Someone asked a question recently that has had me thinking quite a lot; are violent video games alright to play?
After a lot of thought, I believe the answer is yes, because in almost every case you are playing as the hero fighting evil. There may be death portrayed but no one actually dies. In general, there is nothing wrong to be found here unless you are someone playing games with a lot of hate. Just like lust is adultery of the heart, if we hate someone Jesus says we have murdered them in our hearts, and just like lusting after a character in a game counts as adultery/fornication, I believe it counts as murder if you truly hate a character in the game because it is a heart issue.
Now this thought process led me to think even harder about things and I think there is something to be said about the types of games we are willing to play. Violence isn't automatically evil but there are other things that are, like murder, sexual content, stealing, and so on. After thinking about it for a long time, I have concluded that as Christians we shouldn't be playing games that make you do these things. There are many games now days that either straight up make you the villain or give you the choice to be the villain if you want to be. I believe the former should be avoided altogether because why would any Christian want to be the bad guy on purpose? It goes against everything we are and we should not indulge in sinful behaviors we would be against in real life. I personally am incapable of it, even back at a time when I started to play something as a bad guy, I was never able to get very far at all. It really just bothers me despite it only being fictional characters. I don't think I am the odd one out for this, and until now I wasn't that worried about it, but as Christians games like GTA or God of War shouldn't even be on the table because why would you want to be the villain? I think this speaks to what is in our hearts and if you actually enjoy running around being terrible, that is something I think you should take some time to really think about.
This leaves the games which leave the choice up to you, and I think these fall under your discretion mostly whether you want to play them or not. If the game has made it so that to 100% it you have to do the bad play through, that is something that you should keep in mind because that is a game pushing you to make very immoral choices intentionally. If you are someone that seems to hang out more on the bad side and actually choose to be evil on purpose when you play these games, I would say avoid them because they aren't healthy for you. If you are someone who always wants to be righteous, than I don't see any issue so long as you have no intent to actually do the bad side of things just for the sake of it.
We always need to be cautious with what we do as Christians, we never want to enjoy being evil, even in a fictional universe. We need to avoid even appearing to be evil and do all that we can to follow Jesus Christ. That means never playing games with sexual content, with grotesque violence just for the sake of violence, and games that make you the bad guy. I am not saying this is an easy thing to do, especially in modern times where we seem to slip more and more by the minute, but it is what I believe we are expected to do. So please try and keep all of this in mind when you are looking for a new game to buy.
Finally, if you own games like GTA, my advice is simple: break the disk and throw it out. You will be much better off without those types of games in your life, I promise.
The first thing you need to understand as a Christian is no one is good, only God is. That leaves a simple question though, what is the point of doing good things when we know we aren't good?
Jesus is very clear when he speaks to the rich man that approaches him. There isn't anyone good but God, and if we are honest with ourselves, this is fairly obvious. We have all sinned in some way. In fact just about all of us are guilty of every sin we could be, and that makes us evil. The standard for being good is perfection, and only God has done that. Even one sin is enough to no longer be considered good, so let's not delude ourselves in this area. We like to put people like Abraham or David on pedestals but only God actually deserve to be there.
Now just because we aren't good does not mean that we never do anything good, that can and absolutely does happen. But why does it matter if it isn't going to somehow wash away the bad things we have done? The answer is pretty simple, it matters because it is the right thing to do. Once you put your trust in Christ and repent of your sins, which means to turn away from them, you should legitimately want to do the right thing. It isn't a matter of getting something out of it, we do the things we do because they are right. Once you know something is evil, it makes no sense to continue doing it, it only makes sense to do what you now know to be good. As Christians, there is really no excuse to continue in our sin, regardless of the fact that we will be forgiven for it. God doesn't expect perfection but bare minimum we better be trying to be good even if we are going to fail.
