I found this little jewel out on the ‘net, and feel a need to respond to the blatant misconstruing of what is or isn’t OK with World of Warcraft. I am a Christian (Confessional Lutheran, to be precise), and I also enjoyed playing World of Warcraft. I don’t like it when people muddy the name “Christian” with stuff that is not Christian, and feel compelled by my Christian Freedom and Christian Responsibility to respond to this, even if I am about 5 years late on finding it. I am not a fan of the Legalism or the Moralism that plagues American Protestantism. So… here we go:
Evil Character and QuestsYou begin the game by creating a character choosing from ten races and nine classes. The classes in World of Warcraft areWarriors, Mages, Druids, Hunters, Warlocks, Priests, Paladins, Rogues, and Shaman. Races are divided by Horde or the Alliance. The Alliance includes Humans, Night Elves, Dwarfs, Gnomes and Draenei. The Horde includes Orcs, Tauren, Undead, Trolls and Blood Elves. Male and female sexes are available in all races.
The classic argument about playing “evil characters” in a game. This has recently been touched upon quite well by Rev. Jonathan Fisk at Worldview Everlasting. This is basically an arbitrary line in the sand being drawn. Why do I say that? Because in the game, you pretend to be a different person, basically, you lie. So this line is drawn claiming that one kind of lying (role-playing a good character) is better than another kind of lying (role-playing a bad character). Further, this argument could be applied to condemn any writer to ever have evil characters portrayed in their books. Because they have to get into the role of those characters to know how the characters would act/react in the book. Or, for that matter, you better just not read any book with conflicts between good and evil characters within it, because the author was obviously being evil when writing about the evil characters, and it is better to avoid it entirely. Oh, wait, this means you better skip reading the Bible, because it is filled with all kinds of conflicts between good and evil, most notably between the triune God and sin, death, and the Devil. Like I said, it is an arbitrary line… and one that is not made in the Bible at all. As it is not expressly forbidden in the Bible, it becomes a matter of Christian Freedom. The correct term for it is “adiophra”, which means those things not expressly forbidden in the Bible.
Clinical psychologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Maressa Orzack believes 40% of World of Warcraft subscribers are addicted to the game. Said the doctor: “I think there needs to be warning labels on MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, similar to warning labels on cigarettes.
Sorry, but psychology is not a study based on the Bible, or even remotely connected to the Bible (and in fact, is arguably contrary to the Bible on many points). This has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity, and everything to do with human reason. The jury is still out as far as gaming “addiction” is concerned, and I don’t see this as any kind of point with merit when defining Christian reasons to oppose playing WoW.
Characters take on “quests” or assignments that include traveling through terrains and fighting different kinds of monsters. Players climb and improve skill as they perform the quests. At times a player may need the help of other players. These are called dungeons which can be two to five players or groups of 30 to 40. It can take several weeks or months in order to pass the dungeon depending on the skill and the playing style of the player.
So what? It is, by definition a game, with rules connected to how to play the game. A game without rules would be unplayable, I don’t care if we’re talking a video game, a board game, or a sport. If you are complaining about how much time is being used in playing the game, then just control how much time is spent playing it. I played WoW a long time, and rarely did raids or even dungeons. I could drop in and out of the game easily, and had a number of characters at maximum level. Beyond that, I am lost as to how this is a Christian “red flag”. I totally call this adiophra.
Many of the quests involve violence. Much of the game is spent fighting a diverse and sometimes frightening assortment of computer-controlled creatures gone bad-wild boars, wolves, rogues, undead creatures, dragons, thieves, etc. that include graphic depictions of blood during combat with appropriate sound effects.
Sorry, but the Bible is not against violence. Nope. Don’t believe me? Check out the book of Joshua. Or possibly 1 & 2 Chronicles, 1 & 2 Kings, or really the vast majority of the Old Testament. Or even the Gospels for that matter (especially the part where Jesus was beaten, bruised, and killed for all of us… kinda an important facet of Christianity). And the Bible especially is not against simulated violence. Sorry, adiophra.
Players control an avatar (character) in the world inside the game. They explore the landscape, perform all activities and perfect skills while winning items. Items include things like herbs, manna, and gold. These items, along with different weapons and armor, are a focus of the game as they improve various attack or defense skills.
