Today, I want to start a series of posts on how Christians should approach gaming. In this series, I will look at both tabletop and video games.
Growing up in the church, I was taught at an early age that lying and bearing a false witness was a sin.
You must not steal nor deceive nor lie to each other. (Leviticus 19:11)
Do not testify falsely against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16)
But what is a lie? A lie is defined as “a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.”
With that in mind, what implications does this have for Christians who play games where deception and lying is not only encouraged, but required to win the game? And I’m thinking beyond poker here. I’m also thinking of games like Geek Out!, The Resistance, Battlestar Galactica.
Games are designed to be fun. Fun is usually maximized when everyone play by the rules. Now, in some games, behaviors like lying, deception and false accusations are written into the rules. In Geek Out!, bluffing is encouraged to get other players to bid higher than they want to try to prevent them from correctly providing the proper responses in the category. Games like Battlestar Galactica and The Resistance encourage lying, deception, and false accusations to make people second guess your true intentions. If you’re a traitor in Resistance, you want to make people think you are part of the resistance and cast doubt on the other players so you get picked to go on the missions. (Battlestar Galactica has a similar aspect in that 1-2 players are Cylons trying to sabotage the fleet.) Part of the fun of games like The Resistance and Battlestar Galactica are trying to figure out who the traitor or Cylon is. There would be no game if I answer truthfully when another player questions me about being a Cylon!
Are we breaking God’s commands against lying and bearing false witness by playing these games? If we answer in the affirmative, then we as Christians must doe a lot of soul searching. Let’s face it, we all know good Christians who tell those little white lies to their kids about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and/or the Tooth Fairy. If we were consistent in our application of Scripture, we’d have to start demanding repentance every time a kid was told Santa was real. If we answer in the negative, then how do we reconcile our actions with Scripture? Are we hypocrites for saying don’t lie except when you’re playing a game that demands deception or to keep your kids on their best behavior near Christmas by telling them that Santa is checking his list?
The way I see it, there are a few options that Christians have when it comes to these kind of games.
- Don’t play them. Politely excuse yourself from the table and leave while the game is being played. You might get some strange looks from your friends but you won’t be placed in the awkward position that is option #2.
- Be honest. If you’re playing The Resistance and someone asks you if you are the traitor, tell them the truth. Of course, you will ruin the game for everyone else and probably won’t get an invite to the next game night, but your conscience will be clear.
- Realize that this is just a game, that your eternal soul will not burn in hell for all eternity because you didn’t tell the truth while playing a game, and enjoy the time with your friends.
From my perspective, there is no sin in playing these kind of games. The argument could be made that lying and false accusations are a part of the rules of the game. And if you don’t play by the rules, then what’s the point in playing that specific game? Believe me, no one’s feeling will be hurt if lie or throw around false accusations while playing these games because it is expected. And also, it’s a game. This isn’t real live we’re talking about where real actions have real consequences.