Should Christians Play Violent Video Games?

The Lord has put the burden on my heart to address a very sensitive topic. I know that, having come out of these things, I feel it is my duty to bear a decided testimony against them. I could not in good conscience remain silent upon these issues, knowing that I am a watchman on the walls of Zion and that I must sound the warning message. I have seen from the word of God that I must blow the trumpet to warn those in the Churches of Christendom of the danger which I see, although I know that I speak an extremely unpopular message. I cannot help but speak the truth in love, knowing that I will be held responsible if I do not speak that which is on my heart.

“Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” – Ezekiel 33:2-6

Then this would be your official warning. This post is aimed at some very heavy issues. Understand that I do not mean this in a judgmental way, but instead I see a Christian duty to sound a warning message, to blow the trumpet about an incoming sword. It is my hope and desire that if you have any of these things which shall be addressed in your life, that you will be willing to change and discard them through the grace of Christ.

I might begin by asking the question, have you worshiped Baal as of late? No Christian worth his or her salt who has any familiarity with Scripture would answer “yes” to that question. It seems a strange sight indeed to enter a professedly Christian church to find an altar erected for the worship of Baal, Moloch, Apollo, or Thor. One might even find the presence of a golden calf in front of the pulpit to be odd. You will find that most churches would express nothing but horror at the prospect of image worship. Many would even protest the erection of a literal altar to Baal as apostasy!

However reality is often not acknowledged. He who ardently protests evil in one form, more readily accepts it in another. It has been said of our enemy, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” – 2 Corinthians 11:14. The devil, whose objective is to cause your ruin, would not openly invite you to worship idols. He knows that were he to do so, he would be met and repulsed through the powerful means at the disposal of the Christian in the form of prayer. One appeal to Christ would be enough to defeat the whole Satanic host. However it is a known fact that poison is best received coated in sugar, that the victim remain unaware of what is taking place.

In like manner, we can expect the enemy to make strategic maneuvers to conceal his purposes, masking them in robes of light or a garb of apparent harmlessness. Therefore the defenses of the Christian are broken down and discernment is bypassed. He then more easily invades the soul with his hooks of sin, which many find it difficult to remove. Thus he has successfully caused the ruin of the Christian, and has ultimately lead them to disqualify themselves from the Kingdom of Christ.

In view of all this, I might state that there are few Churches in this day and age that openly worship images. Everyone professing Christianity believes they worship the same God, and they feel secure in this belief. They thus lull themselves to sleep with a false sense of security, unaware of the danger lurking in their lives and in the lives of other Christians that could bring about their ruin. When the enemy comes to them in a form that they have not been searching for, they readily accept the deceptions and snares of Satan.

I may take this so far as to suggest that Christianity has been penetrated by the worship of idols. Yet it is not the golden calf of old that has been erected before the pulpit, that all may bow to it. Instead it is in the form of entertainment. Idolatry is in your very midst in the form of the PlayStation or Xbox-360 that you spent money on which could have been used to further the cause of Christ. It may even have taken the form of your Laptop, through which you would rather spend more time on Facebook or playing Computer Games than you would reading your Bible or praying.

Do my words seem extreme to you? Are they the ravings of a deluded extremist who has taken a journey down legalism lane? If this is the impression that you get from my words, I would like for you to ponder my case. As I present the evidence before you from the Scriptures and ask some hard hitting questions, I invite you to weight it and compare your life with the word of God. Remember that the Bible is the compass which points us on the road to heaven, with it’s instructions as to how to live and find Salvation in Christ. In the word the truth is to be found.

To begin, it is important to point out that there is nothing inherently wrong with electronics. Laptops and Televisions are not in and of themselves idols, it is the way in which they are used which attaches that label to them. The Christian may find spiritual uses for both of these items, as the TV may be used to watch spiritual materials such as sermons on DVD. You will find that a ministry which this blog links back to known as Amazing Facts also puts high quality content out on Television for Christians to avail themselves of. The present writer of this article has used his desktop computer as well as his laptop for spiritual purposes. The availability of high quality Christian literature in PDF format and Bible Programs such as E-sword creates a situation in which a computer can be used for something spiritual and Godly rather than for evil activities.

The real issue is gaming, movies, and television shows. While not literal Baal-worship, these practices have become modernized idols in the lives of Christians. Television shows and movies may be addressed at a later point. It is the object of this post to first address the issue of gaming, as the author of this article speaks from experience. I spent the majority of my life in gaming before becoming a Christian, where I was either playing games on my computer or on the Xbox console. During those days, the games I played were always exclusively real time strategy or first person shooter video games, both of which are known for a high level of violence.