Like I said, it is a game. I fail to see, entirely, how this is somehow wrong. Arbitrary line anyone? Gonna start banning reading books of fiction? Or what about watching TV or movies? Adiophra.
Casting Spells, Witchcraft, Ghosts, ViolencePlayers fight by casting spells. More correctly – they pretend to cast spells. Different spells have different effects on other players or monsters. Players earn the ability to cast spells by visiting trainers and by receiving items dropped by monsters, found through quests, or sold by other players. The strength of the spells depends on the players’ level and earned items. Spells can improve or weaken friends and enemy troops. Other spells do direct damage to enemies or heal allies.
Yep. the key word is pretend to cast spells. It definitely is nothing like the real thing. The “spells” change certain values contained within an internal database containing numeric representations of hit points or other statistics. Absolutely none of it is even remotely witchcraft. Any more than playing Dungeons & Dragons, or Magic: The Gathering, or even just playing a game of make-believe Harry Potter. Sheesh. Get a grip on reality, would you? This is nothing more than adiophra.
When a player dies, they receive a dialog box to “Release Spirit.” By pressing this button their character is transported to the nearest graveyard as a ghost. Priests, shamans, paladins, druids, and warlocks all have the power to bring other characters back from the dead. The method and frequency with which they can do so varies by class.
Because this kind of thing happens in real life and has real implications in the real world. I’m sorry, where’s the plain Bible passage that states doing this in a computer game is expressly forbidden? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Adiophra
World of Warcraft is rated “T” for Teen with warnings of blood, suggestive themes, use of alcohol, and violence. WoW is a place where thousands of people communicate in an unmonitored environment. Foul language is used consistently. Alcohol is occasionally referenced. Players can buy and consume alcohol in taverns and pubs to the point of getting drunk.
Point to me the passage that says rated “T” for Teen video games are evil. I can see the argument that these ratings are good tools for parents to be able to decide on their own whether it is appropriate for their children or not, but it definitely is not anything to do with Christianity. Adiophra.
Women characters are dressed scantly. Promoting lust. Players can “flirt” with one another while some females are scantily clad. (A teenage girl suggested I add this red flag, her words dressed whorish and horrible!)
Do you think that by avoiding seeing a scantily-dressed woman, you will somehow not be sinning against the 7th commandment? We all break all of the commandments in all of our thoughts, words, and deeds. We are accountable for it all, save for the gift of salvation we received in Christ, and the gift of faith we have been given through the Holy Spirit. Even so, we still regularly need to seek forgiveness for breaking all of the commandments, and staying away from a game that has scantily-dressed women characters because it promotes lust is really not going to make you somehow be better than anyone else, or somehow avoid sinning. While I personally wish the games had more respect for the female body than is often shown, at least in World of Warcraft, the most you will see is nothing more than you would see going to a beach. I wouldn’t necessarily call this adiophra, but I will say that it is rediculously legalistic and misses the point of Christianity by emphasizing the wrong thing — what we can do to avoid sin, rather than repenting and receiving forgiveness for our sins daily.
God says “Abstain from all appearances of evil. I didn’t write it God did.
Ok, I believe you are quoting 1 Thess. 5:22 (KJV) here. Let’s see if this one verse really means what you are saying (or rather, implying), or if it means something else. There are three main rules of properly understanding the Bible: context, context, and context. So, let’s look at the immediate context surrounding this one verse. I will use the ESV as my translation of choice, because, to be honest, I don’t think in Middle English, and in fact, modern people in general don’t. 1 Thess. 5:12-22 (ESV):
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[c] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
Well, it appears to me as though this is the end of a letter. In fact, it is the end of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. It appears to be some parting advice, that builds upon points made through the entire book. It looks like Paul is trying to tell the congregation in Thessalonica to be supportive of each other, to respect each other, and to build each other up. Also to test everything — in the context provided, it appears any prophecies (which in the context means teachings people have claimed are from God Himself) they have received — and keep the ones that are true, but to reject the ones that are false. It is an admonishment to avoid false teaching (prophecies), and the way to determine the false teachings from the true ones is to test the teachings against God’s Word. So… I’d have to say that this verse really is completely out of context & off-topic with the idea of playing a character in World of Warcraft, even an evil character. Sorry, doesn’t work.