Another reason is simply to please God by doing things that he can take some joy in. God knows all of our thoughts and actions, I don't doubt that he is very happy whenever he sees someone do something genuinely good. That alone is enough reason to do good things, but it's even more than that. Jesus literally died for us, we owe everything to him and doing good things is part of that. It is how we show that we love him through our actions and it is one of the main ways a person can have assurance they are truly saved. If you genuinely care enough about Jesus to do good things for his sake, then even when you fail you can know at least your intentions are in the right place and God is with you. Make no mistake, if you aren't a Christian you aren't going to be doing anything for Jesus's sake, it is almost always going to be all about you.
Another very important reason to do good things is simply to stand out in the world. This is a fallen world covered in sinners and people who are consistently doing things are going to stand out big time. That is exactly what God expects of Christians and make it is important that we aren't just like everybody else. We are God's children and the people around us need to see that, it is a major aspect of giving people the Gospel. If we are consistent with what we believe and live it, when we tell someone the truth it will have more meaning. If we are just living like they are it will barely matter at all because they will be able to see it doesn't actually matter to us.
We always need to set an example and be what God wants us to be. We don't need to be perfect, we are still going to fail sometimes, but we need to try at all times. Doing good things is never going to get you to Heaven, but that was never why we did good in the first place. Let's leave it to every other faith on the planet to lie to people, telling them their good works will wash away the bad. We will keep doing good things for God's sake and for everyone around us that still doesn't know him.
There is something that has been true throughout all history when it comes to people, we always care more about how we look to other people as compared to how we actually are. That is something I think needs to change, and we are all guilty of it to some extent.
The church as a whole as far as I can tell is messing up, people don't seem to care about actually being moral, it only matters to look that way. Obviously this doesn't apply to everyone, but it does apply to the majority. People seem to think if you say Jesus's name a lot, go to church on Sunday, maybe pray for some people and give money to their church or some charity, the wrongs they hide aren't a problem. Let's not forget about mission trips that are more like vacations for a bunch of teenagers! I am aware that not all mission trips are pointless, but that is a topic for another time, most of them are just for show. People and churches want to look good and so they do these things to remind everyone around them, “We are good Christians!” but is that really the case?
While people are doing these things, they are also going home and watching and playing whatever they want. They make a show of being amazing Christians, and then when they are around non-believers they act like them. These people make a show of being awesome and change into totally different people at home and it even shows in the things the churches do. We send people on mission trips for teenagers instead of spending that money on things that will actually matter. We are literally surrounded by atheists and the church sends a bunch of teenagers to another country for what is basically a vacation with some physical labor for charity. The buildings are falling apart, the congregation barely cares about God or the bible, but it's all good, we went on a mission trip! Let's not forget that statistically in any church you go to, they say 50% of the men watch pornography. I don't trust statistics that much, honestly the number is probably higher and the reason for that is simple. Not too many pastors are actually talking about sexual sin, that is something we would rather brush under a rug. Same thing applies to divorce and many other things we are doing wrong all the time, and it all comes down to caring about how we look instead of actually being better.
Instead of preaching about the hard stuff, pastors talk about Jesus over and over again along with the things any Christian would already know with a little extra historical info. The reason for this is fear of offending their congregation by telling them the truth that God expects more of them. We live in a world where telling people the truth and expecting them to live it is actually offensive. The only thing people want to do is put on a show, go home, and live their usual sinful lives without a thought towards God unless they need to put on a show again. Because of this, the world thinks there are actually a lot of Christians but as I say a lot, there really aren't that many of us. A genuine convert would be incapable of caring so little. I am not saying if you sin you aren't Christian, but if you don't genuinely care, if it doesn't bother you at all, I am worried about you. We don't want to be like the Pharisees and just pretend to be holy, we need to actually be holy so that we stand out and are obviously set apart. As long as you are just putting on a show and living like a sinner you are not only hurting yourself, you are hurting those around you. We set the example for new Christians and for those outside of the church. If they see you live just like them, they aren't ever going to change or think your faith is even worth anything.