So the real question is, what is it that makes games wrong? Why is it that the Christian should not play them? How are they modern-day idols? Isn’t such a notion legalism? The first issue with video games all comes down to violence, this fact then being the answer to two of these questions. It even lays the charge of legalism in the dust and exposes the sheer ridiculousness of this excuse, craftily concocted to escape rendering obedience. To properly understand how God feels about violence, there are many Scriptural facts which must be considered. We must first go right back to a time that was shortly after the fall of man, where the first human being was ever killed. Christians might be familiar with this story as that of Cain and Abel.

“And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” – Genesis 4:9-10

Those who have familiarity with the Bible know how this story goes. Cain was a tiller of the ground, something more along the lines of a farmer if you will, whereas Abel was a keeper of sheep. Both of them were the children of Adam and Eve. When it came time to offer up sacrifices to God, Cain brought the fruit of the ground while Abel brought the firstlings of his flock. God had respect to Abel’s offering and not Cain’s, which resulted in Cain experiencing anger. In a fit of rage he later killed Abel, and the two passages which we have produced above picture the result of this. God is described as saying to Cain, “the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”

This statement suggests a high level of negative emotion experienced on the part of God towards murder. The act here carried out by Cain is forbidden in the sixth commandment, the exact statement of which reads “Thou shalt not kill” – Exodus 20:13. Yet God’s dislike of the taking of human life is put on fantastic display for the Bible Student, as found in the book of 1 Chronicles. We have produced two passages from the twenty-eighth chapter for your perusal. Note that these passages and what they describe allow you to get into the mind of God and understand how he feels about violence.

“Then David the king stood up upon his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren, and my people: As for me, I had in mine heart to build an house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God, and had made ready for the building: But God said unto me, Thou shalt not build an house for my name, because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood.” – 1 Chronicles 28:2-3

It would appear that the taking of human life is a serious issue with God. Serious enough to where David was forbidden to build the temple because he was a “man of war” and “hast shed blood.” If David being forbidden from building the temple was directly attributable to him having been a warrior, than obviously violence does not sit well with God, and certainly should not mark the Christian’s life.

The next and final piece of the puzzle takes us to the book of Philippians, where we find the following instruction from Paul. In the eighth verse of the fourth chapter, he tells us that we should think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and things that are of any praise or virtue. To summarize, Christians should be thinking about only that which is good and not that which is evil. Note that by watching or playing something, you are thinking about whatever the content of the activity you are engaged in is.

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

In view of the clear Bible passages which speak against murder and killing, I find myself as a Christian scratching my head in confusion. Passages like those found in 1 Chronicles, Exodus 20, and Genesis 4 seem so plain. They convey God’s mind towards violence and his dislike of it, and yet there are so many in the Churches of Christendom who seem to think that it is okay to play violent video games. Logically speaking, if God feels this way about violence in the real world why would it be okay to view simulated violence? This is applicable whether it be in the form of video games, movies, or television shows. In reality all of these things are packed full of violence and bloodshed to the point where one would think they were visiting the Colosseum of the Roman Empire when partaking of these things.

In fact, the bloody exhibitions of old afford a suitable example and illustration. They display the real problem with humanity and the base nature of mankind. Roman citizens literally watched men get ripped apart by lions and gladiators kill each other for the fun of it. If you think other societies were better, or mankind has somehow advanced beyond this, perhaps you should guess again.

The fact that the violence is simulated does not hide or excuse the perverseness of the action. At the end of the day, playing these games is still the modern-day equivalent of the Colosseum. Those who do these things are still taking pleasure in watching something which looks like real people get slaughtered and killed, and often in increasingly brutal ways.

Therefore the common excuse of “it’s not real, so it’s okay” is starting to loose a lot of power. Destructible environments like those found in Battlefield 3 and increasingly superior graphics suggest that soon enough games will look and feel very real, and yet there will be no outcry among professed Christians as the level of gore increases with these things. It boggles the mind how some one who claims to know Jesus can play these things without an ounce of guilt. The world will always do what the world wants whether it is the literal worship of Baal or the playing of violent video games. The reality is that professed Christians should stop and compare their actions with the Bible standard and ask if what they’re doing measures up.

The real question than is, are any of these things pure? The obvious answer to that question is no. In which case, according to Philippians 4:8 the Christian should not be watching or playing them. 1 Chronicles 28:2-3 and Genesis 4:9-10 combine to demolish any possibility of God liking these things. In fact, as the case of David shows, we might even go so far as to say that God is not pleased with violent video games and those who profess to follow him playing them. If David was forbidden from building the temple on account of him being a warrior, why on earth would it be okay for the Christian to play video games where there is gore and a heavy amount of violence? Why would God be okay with his followers viewing these things for pleasure?

