Last updated on September 24, 2020
I play and own video games, and I enjoy playing them. Some of the video games I play have sexual topics in them, but I know about how sex outside of marriage is wrong. So I avoid the sex in video games, I don’t ever let it influence me. And it never has, when I play the games, I do so because I enjoy driving a car or flying an airplane, for example. Not because of the sex in them.
I often find myself pondering things about the Bible and God while I’m playing them, they’re just a backdrop. So, am I sinning by playing video games with sex in them, even though I’m not addicted to the game, don’t play it for the sex, don’t let influence my thoughts or actions. And understand that fornication is wrong?
Let me clarify and state that whether we are talking about a video game with profanity, sexual situations, sinful role-playing, or a movie that contains the same, or television show, or music, or a book, the answer remains the same.
The difficult part of making moral decisions like this is the money you invested in it. It is hard to let go of something that you decide is wrong if you paid money for it.
Video games that contain brief elements of wrongfulness are more difficult to handle than a book or movie. With a book or movie, there are ways to edit out the unwanted material. The video game industry doesn’t give that option.
Here are some ways to decide about whether a game should go or not:
- If a preacher or elder walked in at the wrong moment, would you be trying to hide what was on the screen?
- If you have a younger brother, would you want him to look at it? Would you want to explain it to him if he asked questions?
- Do you find it provocative, titillating, or arousing?
I would rather be like Job: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1).
Jesus taught, “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light” (Luke 11:34-36). In other words, where you look, what you focus upon, influences what you do. A person who looks at pornography has less resistance to committing a sexual sin than a person who does not look at pornography. A person who hears profanity a lot will tend to use profanity, especially when he isn’t thinking carefully.
In the computer business, we had the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” to state that the quality of information you got out of a computer is only equal to what you put into it. The same is true of the human mind. If you fill your mind with garbage, it is bound to come out. That is why you see studies which note that people who watch a lot of violence tend to be more violent.
What we do starts first with what we think about. “And He said, “‘hat comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man’” (Mark 7:20-23). Since you can’t play a video game, watch a show, listen to music, or read a book without thinking about its content, it is clear that the content is going to influence the way you behave.
“Don’t be deceived! ‘Evil companionships corrupt good morals’” (I Corinthians 15:33). Knowing the strength of the influence friends exert over our behavior, we must also be careful about the other things we hang out within our lives. Therefore, when I select a book, I avoid books that contain profanity or which glorifies sex outside of marriage. I’ve just about given up watching television because of the extreme prevalence of profanity, skimpy clothing, and one night stands — and that doesn’t consider the commercials being shown! The same standard should be applied to video games. If what is being depicted is sinful, then Christians shouldn’t be playing them. Why should I put myself in the role of doing what I cannot morally do in real life?
Just because a person makes a claim that he is not being influenced, it doesn’t necessarily follow that his claim is true. The problem when dealing with sin is realizing that it is deceptive. “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:13). A person can be fully convinced that he isn’t being influenced, but he hasn’t been tested so how would he know? For example, I know Christians who don’t use profanity in church and who claim to be able to go movies with profanity without being effected, yet I also know that when they get angry all sorts of profanity pours from their mouth. Somehow they have convinced themselves that they have no problem with profanity.
I’ve also had Christians recommend movies to me, we rented them and had to turn them off within minutes because there was too much profanity. When asked how I liked the movie, I mentioned that we didn’t watch it because of the bad language. What saddens me is the typical response: “I didn’t notice!” That is the problem! We get so numb to sin that we don’t even see it when it is in front of us. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). These Christians are unable to see the difference anymore.
One of the problems with many movies is that evil is not always portrayed as evil. The hero jumps into bed with the heroine to show that they love each other, and this is supposed to be a good thing. I talk to so many young people who are now convinced that this is the way it is supposed to work. I just had a young man tell me once that I didn’t understand. Sexual talk (phone sex) is how people express their love these days. He refused to see that Satan was playing him for a fool.
There is an old cliche that if you say something often enough, people believe it. It certainly is true with most movies. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Timothy 4:1-2). While they might not have gone so far in their sins, it is still a problem that they are becoming numb to the existence of sin.
Video games can take this a step further. You are no longer a passive watcher but an active participant. True, it is all imaginative, but think of what it is doing to your thoughts and your natural response to evil.
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 6:14 – 7:1).
Yet instead of seeking a separation from sinful ideas, we welcome them in because they are called “entertaining.” One of the things my own family has done is to get a TV Guardian. It reads the closed caption on movies and TV shows. If it sees inappropriate language, it kills the sound and displays an edited closed caption statement on the screen. We also have a ClearPlay DVD player. It takes things further by using an editing script to remove bad language and inappropriate scenes from movies. We rarely watch anyway, but these tools make life much easier. Now we can see a movie without being subjected to things we object to as Christians.
“I have hated the assembly of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked. I will wash my hands in innocence; so I will go about Your altar, O LORD that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works” (Psalm 26:5-7).
Take note of the following passage where Peter urges Christians to gird up the loins of the mind.
“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy”” (I Peter 1:13-16).
In the old days, people wore robes, which made running hard. So when activity was needed they would pull up the back of their robes through their legs and tuck them through the front of their belts. The result looked something like long shorts. Then they were ready to work or run. Peter is telling Christians to get their minds ready to be holy. It is not just what you do but also preparing what you think. Flirting with the edges of inappropriate thoughts is not the way to get prepared for proper thought.