The Danger of Pokemon
Those of you who have been around this blog for any length of time know I don’t point fingers here. I believe controversial topics are better addressed within the context of relationship, with the added layer of an in-person conversation, one in which body language can be seen, tone of voice heard, and emotion recognized.
However, in light of the many questions I’ve recieved with the newest phenomenon of Pokemon Go, and the burden so heavy on my heart, I’m “going there.”
There is no condemnation in this post; it is written as a warning, yes, but not to condemn. I don’t write it as a scare tactic or to place a yoke of slavery.
As Believers in Jesus Christ, we are to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our lives and families and live by the convictions HE (not someone else) has placed on us.
Rather, I am writing this post to so many who may be unaware but who need to know this reality, even if they don’t want to hear it.
What you do with this story is up to you.
We don’t need to be afraid; we need to be aware.
For those of you unfamiliar with my family, it is helpful to know that my husband grew up in the Amazon rainforest, in a remote village with the very primitive, indigenous Yanomamö Indians. My father-in-law was also born and raised there and continues to care for and minister to the Yanomamö people. The following is a true story, posted originally on his blog here.
The Testimony of Pokemon and Bautista (Chief Shoefoot)
As a missionary working with the Yanomamö, I am constantly reminded that when it comes to spiritual matters, I am not the expert.
Bautista was an ex-witchdoctor. He accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ many years ago when my parents first started working with his tribe back in the early 1950s. Although still a young man when they arrived to his village, he was a witchdoctor of considerable fame.
He had already attained to the highest level known as “ijiluwalewä, or “child-eater,”because he could attack other villages in the spirit world stealing the souls of a child there, causing the child to die. These souls were given to the many cannibal spirits who were his accomplices in this “murder.” The soul would then be eaten by these demon cannibal spirits. Although having attained the highest he could go, by his own admission, he was being overwhelmed by the bondage he was under even before he heard about the saving power of the gospel, so once he clearly understood that Christ was the only way to be freed from this bondage, he accepted Christ’s claim on his life and his life has never been the same.
One of the times I was reminded of his expertise in spiritual matters was a couple of years ago. We had been in the jungle many long weeks with no mail from home when the plane landed bringing us a package. I was excited as I took it home. “Look Hon, a package from the one of our churches!”
I gave her the package and she opened it up; she, as excited as I was. Enclosed was a book.
Now that in itself was a big enough disappointment because I wanted some “real mail” but when I saw the cover, I was even more disappointed, it was a book on the pokeman cartoon characters. I am old school on cartoons (Bugs Bunny, Road Runner and their friends) and really don’t get into any of the new ones, especially ones that look as ugly as these did. Then we noticed there was also a letter enclosed with the book and we read it together.
“Dear Mike,” it said, and went on to tell how the church was having a discussion about pokemon, with the church divided about this “toy.” So they were sending this book of all the pokeman characters to me asking me to have Bautista look at it and see what he thought about the characters.
Well, that was more interesting than just having a book of ugly cartoons for the boys, but to be honest, this was pretty low priority for me. We are extremely busy in the jungle and I did not see any sense in this book. But one day while I was talking with Bautista, Keila remembered the book and ran upstairs to get it. She handed the book to me.
Opening the book at random, showing him a picture I asked. “What do you think of this?” He looked at it, and said, “Oh, I know this one.” He suddenly had my attention!
He went on, “Oh, this is a nasty little demon. It is always underfoot, bites, scratches, screeches and what not.” I looked at the page, and on the list of attributes, the book said, “bites, scratches, screeches, claws…” and I forget what else, but it was as if Bautista was reading the page, and he does not read or speak one word of English. He made a believer out of me.
I figured that the first one could have been just a lucky guess, so I flipped the page to another picture and asked him about that one. Again, he told me exactly what it’s attributes were. He did that over and over.
There were some he did not recognize, and he said. “There are so many demons, it is impossible for any one person to know them all.”
This was huge! I ran upstairs and got our youngest son, who did happen to like the pokeman cartoons (his aunt sent him VHS tapes of them). When he got downstairs, I had Bautista flip through the book again, explaining to my son what he knew about these ugly little pictures.
Well, he made a believer out of Stephen! He went back upstairs and came back down with his prized tape and while we watched, destroyed it. Bautista looked on with curiosity, not really understanding what Stephen had just done. I quickly brought him up to speed and thanked him for helping to open our eyes.
Bautista added, “Tell the people from your churches, that if there are things that make them feel uncomfortable, it is probably not good. God’s Spirit will speak to them about what is right and wrong.”
How Should a Christian respond to Pokemon?
Inform yourself. Find out about the game, the cartoon, or the paraphernalia related to Pokemon (or any other influence with which your child is interacting). Research the background of the creator, understand what the names mean, and read other people’s experiences.
Be discerning. Ask questions. A few starter questions are —
- What does this game teach you? What is the message being communicated? Look for both obvious and subtle, underlying messages.
- Are supernatural powers involved? What is the source of that power?
- Does the show, character, story, etc. go against or line up with God’s Word?
- Does the game or toy have symbols, characters, or other characteristics that link it to New Age or occult powers?
- What influence does the game exert? How does your child act, behave, respond, change when involved with the game (show, character, etc.)? How do you or your child feel?
Pray. Ask God to give you His mind on the matter and to lead you. The Holy Spirit leads us into truth. Will we follow His leading?
As I mentioned above, rather than asking “How is a Christian to respond to Pokemon? we should ask, “How is the Holy Spirit leading me and our family?
Pokemon isn’t the only Problem
Demonic influences are not limited to Pokemon.
Hundreds of stories, movies, books, and influences all around us exert spiritual leverage, andwe are so unaware! The devil seeks to get a foothold or a stronghold through what seems innocent, fun, or even beneficial. The devil is a liar. He deceives. He is a master at taking truth and distorting it, corrupting what is good.
Even when we know the enemy’s aim is to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10), and though we know he is the “father of lies” (John 8:44), we expect his tactics to be obvious. We think we will be blatantly aware. How wrong we are!
There will be so many times when we are unaware of the spiritual influences imbued in something seemingly innocent (like Pokemon). We must be on guard. We must be discerning. We must be prayerful.
Believer, we need to walk in the Spirit and listen to the prompting and conviction and the leading of the Spirit of God!
Some may hear this story and after sincerely offering it up to the Lord, feel the freedom to allow their kids to engage with the whole Pokemon line. Others will feel the conviction to not.
The problem comes when we ignore it all together, justify, or assume bc we’ve been fine all along, it will continue having no effect.
We can’t place our convictions (or freedoms!) on any one else, but must follow as God leads each of us through His Word and by His Spirit (who leads us into Truth).
As I shared with a friend, the bottom line is that we each are responsible before God. If there is a book, movie, situation, place causing you to feel uncomfortable or “off,” don’t ignore it. Take it to God. Pray about it, spend time reading God’s Word, the Bible, and ask the Holy Spirit to direct your thoughts and steps.
We are the gatekeepers of our hearts and minds, and as parents, we are the gatekeepers of our homes and for our children.
Whatever the show, whichever the toy, are we on guard and discerning?
Question for You
This post only touches the surface of this conversation. Let’s take it further. What questions do you have? What have your experiences been?