Q: #481. I know the Bible says it is wrong to talk to the dead, but why is it wrong?
A: You are correct. The Bible does say it is wrong to “attempt” to talk to the dead. The primary term used for this is called “necromancy” (Deut 18:11). A good definition for necromancy is: “attempting to conjure up the spirits of the dead for purposes of revealing the future or influencing the course of events.” However, even if one is not trying to speak with the dead for these purposes, it is still wrong. Why? I can think of two primary reasons.
First, while I do believe it is possible that in some way people in Heaven might have a limited ability to see us on Earth, there is no indication that they have ANY ability to listen to our conversations or communicate with us. This being the case, “talking to the dead” is pointless. In addition, when we attempt this type of communication, it could be considered a form of prayer (Heb: “tphillah“), and even worship (prayer is a form of worship), which is something the Bible says should be offered only to God (Deut 4:19)(Mt 4:10)(Heb 13:15)(Ex 20:3).
***Note: I’ll share something I haven’t shared before. There are times in my prayers when I have said to God, “Please give (a certain loved one) a hug from me, and tell him/her I love him/her.” I don’t know if this happens or not, but it makes me feel better, and I see no harm in it.
Secondly, and more seriously, it opens us up to the demonic realm. Since the dead cannot communicate with us, and God condemns attempting to speak to the dead, how do we explain those who say they have communicated with the dead? The answer is clear. If they have communicated with anyone (I believe most times this is simply a lie/deception), they have not communicated with the dead, but instead with demons. The best example of this is found in (1 Sam 28:3-25), when Saul tries to speak through a medium to Samuel, who was dead. This resulted in him communicating with a demon (likely speaking through the medium). (He was not communicating with Samuel. I discuss this here).
The KJV Bible uses the term (one who has a) “familiar spirit” (i.e. Lev 19:31, Lev 20:6,27) in place of “medium” (as other versions use). I believe this term tells us something we need to remember. When we are trying to communicate with the dead, but instead are communicating with demons, we are speaking with those (demons) who have observed us, and know things about us. They are “familiar” with us, and can use that knowledge to deceive us. The demons can make it appear we are speaking with a person close to us who has died, because they are sharing intimate details about us, when instead it is demons who have observed us (are “familiar” with us). Do NOT get involved in this, or fall into this dangerous trap! It will end badly! (Also, remember Satan can perform miracles.)
Friends, when we have needs, questions, are lonely, or are missing someone, we are to turn to God alone (Isa 8:19)(Phil 4:6)(James 1:5)(1 Pet 5:6-7). Not to anyone (or anything) else.
***Note: Unfortunately, when Catholics pray to “saints” who have died (or to Mary), they are practicing necromancy. This should not be done, and is sin. (The Catholic church tries to make a distinction between “prayer” and simply “asking” saints, but there is no difference…)