Gaming: The Pursuit

Posted on February 3, 2009 · Posted in Culture, Gaming, Godward Orientation, Ruling Desires, Teenagers

In the last post on gaming we looked at the difference
between the pursuit of productivity and the pursuit of fantasy. The operative
word here is pursuit. Proverbs 12:11 contrasts someone who productively
works his land with someone who chases or pursues empty fantasies. Both
individuals are in active pursuit of a goal. Sometimes the one chasing
fantasies becomes obsessed with his pursuit, even though it is meaningless.
This is true of hard-core gamers. Everything else in life becomes secondary—the
game is the thing. While your children may not be at the level of the seriously
hard-core, it is not difficult to see when the games pull them toward
obsession. You may think to yourself, what is the big deal, can’t he see
this is wasting his life? If only he could be this dedicated to do doing
something that matters!

In order to understand the attraction of electronic gaming
you must first understand that both the pursuit of things that are productive
and the pursuit of things that are empty flow from the way that God made us. I
can hear someone saying (even across cyberspace!) God didn’t make us to spend hours playing Grand Theft Auto! No, but
he did create man in his own image and task him with the responsibility to
subdue the earth and have dominion over its creatures.

 And God blessed them.
And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and
subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the
heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Genesis 1:28

Humans were created by God and instructed to subdue and
dominate the creation. This command was pre-Fall. So this task, before sin, would
have been carried out with wisdom, gentleness and with great energy! It would have been consuming in a good and
wonderful way. Adam’s first tasks were to name the animals (a form of dominion
in itself) and to guard and care for the garden. The idea of Adam and Eve
wandering around the garden with nothing more to do than soak up the sunshine
is not biblical. Rather, they were created in the image of God to develop and
govern the earth itself, for the glory of God. What a breathtaking vocation!

Like so many other good things, sin corrupted this perfect,
glorious pursuit and turned humans toward the pursuit of their own desires and
pleasures. What started as a delight to the eye for Eve has become wanton
lusting for eyes that have no concern for the honor of God. We see evidence of
this selfish pursuit written in the blood stained pages of human history. We
see humans driven to pursue personal glory no matter what the cost to them and
to others. And yes, we see some driven to pursue the beckoning world of gaming,
even if it costs them dearly in terms of relationships with others and
productivity in the “real” world. The reality is that if man is not driven to
pursue God’s glory, he will pursue his own, often not understanding fully why—not
fully understanding that he was made with a drive to achieve and dominate.

The total sensory environment provided by today’s gaming
world is seductively enticing. It entices the eyes and tempts the cravings of
the flesh. With physical feedback—from joysticks and game controllers to
surround sound, life-like graphics, and finally, to themes of escape and
conquest—electronic gaming appeals to the way God made us. Gaming appeals to man’s
ultimate function in life to subdue and to dominate. Of course, apart from the
redemptive work of Christ, that purpose has become tragically distorted and
perverted. Even Christians are tempted to pursue dominion for personal gain,
quite apart from the glory of God. The reason the gamer is so enthralled by the
games he plays is that he was made for the pursuit. Thus, the attraction
is real. It is strong. It is captivating. At this level, the attraction is similar
to the attraction of pornography. Man was also made to be a sexual being, but
the Fall has corrupted that purpose as well. So tens of millions of people,
young and old, are driven to pursue the world of online pornography instead of
pursuing sex for the glory of God. Seduction works by offering to satisfy a
valid, legitimate desire by illegitimate means. 

So, this is the first key to dealing with the power of
gaming. Understand that we were made for pursuit, for dominion, for battle.
However, because of our sin and depravity since the Fall, the natural
inclination of our hearts is to battle against the purposes that God made us
for. We battle for ourselves and the sinful cravings of the flesh
(Ephesians 2:1-3). We were born as warriors for ourselves and for Satan, not
for God.  Now, by God’s grace, Christians
are called to fight against these things. Indeed, we must be better fighters
than the world around us. In I Timothy 6, Paul urges Timothy to fight the good
fight. The way to end the pursuit of gaming is to take up a different pursuit—the
fight for the glory of God in all of life. Simply putting restrictions in place
to limit gaming will only add fuel to a raging fire. The hard-core gamer is
locked in a mortal battle, but it is not the one on his screen—it is the one in
his heart.

Since people were designed by God to take up the fight for
glory and dominion in a good way, that must be the alternative offered to your
children and to those captivated by gaming. There is a better pursuit than the
one offered by the gaming world. That is why we looked in a previous post at
examining your children’s schedules. If there are large chunks of open time in a
child's world, many voices will tempt him to empty, deceptive pursuits. Dame
Folly calls loudly to those not driven by the pursuit of the glory of God.
Simply saying no to gaming will not silence the seductive call of Folly.

Therefore, is all gaming bad? How do you instill purpose and
drive for the glory of God that can compete with gaming? The answers are
coming. Stay tuned.

 

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