The Bible’s Viewpoint

Fêng Shui—Is It for Christians?

IN ASIA, grave sites are chosen according to it. Buildings are designed and decorated according to it. Property is bought and sold based on it. In Chinese it is known as fêng shui, a form of geomancy or augury. Although fêng shui has been popular in Asia for centuries, in recent years it has spread to Western lands. Some architects are using it in designing skyscrapers, offices, and homes. Some housewives are using it in decorating their homes. Dozens of books and Internet Web sites promote and teach it.

The reason for this growing popularity? According to one advocate, fêng shui can bring “improved living, health, better marriages or partnerships, greater wealth, and personal peace of mind.” While that all sounds appealing, just what is this practice, and how should Christians view it?

What Is It?

The Chinese words fêng shui literally mean “wind-water.” The roots of fêng shui go back thousands of years to the time when many Oriental philosophies were developed. Included among these was belief in the so-called balance of yin and yang (darkness and light, hot and cold, negative and positive). The concept of yin and yang was joined with the idea of chʼi, which literally means “air” or “breath.” Yin, yang, and chʼi, along with the so-called five elements of wood, earth, water, fire, and metal, form integral parts of fêng shui theory. Devotees of fêng shui believe that powerful lines of energy run through every landscape. The goal is to pinpoint locations where the energies, or chʼi, of the land and sky are brought into balance. This is accomplished by altering the landscape itself or by making alterations within a building on a particular site. Bringing about this balance is supposed to bring good fortune to those working or living there.

Usually, fêng shui masters consult a geomantic compass. * This is a small magnetic compass set in the middle of what is basically an astrological chart. The compass contains concentric circles, which are divided by lines. A geomantic compass contains data on such things as constellations, seasons, and periods of the solar cycles. When analyzing a site or building, a number of compass readings are taken. The fêng shui master observes where the compass needle intersects with points on the outer lines and circles, and from this he determines what is needed to “cure” a site.

Nearby topography, watercourses, sewer drains, and even the placement of windows and doors in a building may all be taken into consideration in deciding how to bring a site into balance. For example, in Canada a shopkeeper hung a mirror over the back door of her store to “correct” the positioning of its doors. A geomancy practitioner might similarly recommend moving plants or furniture, replacing a picture, adding wind chimes, or setting up an aquarium so as to bring a building or a room into balance.

 The Christian View

Significantly, most libraries catalog books on fêng shui with writings on astrology and fortune-telling. In fact, Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary describes geomancy as “divination by means of figures or lines or geographic features.” (Italics ours.) Thus, it is widely accepted that fêng shui and other types of geomancy are forms of fortune-telling. They involve divination and spiritistic practices, which are nothing new to mankind.

When the Israelites left Egypt and finally entered the land of Canaan in the 15th century B.C.E., divination of all sorts was prevalent in both lands. Through Moses, God said, as recorded at Deuteronomy 18:14: “These nations whom you are dispossessing used to listen to those practicing magic and to those who divine; but as for you, Jehovah your God has not given you anything like this.” The many forms of divination in Egypt and Canaan originated in ancient Babylon. When Jehovah confused the language of the people of Babylon, they spread to other places, taking with them the practices connected with Babylonish divination and spiritism.—Genesis 11:1-9.

Jehovah God sternly and repeatedly warned Israel not to take up the divination practices of other nations, saying: “There should not be found in you anyone who . . . employs divination, a practicer of magic or anyone who looks for omens . . . For everybody doing these things is something detestable to Jehovah, and on account of these detestable things Jehovah your God is driving them away from before you.” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12; Leviticus 19:26, 31) Practitioners of divination were to be put to death without fail.—Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 20:27.

Why was divination so roundly condemned? Acts 16:16-19 tells of a woman who had “a demon of divination.” Yes, divination is inextricably linked with demonism. Practicing any form of divination can thus put one in contact with Satan and his demons! That could result in spiritual ruin.—2 Corinthians 4:4.

Some popular styles of decorating and landscaping, Oriental or Occidental, may have originally been influenced by false religious practices like fêng shui. Oftentimes, though, such styles have entirely lost their religious significance. Still, it would be a clear violation of God’s law to use fêng shui to divine the future or to bring good luck or good health. To do so would be to violate the Bible’s clear-cut command to avoid touching anything “unclean.”—2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

[Footnote]

^ par. 7 In Western lands practitioners have tried to give fêng shui a more scientific appearance, some even using computers to assist them in analyzing geographic sites.

[Picture on page 23]

A geomantic compass

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Pages 2 and 23: Hong Kong Tourism Board