In light of the Pokemon Go craze that's endangering the safety of some gamers, and the many violent-natured shoot 'em up games like the Call of Duty and Battlefield series, one can't help but wonder: should Christians play such video games?
In a July video blog, Arizona-based Trinity Church Pastor Mark Driscoll answers whether or not it's godly for believers to play video games, and the pastor's first bit of advice is to pay attention to one's conscience.
"If your conscience is bothering you, then you've got to pay attention to that," says Driscoll. "The Bible talks a lot about our conscience in the opening chapters of Romans, places like Proverbs — that God has given us a conscience, and in addition to His Word and the Holy Spirit, God has given us a conscience to help us be sensitive to things that are ungodly or unwise. So, I would say if your conscience is bothering and burdening you, then you really need to pay attention to that."
While Driscoll admits that he doesn't play video games and doesn't know much about them, he says that when it comes to Christians and their choices about how they engage in culture, he has established three categories. Believers can: recieve, reject or redeem the options before them.
The Trinity Church pastor explains that there are instances when Christians will decide to receive what culture has to offer, such as musical styles that can be used to glorify God. Other times when believers reject culture could include inappropriate movies or technologies that are used for inappropriate behavior.
The pastor says that instances when things can be redeemed from culture — meaning that those things are not necessairly good or bad but depend on the heart and intentions of the person — might include activities like the partaking of alcohol, engaging in certain sports or certain kinds of entertainment. Driscoll says that video games fit into this category and believers should always pose the question: is this something that should be received, rejected or redeemed?
Driscoll adds, "Since the Bible doesn't mention video games we can't expressly call it a sin. What I would say as well is, as a parent of five kids, there is a redeemed element and aspect to video games, particularly for little kids — for example educational games. That would be a redeemed use of video games — they learn. They learn how to read, write, they learn their Bible verses through various educational games. That would be an example of a redeemed use."
The pastor goes on to say that the same way people find relaxation in playing golf, tennis, going to a movie, surfing the internet, or reading a book, so might someone find video games to be a relaxing outlet.
Driscoll explains that sin creeps in when individuals take things to the extreme. "Sin happens when we have excess or abuse. So it's not a sin to drink alcohol — the Lord Jesus' first miracle was making alcohol, but it is a sin to consume too much alcohol and get drunk or violate the other laws surrounding minors and the use of alcohol," he says.
"Obviously eating food is not a sin, but you can use food in a sinful way and become a glutton. Making money is not a sin but you can become very greedy and covetous. The human heart, John Calvin says, is an idol factory and we can find all kinds of ways and things to sin against God and to turn good things into bad things because our heart, in using them, is bad and as a result our use of those things is really not wise, godly or good."
Watch Pastor Mark Driscoll's full video blog here.