Please understand that sin isn't just some random rule that God has put in place for us, it is for our benefit and it is genuinely evil to sin. Sin hurts you and it hurts those around you, even in ways you don't perceive. God doesn't need us to be perfect but he needs us to try to be perfect as much as is possible at all times. We are gonna fail and stumble but that doesn't mean give up and do whatever you want. Let's be the best Christians we can be and set the example God wants us too! Live it don't just put on a show.
This movie makes me wonder what is wrong with Christians today. I have heard nothing but positive stuff about this movie, but in reality there are a ton of problems with it. I am gonna talk about some of those now, along with what I actually liked about the movie.
Now to start off, I do think the movie did an okay job at showing the horror of what Jesus actually suffered for us, it did its job with the visuals there. I do think that it mostly stayed accurate to the Bible as well, aside from the fact they felt the need to add to it in typical Catholic fashion whenever they got the chance. As a note to all people making movies out of the Bible, it is already interesting enough as it is, get your creative crap out of the way.
With that being said, let's start off with what should be the most obvious problem, what is Satan in this movie and why do random demons keep showing up? The first demon to appear was a jump scare that came out of nowhere. It didn't work because I was too busy being shocked that it was actually in the movie at all. Satan was not in the garden with Jesus as he prayed, and Jesus did not step on a snake that came out of his robes. I get the symbolism, but stick to the actual telling. It is also worth mentioning in this same scene I got the impression that Satan was asking who Jesus was as if he didn't already know, which is stupid because they had already faced each other in the Wilderness at this point, and again, he wasn't in the garden anyway. Satan also doesn't look like.... whatever the heck he looks like in the movie. He would look like an angel of light, because he is a cherub, even if he is fallen. I also have to question why Satan is holding a demon baby thing when Jesus is getting whipped by Romans, it just looked weird and made no sense at all. Let's not forget the demon children that harassed Judas until he killed himself, that is obviously a thing right? Oh wait, none of this crap is in the Bible, it's just weird stuff added into the movie.
The next big issue I had with the movie was the Mary focus, she is barely mentioned at the time of Jesus's death but I would argue a third of the movie just focuses on her. There are added things like her going and cleaning up Jesus's blood with towels given to her by Pilate's wife which, unsurprisingly, never happened. Let's not forget Mary staring down Satan in the crowd because obviously she can see him, right? She also helped Jesus stand up at one point and kissed his bloody feet on the cross, which is when Jesus basically gave responsibility to take care of her to a disciple of his, the only part that actually happened in the Bible. The fact the movie was made by a Catholic shows with all this Mary focus due to the fact Catholics worship her. I know many a Catholic will deny this, but the Catholic church teaches that she has never sinned ever, and if you read the Catechism she is just as important as Jesus. I believe the wording was something along the lines of she is the new Eve and Jesus is the new Adam. Make no mistake, Catholics worship Mary and that showed in this movie big time when you consider things like Mary being able to actually see Satan.
Another thing I think needs to be mentioned is this Veronica woman never existed. She randomly appears, ready to clean Jesus's face so that the Catholic church can justify one of their relics, but she doesn't appear at all in the Bible. So once again the movie is guilty of adding Catholic nonsense. Yet another thing is the movie assumes the adulterous woman was Mary Magdalene, not a huge deal this one, but still, we shouldn't assume they are the same person because she isn't mentioned by name in that particular story. Another thing was the big brawl in the garden, the Bible simply says that an ear got cut off, Jesus fixed it, and said not to fight them and it was over. The movie on the other hand thought a fist fight broke out and then an ear got cut off, Jesus fixed while everybody kept fighting, and then finally stopped everyone. I'm going to add one last thing, just to nit pick, he says "It is accomplished," on the cross instead of "It is finished," like he actually said in the Bible. They mean the same thing but please get it right, people.
