My husband Shane and I were having a discussion about the spiritual realm a few days ago. I am going to share our discussion as well as some outside insight from a few of my Christian friends.
First, I think that I should mention that this post is coming from a Christian perspective and the intention is not for people to debate religions. I am well aware that other religions have a ton of beliefs (either similar or completely different) regarding the spiritual realm.
Second, each of these friends come from different denominational and church backgrounds. This post is not to debate which denomination is better or more accurate than the other. I personally believe that Christians disagree about the spiritual realm mainly because of lack of understanding. How could we possibly fully understand something like that?
Third, Because I have been apart of several different church denominations throughout my life; I know that some Christians put a lot of effort into dealing with the spiritual realm and others not so much. That being said; I think that the majority of Christians would agree that there is an unseen spiritual battle around us. I DO NOT believe that Christians can be demon possessed. I DO believe that Christians can be oppressed and mislead by demons.
The following is what I e-mailed my friends:
Earlier this month; Shane and the girls went to visit castle ruins and came across an abandoned building nearby. They took a couple of pictures. Shane said that they walked up to the edge of it to see what it was and he felt a chill go down his spine and got an eery feeling. He picked up the girls and walked away. He said that the further away he got the better he felt.
He asked our babysitter about it to see if she knew what it was (I think she has been on island for about 7 years). She said that it is the famous haunted hotel of Okinawa. She proceeded to tell us that she and her friends walked through it at night when she was in high school. She told us that they saw “something” hiding and moving under a set of stairs. They thought that it was one of the friends who was with them but then realized that it wasn’t. It really scared them. She is a Christian but I don’t know her views on the spiritual realm.
The story is that during the war this was a location for mass graves. It is believed that the spirits of the dead are not at rest because of improper burial. A business man did not listen to warnings and started building the massive hotel. Some of the workers abandoned the project when they heard the warnings. Others abandoned it after there were several unusual construction accidents which caused deaths and injuries. The business man who started the project went insane after the project was abandoned. See here for more pictures of the hotel (including inside it).
Anyway, Shane said that he was really curious about it now that he knew what it was. My opinion is that when people consider something “haunted” that it gives demons permission to be there. I think that if Shane felt uneasy/eery about it (especially before he knew what it was) that it was probably a warning. I also think when someone knowingly goes somewhere that has demonic presence that they are opening themselves up for oppression and attack. Even though we are covered by the Holy Spirit; we should not go looking for a spiritual battle unless it is something God specifically says to do. Shane agreed with me.
Then we started talking about other things. Shane has toured Buddhist temples when he was in Thailand and mainland Japan. He said that he feels that is okay because of the history and architecture behind them. I have a problem with this because I feel that there would be demonic presence there too. I would not have a statue of Buddha in my house for decoration even if I did not worship it or believe in it.
Then Shane asked if I would tour the Egyptian ruins & pyramids. I said that I didn’t have a problem with that and my reasoning is because of the history and architecture. Obviously, I have not really thought this through because the Egyptian temples and pyramids were used for a pagan/false religions which means there was probably demonic presence behind the Egyptian gods.” [Pyramids: image found here.]
So then I was trying to figure out why I am okay with going some places and not others. Shouldn’t my convictions be the same across the board? I think that I have a good sense of discernment when it comes to this type of thing. There have been times where I have gone places and I believe I felt demonic presence. I can’t really explain it other than I felt like I was in the presence of evil and felt oppressed. I don’t think that I am someone who “sees a demon in everything.” But I can’t figure out my logic behind all this.
On a side note, last week we decided to get rid of several of our Disney movies that had witchcraft, questionable, & scary stuff in them (like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog, etc.). We still kept ones like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast where all of the magic is pretend and can’t actually happen in real life (pumpkin coach, talking dishes, etc.). [We just made the decision that we didn’t want to expose the girls to the scary images along with the evil things portrayed in those movies. Kendal does get scared easily and sometimes has nightmares. I don’t have a problem with me watching them because I can discern what is good/evil etc. We don’t think that they are old enough to discern for themselves so we are doing it for them. We are perfectly fine with them liking the Princesses themselves. We just decided that there are other ways to let them play with, see, etc. the princesses without them watching the movies. See my review of The Princess and the Frog here.]
Do you have any thoughts?
The following are the responses from my friends:
Mr. V. says: “I agree with you on the hotel. Once you know that it is being “haunted” and go there to more or less challenge the “spirit” or find out about them you are opening yourself to problems. If you are going to a historical site to see the architecture to see what it looks like is different motivation. Lets face it; the world as we know it is under the limited authority of Satan. Christians alone may resist him, to do that we must resist interest or accomodation with him. 1 Corinthians 10, has good advice, we have freedom but we are wise not to exercise it in some cases. I also think it is wise to avoid having certain items in your house, especially if you are bothered by them. The mere fact that you are bothered creates emotional problems that you do not need. When in doubt avoid the temptation.” [Mr. V. is someone that I have considered a grandfather figure and spiritual mentor in my life since I was around age 15.]
