With spirituality and different forms of meditation gaining in popularity, doing shadow work is more widespread than ever. It involves exploring the inner depths of one’s suppressed subconscious to understand oneself better. But does it conflict with traditional Christian teachings? Is shadow work a sin?
It is believed that shadow work is not a sin as the practice does not go against God’s law, but many Christians, including the Church, do not encourage it.
What is shadow work? Is it referenced in the Bible? Why do some think it is a sin? This article will explore the answers to these questions and more. We shall also look at ways for Christians to safely do shadow work and the possible dangers of it.
Does the Bible Talk About Shadow Work?
Shadow work is a form of meditation that involves looking into your unconscious mind to discover repressed thoughts and emotions. It is known by those who practice it to uncover trauma, personality traits, and parts of one’s subconscious mind. But does the Bible mention or talk about shadow work?
The Bible does not explicitly talk about shadow work, but some verses in the Holy Book have been interpreted as references to shadow work. For instance, Jesus’ temptation for forty days in the wilderness has been considered some form of shadow work. Jesus confronted darkness during this time, and some consider it to be a battle He had with inner demons. This is in Mark 1:12-13. It reads, “At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.”
As well, Matthew 7:4-5 is also believed to be about shadow work. In this Scripture, Jesus encourages Christians to look into themselves and observe their good and bad behavior. It reads, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Is Shadow Work Biblical?
Shadow work is not biblical. The Bible does not address the practice directly by either condoning or discouraging it. However, some have interpreted certain Scripture to discuss shadow work and its meaning in the Biblical context. For example, in Psalm 39, David takes stock of his life and the meaning of his life. Psalm 39:6 states, “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be.” This has been considered shadow work even though it is not explicitly mentioned.
Why Do Some People Believe Shadow Work Is A Sin?
Some consider shadow work a sin as they believe it, as well as other forms of meditation, to be dark magic. Because shadow work involves confronting trauma and inner fears/insecurities, it is considered “dark.” Christians against shadow work argue that as Children of God, we are called to walk in the Light and avoid embracing darkness.
Some Bible verses used to support this are Ephesians 5:8, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light”. James 1:17 “very good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows,” and John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the Light of life.” The opinion that Jesus brought us Light that should be embraced instead of dwelling on dark thoughts.
What Are the Dangers of Shadow Working as A Christian?
While many people who practice shadow work view it as an empowering transformative experience, some risks and dangers can be associated with it. First, it can be emotionally challenging as one must face difficult past traumas.
Confronting your deepest fears and insecurities can not only be overwhelming but traumatizing. Secondly, doing shadow work can be life-altering and lead to significant changes that you must be psychologically ready for. For example, shadow work can make you switch jobs, cut some relationships off or even switch your personality and beliefs.
Can Christians Do Shadow Work?
Different Christians have different opinions on this subject. Individual beliefs play a significant role in whether a Christian can or cannot do shadow work. But it is generally believed that it is a practice that Christians can do so long as it is faith-based and Christ-centered. For some, shadow work helps them connect with their spirituality on a deeper level, while for others, it is a way by which they can tackle personal issues.
According to Deuteronomy 9:7 (“Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord.”), Joshua 1:18 (“Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”) and 1 John 3:4 (“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”), sin is rebellion against God and His Commands. Shadow work is not considered a sin by many Christians as it is not a transgression of God’s law.
How Can a Christian Safely Do Shadow Work?
There are many ways by which Christians can do shadow work safely. They include:
- Keeping a journal. Writing and documenting one’s thoughts and feelings in a physical journal is a great way of processing them. Journal entries can constantly be revisited to look back at one’s journey to analyze where you were mentally and where you are now.
- Speaking to someone. You can employ the help of a therapist, life coach, spiritual leader, or even a trusted friend or family member. Talking to someone about your inner thoughts, feelings, insecurities, and fears is a good way of gaining insight and doing shadow work.
- Doing shadow work exercises. There are fantastic online and book resources that can help one in their self-discovery and personal growth journey.
- Listening to your dreams. Another safe way of doing shadow work is by interpreting one’s dreams. Dreams are widely believed to contain messages from our subconscious mind, and they can help give insight into deep thoughts that may not be at the forefront of our minds.
- Going on a self-realization journey. This involves identifying and addressing triggers that bother us and figuring out where they could stem from.
Does the Church Encourage Christians To Do Shadow Work?
The Church generally does not encourage shadow work. This is because shadow work is rooted in New Age philosophy which embodies spiritualism as opposed to traditional religious teachings. Shadow work was popularized by a Swiss psychiatrist in the 1970s, with many psychologists adopting this method of therapy to explore one’s “shadows” and find answers that may be hidden in the subconscious.
The Church does not support the idea as they believe it opens the door for Christians to anti-Christian ideologies that may lead Christians away from the faith altogether. The Church instead advocates for Christians to heal their “dark side” with Christian methods of therapy and counseling.
- Shadow Work in The Gospels
- Is Shadow Work Dangerous? Here’s Why Some Think So
- What Is The Definition of Sin?
- Your Shadow Self and Enneagram
- New Age Movement
- Moving Shadows
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.