In summary, despite the fact the movie gets some things right, it adds so much that isn't right that it is just horrible. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone and if I did it would be to show them how bizarre the beliefs of a Catholic are. I can't even begin to explain the demon stuff though. I don't blame the Catholic church for that, I think Mel Gibson might just be crazy. Demons are real, but I don't think they did anything to Judas, they wouldn't have had to. Satan would have been hanging around for sure, influencing people, but he wasn't some creepy thing with a hood. I think the best thing we can learn from this movie is exactly as I said before, don't add to the Bible, just show everything as it is and let people learn from it. I promise you, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, is more than interesting enough to retain people's attention. You definitely don't need to add kid demons and jump scares.
When people think of modern Christians, they think of two things: The ridiculous Christians who only preach about going to Hell for basically breathing, and the reverse of that, the ultra positive Christians who like to pretend Hell either doesn't exist or isn't that big a deal if it does. Today I want to talk about the ultra positive Christians and what Jesus would actually think of the way they handle things, because the reality of being a Christian is actually more the middle ground between these two types.
Now when I talk about ultra positive Christians, I am talking about the people that can look at someone sinning right in front of them and smile like they didn't do anything. The kind of people that don't really bother with the bad news of the Gospel where they would tell you that you're a sinner, instead they just talk about how Jesus loves everyone, no matter what. They're the kind of Christian that will respect your beliefs, regardless of what you believe, and just want you to learn about Jesus by spending time with them. In most cases, this type of Christian will never actually bother to preach the Gospel at all, lest they offend someone. They like to think that people will come and ask them questions so that they won't have to do anything awkward. This is the Christian that cares more about being positive than actually getting people saved. Everything they say and how they act is pretty appealing to people, but it does not get people saved and it is not how Jesus acted even remotely. To show this, well I will just let Jesus speak for himself.
Here's what you may consider Nice Verses:
And here are what we'll call the Mean Verses:
These are just a couple examples of each but it is actually far easier to find verses where Jesus is being mean (by our standards) than it is to find him being nice. People around Jesus liked him when he was performing miracles for them but shunned him whenever he preached something they didn't like. Very few people actually wanted to be around Jesus for anything other than physical gains, proven by the fact he was crucified by the same people he came to save. This is something we need to understand because, in general, I find almost no one actually acting like Jesus did. If anything, even I am actually too nice when you consider how Jesus spoke to some people. He could be very harsh and very nice. Even when harsh though, he was always kind, because kindness isn't just acting nice, it can also be doing something that someone needs even if they don't like it. That is what Jesus did the entire time he was here. It didn't matter if it meant being stoned or applauded, he was always going to do what was best for the people around him and in his case, every person who has ever existed. Sometimes that means getting mean with people and telling them things they don't want to hear. The Gospel has two parts, the bad news that we aren't good people and we don't deserve Heaven, and the good news that Jesus died for our sins because he is merciful and awesome. Without the first half, the second makes no sense, but if we focus on being positive you only ever get the second and a lot of false converts. It also makes it almost impossible to correct bad theology because everyone is afraid to judge each other, but it is something that needs to be done.
We can always do our best to be nice, it doesn't have to be insanely harsh when you tell someone something they don't want to hear, but it still needs done. As Christians, we are called to do exactly that, bringing more people to Christ and holding each other accountable so that we can grow in our faith!
P.S. We are actually called to judge. People that think you aren't allowed to judge anything are ripping verses out of context and ignoring several verses telling us how to go about it righteously! Remember to read all of Matthew 7, not just the first 2 verses.
Disclaimer: this article is obviously going to be discussing sex, but not in detail. Still, it's recommended for adults only.
I am going to start this off with an extremely wild concept for most people: women like sex. Now let's talk about why that matters and what we are doing wrong, pretty much across the planet.
There are a lot of misconceptions about sex that mostly originate from Hollywood, but also from the church in general. The main one is that women have no interest in sex, it's just something they do because their husbands want to do it. In most cases, it's used like a bargaining chip to control the husband but almost never are women portrayed to actually want it themselves. When they are actually shown to want it, it's always this fast paced and seemingly passionate stuff, and of course, never with a married couple. This type of thing is almost always something sinful and completely fake. This brings me to the next misconception we need to talk about, the pleasure of women as it relates to sex.
