The ability to escape is now available more than ever. Netflix, Instagram, video games — or whatever the current mind-numbing trend — as a generation we’re constantly fighting not to become some zombie-version of ourselves.
In marriage, video games are becoming one of the biggest isolating factors. Many marriages are seeing a different sort of “absent” husband. This new version is stuck behind a controller.
I sat down with some married friends to discuss video games and the glory of God. Is there hope for us married millennials or are we too self absorbed to resemble Christ’s love towards the Church? Here are some themes, thoughts, and questions we came up with.
Video games are simply entertainment and like many pastimes of my generation, gaming has been given a pretty bad rep. Yes, the damage of addiction to video games is a harsh reality for some, but if we write them off altogether, could we be missing an opportunity to glorify God?
Can Gaming be Glorifying?
My peers give a resounding, “Yes!” The incredible art of landscapes, creativity of character development, and mastery of the technology make video games remarkable. The story can be captivating as well as inspiring. There are quests for victory and redemption. To miss these themes is to miss our Maker.
Video games are also relational. “I think there is a HUGE world of non-believers who will automatically welcome you into their group if you’re a gamer, christian or not. Then it’s evangelism all day,” said Sam, a 23-year-old gamer.
Through gaming we have an opportunity to reach gamers with the gospel. There is story after story of Jesus being shared to people through video game headsets. That’s super cool and super glorifying.
Can Gaming Bring Glory to God in a Marriage?
Two married friends were pretty excited to share about their favourite pastime — catching Pokémon. “Sam and I play Pokémon together at night. It’s definitely a bonding time and doesn’t get in the way of other things. It’s like if we were reading books, watching tv or a movie. We’re still interacting, we’re in that world together. She’s teaching me how to play a more carefree way and I’m teaching her how to be a better competitive player so she can beat her friends.”
These two are becoming a stronger team, learning to work together, communicate, and appreciate what the other has to offer. Pokemon adds fun to their marriage and helps them learn to love and respect each other in deeper ways.
Another couple I talked with has more of the “typical” gaming relationship — he is passionate about gaming and she not so much. Even so, I was encouraged by how this topic has taught them to choose one another.
“If we’re both home, he will almost always ask me first because he knows I value quality time every chance we get. I am so thankful for the chance to weigh in…. Because he is gracious with me about that, I have learned to ask questions about the game and characters so I can be part of it with him. When I give him time and freedom to play, I think that’s a way I am serving him… and I think that’s glorifying to God. I think for us, it’s a lot of communicating and compromise.”
I loved listening to these two talk about video games, as it showed the thought they put into loving each other well. The communication came through struggle and frustration, but they’ve worked together to find compromise and live sacrificially for one another, even when it comes to video games.
So Why Are Marriages Failing Over Video Games?
Why can some marriages thrive and grow through gaming while others are being destroyed? Why are so many wives feeling neglected while husbands are isolating themselves more and more?
Although problems in marriage are typically much deeper than what’s on the surface, one answer lies in this verse. “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other” (Romans 12:10). These values are what make a marriage.
The problem is not video games, it’s us, the gamer.
If video games are more important than our care of, or preference for our spouse, then our marriages can’t thrive.
It’s much easier to blame video games than take a good look at our lives. Video games are only an outlet. Our hearts are what make these things healthy or unhealthy.
The problem comes when we fail to live intentionally, rooted in Christ. It is the fight between self (our selfish desires that consume our thinking) and abundant life (serving others above self) that cause us to have unhealthy lives and marriages.
Video games are simply a form of masterful entertainment we can choose to partake in, or not. Let’s not dismiss the good they have because we struggle with using them responsibly. We can learn to love and compromise through these games. We can glorify God in and through them and honour our spouse in the way we use them. The trouble comes when we allow our self-indulgence to dictate our lives. Let’s allow God to use our video game passions to move us toward selflessness, as well as glory and wonder to His name.