The reason why this connection frustrates me so comes down to the Christian community being unwilling to figure out how to interact with those who play video games (this article might give them some good tips, just for example, but why would they ever read it?). I suppose I could go for the immediate, shocking examples…so why not, right? Gene Lingerfelt, the pastor of Faith Christian Center in Texas, has this to say:
And don’t even get me started on the Xbox. And all of that. If you have callouses on your thumbs, you’re a loser. If you’re more than 18 years old and you’re still jackin’ around with that stuff… [does “L” gesture].
I curse that spirit in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
There are young gals in this church. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful young gals, and you know why they can’t get a date? ‘Cause that retarded spirit got onto young men.
Some of you women, you have my permission — blame me. He come home — I’m talking about your husband come home, and that’s gone. And don’t just throw it in the trash — he’ll go fish it out — you gotta put in the bathtub full of water before you throw it in the trash. Now don’t do that while it’s plugged in… [Laughter]
I can’t imagine this working very well. What kind of advice is this, anyway? Even if we assume that his basic premises contain a kernel of truth, that’s certainly not a nice way to phrase it. Rather than helping people out of that circumstance, he would rather call them losers, or tell them they are possessed by a “retarded spirit”. This is exactly the sort of ignorance I’m talking about – a complete unwillingness to know what, exactly, a person playing video games actually does. Plenty of people who play video games do so as a hobby, living rather normal lives, but the exception to the rule here becomes the norm. And further, how do you help those people addicted to video games by judging them? Knowledge could fix this situation easily if people would just take the time to understand how their words affect others in completely different social circumstances.
Seriously, situations like these can be avoided just by a hint of curiosity, some questions, and not immediate condemnation! Seriously, even I know Undertale contains nothing “demonic”, or that could even be slightly construed as “demonic”. Further, it gives players the options to play the game in a completely non-violent way, which hews as far away to the popular perception of video games as any one game could. And yet, here’s a woman asking the 700 Club for advice about it:
Recently, I was looking through my daughter’s phone, and I found many pictures of a cartoon skeleton with one glowing blue eye and wearing a hoodie. When I asked my daughter why she had such demonic images on her phone, she told me there was nothing wrong with it because it was from a video game. How do I help my daughter not be attracted to such demonic things?
Appropriately, Pat Robertson’s advice is not exactly helpful:
I just don’t get this. Why is it ok to call someone’s hobby demonic without doing a single bit of research on the topic? Being a pastor of a church gives you no more authority to declare an authoritative claim on video games as a cultural expression than anything else. And yet, Christian pastors continue to do this with alarming frequency. The Internet picks these statements up, and then uses them as a bludgeoning tool against Christians. I can say one thing: my generation doesn’t like this lack of authenticity, and especially an inability to understand people different from yourself (or their interests).
The big question is: why do Christians make it so hard for themselves? Why must we claim they are basement dwellers, trying to achieve victories that “don’t count”, and that the things that they do as a hobby are stupid? What is the purpose of this? I think it’s become apparent that such methodologies simply do not work. I am a prime example of this myself – my parents had no problem with me playing video games, and they didn’t have a problem playing them either. All of us are Christians, so what’s the problem? These words are the sort that push people apart, rather than bring people together in unity – and that especially goes for brothers and sisters in Christ.
So, I think we can make a fair assessment and say that these men don’t actually follow their Biblical precepts as much as they think they do. Rather, as Proverbs 18:2 tells us:
A fool does not delight in understanding,
But only in revealing his own [a]mind.
And that mind seems to have a problem with the accrual of knowledge, which (as we know from Part 1) is a clear dictate from Scripture. Only, they’ve decided that ignorance proves a better answer to the things that vex them, instead of venturing outside of their Christian comfort zone. That seems more telling of the speaker than it does of the people to whom he speaks, that much appears certain. All I can say is, in the matter of video games, Christians lack knowledge, and we do so of our own volition and to our own detriment in being effective in reaching this community.