Sex is a very pleasurable thing made for both men and women, in marriage of course. For men this is easy to figure out because things go rather fast for them, but women are different than that. It isn't just a fast thing for women, but in the end it is actually more pleasurable if anything, and that is exactly as it should be. Far too many couples are treating sex like it's supposed to be a fast thing meant only to please the man in the relationship. It might take a little more time and some extra effort, but it is worth doing so that the two can connect in a way no one else can. Sex is all about connecting to each other and learning, becoming closer and even sacrificing things for the other person. That might mean time or breaking out of your comfort zone and trying something new, but make no mistake, sex is for both of you. It is absolutely worth it to do everything you can to please each other. Which, of course, leads me into the next misconception, that sex is only for having kids.
While having kids is an obvious and important aspect of sex, and what it is primarily for, that isn't all it is for. As I mentioned before, sex is meant to bring us together and make us closer than anything else can but it's more then that. Sex is also about pleasure, doing things to make each other feel good and that is how God designed it. It isn't a coincidence that sex is a pleasurable thing, that is exactly as it should be, but people have this weird idea that sex is sinful unless it's for reproduction. It has its roots in the idea that sex is a dirty thing and to do it makes you impure, so it can only possibly be for having kids, and aside from that it's bad. This is very obviously wrong when you consider the fact that there is an entire book about sex in the Bible.
God would never tell you to sin and yet before the fall he told us to be fruitful and multiply, back in Genesis, a time without sin. You don't lose your purity when you have sex, you lose your purity when you choose to have sex outside of marriage. Anything in marriage pretty much goes (aside from a few things that really should be obvious but seemingly aren't). That is an issue worthy of its own article though. The fact is, in marriage everything about sex is pure and good, exactly as God intended it, so don't be afraid to do it just for the sake of pleasure and connection. I am not even able to have kids anymore, it doesn't mean that I am not allowed anywhere near my wife. And another thing, women, don't be afraid to push your husbands to do more. It is not wrong to want what you should have been getting all along sexually. He is not going to leave you or go for something else just because he has to spend some extra time with you, it will be good for him too in the long run!
Most of these misconceptions are left over traditions from places like the Catholic church, or ideas we have gotten from Hollywood. We need to smarter and not let these things lie to us, sex is a good and moral thing in marriage and it's something to look forward to. Don't make it something dirty or just something for the sake of reproduction, because it's more than that and you are depriving yourself of the full experience when you think that way. I promise you, God wants sex to be an awesome thing for both people in the relationship, so just have fun with it and enjoy God's gift to the fullest!
When we have a sin problem there is always a tendency to make an excuse for why we do it. I think it's time we stopped making excuses and just handled the problem!
We all do this, it's hard not to make an excuse to justify whatever it is we are doing. The reality is that we are all accountable for our own actions regardless of the circumstances around us. The world is fallen, there are always going to be things around us pushing everyone towards sin but none of them can force us to sin. There is never going to be a time that you have to sin, even if means dying. That's right, I am telling you even if someone has a gun to your head and is telling you to sin, you should choose death in that scenario. However terrifying death may be, it is still more important to not sin. I am aware that as Christians we are saved regardless of what we do wrong but that doesn't mean it doesn't matter anymore, if anything, it matters more.
I hear it all the time, “Oh I only lusted because she dressed immodestly!” or maybe, “I can't afford the music/game unless I pirate it so that's what I do!”. Both of these people for some reason believe that they haven't done anything wrong because of external reasons. I wish these things were uncommon, but they aren't. The truth is even if someone is completely naked and posing sexually in front of you, it is still possible to not lust after them. Those thoughts are yours. It is also true that you aren't entitled to anything, I don't care if someone makes their song 1,000 dollars, or if it's not for sale at all, you have no right to steal just because it's out of your reach. We as Christians need to do better than this. I would expect this sort of thing from atheists but I mainly hear it from Christians. These excuses only hurt us and help us to ignore the real problem; ourselves.
