A Christian Gamer’s Guidelines

I’ve been thinking more about the post I wrote a little while ago entitled “A Christian Gamer” where I walked through some of the issues I was being challenged with at being a Christian, and a gamer, and how to reconcile those things. With most of the games that I play at LAN’s being violent games, how was I to reconcile that with my views as a Christian. And when you take into consideration the Salvation Army’s reasons to abstain from Alcohol, Cigarettes and Gambling because it harms other people (as well as yourself), how can I reconcile my gaming, which appears to harm some people?

As I have been thinking about it, I have decided to come up with some “Guidelines” – I don’t want to use the word Manifesto or Creed, as these are not necessarily beliefs. These guidelines are just some observations that I want to use to try to shape my gameplay into a more Christian role.

Firstly, I would call my beliefs Moderate to Liberal. I don’t believe that we should abstain from everything that is not in the bible. I feel that there are Christians who take what is written in the bible so seriously that it scares people away from Christianity. Yes, I believe the Bible is the word of God, and that we should read it, and embrace it, and know it fully (something that I am still striving to achieve), but I also believe that we need to read the bible in context – in the context of when it was written, and the context of how we apply it today. I believe that in reading the bible in the context of today, how we apply it to our lives, we must be willing to step back, and take a more general look at the meaning of the passage, of the chapter, of the book, and of the Bible in general.

With that in mind, here are my guidelines.

1. Get my priorities sorted.

Love the LORD your God with all your heard and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:9

I have heard, in relation to becoming a priest, that your priorities should be “God First, Family Second, Church Third.” This way, you serve God, you provide for your family, and then you look after the church. It’s a matter of determining where your priorities lie, what you feel is important. This is reflected in the scripture above. Jesus said that this was the great and first commandment. Love God first, then your family (Ephesians 5:25; Proverbs 22:6), then the Church (Galatians 5:13). For me, while I enjoy Gaming, it shouldn’t come at the expense of more important things. If I haven’t spent time with God today, then surely my time can be spent better than playing some game. If I haven’t spent time with my family, then gaming surely can wait.  This then leads onto the second guideline:

2. Don’t  Get Obsessed

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God

Exodus 20:4-5a
I have heard all too many stories of people becoming obsessed with games, particularly MMORPG’s such as World of Warcraft. I have even heard of Game Addiction Rehab Clinics in places such as Amsterdam. If I am not careful, I could be drawn into these games, and not realise it. Therefore I must remain vigilant so as not to become obsessed. Exodus 20:4 talks about false idols. In the context of the day, these were idols, statues that the people would make and worship, believing them to be gods. But in today’s society, our idols are much more secluded in nature. We don’t have physical golden idols, but we do have TV, computers, magazines, celebrities – things that take our focus away from God. The first guideline helps with this, ensuring that I remain focused on God and Family. I will never rush home to play my game (this includes searching for a computer because I forgot to water my Farmville farm – which won’t be a problem as I don’t play that).

3. Game in Community

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, heal the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-15
One of the great things about gaming is that it brings you into a community. For me, I have a group of about 4-5 friends that meet up semi-regularly to play. For some of these guys, they might not go to Church regularly. By gaming with them, it opens up opportunities to chat with them about Christianity, and also to maybe invite them along to church one day. Gaming by yourself is fun sometimes, but that community aspect is one of the real joys of gaming. At the end of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he gives the final instructions above. It all boils down to respect in your community. Verse 14 says “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” For me, in relation to gaming, this verse is vital. For in community, we can chat to others about their issues, we can encourage the timid, be patient with everyone. We can make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, and try to be kind to each other and to everyone else (Verse 15). It is in community that we can follow God’s word. Hence, when we game, as often as we can we should try to aim to do so in community.

This also goes into helping others make sure that they don’t get obsessed with their gaming. Remember, the reason why this issue spoke to me was because there are people out there who are affected by games. People who do get obsessed, who can’t distinguish the difference between a video game and real life. By gaming in community, we can look out for the signs of these people, and – as Paul writes – “help the weak,” we can help them through any issues that they have, either through a chat, through possibly bringing them to Christ, or through getting them in contact with people who can help.

Conclusion

As I said, these are by no means a manifesto or creed – just some guidelines. So I would encourage others to suggest things that I might like to include. I haven’t tackled in this edition what games to play, as I feel that by following the above guidelines that it’s not so necessary – but perhaps you disagree. Does “Thou shalt not murder” include killing in video games? Comment. Discuss. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Author: Ben Clapton

I'm an Officer in The Salvation Army, currently appointed with my wife as Corps Officers at the Rochester Corps in country Victoria (20 minutes out of Echuca). I play violin and guitar, amongst many others, and love golf and running.

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