If you as a Christian take pleasure in simulated murder, what is to stop you from finding the real thing pleasing? Why is it that there are Christians who find pleasure in war, as it is portrayed in video games and movies? If one would like to go a lot closer to home than this, why would God be okay with us taking pleasure in watching people break his commandments? While some one might try to argue that “it’s not real” at this point, the simple fact is that if you as a Christian play these things you are taking pleasure in sin in a simulated form as defined by the law of God.

The fact of the matter is that these things are not safe for the Christian to partake of. In the book of Isaiah, we find very powerful reasons supporting these facts. The thirteenth and fourteenth verses of the thirty-third chapter mention that sinners in Zion are afraid, fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Right away we know this addresses sinners and hypocrites in the Church. The next thing asked is, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?” This is a mysterious cryptic phrase followed by “everlasting burnings.” The answer is actually quite surprising, in that it mentions “he that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly” and “that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil.”

“The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;” – Isaiah 33:13-14

In Hebrews 12 we find a key to unlocking the mysterious statement “devouring fire.” “For our God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews 12:29. Consuming and devouring are obviously the same thing, thus the statement “devouring fire” and “everlasting burnings” are to be taken as referencing God, which makes sense and clicks into place with the language of righteousness that follows. It therefore stands to reason that these texts are saying that he who shuts his eyes from seeing evil will dwell with God, hence the fear on the part of the hypocrites and the sinners in Zion, they’re obviously fearing for their salvation as the end of time is approaching. This is a gigantic reality check for those who think it is okay to play violent video games as a Christian. The simple fact is that if we have these things in our lives, we cannot expect salvation either.

Yet there are other reasons that the Christian should not play video games. Games generally found to be of the role playing variety have spiritual content in them that the Christian should ardently oppose. Role playing games specifically often have a vivid portrayal of sorcery, and include a list of gods that the player can worship. Right away the Christian should be aware of the fact that this goes against plain Scriptural commands. These are things that should justly alarm the Christian.

“There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.” – Deuteronomy 18:10-12

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” – Exodus 20:3-5

Magic is obviously condemned in texts found in the book of Deuteronomy. This should tell you that God does not want us as Christians to have anything to do with video games that have simulated divination. We can see clearly that idolatry is also condemned in the Ten Commandments, as pictured above. To suggest at this point that “it’s not real, so it’s okay” is like saying that you’ve found a way to worship other gods and seemingly get away with it while still supposedly worshiping the same God.

Note that this is the common content among the role playing genre. I have never seen a role playing game which does not include some form of idolatry in which the player has a list of gods to worship or magic at their disposal, with the exception of one series of games, and even those are still addressed by other concerns I have mentioned.

But then there are many questions the Christian should ask themselves as they engage in these activities. Even if they cannot agree with what has been previously stated, the real question comes down to this. How much time is spent in prayer and Bible study as opposed to in gaming? Do you as a Christian find the Bible boring? Do you find no pleasure in the hour of prayer or in searching the word of God?

If you find the Bible boring, it is no doubt because you have these forms of entertainment in your life. I can speak from personal experience when I say that it is difficult to transition from these entertainments into spiritual things. At the beginning of my Christian walk, I found the Bible boring and would have rather been playing video games. While I was not attending Church at this time in my life, I can say that at this point I might have found it equally as boring by comparison to gaming. I did not recognize any need to discard these things. A battle raged in which both God and the games wanted the throne of my heart.

A huge issue with video games not considered by most comes down to worship, which is why I began by asking if you had worshiped Baal lately. Several ways in which we worship God are through time spent with him in prayer and Bible Study, in which we become acquainted with him and communicate with him concerning our lives. But video games inevitably lead to the neglect of these disciplines of the Christian life. They eventually gain control of your heart, the Bible becomes boring, prayer seems repulsive and hard, and pretty soon the Christian will stop these things altogether, even if it is a process which takes years. They then become idols in your lives, as shown by the Ten Commandments where these are not only defined as images that you worship but anything that comes before God. The real question comes down to whether or not God is first in your life, and which would you rather do: Study your Bible or play video games? If you would rather play video games than study your Bible, than this is in fact idolatry.

While some may attempt to argue that the Bible is boring, this is only the appearance because of a long-established habit holding the throne of the heart. Those who would say the Bible is boring have never attempted to study the prophecies, the process of attempting to understand which is like trying to decode a hidden message or engage in detective work. The Bible is like a puzzle at times with it’s deep symbolism. Even the messages of Salvation, and the deep wisdom found in the book of Proverbs, are nothing short of intensely interesting. I can honestly say that Christians would state that the Bible is the most interesting book they ever read if they didn’t have other things in their lives taking control of the throne of the heart.

