It is safe to say we live in a post-Christian culture.
Illicit sex, money, the pursuit of power, worshiping oneself, and any other combination dominates social media, films, music, television, and, yes even video games.
With our entertainment choices becoming more worldly, it has become equally challenging navigating video games with a good and clear conscience.
When I was born again, I had to come with humility before God and say, “If gaming isn’t something that honors you, I’ll give it up.” After searching the scriptures, online resources, and my conscience, I settled that as long as it doesn’t dominate my thought life, family time, finances, or become an idol, then I could enjoy my gaming hobby.
However, staring at my library of games, a few stood out to me as problematic – Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row, and others had me unable to follow Paul’s words to us in 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I can’t see how virtually participating in substance abuse, degrading sexual acts, cold-blooded murder, and other sinful activities could be glorifying to God. I mean, even the title “Grand Theft Auto” it’s a bit of a red flag right away, don’t you agree?
So, I decided I wouldn’t play games that glorify those behaviours but instead would enjoy games that didn’t leave my conscience burning.
This is by no means a conclusive authoritative decision on whether certain video games are okay but I hope to offer some helpful questions to help you navigate this decision for yourself.
First, is this video game glorifying something sinful?
Video games come in all sorts. Like any art or entertainment form, the creator has an idea they are trying to express or a story they are trying to tell. Usually, watching the trailer is all it takes to determine whether this game is something I want to play.
Second, is the content something I’m going to struggle with?
As I said previously, personal conscience is very important and this can vary from person to person. Like in Romans 14, Paul describes eating foods sacrificed to idols. Video games can have a little nuance. For example, violence. I understand that many brothers and sisters out there believe any violence in video games is unacceptable. Full stop.
Now, if your goal of playing a video game is to live out a violent fantasy without physically hurting someone, I would agree that’s a problem. However, I don’t play video games to release suppressed rage digitally. Many games have options for blood and other graphic components, which I generally choose to switch off.
However, I have a problem with sexual content in video games because lust is quickly instantaneous. Like movies, some games may insinuate a relationship between characters. However, other games are more graphic. Is this going to make you struggle? If so, it’s not worth it. There are plenty of other games to play.
Gaming is such a fun, engaging social activity many people participate in. The communities forming are likened to sports teams (hence the rising popularity of E-Sports), which I think it’s important to engage our culture where it is but to protect ourselves while we do it.
How we do that will look different for each person as we seek God’s direction.