The Bible is clear that casting spells is an abomination to God. Those who practice witchcraft (sorcery) will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21). These practices are anti-God and are in rebellion against Him. Also see Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 27:9; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24, Ezekiel 21:21; Isaiah 19:3; 1 Samuel 28, 1 Chronicles 10:13-14.
Ok. So this is about real-life actually performing witchcraft. It is an abomination because it puts the power of humanity first, and God is unnecessary. This would be what you would see in pagan ceremonies, and it doesn’t jive with the Bible. However, is this really what is done in World of Warcraft? Nope. What is done is a mathematical equation that produces a change in numerical values contained in a database. All with some spiffy graphical effects. What’s the difference in WoW between casting a fire bolt or hitting with a sword? Underneath the surface, in the programming world that is what drives WoW itself… really not much. They are basically the same thing. Everything has been abstracted so much that it is truly harmless. Me making my Warlock cast Siphon Life on a target in the game is not going to teach me how to cast a real-life spell that can somehow do the same thing. The “magic” in World of Warcraft is just a numbers game, nothing more. It is no more problematic for a Christian than playing Monopoly or Yahtzee. Oh, not a big fan of the NLT, let’s try looking at a better translation, like the ESV. If needs be, I can debate this point further, but I’d recommend you check out Worldview Everlasting, and find the videos there that touch on this very point (Pr. Fisk himself plays Magic: The Gathering, and taught it to his kids…. and he makes the point as to why it isn’t the same thing as actual, real-life heebee-jeebee magic pretty clear).
What Does God say about the Appearance of Evil?Various message boards have threads of discussion about Christians playing WoW. Players say they even use the game to be a witness and lead other to Christ. They defend the right to play this game because it is not really evil but only a game.OK, its only a game–Lets say it is not evil for arguments sake. Does it appear evil?Is it OK to play a game about casting spells? Gamers aren’t really casting spells. They are only humans, not priest or warlocks, and they only direct the character that they have chosen to go through an adventure casting spells.Pretending to cast spells is not the same as casting spells but I don’t want my children to pretend to cast spells.These are my children and this is my decision. Why are people so angry (deleted over 200 F…U. comments so far) for stopping MY children from playing this game?
I already answered this one. You are pulling that verse out of context, claiming it is what God says. However, when tested against the Word of God, in context, it is found to be a false interpretation. So, according to the very passage you kindly put up there, I will abstain from this evil twisting of God’s Word. And will call it for what it is openly.
The Real Spiritual BattleWe are in a battle daily–not a virtual battle–a real battle! The Christian walk is a battle against our sin nature or our flesh. “The flesh” refers to the fallen nature still with the believer. In Romans 6, Paul says the old man has been crucified and that we can overcome the flesh by reckoning ourselves dead to sin and by yielding ourselves to God. God’s Holy Spirit assists us in our battle against the flesh.God wants to transform us into Christ’s likeness (2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 8:29 and 12:1–2). If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit (allowing the Spirit to control our lives). Walking in the Spirit is the daily experience of the believer who feeds on the Word, prays, and obeys what the Bible says.
Legalistic view of the passages. Completely confusing Law and Gospel. As a Lutheran, I confess that the Book of Concord summarizes the doctrines found within the Bible. As such, within the Book of Concord, the three purposes of the Law are defined as:
- that “thereby outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient men [and that wild and intractable men might be restrained, as though by certain bars]”
- that “men thereby may be led to the knowledge of their sins”
- that “after they are regenerate. . .they might. . .have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life”
Another way to put it is: 1. as a Curb, 2. as a Mirror, and 3. as a Rule. The primary purpose of the Law is to Show us our Sin (#2, a Mirror). It also is to help curb us from doing something we shouldn’t (like run around killing people in real life). The 3rd use is interesting, because when properly taught Law and Gospel, it is automatically done thanks to the regeneration of the Gospel, and is not something we have to make ourselves do, but will automatically done. The “Walking in the Spirit” is that 3rd use of the Law. When shown our sin, and we repent of it, then receive the forgiveness of our sins (through absolution, baptism, and Holy Communion), we will do good works, and live good lives. Not because we must do it in order to be good Christians, but because we have been regenerated in Christ, and the good works are the fruits of this regeneration. But you are right, we are constantly in a spiritual battle — between the “old Adam” of our sinful natures, and the “new Adam” that is the result of Christ’s salvation and the faith brought to us as a free gift from the Holy Spirit. We are simultaneously sinners and saints. And we daily need to kill and bury the old Adam through repentance and regenerate the new Adam through the gift of forgiveness we receive. We need to have a broken and contrite heart. The Law kills the old Adam, and the Gospel regenerates the new Adam. This is how we live as Christians. Not by trying to follow a set of man-made rules trying to be moralistic and show everyone how good we are.
