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Are Christians allowed to play computer games, such as GTA V?
Thank you so much for your question about video games. It is really important that in every aspect of our lives we consider whether we are pleasing God, in what we say, do and think, so it’s great that you are thinking like this.
The Bible is God’s word, so it should be our guide as we seek to follow God.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
On some things the Bible is very clear, with definite instructions given for us; in other areas there are principles that we should seek to apply; and some things are not mentioned at all in the Bible and we have freedom to choose as we wish, because the Bible has given us all the instructions we need to live the way that God wants.
There are no mentions video games in the Bible as they were not invented, so there are no definite instructions, however the Bible does talk in more general terms as to the way that we should live our lives.
But now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
But also there is clear teaching that making extra rules for ourselves doesn’t make us more pleasing to God, and that we have freedom now.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
So, this isn’t a question where there is a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. It is something for you to pray about, considering what the Bible says, asking God to guide you, and trusting that he will show you the way. It might also be useful for you to consider the effect that video games have on you and the emotions it raises, and also whether the things that video games are associated with for you are helpful.
With these ideas in mind you can ask yourself how a video game like Grand Theft Auto (GTA) fits into your wider Christian life.
While we have liberty in our Christian life there may also be reasons why it may be wise to avoid such games and their content.
"All things are lawful for me", but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me", but I will not be enslaved by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
Thinking personally, do you struggle with any of the immoral content? The GTA series is famous for allowing gratuitous violence and featuring sexual content in gameplay and storylines, as well as other questionable content like drug abuse and expletive language. GTA online adds another level of complexity with interaction with other players around the world.
For myself personally, I have never struggled with violence or language. I see the violence of GTA as escapism and fantasy and I don't struggle with temptation to bring the kind of attitude the game encourages into the real world (I'm actually quite a polite player for what it's worth too!). For me, that's exactly what computer games have to be: wildly different to real life. What else would the point be?
What would have been a deal breaker for me is sexual content. I struggle with sexual temptation and there's no separation for me between sexual content in the game and fantasies that I fight that would lead me into sin. Content like the porn studio missions for Vice City or the multiple girlfriends of San Andreas was why I got out of the GTA games and sold my copies years ago. On that front GTA V is far better than the previous games for sexual content; it doesn't have it built into the main storyline or side missions like in previous games in the series.
But there's one more large biblical principle you might need to think carefully about.
"All things are lawful for me", but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me", but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbour. (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)
Therefore let us not pass judgement on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (Romans 14:13)
In that later part of 1 Corinthians and in Romans 14 Paul is addressing the liberty we have in Jesus, specifically in what we may eat and how we spend days, and flips the idea of liberty on its head: rather than thinking about what we are able to do he says we should instead think about what may be harmful for others.
So on such computer games, for the sake of others I don't advertise that I play it, I don't talk about it at church or post online about any of it, as I don't want to be unhelpful to anyone who does struggle with the game and any of its content. I even go as far as to keep the case tucked away when people come round.
I hope my personal position on the game is helpful for you to see. We have liberty in all things, but it may be wise not to play if it triggers any temptations you know you struggle with or hinders you in any other ways. Ask as well, might it cause others around you to stumble? Your answer after you have worked through whether or not playing GTA V or other computer games is wise for you may be the same, may be the opposite, or could even be completely different on the way through but with the same answer at the end. The important thing is that you work this through for yourself and are convinced in your own mind.
In summary, this is an issue that the Bible does not speak about directly so there is freedom for you to prayerfully consider this issue, along with principles that may help you to decide for yourself whether or not it would be wise for you.
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Galatians 5
- Colossians 2:16-23
I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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