Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Psychics Aren't the Answer

I recently overheard a troubling conversation that I feel compelled to discuss, especially because I am concerned I did not make the most of the moment. Frankly, I am not sure I made a mistake. I will spell out the details and allow you to decide. But at the very least, I hope to learn from my situation and that others will also be better prepared as a result.

Two women, in what I would guess were their mid-60s, were out shopping. I’ll call the one this story is about Mary just because it will help keep things straight. Mary, who also had her young granddaughter with her, was talking about the recent death of her husband. The pain of her loss was evident in her voice, and you would need a heart of stone to not be moved by it. But in the midst of it, she said something that put me immediately on edge. Another friend had just as recently lost her husband, as well, and Mary had plans for them both to see a psychic that Friday. In the same breath, she then said they would both also attend mass together on Saturday.

My personal misgiving comes from the fact that I did not say anything. As I already mentioned, I am not sure that is an appropriate response on my part. But I am struggling with it. On the one hand, I know what she really needs to hear. On the other, I was a total stranger. Injecting myself into the conversation, and doing so in a way that would have unquestionably condemned what she was planning, would have run a major risk of being offensive rather than comforting. Still, I cannot help but see it as a possible failure.

Whatever the case may be, failures come and go. I am not saying it was not a big deal. Sadly, it is a huge one. But while it bothers me, I am not going to allow myself to be controlled by it. I rest in the knowledge that God forgives my errors. That forgiveness came at the cost of the life of Jesus, so I do not take it lightly. But I am thankful it is available, and gratitude inspires me to learn from my mistakes rather than wallow in them.

Condemnation of Psychics

That’s all the personal detail. Now it is time to get into the theological ones. People go to psychics for two basic reasons. One is to know their future. The other is to contact departed loved ones. The Bible condemns both practices.

That’s clear enough. Plenty of passages talk about it. Lev. 19:26, 31, Deut. 18:9–11, Gal. 5:19–21, and Rev. 21:8 are just a few obvious examples. But as we know, a prohibition does not mean much on its own. It will be enough for those already attached to following the Bible, but those who are not need an explanation. If God tells us not to see psychics, people will want to know why.

For that, I still have to turn to a biblical passage. It does help us understand the logic behind the commandment, though. Is. 8:19–20 says,

When they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the spiritists who chirp and mutter,” shouldn’t a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? Go to God’s instruction and testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, there will be no dawn for them.

So what does this mean? That people who see psychics, for whatever reason, are doing it because they want answers. It does not matter which kind. Some people want answers about the future. They want lotto numbers, they want help finding a romantic interest, or they are interested in the propitious time to make a career move. Others want them about loss. They want to know why they are alone, and what comes on the other side of mortality. One is about self-advancement, while the other is about comfort. But they are both about control, and they both rest on lies.

The lie psychics tell is that they can connect with the spirit world so that people can gain hidden insights and feel more in control of their lives. The truth is that psychics tell people what they want to hear. And God’s point is that the work of psychics would be worthless even if they had the powers they claim to. The dead were not even able to help themselves. Why should we count on them now?

This is what I wish I would have been prepared to say that day. The dead cannot give you answers. They are beyond communication. But the Lord can, and He has. His word is with us, confirmed in many miraculous signs the most important of which was the defeat of death by Jesus Christ. The answers we need are found in the forgiveness offered through Jesus, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the instruction of Scripture. Everything else that purports to offer answers not only pales in comparison, it actually clouds the truth. Psychics lead away from God. Church and the crystal ball are not compatible.

That’s not easy to say to someone who is hurting, especially when they are a stranger. I still don’t know that I can recommend it. But they are not all strangers. They may be people you know, close friends and family. Or maybe you have used psychics before and have somehow made your way here. You are a stranger to me, but you sought me ought so I assume I can be straightforward with you. We don’t have to be quite so careful in such cases. When a good chance presents itself, it is smart to be ready. In Christ, we actually have the answers people are looking for. I hope to be better prepared to give them from now on, particularly in this context. I hope I have said something that will help you to be ready, too.

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