Gaming: The Alternative (part 2)

Posted on February 6, 2009 · Posted in Culture, Gaming, Godward Orientation, Teenagers, Worldview

Here is brief summary of the posts on gaming to date.

There are at least two defining biblical principles that can
be applied to gaming:

1.  Gaming must not detract
from a biblically productive life.

2.  Gaming, if it is to be
done, must proceed from faith.

Proverbs 12:11 demonstrates that electronic gaming can
definitely lead to a lack of productivity. ("11
He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies
lacks judgment." niv) The next
issue, then, is to understand what drives the desire for gaming. This was
examined in the post on gaming and pursuit. Finally, in the last post, we began
to look at how to offer a biblical alternative. We’ll pick up that thought now.

Man was made to pursue greatness. If Adam had not sinned,
our lives would have been completely productive and purposeful. Bringing honor to
God would have been a 24/7 labor of delight and love. We all would have known
each night the sweet sleep that follows productive days of hard work for God’s
glory. Even to write these words is heartbreaking. I think of all the things
that I could have done, and at times I am overwhelmed by the ravages of sin in
this area of productivity. Sin has and is calling God’s people to a life that
is counterproductive to God’s glory. Teenagers who are capable of great things
are corrupted by games masquerading as meaningful pursuits. Adults who could be
participating in adding to the reputation of God are instead captivated by chasing
rabbit trails on Facebook and watching reality TV that is contrived to appeal
to human vanities. What plagues the gamers often plagues their parents as well.

In the last post I suggested that we place gaming in the
context of creation, the fall and redemption. It is only in this context that
the real damage done by excessive gaming can be seen. Our culture is attempting
with renewed vigor to rid itself of a Christian worldview. By stripping away
the wonder of creation and the hope of redemption in Christ we are left with
only the perspective of the fall. In our culture there is no appreciation for man as he was created, only as he
is evolving. Thus, there is no need for redemption. Man’s fallen state has
become the norm. In order to think biblically about life as Christians we must
consider all three perspectives. What could life have been like? How has sin
distorted what could have been? How does the redemptive work of Christ allow us
to redeem that which was lost? Colossians 2:8 warns against being captivated by
a worldview that considers only our fallen state. "See to it that no
one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on
human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

The human
traditions of this world know only the perspective of the fall and, therefore,
try to deceive us into thinking that man is not really fallen, but simply evolving.
Yes, man is flawed, but he is getting better. Creation and redemption are ideals born of myth and oppressive religion.
An evolving man has no need of a Savior and redemption; he will heal himself.

So what does this
have to with gaming? Well, it explains many of the dark areas of electronic
gaming. Themes of demons, hell and graphic violence are mixed together with
themes of conquest and challenge. Sin is just dark fiction—not reality, and
certainly not damning. So these themes are not wrong in themselves. There is no
God to offend, only senses to stimulate. This is the result of living life
without a true understanding of both creation and the fall. 

This understanding
of the creation and the fall should help to answer a question asked by one
reader. She asked for a concrete example of this statement:
conformity to the world means to attempt to
change the impact of the fall without the vision of creation.
Here is an
example as it relates to gaming. You see your teenager locked into gaming mode.
You know he is consumed by the games that he plays. His schoolwork is
suffering. He has no time for family or friends outside of his gaming milieu.
If you look at the problem of too much gaming only from the perspective of the
fall, you may offer a solution that is just as defective as the problem. If all
you do is to limit the time spent on gaming or attempt to eliminate the games
completely you haven’t addressed why he plays. You have only addressed how he
plays. This is looking at the problem without the vision of creation.

 We are made to pursue
great and meaningful things. But since the fall we naturally pursue things that
please us rather than God. Some may pursue excellence in sports or the arts or
business achievements. Others may pursue excellence in the escapist world of games.
The gamer can’t tell the difference. And indeed, without living for the glory
of God there isn’t much difference. As Ecclesiastes
says, life without God is meaningless, empty and vain.

How do you help bring about change in your gamer? When the human
drive for conquest and pursuit that has been fueled by intense gaming, trying
to stop or redirect this drive is like trying to stop a runaway train. If you
don't understand and address the reason this drive is so compelling, you will
only frustrate both yourself and your teenager. But, if you can help him see
biblically why gaming is so compelling, you may be able to help him see the
dangers in gaming for what they truly are. The only truly satisfying
alternative to the driving allure of gaming lies in the redemptive work of
Christ.

Parents, before you can pass on this redemptive
understanding to your teenagers, it must first be what drives you. You must
have a clear vision that is shaped by the wonder of creation and the hope of
redemption. This is where the second defining principle comes into play. To understand
the redemptive work of Christ, you must first be driven by faith in Christ. We
will take this up in the next post.

 

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