Should Christians play video games?

Everyone needs some time to relax, regroup and enjoy themselves. After all, it's pretty clear that God did not create us so that we could spend our entire lives hard at work; He wanted us to enjoy the life He gave us! Unfortunately, a lot of recreational activities can get us into trouble one way or another. Thus, a lot of Christians try to judge whether or not something is going to be an issue before there's a problem.

There's just one catch with this approach. In order to fix a problem, you need to first identify what the problem is, and then focus on dealing with it. More and more, people want to deal with the problems the face by avoiding them entirely, often by simply forbidding all forms of the activity in question. That way, nobody will ever need to worry about what's wrong, as they'll never encounter the original problem. This head-in-the-sand approach tends to be the way a committee, school or governing body handles issues that come up.

As Christians, we need to be very cautious about sin and deal with it properly. While avoiding sin is always good, never dealing with the underlying cause lets things fester and leaves us open to more trouble down the line. Gardening provides us with a good metaphor for this situation: every flower bed eventually has to deal with weeds. You could deal with the weeds by just removing their stems or leaves, but that only means the plant will grow back in time. To truly get rid of weeds, you must find and tear out their roots. Likewise, sinful actions come from problems deeper within us. Someone who has trouble with greed may be dealing with fears about not being able to provide for themselves, while another person who struggles with pride may be covering their own insecurities by making themselves appear to be more important than they really are. Once we've dealt with our internal problems, that sin won't be such a problem anymore.

So, instead of looking for a simple, all or nothing judgment on video games, ask yourself a few questions about the specific game you want to play. Be honest with yourself while you answer them, and remember that God wants what is really the best for you. Here are a few questions to get you started:

Does this game contain material that would cause me to stumble?
Everyone is tempted by different things. If a game you're thinking about playing will put temptations in your path, it would probably be best to look for your entertainment elsewhere. There are always other games, and odds are that there are many other games with similar mechanics that aren't going to be a danger to your walk.

Does this game contain material that is seriously contrary to God's standards?
Unfortunately, some games do promote sin, the obvious example being pornographic video games, but there are games that promote racism, hatred, and even blasphemy. Do you really think God wants you to surround yourself with stuff like this?

Will this game keep me from doing God's Will?
Regardless of what you do with your time, you should always be mindful of what God has called you to do with your life. Games can take a lot of time away from other things, so be sure you'll have time to play them before you get too involved. At the same time, remember that at the end of the day, it's still just a game and not as important as many other things in the real world.

What about adult Christians?

One of the facets of the Christian lifestyle is that we take what we understand from the Scriptures and apply it to our everyday lives. The only problem with this is that, be it out of ignorance, unfamiliarity, or possibly even questionable intent, we sometimes misapply what we learn.

There's a verse in 1st Corinthians that is an example of this. People sometime use 1 Corinthians 13:11 to argue that adults should spend their free time doing something productive rather than playing games or enjoying other recreational activities. While it's good to see people attempting to follow Biblical guidance, that verse isn't talking about how we spend our time.

Instead, if you read the entire passage (1st Corinthians 13:9-12), you'll see that when Paul was talking about "putting away childish things", he was referring to how we mature in our understanding of spiritual teachings. Children can only understand so much of the world around them, but as they grow older, their ability to reason grows and they can understand things better. For example, when little children are afraid of thunderstorms, some parents try to help by saying that the thunder is the sound of angels bowling. Later on, when the child is older, they can learn about and understand the water cycle and how lightning is produced by the imbalance of positive and negative charges in the clouds, air and ground.

Likewise, we need to grow and mature in our understanding of the Truths contained in the Bible, but this doesn't mean adults can't enjoy something just because "it's for kids".