A few weeks ago, my pastor mentioned Grand Theft Auto V in a sermon. He did so casually, and wondered if violent video games were linked to violence in the physical world.
He also mentioned that our congregation had a LOT of doctors and PhDs, and he wants to find ways of engaging with the scientific community on matters of faith.
These two thoughts cemented an idea I’ve had for a long time. After some consideration, I proposed a program to the pastoral team: a talk and discussion about video game concerns with parents. I’ve taught a class on video games before, so I’m familiar with all the research about violence, body image, sexuality, race and gender issues in games, addiction, fitness and obesity, and more. Video games have been controversial for 40 years.
In this program, then, I’ll talk about what the research actually says on these controversies, and explain to parents how the video game rating system works, giving them guidelines so they know how to choose games appropriately for their kids.
To help promote the program, one of the pastor’s asked me to write an article for his blog about how playing video games can glorify God. The following is an excerpt, with a link to the rest of the article:
Video games have been a huge part of my life ever since I was five or six. I’ve been playing for over 20 years and have spent countless hours mastering so many games I can’t keep track of them all.
A few years ago, I was trying to explain to my friend, a fellow Christian, why I enjoyed video games and how I thought they were beneficial to my faith. He dismissed my explanation and thought I was just trying to justify mindless entertainment. Maybe so. After studying mass communication in school for the past decade, it’s natural that I reflect a lot on my media consumption. As a Christian, I am constantly endeavoring (often unsuccessfully) to point my life to God.
I played video games for about 10 years before I found Christ. At first, my Christian faith didn’t have much effect on the kinds of games I played or the way I played games. But slowly, God has been molding me after His image, so I think it’s possible that at least some of the games I play are glorifying to God. If He were beside me on the couch, I think He might even like playing video games with me.