KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–I recently had the opportunity to meet with several youth ministers from Southern Baptist churches here in Missouri. Each impressed me as having a deep commitment to biblical authority and personal passion for Jesus Christ. As we discussed the challenges facing current youth ministers, a concern all shared was the fact that many youth, including youth in evangelical churches, are dabbling in Wicca.
So, what is Wicca? The word “wicca” was an old English word which meant “shaman.” The word was reintroduced into popular usage by Englishman Gerald Gardner (1888-1964), who is widely considered to be the father of the modern religion known as Wicca.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Gardner began publicly advocating a revival of ancient pagan ideals. Gardner claimed to have received much of his belief system from a secret coven of witches which had continued a clandestine existence since pre-Christian times, a claim rejected by scholars today. More likely, Gardner simply combined various non-Christian beliefs he gathered from multiple sources into his own neo-pagan system, not the least of which included ideas from the notorious Aleister Crowley.
Wicca is pantheistic in its worldview. This means that it denies the Creator/creature distinction mandated by the Bible. Thus, at the core of Wicca is a form of nature worship. Gardner himself was a polytheist who advocated two gods: a male “horned god” and a female goddess. The number of devotees to Wicca has increased exponentially in the last two decades. As this has happened, more emphasis has been placed on the goddess of Wicca, especially among neo-pagan feminists who believe worshipping a goddess leads to more freedom for women. Some followers of Wicca self-identify as witches. It is not accurate to say that Wiccans are Satanists, though the religion is certainly unholy.
Two ethical implications of Wicca seem to make the religion particularly appealing to teens. First, Wicca advocates moral autonomy as opposed to accountability to the God of the Bible. Secondly, and following closely on the heels of the first, Wicca celebrates sexual licentiousness. For example, in her book “Philosophy of Wicca,” Wicca devotee Amber Laine Fisher plainly states the implications of goddess worship for sexual ethics:
“Goddess religion and goddess spirituality endeavor to release us from the taboos of sex and sexuality, to untie our hands, freeing us from certain paradigms or ideals that we are taught to accept as ‘normal.’ The general Western public fears homosexuality, fears sadomasochism, fears polyamorous relationships. For whatever reason (and there are many), we as a society have deemed these types of behavior as socially unacceptable or at the very best ‘fringe’ -– and for what reason? Who are we to decide what is normal, what is healthy, what is appropriate for someone else?”
But Fisher misses the point. Trapped in her pantheistic prison, she is unable to acknowledge that God, who has revealed himself in the Bible and through Jesus Christ, defines appropriate sexual boundaries.
Sadly, some Christian teens and adults attempt to combine what they perceive to be the “best” in Wicca with the “best” in Christianity. In so doing, they are making the same mistake which led to Divine judgment in the Old Testament. Repeatedly, Ancient Israel attempted to combine worship of the one true God with the pagan sexual immorality of Baal and the other Canaanite deities. As a result, “The LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers until He cast them out of His sight” (2 Kings 17:20).
By blurring the distinction between creature and creator, Wicca encourages sexual chaos, inter-generational conflict and violence. Paul makes clear the dangers of worshipping creation in Romans 1:18-32. Romans 1:25 in particular stresses the tragedy of nature worship: “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” As a result, sexual chaos followed (Romans 1:26-27) as well as inter-generational conflict (“Disobedient to parents,” Romans 1:30) and violence (“envy, murder, strife,” Romans 1:29).
Books advocating Wicca are readily available at any Barnes & Noble or at thousands of locations on the Web. Pray our youth ministers will have the courage of Elijah on Mount Carmel as they face their own pagan confrontation.
Alan Branch is vice president for student development at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.