Here is brief summary of the posts on gaming to date.
There are at least two defining biblical principles that can be applied to gaming:
1. Gaming must not detract from a biblically productive life.
2. Gaming, if it is to be done, must proceed from faith.
Proverbs 12:11 demonstrates that electronic gaming can definitely lead to a lack of productivity. ("11 He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment." niv) The next issue, then, is to understand what drives the desire for gaming. This was examined in the post on gaming and pursuit. Finally, in the last post, we began to look at how to offer a biblical alternative. We’ll pick up that thought now.
Man was made to pursue greatness. If Adam had not sinned, our lives would have been completely productive and purposeful. Bringing honor to God would have been a 24/7 labor of delight and love. We all would have known each night the sweet sleep that follows productive days of hard work for God’s glory. Even to write these words is heartbreaking. I think of all the things that I could have done, and at times I am overwhelmed by the ravages of sin in this area of productivity. Sin has and is calling God’s people to a life that is counterproductive to God’s glory. Teenagers who are capable of great things are corrupted by games masquerading as meaningful pursuits. Adults who could be participating in adding to the reputation of God are instead captivated by chasing rabbit trails on Facebook and watching reality TV that is contrived to appeal to human vanities. What plagues the gamers often plagues their parents as well.
In the last post I suggested that we place gaming in the context of creation, the fall and redemption. It is only in this context that the real damage done by excessive gaming can be seen. Our culture is attempting with renewed vigor to rid itself of a Christian worldview. By stripping away the wonder of creation and the hope of redemption in Christ we are left with only the perspective of the fall. In our culture there is no appreciation for man as he was created, only as he is evolving. Thus, there is no need for redemption. Man’s fallen state has become the norm. In order to think biblically about life as Christians we must consider all three perspectives. What could life have been like? How has sin distorted what could have been? How does the redemptive work of Christ allow us to redeem that which was lost? Colossians 2:8 warns against being captivated by a worldview that considers only our fallen state. "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."
The human traditions of this world know only the perspective of the fall and, therefore, try to deceive us into thinking that man is not really fallen, but simply evolving. Yes, man is flawed, but he is getting better. Creation and redemption are ideals born of myth and oppressive religion. An evolving man has no need of a Savior and redemption; he will heal himself.
So what does this have to with gaming? Well, it explains many of the dark areas of electronic gaming. Themes of demons, hell and graphic violence are mixed together with themes of conquest and challenge. Sin is just dark fiction—not reality, and certainly not damning. So these themes are not wrong in themselves. There is no God to offend, only senses to stimulate. This is the result of living life without a true understanding of both creation and the fall.
This understanding of the creation and the fall should help to answer a question asked by one reader. She asked for a concrete example of this statement: conformity to the world means to attempt to change the impact of the fall without the vision of creation. Here is an example as it relates to gaming. You see your teenager locked into gaming mode. You know he is consumed by the games that he plays. His schoolwork is suffering. He has no time for family or friends outside of his gaming milieu. If you look at the problem of too much gaming only from the perspective of the fall, you may offer a solution that is just as defective as the problem. If all you do is to limit the time spent on gaming or attempt to eliminate the games completely you haven’t addressed why he plays. You have only addressed how he plays. This is looking at the problem without the vision of creation.
We are made to pursue great and meaningful things. But since the fall we naturally pursue things that please us rather than God. Some may pursue excellence in sports or the arts or business achievements. Others may pursue excellence in the escapist world of games. The gamer can’t tell the difference. And indeed, without living for the glory of God there isn’t much difference. As Ecclesiastes says, life without God is meaningless, empty and vain.
How do you help bring about change in your gamer? When the human drive for conquest and pursuit that has been fueled by intense gaming, trying to stop or redirect this drive is like trying to stop a runaway train. If you don't understand and address the reason this drive is so compelling, you will only frustrate both yourself and your teenager. But, if you can help him see biblically why gaming is so compelling, you may be able to help him see the dangers in gaming for what they truly are. The only truly satisfying alternative to the driving allure of gaming lies in the redemptive work of Christ.
Parents, before you can pass on this redemptive understanding to your teenagers, it must first be what drives you. You must have a clear vision that is shaped by the wonder of creation and the hope of redemption. This is where the second defining principle comes into play. To understand the redemptive work of Christ, you must first be driven by faith in Christ. We will take this up in the next post.