down last school year and bought the Lunchables more than a few times. Shoot me now.)

I have guidelines for each of these questions, based on good reasons that my husband and I have discussed, prayed about and thought through a great deal. I’d imagine you have guidelines for your family, too. And chances are some of them are different from mine.

Here’s the thing.

Different does not always mean wrong.

Truly I’m as guilty as anyone. Just last week at the swimming pool I saw a mom and daughter from our church, both wearing bikinis. I was ready to write them off as imposters—because in my book, true Christians don’t let their kids show midriff, right? Then, I sat down and had a genuine conversation with this woman and discovered she has a tremendous heart for Jesus.

Ugh. Who’s the imposter now?

Honestly, the reason I have yet to broadcast my “yes” to Harry Potter until now is not because I’m ashamed, but because minor topics like this have a way of creating divisions over something that is not really the issue.

Do I believe in Christ? Yes. Do I share Him with my kids? Yes. Do I aim to live and teach by example, demonstrating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control on a daily basis? Yes.

Does God pick me up when I fail miserably? Yes. Praise the Lord. And ultimately I’m trusting Him to shape, protect and redeem my children in spite of my inevitable faults and blind spots.

Those are the issues that matter most. They’re the biblical convictions we all share, those of us who are in Christ. How we apply those biblical convictions may vary from family to family. That’s called personal conviction. And there’s a lot of room for variation within the parameters of godly living.

“ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 2:37–40)

The bottom line is this. When we criticize other Christian parents—our “neighbors”—for their personal convictions, implying they are lesser Christians for not following the same standards we set for our own families, are we indeed loving them as God commands?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about the hot topic of “tolerance” for anything the Bible clearly states is evil. We are to hold our Christian friends accountable to biblical truths, in love.

But I don’t think the ice cream I fed my children for breakfast qualifies as sin. Nor, for my family, is a children’s fiction book about wizards and dragons. You can disagree, and I respect that. I won’t try to convince you to make the same decisions I make because my decisions wouldn’t be right for you. I’m just asking you to respect my decisions, too.

Because ultimately, as Christian parents we all have the same goal: to raise the next generation of on-fire-for-Jesus believers and equip them to share Him with the world. So, let’s stick together instead of tearing each other apart—for the sake of God’s kingdom.

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 19:22–23).

Now read this: One phrase that will prepare your children for the challenges of life

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