Faith and Gaming: Admonition

For three years this column has been presenting thoughts on our Christian faith and how it relates to our games. In that time we have considered some of the essential aspects of play, looked at how to express our faith through our games, our relationships with other players, some of the difficult issues that are raised, and the objections others have made to our hobby. We have covered a lot of ground and made a lot of progress, revealing at every turn that fantasy, science fiction, role playing games, and other hobby games are legitimate and even praiseworthy pursuits for Christians.

Yet there are still many Christians out there who do not understand, and who have become entrenched in their positions. Further, there are still gamers who reject Christianity without discussion. We are still more the outcasts of these two groups than the bridge between them.

This was brought home to me recently when on a Christian forum I frequent someone attacked The Lord of the Rings. The attacker claimed these stories were supposed to be children’s books (apparently because they were fantasy), but were excessively violent and promoted superstition particularly among those too young to distinguish fantasy from reality. She went so far as to suggest that Jesus and the apostles would not have attended these movies, and that there was nothing in them that should appeal to any Christian.

I, of course, responded to this. I pointed to fantasy as a valuable form of literature for adults, citing several of the articles which are linked from the Chaplain’s Corner resources here. I defended the violence as an expression of the battle between good and evil that rages more subtly in reality. I showed how the question of what Jesus would have done in cases like this leads us back to our own opinions and not to any useful truth. I argued that supernatural superstition was an important chink in the naturalist defense system in which the people of this world are so heavily armored. I cited Mr. Rogers as proof that the youngest of our children understand the distinction between real and make believe. I wrote an essay in a forum post, showing that the objections had no force.

To this, I received the dismissive response that I protested too much, backed up by a citation from Proverbs about there being sin in too many words and wisdom in being quiet.

If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?

These words from I Corinthians 10:30 put the matter in perspective. These brothers and sisters who are decrying our hobbies as unchristian activities are slandering us. If this is something we can enjoy and receive from God as a good gift, why do we have to keep silent when well-meaning but misguided Christians attack them, and through them us?

We don’t have to keep silent; we are, in fact, admonished not to do so. Paul tells us in Romans 14:16, Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil. That is an order, a commandment: stand up for the good things God has given us, and let people know that they are mistaken, that this is not some wickedness destroying the church but a wonderful part of the freedom we have in Christ.

As for those among the lost who will not hear the gospel because they are so opposed to Christians, I don’t recall God ever saying that they would be won by our words. Our light shines through our deeds. Some will be impressed that we choose to stand against the error propagated among our own brethren. Some will see the light in the games we play with them. Some will be reached simply by rubbing shoulders with us, discovering that we’re people, but we’re different. Gamers do appreciate it when we apologize for the harsh words they’ve heard from other Christians; but they appreciate it far more when we show them the difference.

This article was originally published in April 2004 on the Christian Gamers Guild’s website. The entire series remains available at its original URL.

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