So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
-1 Corinthians 10:31
Between the ages of 12-14 I had a paper route and used just about every dollar I made to buy video games. Most all of my waking hours not spent eating or in school were spent playing video games. I just couldn’t get enough. I was an atheist for most of my teenage years so I never considered what God’s thoughts were on the subject of gaming. But then at the age of 19 Jesus interrupted my life. So for those of us seeking to follow after Jesus, what should we think about video games?
The Reality of Virtual Reality
If you were afraid I was going to say that gaming was a sin, you can breathe a sigh of relief right now. The Bible never specifically addresses video gaming, so in that sense we can rejoice that playing video games is not wrong in and of itself.
At my current stage in life I’m not particularly into playing video games. But just about all of the teens in my youth group are. And that’s just fine! Modern gaming provides a great social environment in which you get to interact with others while navigating the online worlds of games.
While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with playing video games, or being a gamer, we may want to evaluate and set limits on just how much time we spend gaming (see Eph. 5:16). A good rule of thumb might be to make sure we don’t spend more time in virtual gaming reality than we spend in “real” reality. Nonetheless, this same principal could also be applied to reading fiction books that bring us into another reality or fantasy. I’ve not heard of anyone trying to limit the amount of time people spend in front of books (Eccl. 12:12 might be close though!), so we should be cautious about making manmade rules about video games. Although it is worth considering that there are effects of spending too much time in front of electronic screens that could be negative.
The Good and The Better
When it comes to analyzing things the Bible doesn’t address, like video games, we should be really generous and careful not to pass judgment on others or to speak where God has been silent. As a general principal, video games are a neutral entertainment platform that are neither “good” or “bad.” But like any good gift from God, we always run the risk of turning the good into our god. While video games serve humans well as a form of fun entertainment, they make lousy gods. In other words, if we are living solely for video games and look to them for our identity and worth we should be worried about the state of our souls.
Part of what may draw people to video games is the desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They offer people the opportunity to slay an enemy, save a damsel in distress, engage in a mission, and win rewards for themselves. The Gospel offers us an opportunity to be a part of something even bigger than ourself, but unlike video games, what it offers us is true reality!
On the cross Jesus slays the enemy of our sin (Heb. 9:26). In His resurrection He defeated death (1 Cor. 15:21, 26). He saves His Bride, the Church, and reclaims her for Himself (Rev. 19:7). He calls His followers into His mission (Matt. 28:16-20) to bring this Good News to others so that others might be saved from impending death (Rev. 20:14).
While video games may be a lot of fun, Jesus and His Gospel, are better! To tweak a popular song:
In all my gaming
Jesus is better, Make my heart believe
Glory, glory, we have no other king
But Jesus Lord of all
We raise the anthem our loudest praises ring
We crown Him Lord of all