“What is feng shui? Should a Christian practice feng shui?”
Answer: Feng shui, which literally means “wind-water,” is an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to use the laws heaven and earth (astronomy and geography) to help one improve life by receiving positive “qi” or energy flow. Feng shui has a long and complex history as to its uses, techniques, and instruments—particularly prior to the invention of the magnetic compass. The goal of feng shui as practiced today is to situate the human-built environment on spots with good qi. The “perfect spot” is believed to be a location and an axis in time. The discovery and use of energy forces are also foundational in the Chinese martial arts such as kung fu. Also part of feng shui is the Chinese philosophy of yin yang, the theory of the effect of opposing forces on human existence. Many natural dualities—dark and light, female and male, low and high—are viewed in Chinese thought as manifestations of yin and yang. The most popular use of feng shui in the West is in the areas of interior decoration of rooms and homes, and exterior design of buildings.
The forms and methods of feng shui are too varied and complex for a complete description, but an important element to consider, for the Christian, is the fact that ancient Chinese feng shui has been reinvented by New Age practitioners and incorporated into their practices. While many people dismiss feng shui as superstitious nonsense and pseudoscience, others can and do become so enamored of the philosophy that it exerts enormous influence on their life decisions, even going to the extreme of using it for healing purposes in place of modern medicine. For Christians, the question is whether we believe that harmony, peace, and order in life can be achieved by manipulating elements and external ‘forces’ around us. The Bible tells us that our heavenly Father is the source of peace which is available only through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). In fact, no amount of appealing to inanimate forces will produce tranquility and harmony if our lives are out of sync with the Savior. It is only through Him that we can have the peace of God which “passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:4-7).
Christians should be aware that some of the principles of feng shui, including the “I Ching,” are based on Taoist philosophy used to determine which area of a home is positive/negative and/or how decor and furniture should be arranged. While Christians may incorporate principles of feng shui into their decorating plans, despite the dubious value they have, Christians should never do so with the stated goal of feng shui, which is the manipulation of their environment to produce in their lives those things that only Christ provides. To do so is to border on idolatry. For the Christian, there is no such thing as the ‘perfect spot’ on earth, because our home is not in this world and the kingdom of God is not this life in this place (John 18:36; 1 Corinthians 7:31). Rather, Christians should be concerned with glorifying God in their homes by submitting their thoughts, words, and deeds to Him and endeavoring to grow in Christ-likeness. Only then can we hope to achieve the peace and harmony that eludes so many today.
Recommended Resource: Neighboring Faiths by Winfried Corduan.