Why Magick is Forbidden
According to Exodus 22:18, we are not to permit a practitioner of witchcraft to live. This verse causes some well deserved tension from the community of pagan sorceresses. Many pagans have the chapter and verse memorized, and I’ve seen websites throw it out there as an example of the Bible’s intolerance toward unbelievers.
I’m not here to advocate the death penalty for witches. Instead, I’m here to remind everyone that what was written in former days exists only for our instruction (Rom 15:4), and that we are not to take the penalties outlined in the Bible on ourselves to enforce (cf. Rom 12:19). Instead, I want to use that verse as we are meant to now, for instruction, and expound on why I think that magick is a sin.
Let’s take a look at a spell:
I adjure you, Evangelos, by Anubis and Hermes and all the rest down below, attract and bind / Sarapis whom Helen bore, to this Herais, whom Thermoutharin bore, now, now; quickly, quickly. By her soul and heart / attract Sarapis herself. . . . (Love spell to help a woman attract another woman, from Hans Dieter Betz, ed., The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation. Univ. of Chicago Press, 1986, 266.)
Let’s set aside the issue that this is from one woman to another woman. I don’t want this to turn into a gay/lesbian debate. We’ll focus on the magick itself and why that is offensive to God. First of all, the idea of a magic spell is to accomplish some end by appeal to a supernatural entity. The desired time frame for the effect is now. This creates two offenses to God: appealing to another deity (Ex 20:3; Deut 5:7) and seeking your own will above his (Lk 22:42).
Spells often contain exhortations to pagan deities or other spirits. This is in direct violation of Exodus 22:20 and 20:4-6, which forbid invoking any deities but Yahweh. At first, the Bible seems to put the stamp of approval on the existence of other deities, but making it clear that God only is to be worshiped. However, the book of Isaiah tells us in at least two places, 43:10 and 44:6, that there are no other deities in existence. God is the first and the last. That means that these appeals to other deities actually go to thin air.
What if a sorceress invokes the name of God in her magick? Is she in the right? I say no for a few reasons. First, God has made it clear that prayer is the vehicle by which to contact him. If the preferred method of contact was magick, God would have made that clear in his word. Instead, he has made sorcery and necromancy clear violations of moral law. Second, true prayer seeks the will of God above the will of the seeker, as Jesus prayed in Luke 22:42. If Jesus, the Son, prayed for the will of the Father, how much more should we, servants of the Son, pray for the will of the Father? Third, spells often contain phrases like “now, now; quickly, quickly.” The obvious aim of the spell is to accomplish something right now. Prayer, on the other hand, seeks to accomplish God’s will in his time, which often means having to wait for the desired effect until God is ready to grant it. It may be months or years before a prayer’s effect manifests, and even then it may not be exactly what you want. Like my second point, prayer seeks God’s will and not the will of the seeker.
God wouldn’t want us to put a sorceress to death anymore; as I’ve outlined above. So what are we to do? Preach the gospel and pray for her. God will work it all out (Rom 8:28).