How We Spend our TimeEven secular parents voice concerns over the addictiveness of the game, and the creation of a sedentary, non-communicative, non-social existence. Wikipedia explains the high level of addiction in WoW:
Anything we spend time doing to the point of putting aside Bible study and prayer should be a signal to us that there is a problem. It is like recognizing hunger pain as a signal to eat. Time is limited. It is like a bandwith. Use it well.
And yet, it is possible to play WoW without being “addicted” to it. It also is possible to teach your children how to do things in moderation as well. What you seem to be missing is that everything we have in this world is a gift of God. This includes entertainment. That’s right, being able to play World of Warcraft is a gift of God, and we should recognize it as such. It is, as I have mentioned before, adiophra. And, as such, you should follow Paul’s advice to not be a slave to anything. If you are incapable of playing WoW without being addicted (to be enslaved by it), then maybe it isn’t the right thing for you. Much like if you are an alcoholic and have a problem with drinking. But just because there are alcoholics in the world doesn’t mean that everyone who drinks alcohol is one. Even Jesus had no problem with people drinking alcohol — he made wine out of water at a multi-day wedding celebration — several days into the celebration (because they were running out of wine). What do you think the people at that celebration were doing in order to have used up all of the wine? Didn’t Jesus effectively condone people drinking wine by making some more good wine for the party (to the point that the steward claimed that it was the best wine, and shocked it was saved until last)? So, in the case of gaming “addiction”, it really is down to the personal level, it is not expressly forbidden against in the Bible, and each person should be able to choose whether to exercise his or her Christian Freedom as to whether he or she is able to play a game like that responsibly or not.
Think on These Things (Not Evil)Thoughts are powerful; “as he thinketh, so he is” (Prov. 23:7). Where we focus or thoughts can lead to either unrest and discouragement, or spiritual thinking and peace.
Ahh yes, the whole thought-police legalism. Better be careful to not think the wrong way, or else! (rolling eyes) I’m gong to quote the same passage you do right after this, but in a better translation. Phil 4:2-9 (ESV):
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only.16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.[d] 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
So… this passage tells the congregation to think about good things (since Paul was under house arrest at the time, and was destined to eventually be killed by the Emperor), rather than being troubled about what is going on with Paul and all of Christianity at the time. It isn’t telling every Christian everywhere to only think good thoughts or else. Nope, it just is telling the Philippians that Paul is doing OK, he’s doing the work God sent him out to do, and they shouldn’t be troubled by it. Once again, context, context, context.
As such, I find your article to be offensive in that it twists God’s Word to whatever your own moralistic and legalistic view has made it to be. It condemns people who are enjoying a form of entertainment, and makes several arbitrary lines in the sand as to what is right and wrong, all without real backing of scripture to make an objective decision. I am offended that you claim that this is how a Christian would view it, because it most definitely is not a Christian viewpoint. It is a legalistic, fundamentalist view that has no solid footing against the clear words of scripture.
Further, I personally have found the following to be true for a Christian to follow with regards to World of Warcraft — Christians are free to play or not to play it as they see fit. Christian parents are free to decide whether their children should play it or not. Christians should be wary of addiction in any form, as it is never good to become enslaved by anything, and if a specific person has the problem of video game addiction, then it might not be best for that person to play this game. But if a person doesn’t have that problem, then it isn’t an issue. I would recommend that Christian parents to review what is in any video game (or movie, TV show, book, song, etc.) and see if it is something that is appropriate for their children. But I’d recommend that for any parent, even non-Christian ones. I’d recommend that any parent gets involved in whatever his or her child is doing, and definitely not consider a video game like World of Warcraft as a surrogate or substitute for love. I have seen in-game a number of parent/child combinations that have worked, where both a son/daughter and father/mother have played the game together, and used it as a way to bond and enjoy time together (especially if the parent is in the military and deployed/in training somewhere, or any other reason the parent is away from the home for a while). I wouldn’t be worried about the “scantily-clad females” in the game. Your child will most likely encounter far worse just walking through any amusement park, or out on a beach. Use it as a good time to teach your child about respecting a woman (or respecting herself if your daughter).
