The theme weeks always bring out new contributors, don’t they?
A substitute teacher by day and apparent theologian by night…or anytime, really, Eric Anderson is a blogger/teacher who loves Jesus, board games, comic books, and science fiction. He has a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Taylor University Fort Wayne and lives in Michigan out of a passion for spreading the Gospel through his own hobbies, otherwise known as Nerd Chapel. You can follow his teachings and thoughts at www.facebook.com/nerdchapel or www.nerdchapel.blogspot.com. Without further ado, here is Eric Anderson’s entry for SEX WEEK.
A few years ago Dead Or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball caught me by surprise. Now I am not normally a sports gamer, or a sports anything, really. I had to admit I was a little curious when I heard about this. I wasn’t sure how you could translate volleyball to a video game. The only team sports I like playing are volleyball and ultimate frisbee. Then I saw the pictures.
Almost all the pictures advertising it were of female players (you can’t play as a male), obviously drawn by men to be pleasing to men. Now, going crazy after a fake girl is kind of silly, but does this encourage a particular attitude? And this happens with a lot of female characters in video games. They are drawn in a way to emphasize cleavage, attractive legs and faces. They often wear skimpy outfits. I have not played DOA, partly because I think they sexualize the women to a ridiculous degree and partly because I let my brother be the one to spend money on video games so I can invest in table-top games. The question, then, is what kind of things are we setting before our eyes? More to the point, are we aware of the attitudes that these things develop within us? Should video games really use sex to sell and what are the attitudes about women in these games?
When Jesus spoke during the Sermon on the Mount, He set a high standard about lust and sexuality
You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
I’m sure this brought the story of Job to the minds of the first century Jews listening to Jesus. Job faced a horrid set of difficulties, literally at the center of a wager between God and Satan. Yet he stood his ground when his friends accused him of sinning, even remarking that he had “made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a woman” (Job 31:1). In the end, Job found out he was not being punished for sins. He had indeed set a great example.
Most guys I know struggle with this to some degree, including myself. We find ourselves drawn to sex through the eyes. Sometimes it feels instinctual, unavoidable. And, of course, it provides a sense of temporary enjoyment. We like beauty; unfortunately, our little glances and sideways head turns twist God’s beauty. We use it selfishly and rips holes in relationships when we allow it to fester and grow.
Men, we should not see girls as sex objects. We should not look at girls for a purpose of filling our own sexual desire. I need to say this to myself as well. Lust is not merely a “man thing”; there are women who struggle with it just as much as the next guy. We need to remember that no sin is bound to either gender, but for some reason it seems that the percentage of men struggling with lust is larger than the percentage of women that struggle with it. These games affect both sides; they are not evil in and of themselves, but when we constantly put ourselves around this twisting of beauty, how does it affect us? How do we treat each other? Remember that attitudes build. The book of James says that sin starts with our own evil desires. The book of Romans says that sin always leads to death.
As we find ourselves surrounded by cultural items (music, movies, etc.) that present women as sex objects (rather than wonderful, beautiful creations that matter to God), it will have an effect on us. And this can lead to other issues. The attitude of lust leads to the slippery slope behind rape, pornography, and sexual slavery. Women have a role of filling a place in us men (and vice versa), but it is not merely a role of sex. They see needs we don’t see and fill them. They nurture in ways we can’t always express.
Lust leads to a particular issue in fandom. Cosplaying girls have been reporting more and more problems with inappropriate touching, if not outright groping. Some guys would do it right in front of the girls’ boyfriends! This issue has grown so much they started a campaign called Cosplay is NOT Consent. Girls aren’t just reporting issues when they are wearing skimpy outfits, but even girls that wear modest cosplay outfits have been having problems. When you are hanging out with girls, or when you are in pictures with girls you meet at cons, be careful about your eyes and your hands. Keep them to yourself. If she is not your special lady, then don’t treat her as if she is.
Think about how Boaz treated Ruth in the titular Biblical book. Ruth comes to Israel with her Jewish mother-in-law. Her husband died and the women came to find a better life. One of the customs in ancient Israel, set up in Leviticus, was that when harvesting the gleaners would leave bits and pieces for the poor to grab up so they would find provisions even in poverty situations. Ruth went to the field of Boaz, a relative of her mother in law, to glean in such a way. Boaz saw her and talked with her. He told her to only glean in his fields as much as she needed and gave his men instructions to respect her. Essentially, he protected and provided for her. He even gave her permission to eat the food brought for his paid gleaners. Now in his case, Boaz went on to marry her. That may not be the case for you, but we can still learn from his example.
So what did Jesus say we should do about lust? He said
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell
This hyperbole says one thing: do not let anything, no matter how valuable, lead you to sin. Nothing is worth damaging yourself or encouraging an attitude that will hurt others. Along with that, I wonder if spending money on something like that, which is blatantly encouraging sexual immorality, is worthwhile? Shouldn’t we use our money for things that are noble, right, pure, admirable, etc. (Phil. 4:8)? I am not suggesting we give up on games with conflict in them, merely that we choose those which are not encouraging lust.
I know you remember Link. He is very respectful and helpful for Zelda. He faces danger for her, rescues her, helps her. Even the way Zelda is presented is very well done. She is not sexualized in any way. Street Fighter also handles their female characters well. They give them strong back stories and don’t give them overly scantily clad outfits. So the final question is this: what attitudes are we encouraging ourselves to have? Dead or Alive in itself isn’t evil, but the way it presents women doesn’t enable men to treat them well. When you are enjoying your hobbies, are you aware of the way your brain is ingesting things?