Gaming: a Biblical perspective
What does God have to say about computer and console games?
Lots of teenagers love to spend their free time playing computer and console games.
These games are often lots of fun, and can be played alone or in groups, either in person or over the internet.
But if you’re a Christian, you might be wondering: is gaming a good way to spend my time? What does the Bible have to say about this activity?
Well, since the Bible was written nearly 2000 years ago (and longer!), it understandably doesn’t say anything specific about activities like gaming. But there are still some good principles we can take from the Bible that help us understand what God wants us to do when it comes to gaming.
Let’s consider some key questions and what the Bible has to say on different aspects of gaming.
What is the content of your game?
While there are many computer and console games that are very innocent and lots of fun, other games can be excessively violent or sexualized.
For example, the Grand Theft Auto games involve murder, prostitution, rape and drug dealing.
We need to be very careful of these games.
Philippians 4:8 says: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Sometimes, the games that we play can cause us to think about very different things that what is good and right.
Video or computer games that are pornographic and cause you to lust are dangerous for your mind and your heart. And games that are really violent can make images like that seem normal to you, which can change the way you view the world and understand good and evil.
Be very careful what you put in your mind!
How much are you gaming?
Like many other things, gaming can quickly become an addiction. I’ve heard many stories of people who love gaming so much, they start neglecting other things in life – like school, friends, family, and even God.
One of the 10 Commandments that God gives his people is ‘You shall have no other gods before me’. Anything that becomes more important than God in your life is an idol, and you need to get rid of it.
Pay attention to how much you are gaming. You may find it helpful to set daily or weekly time limits to make sure you aren’t becoming addicted.
How does gaming impact your relationships?
Gaming can be a social activity, but it can also have serious negative effects on our friendships and relationships.
If you’re struggling with the amount of time you spend playing single-player games, you may find yourself neglecting your relationships. But even if you’ve got your time management under control or you only play with others, you may still find that the games you play impact your friendships.
Gaming can be very competitive, and while a bit of competition is fine, it’s not a strong foundation on which to build a friendship. If the main activity you and your friends enjoy together is gaming, consider how this may be impacting the way you relate to each other.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 urges Christians to, “encourage one another and build each other up”. It’s hard to do that when you’re constantly using put-downs and trading ‘burns’ with your gaming buddies.
Some games allow you to play online against strangers. While this can be fun, it’s important to be wary of who you’re communicating with. Plus importantly, remember than online relationships can never replace face to face friendships.
So can I game?
I think the short answer is yes. Gaming is fine for Christians, but as with all activities we need to exercise discretion and caution.
Be careful with the content of your games, the time you spend and the way they impact your relationships. And if you’re concerned about your gaming habit, chat with a trusted Christian adult.