Video Games as a Business – A Proper Theology of Money (Part 2)

Read the First Four Parts! And Here is Part 4! And Five! And Six! And Seven!

But, observe that we talk specifically of the “love” of money, not money in itself. Money becomes a numerical indication of out progress in life – this can be applied to any number of different pursuits that we can imagine. Even “gamification” (goodness, do I ever hate that and all it stands for) falls right into this trap. We are all attempting to quantify human experience and replace it with something that appears more real and tangible than the Creator. And yet, that Creator made all the things you work so hard to gain; the whole measure of priorities is wrong. The “love” of money is the problem, not the funds in itself.

Even so, money remains a reality of human existence. You cannot avoid the exchange of currency or bartering, and that much is true in the Bible. Just Google “money in the Bible” and you’ll see the reams of verses which mention it without any regard as to its ethical dimensions. The Bible makes statements about its use, of course, to guide its principles, but you’ll be amazed how often it is mentioned. Imagine the Pentateuch without the concept of money; there’s many, many provision for its use, donating to the Temple, and many other dictates regarding currency. One of them directly relates to our modern world, specifically the charging of interest:

25 “If you lend money to My people, to the poor [t]among you, you are not to[u]act as a creditor to him; you shall not [v]charge him interest. 26 If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, 27 for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his [w]body. What else shall he sleep in? And it shall come about that when he cries out to Me, I will hear him, for I am gracious.

Exodus 22

Remember that John Calvin thought that interest provided “legitimacy” to business practices; clearly, he did not believe that some parts of the Law applied. And yet, here we are with a rather clear condemnation of interest in the early Israelite community. What do we make of this? Do we find it anywhere else in the text? Of course! We see this same idea again in the second telling of the Law:

19 “You shall not charge interest to your [o]countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. 20 You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your [p]countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all [q]that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to [r]possess.

Deuteronomy 23

Clearly, we need to look at the intent, and not just the straight text of the case. In specific, it says that Israelites should not charge interest to their countrymen, which is a very specific distinction, Why to one and not to the other? I imagine we can say that it’s the same reason why Paul says that you shouldn’t engage in lawsuits against each other (1 Corinthians 6, if you feel curious). Settle your grievances like brothers, not via charging of interest or trying to extort your fellow Christians (or countrymen/women, as the case may be). The intent is harmony, not discord. Debt and its associated issues easily slip into the realm of “problem”, and it’s much easier to deal with it apart from legal procedure. The Bible does not approve of debt, and that appears a harsh truth in a world of credit cards! Heck, even Psalm 15:5 joins in on the fun:

He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.

Other than that, though, there aren’t many specific mentions of money as regards its use. We only hear of intention and interest as stated before, with little else to grasp. We must avoid loving money, and take care to use it effectively. The endless pursuit of it, as business can become, will only end up problematic in the end. We must trust in God, not in currency:

 Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,

The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?”

Hebrews 13

However, as previously discussed, not every business operates for the sole purpose of profit, nor every person involved in that business. We need more nuance and understanding in this situations, not just wholesale condemnation due to the more negative, apparent affects of a particular mode of operation. Rather than a wholesale condemnation of business, I see it as a flawed human institution which requires Godly people to transform it into something new. And that, I think, will require some work on our part.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.