From yelling vulgarity at the TV and other gamers, to being tempted by sexual cut scenes and themes, to allowing video games to consume most of our time more than fellowship with other Christians and God, we are faced with a lot of dilemmas as Christian gamers. Perhaps someone has told you or you’ve heard through the grapevine that playing video games is a sin, or that you’re somehow less of a Christian because you enjoy video games. I’ve been told such lies myself. When this happens, we feel resented and worthless because although we’re simply doing something we love, somehow it makes us the worst of sinners in the perspective of others. The purpose of this article is to ensure you that playing video games is not inherently sinful. However, there are common behaviors associated with video games and certain images that may cause us to sin. In every aspect of our lives—from our various vocations to daily living—we are to glorify God (Psalm 96:1-9). First Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” We can glorify God by avoiding certain sins that we are exposed to as gamers.
First of all, I want you all to know that although I’m writing about this, I don’t have it all figured out. I’m a sinner just like anyone else and I, too, struggle with these concepts I’ll be discussing, such as the use of vulgarity when in the heat of gaming. As I was doing this study, I came to a realization that I have some changes I need to make in my gaming experiences. Vulgarity is perhaps my biggest struggle when I game and something I’ve been working on for a while. Swearing is frowned upon in most social situations, but when confronted with our vulgarity, especially as Christians, we may raise the defense, “The Bible doesn’t say anything about swearing!” True, if you take out a concordance bible, you won’t find the word “swearing” or “cussing” anywhere in Scripture. Using such rationalization is immature, irresponsible, and intellectually dishonest. We may not find those words specifically in Scripture, but it does discuss the use of our speech. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” I hope you would agree that vulgarity is corruption. There is simply nothing positive that comes out of such talk. This Scripture says that our speech only needs to be good for “building up” so that grace may be given to those who hear us. After all, Jesus “equips the saints [that’s us] for the work of ministry, [and] for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). Think of any time in your life where you’ve cussed a lot, or even a little. Did it “build up” that person into the body of Christ? Did it extend God’s grace toward them? These are, of course, rhetorical questions because the obvious answer is: NO.
Remember that as Christians, we are set apart from the rest of the world. St. Peter writes, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Christians are a holy nation through Israel (Jacob). By swearing, are you proclaiming the excellencies of Christ? Because we are God’s chosen race, priesthood, and nation, we are targeted by the rest of the world. If you swear a lot when you game, and the friends you’ve met online find out you’re Christian, how do you think your speech reflects Christ? From your speech alone, they’ll have no reason to want to know Christ because since you’re just like them by swearing a lot, it appears to them that there is no obvious or beneficial change in knowing Christ. I am certainly guilty of this, and I pray for God’s forgiveness over my bitter speech. As Christians, we are constantly witnessing the case of Christ, especially when we don’t realize it. In our actions and our speech, whether we’re acting or speaking for Christ or not, we are always witnessing for Him.
Consider also James 3:5-10:
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
By “cursing,” it is not talking about swearing as we understand it today, but rather words for destructive use. When words are used destructively, the source of the tongue is no longer God and the Holy Spirit; the source comes from Hell because the goal of Satan is to set the course of peoples’ lives on fire—to destroy them. When you curse, remember that with that same mouth you worship and glorify God. It’s like the saying, “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” Likewise, when we swear, we should self-reflect and say to ourselves, “With this same mouth I glorify God, and with it I also speak destructively towards others. My speech shouldn’t be like this. I need to fix this.”
When I think of the saying, “Do you kiss your mother with that mouth,” I imagine the scene (above) from A Christmas Story when the protagonist Ralphie said the “F” word, and his mother washed his mouth out with soap. Likewise, when we use vulgarity, we ought to wash our mouths out with repentance and forgiveness through the Holy Spirit. Vulgarity does nothing in building up others in Christ and extending His grace towards others, and it does nothing in proclaiming His excellencies. I believe that the constant use of vulgarity calls for great self-reflection. Consider what Jesus said in Luke 6:4-5, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” If you curse a lot—whether in every day life or gaming, or both—look deep within yourself. Is there a lot of darkness or anger there that you are attempting to regurgitate? If there is, and you curse a lot, only Christ can illuminate that darkness, for He is the Light, for “He called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Vulgarity won’t illuminate the darkness for you; only Christ can.
Dealing with Obscenity