In the last post on gaming we looked at the difference between the pursuit of productivity and the pursuit of fantasy. The operative word here is pursuit. Proverbs 12:11 contrasts someone who productively works his land with someone who chases or pursues empty fantasies. Both individuals are in active pursuit of a goal. Sometimes the one chasing fantasies becomes obsessed with his pursuit, even though it is meaningless. This is true of hard-core gamers. Everything else in life becomes secondary—the game is the thing. While your children may not be at the level of the seriously hard-core, it is not difficult to see when the games pull them toward obsession. You may think to yourself, what is the big deal, can’t he see this is wasting his life? If only he could be this dedicated to do doing something that matters!
In order to understand the attraction of electronic gaming you must first understand that both the pursuit of things that are productive and the pursuit of things that are empty flow from the way that God made us. I can hear someone saying (even across cyberspace!) God didn’t make us to spend hours playing Grand Theft Auto! No, but he did create man in his own image and task him with the responsibility to subdue the earth and have dominion over its creatures.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Genesis 1:28
Humans were created by God and instructed to subdue and dominate the creation. This command was pre-Fall. So this task, before sin, would have been carried out with wisdom, gentleness and with great energy! It would have been consuming in a good and wonderful way. Adam’s first tasks were to name the animals (a form of dominion in itself) and to guard and care for the garden. The idea of Adam and Eve wandering around the garden with nothing more to do than soak up the sunshine is not biblical. Rather, they were created in the image of God to develop and govern the earth itself, for the glory of God. What a breathtaking vocation!
Like so many other good things, sin corrupted this perfect, glorious pursuit and turned humans toward the pursuit of their own desires and pleasures. What started as a delight to the eye for Eve has become wanton lusting for eyes that have no concern for the honor of God. We see evidence of this selfish pursuit written in the blood stained pages of human history. We see humans driven to pursue personal glory no matter what the cost to them and to others. And yes, we see some driven to pursue the beckoning world of gaming, even if it costs them dearly in terms of relationships with others and productivity in the “real” world. The reality is that if man is not driven to pursue God’s glory, he will pursue his own, often not understanding fully why—not fully understanding that he was made with a drive to achieve and dominate.
The total sensory environment provided by today’s gaming world is seductively enticing. It entices the eyes and tempts the cravings of the flesh. With physical feedback—from joysticks and game controllers to surround sound, life-like graphics, and finally, to themes of escape and conquest—electronic gaming appeals to the way God made us. Gaming appeals to man’s ultimate function in life to subdue and to dominate. Of course, apart from the redemptive work of Christ, that purpose has become tragically distorted and perverted. Even Christians are tempted to pursue dominion for personal gain, quite apart from the glory of God. The reason the gamer is so enthralled by the games he plays is that he was made for the pursuit. Thus, the attraction is real. It is strong. It is captivating. At this level, the attraction is similar to the attraction of pornography. Man was also made to be a sexual being, but the Fall has corrupted that purpose as well. So tens of millions of people, young and old, are driven to pursue the world of online pornography instead of pursuing sex for the glory of God. Seduction works by offering to satisfy a valid, legitimate desire by illegitimate means.
So, this is the first key to dealing with the power of gaming. Understand that we were made for pursuit, for dominion, for battle. However, because of our sin and depravity since the Fall, the natural inclination of our hearts is to battle against the purposes that God made us for. We battle for ourselves and the sinful cravings of the flesh (Ephesians 2:1-3). We were born as warriors for ourselves and for Satan, not for God. Now, by God’s grace, Christians are called to fight against these things. Indeed, we must be better fighters than the world around us. In I Timothy 6, Paul urges Timothy to fight the good fight. The way to end the pursuit of gaming is to take up a different pursuit—the fight for the glory of God in all of life. Simply putting restrictions in place to limit gaming will only add fuel to a raging fire. The hard-core gamer is locked in a mortal battle, but it is not the one on his screen—it is the one in his heart.
Since people were designed by God to take up the fight for glory and dominion in a good way, that must be the alternative offered to your children and to those captivated by gaming. There is a better pursuit than the one offered by the gaming world. That is why we looked in a previous post at examining your children’s schedules. If there are large chunks of open time in a child's world, many voices will tempt him to empty, deceptive pursuits. Dame Folly calls loudly to those not driven by the pursuit of the glory of God. Simply saying no to gaming will not silence the seductive call of Folly.
Therefore, is all gaming bad? How do you instill purpose and drive for the glory of God that can compete with gaming? The answers are coming. Stay tuned.