Video game use (“gaming”) has become extremely popular in recent decades. Popular platforms–such as the Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation, and Microsoft Xbox–decorate entertainment systems in homes all over the world. Children and adults spend endless hours mastering these games and playing with friends online, and many games are even being played on smartphones or computers.
However, what does the Bible say about playing video games? Should Christians play video games? Is the act of playing a video game a sin? Are there Bible verses condemning video games? These are all questions a Christian may ponder.
Let’s see what the Bible says about being a “gamer.”
What the Bible Says About Playing Video Games
The Short Answer: There is nothing wrong with playing appropriately rated/themed video games on occasion. The Bible never mentions video games directly, but this would fall under the “Christian freedom” category of life issues. Video games can be used in a way so that people can enjoy recreation (and even bond with family or friends).
However, like most things, playing a video game can become sinful if it is done in the wrong way. Games that contain inappropriate sexual themes, profanity, witchcraft/satanic content, brutal violence/bullying, and other similar content should be avoided. In addition, video games should not become an idol that interferes with other activities that God has commanded us to do.
Anything we set before our eyes, whether it be a filthy television show or blood-thirsty video game, can influence us dramatically. Therefore, we should use wisdom and discretion in all of our activities.
Playing Video Games that Contain Profanity (Curse Words)
Many “online gaming” cultures are filled with trash talk and profanity. In addition, many “role playing games” (RPGs) contain profanity (cursing) in the video game itself, but the Bible warns us to avoid profanity:
“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Colossians 3:8).
“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matthew 15:11).
“If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26).
Inappropriate Sexual Themes or Pornographic Content
Some video games feature inappropriate sexual behavior, such as fornication, adultery, and so forth. The Bible clearly condemns such behavior. Furthermore, some video games contain characters dressed in skimpy clothing, or they feature nudity (pornography) or erotic themes. The Bible warns against pornography and similar sexual content:
Psalm 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.
Matthew 5:27-28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Playing Video Games that Promote Violence or Bullying
Some video games also promote killing, brutal violence, or bullying. It is truly alarming to watch clips of some of the video games being marketed to our children. Playing (or viewing) this type of brutal violence–even if it is in video game format–is a sin:
The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. (Psalm 11:5)
Magic, Witchcraft, and New Ageism
Some video games promote satanic characters (or goals), new ageism, or themes that come from false religions such as Buddhism. In addition, games with wizardry, magic, spells, witchcraft, etc. should also be avoided:
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
Video Games Can Become an Idol
When most people think of an “idol,” they think of a carved image. However, that simply isn’t true. An idol is anything you love more, serve more, or fear more that God. An idol can also be anything that you allow to interfere with God’s commands. Jesus said that we cannot serve two masters.
How can video games become an idol?
If you play video games when you should be studying the Bible or going to church, it’s an idol. If you spend hundreds of dollars on video game systems, games, and memberships–rather than tithing or taking care of important financial matters–it is an idol. If you play video games when you should be spending time with your spouse or child, it is an idol. If you play video games when you should be working or doing homework, it’s an idol.
So long as you are taking care of the things that God commands you to take care of in life, there is nothing wrong with playing video games during short times of leisure.
Sometimes, It’s Time to Grow Up
While many adults still play video games for fun with their children or friends (and there’s nothing wrong with that when done judiciously), we must also learn to mature and grow as adults and Christians. Sometimes, it’s best to put down the controller and focus on more important things in life. I’m reminded by something the Apostle Paul wrote:
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).
Adults should never allow their lives to be characterized or dominated by “gaming.” Again, there’s nothing wrong with an adult playing a game, but we should use wisdom when doing so.
Conclusion: It is Not a Sin to Play Appropriate Video Games for Recreation
There’s nothing wrong with kicking back and playing appropriately themed (or rated) video games. We have freedom in Christ, and God is not a tyrant who demands we deny ourselves occasional rest or recreation.
Nevertheless, video games can become sinful if we choose to play games that contain themes, language, or images that are contrary to the Christian walk. Furthermore, we must never let video games become an idol in our lives that take away from things God has already commanded that we do (Bible study, church fellowship, tithing, training our children, cultivating our marriage, witnessing to others, etc.).
If you or your children want to play video games, check ratings to make sure the game doesn’t contain inappropriate content. Ensure that any online gaming forums you plan to participate in are appropriate, and limit video gaming to short periods during times of leisure.