***DISCLAIMER***The following is far from an exhaustive answer to the question. It is simply an answer nonetheless.
Recently, someone asked me how a Christian should view Disneyland and illusionists. Below is the question followed by my response to it.
How should a Christian view a place like Disney Land where they say it is a `magical place`? Also, how should a Christian view `magicians` that are not practicing magic but making illusions? I know the bible is very clear on magic and Pagan practices, but Mickey Mouse and pulling bunnies out of hats seem different. Can you help me with this?
It is true that Disneyland has a reputation of being a “magical place” and even “the happiest place on earth.” That being stated, Disneyland is not something beyond criticism. After all, Scripture calls for believers to examine everything carefully, holding fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). While that verse was in the context of examining prophecy, one would be wise to examine Disneyland and compare its values with Scripture.
As the hyperlink in the first paragraph notes, Disneyland has recently promoted some values that go against what the Bible says. For example, starting in the 1990’s, Disney started promoting homosexual issues. In fact, in 2017, Disney released a live-action rendition of Beauty And The Beast in theaters. At the 22:40 mark of this episode, Wretched.org notes how the movie has an “exclusively gay moment.” Moreover, this moment attempts to paint homosexuality as normative. The Bible is very clear that homosexuality is a sin (Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Moreover, it is a sin (just like the other ones of fornication, idolatry, adultery, covetousness, etc.) that will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God. Thankfully, one can be washed from that sin (1 Corinthians 6:11; see also Matthew 1:21, John 1:29 and 1 Timothy 1:15).
Another thing Disney promotes is non-Christian religious practices. 1995’s Pocahontas blatantly promotes “New Age beliefs and Native American religion.” Other films have “contained tributes to paganism (Fantasia, 1940) and shamanism (The Lion King, 1994).” Moreover, The Lion King featured a positive representation of reincarnation, an unbiblical concept that Scripture clearly refutes (see Hebrews 9:27). Disney-Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur (2015) promoted the unbiblical worldview of evolution. This is ample evidence to show that Disneyland (whether it be its movies, shows, the theme park itself, etc.) is absolutely loaded with worldview. Sadly, some (if not most/all) of Disneyland’s worldview (again, shows, movies, etc.) conflicts with biblical Christianity.
As it pertains to illusionists, as long as they are not involved with the occult, they are likely nothing more than entertainers putting on a show. However, if they are specifically engaged in or tied to “astrology, witchcraft (Wicca), the black arts, fortune telling, magic (both black and white), Ouija boards, Tarot cards, spiritism, parapsychology, and Satanism”, steer clear.
In light of the information given on Disneyland and illusionists, does this mean that it is an absolute abomination to either consume Disneyland (via watching its shows/movies, visiting its theme park, etc.) or be entertained by an illusionist not engaged with the occult? I would not call it an abomination. The apostle Paul has some excellent insight as it pertains to whether or not to engage in one of the aforementioned activities.
Ephesians 5:11-21 (NASB):
11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
In this passage, the apostle Paul gives biblical reasons for exposing dark deeds (verses 11-13). He also tells his audience (the church at Ephesus) to walk wisely, making the most of the time since the days are evil (verses 15-16). In light of this passage and the aforementioned information on Disneyland and illusionists, one may need to ask whether or not it is wise to consume what Disneyland and illusionists offer. After all, Disneyland does promote some dark deeds (i.e., paganism, New Age beliefs, etc.). Furthermore, the occult contains a plethora of dark deeds.
The apostle Paul states in Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (NASB). Everything a Christian does is to glorify God. Paul also said something similar in 1 Corinthians 10:23-31 (NASB):
23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
While both consuming Disneyland and being entertained by non-occultic illusionists are lawful, do they edify? Do they do good to neighbor? Do they glorify God? Doing such a thing on the surface appears to seek after one’s own good more than either edifying the body of Christ or serving a neighbor (after all, it is about entertaining self at this point). While God’s Word does not condemn Disneyland or non-occultic illusionists verbatim in Scripture (for none of the words are found verbatim in Scripture), none of those activities glorify God on their own, especially if abused (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-12 & 20; Romans 13:13-14; Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Peter 4:3).
In short, a Christian should view both Disneyland and illusionists as sources of entertainment that require an exercising of discernment. Disneyland’s non-biblical worldviews/values it promotes should encourage the Christian to both avoid overconsumption of Disneyland as entertainment and reject the aforementioned conflicting worldviews/values it promotes. The Christian should also reject any illusionist affiliated with the occult. By exercising discernment with Disneyland and illusionists, the Christian can avoid having the leaven of those things (specifically the unbiblical worldview/values Disneyland promotes and the overall overconsumption of both Disneyland and illusionists) leaven their lives (Galatians 5:9).
I hope this helps.