A few months ago my nephew did an amazing thing. He wanted to get rid of his old video game system (a PS2) and instead of trading it all in to buy more games for his new system he decided he wanted to give it to Alex and Connor.
I remember having an Atari as a child, but rarely playing it. Then the NES came out, that is, the Nintendo Entertainment System. Hours would be invested in this little grey box. Upgraded video systems would come out and I would buy them too, but I never got rid of any of them, I still played them all. I lack my nephew’s compassion. At seminary I decided the throw them all in the dumpster. I am glad I did. So when my sis put my nephew’s proposal before me I was worried not only for my child’s soul by my own.
Initially I exercised great self-control. The PS2 wasn’t even turned on for a month. Then Alex and I played one day. Since them I have relapsed a handful of times, staying up after everyone is asleep for up to three hours. I have vowed in my own power and strength to stop a few times but eventually I lose out. Today I come freshly repentant, seeking to defeat what for me is sin with accountability (I have litteraly given Bethany permission to slap sense into me), prayer, scripture memorization, and the pursuit of greater joy.
Reasons I Will Not Play Video Games By Myself:
- We limit our children to thirty minutes of media a day, with an occasional exception on the weekends or special occasions. One reason among many that we do this is to teach them self-control. I want to end my hypocrisy and practice what I preach.
- It numbs me to the realness of real life. A virtual world cannot make you shiver at the coldness of snow, twist your tongue at the sour juice of a lime, tickle your ears like rain on a tin roof, arouse your appetite like the smell of snicker doodles, or entice your eyes like the sight of your wife. Why spend time living there, when there is such magic here? Reality trumps virtual reality.
- It is wasted time. No real treasure is gained, no real evil defeated, no lasting joy gained, no beneficial knowledge obtained.
- I am weak. I become too easily obsessed. A video game can consume my thoughts and therefore my heart. In short I worship video games. I turn them into an idol to which I sacrifice time to gain only illusory power, glory, and treasure.
- When I think of what it means to be a man, spending hours playing a game by myself never enters my mind. I don’t want to be the guy who escapes to be a hero, seek adventure, capture a beauty, and fight a battle in a fake world because I am too lame and lazy to live a life of eternal significance. When I think of those men whom I regard as men, my heroes, I cannot picture them playing a video game by themselves. They may have had a hobby or sought occasional recreation, but it was grounded in reality. They built ships inside bottles, rode stallions, created art, or built something with dirty calloused hands.
- I cannot imagine appearing before the God of all glory and giving account for such large blocks of time by saying, “But look at what I accomplished, the playoffs I won, the bosses I defeated, the campaigns I completed, the lives I saved…”
- I was made to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. For me video games played by myself contribute nothing toward this goal. I don’t exercise self-discipline to choke joy, but because deeper joy is being choked. I want to stop playing video games by myself because I want greater joy. I am making no sacrifice.
I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God. – John Piper
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23-24 23
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. – Proverbs 25:28
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:8-11
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:25-26