Mrs. F. says: “There is a lot to think about from your e-mail. I agree with a lot of what you said, especially about avoiding places where we know for sure that there is a deomonic presence. However, the one thing I’m not sure about is whether every false religion automatically means that it is demonic. I have always felt that the people who worship other gods are just sadly mistaken/misled, but have never linked that with satanic/demonic influence. I do agree that I would not have images of other gods in my home, but I have visited the shrine at Peace Prayer Park [in Okinawa] and took a picture of the largest buddha statue in the world. Again, it was just more for the history behind it – as a memory of our visit.” [Mrs. F. has been one of my closest friends since coming to Okinawa.]
Mr. S. says: “I agree with your analysis, especially this part: “My opinion is that when people consider something “haunted” that it gives demons permission to be there. I think that if Shane felt uneasy/eery about it (especially before he knew what it was) that it was probably a warning. I also think when someone knowingly goes somewhere that has demonic presence that they are opening themselves up for oppression and attack. Even though we are covered by the Holy Spirit; we should not go looking for a spiritual battle unless it is something God specifically says to do. Shane agreed with me.” Good call on the movies and such. That is definitely a matter of conscience. I think I agree on the pictures of Buddha and such but can’t spell out just why. I suppose it is another matter of conscience thing. I just don’t like art that glorifies Satan-inspired religions.” [Mr. S. has been an online blogging friend for the past two months.]
Mr. M. says: “To answer your question, is it possible that a demonic spirit could be attached to a particular object, place, photo? Could something “follow you home” from a pagan site? Yes, of course it’s possible. The question that I suspect needs answering is this: Is it likely? To that question, I would say no. It’s very unlikely. Paul dealt with an almost identical situation with the Corinthian church. In 1 Corinthians 8, he is talking about eating meat which had been sacrificed to idols. Verse 4 says “Concerning the eating of things offered to idols…We know that an idol is nothing in the world, for there is no other God but one.” If there was ever an item to be connected to evil spirits, it would be the offerings to the pagan idols. John called one pagan temple “the temple of Satan.” Yet Paul, who was very concerned with spiritual warfare, makes a blanket statement that eating the meat (and by inference) taking it into one’s home, is fine for Christians. Especially for Christians. If it were normal for demons to attach themselves to articles, I don’t think he would have approved of such a practice wholesale. I think Paul would have at least made a footnote of it. Instead, Paul puts the emphasis entirely on our conscience. Assuming that there is no demonic presence attached, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a pagan article being brought into our home, is there something within us that would still cause us to stumble in our walk? Little Mermaid is a perfect example of this. I believe that it is absolutely incredible (unlikely, unbelievable) that a demon might attach itself to The Little Mermaid, but within the movie lies the potential to scare a child with an image of darkness, which is plenty reason to toss it, if that’s an issue in your home. The problem lies in the viewing, not in some presence that has attached itself to a plastic disc.
Obviously, there is still a chance that a demonic presence is attached to a place or thing. I would say it’s terribly unlikely, but possible, and I would suggest that there would need to be some kind of concrete evidence before I rested too certainly on the idea. We want to be as careful not to let demons rule us with fear, as we are that they not rule us by some kind of direct influence. As far as evidence goes, there is a house in Maryland that was reported to be haunted, and I know for a fact that it was used for decades as an occasional place for devil worship and séances. I knew two girls who, at one point or another, had been into witchcraft and had been demon-possessed. When they went into the house exploring with friends, they began to behave as though they were losing their minds. They started yelling and weeping and kicking. As it turns out, the house was one that they (and others) had visited before, with the intention of contacting a demon, but in order not to scare us, they hadn’t told us that part. Nothing, however, to my knowledge, followed them home… My heart says tread with caution. If you truly feel there are evil spirits at work, play it safe, but play it safe knowing that what you’re experiencing is a rare event.” [Mr. M. has been a good friend since I was around age 18. He and his wife were both in my wedding.]
Mr. Z says: Seems to me demons come where we dwell. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:8-9
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:10-18 [Mr. Z is my uncle.]
Mr. T says: I think that if going somewhere or doing something would lead someone else astray then you shouldn’t. But going somewhere or doing something that demonstrates your freedom to someone in order to peak their interest in grace is another matter. And finally, if you’re curious about something or somewhere and the only reason for not exploring is fear, then you should go in faith and put aside fear. In practice, I’d climb all over that hotel. And I bet the view from the top at night is amazing! [Mr. T is one of Shane’s best friends since coming to Okinawa.]
[The first three pictures were taken by Shane.]