It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman! How many millions of dollars have been spent on the portion of the entertainment industry that involves superheroes or magic? What fascination lies in the thought of ordinary humans possessing supernatural powers! When our elder daughter was a not-very-industrious little girl of eight, she used to dread cleaning her room, sweeping, vacuuming, and worst of all, doing dishes. She used to feel so abjectly sorry for herself as she slogged listlessly through her chores, that to pass the time, she would imagine a “magic broom” that would do all the most distasteful jobs for her at the snap of a finger—perhaps ideas taken from a child’s version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Mary Poppins only had to wriggle her nose, right? Ah, for such powers!
From the beginning, it seems humans may have always made up stories of beings, who can do or be what they wish for themselves. Among the more famous myths are the creations of the Greeks and Romans, which remain with us today: Zeus (Jupiter) who ruled the world with ultimate power, god of lightning, Hermes (Mars) with supernatural speed, Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, Athena, the goddess of intelligence, etc. Today our entertainment industry seems to crank out a new superhero every few months: X-men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Captain America, The Incredibles, Yoda, Robocop, Transformers, The Hobbit, and the list could go on endlessly. One poster shows part of the appeal of superheroes which might account for some of their popularity.
So what is the appeal of a superhero, anyway? Isn’t the appeal in his ability to do amazing things? Do we wish we could fly like Superman, or be super strong like the Incredible Hulk? Is this the type of thinking Christ would have engaged in? Or was he entirely focused on more serious and lasting good, finding joy in doing his Father’s will?
We adults may say that we don’t enjoy cartoons or superhero movies or TV shows, but a little make believe and Batman play for our children is really no big deal. It’s been suggested that superheroes are a normal part of a healthy childhood. One advertisement reads, “Pretend Play Superheroes! We’re big on pretend play. It’s good for children’s brains and helps to develop creative thinking skills.”
But a search through the scripture shows that God almost certainly does not consider these inventions to be healthy or even harmless. At first we might not see or realize the reasoning behind this. But if we are willing to allow ourselves to think deeply, we might consider several questions: Exactly what IS a superhero, and why DOES it hold appeal? How does this thinking mesh with God’s direction on how He wants His creation to think?
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory (Col 3:1-4).
“Set your affection” – Greek (5426. phroneo,; to exercise the mind, i.e. entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by impl. to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction); intens. to interest oneself in ) Also see Rom. 8:19-25, Phil. 3:21 to note the glory spoken of in Col. 3:4.
Is a superhero not some imagination of a being more glorious than ourselves, greater than human…in other words, “super” natural? Are superheroes real, or fiction? Is it honoring God to take the glory that He actually possesses, and assign it to an imaginary character with a human (or other even disgusting animal or monster) form, and to a being possessed of personality flaws or even outright evil?
How is that really different than what the Greeks and Romans did, except that they went a step further and began to imagine the gods of their imagination as real?
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen (Rom. 1:21-25).
DOES GOD WANT HIS GLORY ASSIGNED TO ANOTHER, EVEN IN OUR IMAGINATIONS?
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior (Isa. 43:10 -11).
I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them (Isa 42:8-9).