This text deals with the question whether Christians are allowed to play video games. For some, the answer seems clear as day, while others obviously have arguments for and against. But for the very impatient, you will find the answer right in the next paragraph.
Are Christians allowed to play video games? The simple answer: Christians are generally allowed to play video games, but they should be careful about what games they play and what content they have. For more discussion, see this article.
Table of Contents
Are video games generally Christian?
There are people who simply demonize everything. There are even Christians who reject all electricity because it is not in the Bible and therefore must come from Satan, or they can’t be sure that it pleases God and so they don’t do it. These people are Amish. With these Christians you rather don’t have to discuss whether they reject video games or not,- those who don’t have electricity can’t reject video games.
But seriously: Of course, the question implies that it is okay to use certain modern techniques without offending God or requiring a corresponding provision in the Bible.
Since the Bible was completed almost 2000 years ago, we can’t read anything directly about video games in it. Or television. Or the Internet. So we need to see what principles can be applied here.
First of all, the following principle applies: No matter, no matter what I write here: If the Holy Spirit makes you feel bad or you have a funny feeling about playing a video game… then don’t! God is trying to tell you something. But please don’t take your personal attitude as universal!
If you have an obvious gaming problem, neglecting your friends or letting yourself go: In this case you should also keep your hands off video games! Please do not use this text to make excuses for yourself. If you are in such an extreme situation: Leave the controller!
For all other Christians, and I honestly hope that most of them are, the following applies: A video game is also just a medium for a message, similar principle as a movie or a book. All three are not per se unchristian or from Satan, but first of all a neutral medium.
Are video games mentioned in the Bible?
I already mentioned it: The Bible says nothing about computer games in particular. But it also says nothing about cars and airplanes, knights and the invention of the steam engine. Nevertheless, the Bible is timeless because it conveys a principle instead of rigid rules.
The principle is: If it destroys you and turns you away from God, you should leave it. The effect of this can vary from medium to medium and does not necessarily have to be transferred to video or computer games, or must be adapted to them. Otherwise, there are many things in this world that are neither good nor evil, but simply tools that man works with.
In the following, I will try to apply various principles of the Bible to video and computer games. In this, I think, there is not much difference whether the game runs on a computer or on a Playstation.
Is playing video games a sin in Christianity?
Video games are a neutral medium for the time being. Thus, on the one hand, the content of the video game counts, whether it is suitable for Christians or not, and on the other hand, the attitude of the individual Christian towards the video game counts.
For this chapter, no great distinction is made between whether a Christian derives lasting pleasure from a particular game or from playing video games in general. For this argument, we consider the relationship between the Christian and the video game.
The Bible clearly states that we are to have no other idols beside us. This also aims for general items available in everyday life. Classically, money is often taken as an example at this point. But it can also be the car, the computer, the Ming vase collection that serves as a substitute god (aka idol).
Healthy and unhealthy relationship between video game and Christians
Anything that distracts from worshiping God or has an alternative worldview can be a potential source of danger for Christians. It may sound a bit strained, but let’s compare it to an alcoholic: for most people, drinking alcohol is not a problem and they rarely think of continuing after a night of drinking (a salute goes out to all students at this point). An alcoholic, on the other hand, cannot control his consumption and has to drink more and more alcohol.
If we now transfer this picture to video games, it can look something like this: It is no problem, if a Christian plays now and then and has thereby his joy or plays even with friends – if this Christian dives however into the, from the video game presented, world, and does not want to come out, an idol is present – and this is definitely not good!
Video games and occult worlds
The vast majority of video games build a virtual world in some way. In some games it is obvious (like World of Warcraft), in others it is not immediately clear (like Super Mario Bros). Each of these worlds hosts a set of certain rules.
These can be rules like: The character can jump up this way and that way. It can go left and right. It can pick up items. She loses life points on contact with enemies. The main character can shoot or not shoot. The character can talk to others or not. Picking up mushrooms gives new life points, etc.
At the same time, depending on the genre, certain rules apply to each game. In Jump n Run games characters can jump, in all first-person shooters players can fire a gun, in role-playing games players can cast certain spells.
It is these very rules that make a particular game unchristian or not. (Although again, if the Holy Spirit doesn’t get involved, it may still be okay for the individual) Especially in role-playing games, occult is deeply integrated into the game or game world: Herbs must be sought, healing spells can be cast, or demons can be summoned or destroyed.
This puts you in a video game with a clearly occult realm – The Bible (and thus God) is quite clear about this: God alone possesses this power. He alone should be trusted. If people today receive special abilities, that by God’s grace alone – and not by any herbs or special spells!
In this respect I say: Such games should be enjoyed with caution! People who have ever had to deal with occultism should avoid this kind of game in any case. Christians who believe to be plagued by demons should definitely abstain from it for a while and see what happens. The other Christians please listen to the Holy Spirit!
Video games with anti-Christian behavior (aka Is playing GTA 5 a sin?)
However, these rules of video games do not only affect the worlds of video games, but also the deeds. Depending on the video game, the player must perform some deeds that are clearly not Christian.
If you know some video games, you surely have an image in your mind: a player runs around with a gun and shoots other characters dead. Or goes into other people’s houses and steals resources from chests. Or is as a king in the task to conquer foreign land. Rarely, but definitely present, there is the task to have sex with certain women.
I think I don’t really need to explain that this behavior, which is forced on the player by the mechanics (the rules of the world), is not particularly Christian.
To what extent one personally associates these tasks with oneself is up to each Christian for themselves. It should be said, however, that many players reflect this behavior on themselves and say: “I have defeated this opponent”. Here, there is no longer a clear boundary between reality as a Christian and the virtual world.
So whether such a game is considered an idol or not depends on the player’s ability to abstract from the game: Does the latter perceive it as a game and can separate himself from it or not? If a demarcation is not possible at all, a Christian should possibly keep his hands off this video game.
Christians and violence in PC and console games
I don’t want to miss to write some words about the topic Christians and violence. Who has read the text above, will surely be able to imagine how it is with baller games. A violent game is a game that is primarily focused on the use of (virtual) weapons and usually puts the player in the position of a hero and kills other (virtual) people.
That a wild shooting around should not directly belong to the Christian life is clear. But this is a virtual abstraction and many people are able to distinguish between reality and game. The same applies, for example, after watching a corresponding TV movie.
As a Christian, one should be honest here: Why does it appeal to play this game? Is it because of the exercise of power? Is it because of the social interactions between the players (e.g. via internet)? In my opinion, the same principles can be applied here as described in the previous chapter and in the beginning: If the game seems morally questionable to the person, he or she should stop playing.
Whether Christians are allowed to play video games is a clear “yes”. It is generally okay. Nevertheless, each Christian should decide for himself whether the content of the individual game takes him too much away from God and is thus an idol (substitute God);- because this is the danger that can happen.
To have an approximate orientation, the respective person should keep in mind the time per week and his own conscience.