We can always find an excuse to justify anything that we do, but the truth is it's all on us. We choose to think or act a certain way, it doesn't matter what is around us. I know that this world can make things harder but it is always up to us to set an example and be better. As Christians, we are set apart from the world and God has high expectations of us. Let's stop making excuses and get down to the real problem of our hearts and minds. Let's strive to be better regardless of what the people around us are doing. Understand that no matter what you are going to be the one held accountable for your sin, it doesn't matter if your family and friends do it too. It could even be your church doing it, but if you know it's wrong, you shouldn't. In fact, you should be speaking out against it and trying to make a change in your personal relationships. This all might seem very hard to you but I promise it is exactly what God expects of you.
Now I am not saying to just risk yourself all the time and that you should be immune to all sin, we still need to be careful with what we expose ourselves to. But whatever may happen, don't make an excuse for why you sinned, take full responsibility and own it. That way you can begin to make real progress instead of just shaking your fist at the world around you for making you that way. We can all do better, so let's get to it and stop making excuses from here on out!
There is one thing that almost every Christian I know of is afraid to say; You aren't a Christian. I think this is something we all need to get past because it is hurting the Church big time
I know it can be a scary thing to tell someone they aren't saved, especially if they think they have been for a long time. Unfortunately, it still needs to be done, for their sake and for the sake of anyone else that might come to Christ. I genuinely believe that the majority of people that call themselves Christian today aren't real converts, and that is a truly terrifying thought. Millions of people going around saying they are Christian while living like complete sinners with no real faith in Jesus at all. They aren't saved, and no one they know is getting saved either. If anything they are turning further away from the faith because these false converts don't act any differently from them. False converts can only bring in more false converts and we need to do something about this.
As a general rule, these people are raised in the church and so they think they are fine. If not, they may have received a false or partial gospel which are honestly just as bad. Whatever the reason may be, they make up the majority of the Church as we know it. As long as we are afraid to tell these people they are in trouble they will stay that way. Now the obvious question is, Andrew, how do you know these people aren't saved? Every case is complicated, but there are two things I look for in everyone that are the main signs someone isn't actually saved. The first is more obvious, they don't actually know or understand the gospel. If someone is telling you they are earning their way to heaven through their good works or they don't actually know what Jesus did for them and who he is, odds are high they aren't saved. The second is their intentions behind everything that they do. It is one thing to still be a sinner, it is another to not care at all when you sin. We should always be striving to be better, to be closer to Jesus in anything we do. We are still going to fail at times, but we should never just be fine with it. If someone is happily living in sin, even actively searching for it, the odds are high they aren't saved. If you combine these two things then it's basically a guarantee.
Regardless of how hard it is, we need to be willing to tell these people, in love and with tact, that they aren't saved. We need to witness to them just like we would anyone else, kindly telling them the gospel. It is going to be hard. There is no one harder to reach then someone who has already convinced themselves they are fine. There is a solid chance that anything you say will fall on deaf ears, that they will just continue as they are. Another possibility is that they will straight up walk away from the church and never come back. This might seem bad but it is preferable to how things are now, better they be honest non-believers than fake Christians. Let's not forget the third and best possibility though, they come to Christ and put their full trust and faith in Jesus. They become genuine converts that will be eternally grateful that someone cared enough to tell them the truth instead of letting them stay as they are in fear.
I hope in the end we get more people to genuinely come to Christ than the other possibilities, but we need to understand that the way to heaven is narrow. Jesus told us that few would be going there and he also explained how to spot a false convert in Matthew 7. He didn't tell us these things for no reason. I am sorry to tell you but most people are going to walk away from being Christian, and in reality they weren't one of us from the start. They were just putting on a show, sometimes a convincing show as they themselves aren't even aware they're unsaved. But let's not be afraid to do what needs to be done and say what needs to be said. Because we love these people, we need to tell them the truth on where they stand so they can have every chance possible to truly put their trust in Christ.
Dedicated to making strong disciples of Christ.