Beyond idolatry, a very good reason the Christian should discard Video Games of all sorts comes right down to use of time. Video Games are naturally addictive in the way they are designed, otherwise they would not sell as well as many of them do. I can personally testify that in playing massively multiplayer online role playing games before my conversion, huge amounts of time was consumed. Often entire nights were spent in gaming at the expense of sleep. This is time ultimately that could be spent in advancing God’s kingdom or helping the poor, or even hours that could be spent in the Bible gaining a knowledge of the word so that the Christian might become better acquainted with the reasons of their faith rather than simply being a pew warmer who expects to be spoon fed doctrine by their pastor.

While the professed Christian spends huge amounts of time gaming, souls who could be saved go down to Christ-less graves. If nothing else the desire to bring others to a knowledge of Christ or engage in missionary labor should motivate the Christian to discard these entertainments due to the vast amounts of time which they take up. The question should be asked, what are you as Christians doing to build up God’s kingdom while you are playing video games? If you partake of video games, you should understand that Satan gains control of your neighborhood while you sit in front of the Television playing your Xbox. Where is the missionary spirit of Christians? Why are Christians not missionaries in their home neighborhoods!?

The Christian should be a light in his or her community which burns with such a concentrated powerful blaze that people could see it for miles. Yet the light of truth is hidden in the brush while professed Christians sit in front of their Xbox console and play Halo or some racing game! The truth of a crucified and risen savior should be proclaimed with thunder tones that roar across the land. It should be the natural reaction for the Christian to run down the street with a Bible held aloft shouting, “It’s here! It’s here! Everything you need is right here!”

At the end of the day, there really is no escaping the fact that Christians should not be playing violent video games. Neither should they allow the games which bear an appearance of harmlessness to soak up their time so that they are not spending time in the word or attempting to reach the community around them. Yet those who would find themselves locked in a battle with a long-established addiction might be confronted with an awful and bitter struggle to be free of these things. Some might even be confronted with the horrific thought that their life will be boring, should they give up gaming.

There is always excitement to be found in the work of the Lord. The joy of seeing souls converted to the truth, of sharing the word of the Lord with those around you, is far superior to any video game I’ve ever played. Once separated from that which fought for control of the throne of my heart, I began to appreciate the word of God more and more. Prayer, especially for others, became a rich experience. These things altogether have virtually replaced gaming.

It sounds difficult, but it is possible. In the Scriptures we are told that if a man is in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things are passed away, and all things become new. You will eventually learn to hate the things you once loved which were wrong, and love the things which you would have previously found boring. I speak from personal experience when I say God can change your taste buds so thoroughly that you find these things of the past disgusting and want nothing to do with them. While you will not be free of temptation, even during those moments God will be there for you to give you power for victory. The way to the throne of grace is always open for you to find help from the friend of the helpless.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” – Romans 13:14

Ultimately to obtain complete victory over video games the Christian should consider Biblical principles. One of the verses quoted above speaks of not making provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. This Scripture is suggesting that those who struggle with certain sins should not place themselves in tempting situations deliberately. If the Christian struggles with porn, they should get rid of the films or movies which they viewed and consider getting set up to block websites where these materials can be accessed. If the Christian struggles with drinking alcohol, they should dispose of all alcoholic beverages from their home. Even a Christian with anger problems should consider avoiding the situations which cause them to get angry in the first place. This is applicable to video games and it simply means this.

If you as a Christian are having a huge battle with video games in which you are consistently tempted and unable to gain the victory, you should consider getting every single game and console out of your house. Your computer should be wiped clean of every game that may have been installed on it and you should dispose of all games. If you’re concerned about selling them so that they can be in some one else’s hands, an option also available to you is destroying them. You can run over your Xbox or PlayStation with your car, smash it to bits with a baseball bat, or take your games out and stomp on them before throwing them away. Note that we have the example of the people of Ephesus, those of which who practiced divination burned their books when they were converted. Destroying your video games and then promptly chucking them in the garbage is a perfectly acceptable option for the Christian, and might actually be superior to selling them. Those who choose to sell them should not be condemned however, as the goal is to get rid of the games.

However the Christian can find ultimate victory over these things in Christ alone. If you struggle with these things, flee to the throne of grace for aid, and be rid of them at once. Do not attempt to give them up by degrees or make a slow conversion from one type of gaming to another, for when you do this Satan just laughs at you as he still has you caught in his nets. Therefore Christians should depart from these practices completely.

“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” – 2 Timothy 2:19

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