2 thoughts on “A Christian’s Response To: A Christian’s View of World of Warcraft (published in 2008)”
My biggest issue with this article is the clear generational divide coloring the conversation on the part of the author, which I think you very aptly point out. What you do in a video game isn't real. Those aren't people, they're pixels. Those aren't spells, they're colors. Playing a video game does not train you to use a gun, kill another person or cast a spell. I should know about the last one as I'm a practicing Asatruar with a focus on runic magics. A proper spell takes days, maybe longer to plan, construct, ponder ethics and methodology, and then carry out. "Spells" in World of Warcraft take 2 seconds of pressing the "2" key on the keyboard. These activities have nothing in common. Even Christian spells ( you guys call them prayers ), which tend to be shot form still take meditation and study on your theological principals to enact with piety and a right-minded approach to what your messiah expects of you. So there are two very clear examples of how real life differs from the %100 (and VERY obviously to anyone under 30 ) illusory nature of video games.
Having said all that, common sense is ALWAYS relevant, context is ALWAYS important. If your kid is mature enough and well adjusted a video game of even he most violent and gory nature is not going to ruin them. If video game shad that authority over the minds of mankind there'd be few people who AREN'T murderers! Video games make up the lion's share of the US entertainment budget, and some may be surprised to learn the most money spent on the medium comes from people closer to 30 than 13.
On a final note, God(s,esses) don't need your defense. Faith is a shield to protect YOU, you don't need to defend it. Any god in need of a crusade of any variety is a devil.
First of all, you slighted the Holy Ghost with your comments towards the AV 1611 KJB. God has honored the preaching and teaching of His word through that one translation – than all others combined. If you don't believe me I suggest you look up the missionary history and fruit of the AV 1611 to around 1881 when that abomination of a translation – the Revised Version was released.
Secondly, you're quoting from the corrupted ESV, which purposefully waters down the verse. The foundation for the translation of that text comes from the Alexandrian line of manuscripts which is the same line that the abominable RCC uses for their translations.
1 Thessalon8ans 5:22 says to abstain from ALL appearance of evil. You are the one twisting Scripture to justify playing an ungodly game, which is neither expedient, edifying, nor a good way to redeem the time you have on this earth.
Look, I'm nearing 40 years old. I started playing games at 8 years and have literally played ALL of the most popular video games for three decades, and have been resisting the guidance of the Holy Ghost now for quite sometime in regards to playing video games. I fully grant that each person is different to a degree, and what the Lord lays on my heart might not he how He deals with you, but in these last days we really do need to open our eyes to the evil of this world, for the god of this world – Satan, runs it for the time being by the permissive will of God.
It is an old trick to label a brother a legalist when they point out something you happen to disagree with.
Let me ask you this, irrespective of what Christian's throughout history might have thought about such a game as WoW, or video games in general, do you think they would have wanted to spend their time playing them? I can't see Paul playing WoW under any circumstances.
The Lord has laid it on my heart to abstain from video games because they were an idol unto me in the past, and in a sense, still are because they often infringe upon time that could be better spent serving God and fellow shipping with him in His word.
That may not be you. God's plan for you may not involve totally abstaining from video games because it may not because hindrance to you in fulfilling His will for your life, but I disagree with your defense of WoW.
I played WoW for several years, during TBC and WotLK. I played a rogue and had around 120 days played on that character- that's 2,880 hours played over the course of about 2 years. That averages out to just under 4 hours played per day. You might not put that kind of time into the game, but there are a lot of people that do, and more.
So I see it as a massive time sink that ultimately has no real value other than to please the flesh. It doesn't build you up, it doesn't edify you, ut doesn't make you a better Christian, and for every hour spent playing the game you could actually be reading the Bible or some decent book, which would have more application to life, and which might actually help you serve God better.
I've thought about this a fair amount, and believe me, I've made just about every justification that I can to continue playing games, but the Holy Ghost won't have it.
The flesh lusts against the Spirit.
Setting aside the time component of gaming, and the lack of usefulness of it, there is also the aspect of the occult symbolism and words, and play it as you will – the game is rife with it.
That's all I have to say on it for the moment. Take care.