I have been aware for some time, of conversations with my wife and her friends about their husband’s computer gaming obsessions. ‘After dinner, most nights he just goes to bed and plays on the Xbox until I come to bed hours later…’ one mum said.
I was quite surprised she let him get away with this! Things are very different in our household where we equally complete daily chores – having worked all day or not.
Later that night, I said to my wife, ‘I can’t believe Sue (not her real name) lets Joe (not his real name) get away with just playing games every night? What about... everything else like chores, spending time with their family etc.’ My wife said it’s actually quite common amongst her friends and it does cause relationship issues.
Now I am no anti-gamer and have in fact enjoyed computer games for as long as I remember, although the time spent on this has become almost non-existent since having a family. This made me wonder…
Is computer or console gaming OK or should it be labelled as a complete waste of time to be avoided?
Pondering this for some time, I feel God does not ever say ‘you shall not have fun’.
Rules of leisure
I think having a good time is not a sin, but we should pay attention to the principles God has laid out for godly living when we do engage in activities of leisure, for as is mentioned in Colossians chapter 3, verse 17 - “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”.
So whatever activity it is we are doing, we should always make sure these activities are pleasing to God. Things like computers, food, wine, money etc. are morally neutral. Wine, for example, is neither good nor evil – it’s what we do with it which makes it so.
I like to apply the scriptural logic to activities like playing computer games.
We are free to do so - we are no worse if we do not play computer games and no better if we do.
Paul points out in 1 Corinthians chapter 8, verse 8 “…if food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat and no better if we do.” This is immediately followed by a statement in the next verse which we should apply to all our activities.
1 Corinthians chapter 8 verse 9 says - “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” Our freedom to relax and enjoy our lives should never cause others to stumble in their faith. If we know someone has an addiction to gaming or has so in the past, it is probably best not to talk ‘games’ with them.
The other side of the coin
There is, of course, the other side of the coin where people become so engrossed in computer games to the point it becomes an addiction or a means to escape reality.
It is possible in some games, to play out acts which we would not normally perform – I feel it is good to stay clear of these types of games, games which would very much be considered un-godly.
According to scripture, it appears God does not want us to be under the influence of unbelievers and their activities. We may associate with them, as Christ did when he ate dinner with tax collectors and sinners, but we should not allow ourselves to be influenced away from godly things.
Be godly in all things
I really feel if the games one plays are overly violent and ungodly by design, we should steer clear of them – if we would not, and should not, partake of such things in real life, what makes it ok to simulate such things virtually?
Scripture tells us to keep a clear conscience, desiring to act holy in all things (Hebrews chapter 13 verse18). If we can keep a clear conscience about what we are playing, then all the better.
A positive point is we can minister to those in online games. A place where many people go to escape the world, we can share the light of God’s love in there, the same as we can anywhere else.
So, I conclude, play games in moderation – as you would any recreational activity.
Do not put your daily priorities, responsibilities, time with God, your family and friends aside and be godly in everything you do – games included.
Michael Dahlenburg is an electronics technician currently working in the ATM industry. He is non-denominational and has previously been involved in church plants and assisting those in ministry. His interests include; enjoying family, home DIY, gardening, most things tech-related and driving his wife crazy with a constant stream of inventions!
He lives with his wife Michelle and three children in God’s own land of Southern Adelaide, Australia.
Michael Dahlenburg’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/michael-dahlenburg.html