Monday, February 28, 2011

Young People Ask . . . Dabbling in the Occult —What's the Harm?

Young People Ask . . .

Dabbling in the Occult
—What's the Harm?

ARE teenagers really interested in the occult? A group of researchers sought to find out by surveying students in 115 middle and secondary schools. The survey yielded these revealing statistics: Over half of those surveyed (54 percent) said that they are interested in the occult and the supernatural, while a quarter (26 percent) said that they are "very interested."

Researchers for the University of Alaska at Anchorage write: "Newspaper and magazine stories about the supposed explosion of satanic cult activity . . . have proliferated in recent years." Experts say that there is little hard evidence to support claims of widespread Satanism among youths. Even so, there is no question that many young ones are interested in aspects of Satanism and the occult, even if such interest is only casual.

'What's the harm in dabbling in the occult?' some youths might therefore ask. In answer, let's look at some of the ways youths get involved in the occult in the first place.

The Lure of the Occult

An article in U.S.News & World Report observes that "children and teenagers today have access and exposure to a bewildering—often disturbing—array of imagery and information that would have been unimaginable even 20 years ago." Curiosity drives many youths to read books and magazines, watch videos, or surf Web sites on the Internet that feature occult material.

According to BBC News Online, popular TV programs that feature witchcraft and vampirism "encourage an interest in witchcraft among children, it is claimed." Some heavy-metal music likewise features violent or demonic themes. Columnist Tom Harpur wrote in the Toronto newspaper The Sunday Star: "I must issue the strongest possible warning about what is happening [in music]. . . . I have never seen anything so depraved. The songs are obsessed with madness, possession, demons, blood, curses, violence of every kind, including rape, self-mutilation, murder, and suicide. Death and destruction, prophecies of doom, the denial of all that is good and the embracing of all that is hideous and evil—these are the themes."

Does listening to such music really contribute to destructive behavior? It evidently did so in at least one case—that of a 14-year-old youth in the United States who stabbed his mother to death and then killed himself. The walls of his room were covered with posters of heavy-metal rock musicians. His father pleaded afterward: "Tell parents to watch what music their children listen to." He said that the week before his son killed his mother, he kept singing a rock song "about blood and killing your mother."

Then there are role-playing games, some of which allow participants to take on the role of sorcerers and other occult figures. Many of these games feature demonistic violence.*

Get rid of all objects
related to satanic worship

Nevertheless, the research organization Mediascope reports: "Studies show that the preference for heavy metal music may be a significant indicator for alienation, substance abuse, psychiatric disorders, suicide risks . . . or risk-taking behaviors during adolescence, but music is not the cause of these behaviors. It is hypothesized that teenagers already struggling with those issues may be attracted to heavy metal music, because the lyrics express their own troubled feelings."

Researchers may not all agree on the dangers of listening to satanic music. But could a diet of videos, music, or games that highlight violence or self-destruction be anything but poisonous? For Christians, however, dabbling in the occult presents an even greater danger.

God's View of the Occult

At 1 Corinthians 10:20, the apostle Paul warned Christians: "I do not want you to become sharers with the demons." Just who are the demons, and why is it so dangerous to get involved with them? Simply put, the demons are former angels, who have chosen to follow Satan the Devil. Satan means "Resister" and Devil means "Slanderer." According to the Bible, this former angelic son of God made himself a resister and a slanderer by choosing to rebel against God. In time, he enticed other angels to join him in his rebellious course. These allies thus became demons.—Genesis 3:1-15; 6:1-4; Jude 6.

Jesus called Satan "the ruler of this world." (John 12:31) Satan and his demons have "great anger" over their impending destruction. (Revelation 12:9-12) Not surprisingly, those who have become involved with the demons have found them to be vicious. One woman in Suriname who grew up in a family that practiced spiritism saw firsthand how the demons "enjoy torturing their unwilling victims."# Getting involved with these cruel spirit creatures in any way is thus extremely dangerous!

Beware of Web sites that
promote spiritism

For this reason, God commanded his ancient people, the Israelites, to avoid all occult practices. "Everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah," warns Deuteronomy 18:10-12. Christians were likewise warned that "those practicing spiritism" would meet destruction at God's hand. (Revelation 21:8) Even dabbling in the occult is condemned by God. "Quit touching the unclean thing," commands the Bible.—2 Corinthians 6:17.

Breaking Free From Occult Practices

Have you made the mistake of dabbling in the occult? Then consider what happened in the first-century city of Ephesus. Many there "practiced magical arts." But some were moved by the powerful works the apostle Paul performed with the aid of holy spirit. The results? "Quite a number of those who practiced magical arts brought their books together and burned them up before everybody. And they calculated together the prices of them and found them worth fifty thousand pieces of silver. Thus in a mighty way the word of Jehovah kept growing and prevailing."—Acts 19:11-20.

What does this tell us? That if a person wants to escape the clutches of the demons, he or she must destroy all paraphernalia related to satanic worship! This includes all books, magazines, posters, comic books, videos, amulets (items worn for "protection"), and demonistic material downloaded from the Internet. (Deuteronomy 7:25, 26) Discard any paraphernalia that might be used in divination, such as crystal balls or Ouija boards. Also, get rid of music or videos that feature satanic themes.

It takes courage and determination to take such bold steps. But the benefits can be great. One Christian woman named Jean% purchased a computer game that seemed harmless at first. As she worked her way through the game's levels, she discovered aspects of the game that had spiritistic overtones. Before long she began having violent nightmares! "I got up in the middle of the night," says Jean, "and destroyed the game CDs." The result? "I haven't had any trouble since."

If you demonstrate real determination to break free, you will succeed. Recall the determination that Jesus showed when the Devil tried to lure Jesus into worshiping him. "Jesus said to him: 'Go away, Satan! For it is written, "It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service."' Then the Devil left him."—Matthew 4:8-11.

Do Not Fight Alone

The apostle Paul reminds us that all Christians "have a wrestling . . . against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12) But do not try to fight Satan and his demons alone. Get help from your God-fearing parents and the elders in the local Christian congregation. It may be embarrassing to confess your involvement, but it can result in your receiving much-needed support.—James 5:14, 15.

Remember, too, that the Bible says: "Oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you." (James 4:7, 8) Yes, you have the support of Jehovah God! He will help you to break free from the snare of the occult.

* See the article "Young People Ask . . . Is There Any Danger in Role-Playing Games?," in the August 22, 1999, issue of Awake!

# See the article "Shaking Off the Yoke of Spiritism" in the September 1, 1987, issue of our companion magazine, The Watchtower, published by Jehovah's Witnesses.

% Name has been changed.

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