Pluck Out Your Video Game and Cast It Into the Fire
Because so many are designed to pull the men who play them into pornography.
There is hardly a young man in America who doesn’t like video games. Understandably. Action, adventure, vivid detail, the opportunity to beat tough opponents. All these things appeal to the strong, masculine impulses a young man should have.
That’s also where things can go off the rails. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is one of the most effective organizations in the country in fighting the pornography epidemic. It reports that “videogame creators are increasingly promoting content that gamifies pornographic, hypersexualized, or sexually coercive themes.”
Exploiting Young Men
Pornographers know their audience, and are eager to exploit it. They draw in young men whose sexual energy is already high to the muck of pornography. They do it through something that should be fun and creative video gaming.
I’m not going to give details. You can read more on the NCOSE website. It’s enough for readers to know that every imaginable tactic is being used to seduce young men into pornography. Tantalizing images on various games. Actual links to pornographic websites. And worse, even violence against women. Violence too disturbing to describe.
We know pornography is addictive. It re-wires the brain, like any other addiction. Nearly 40 medical studies have looked at how the brain interacts with pornography. The verdict is undeniable. Porn addiction is real, and video gaming can lead to it.
A study in the journal Behavioral Science makes this clear. “Internet pornography addiction fits into the addiction framework and shares similar basic mechanisms with substance addiction.” In other words, pornography addiction is just like drug addiction.
According to this same article, studies on “Internet Gaming Disorder” show that gaming can be addictive, too. Putting these things together brings us to a pretty obvious conclusion: If you’re addicted to gaming, you might soon find yourself addicted to pornography.
Pastor Tim Challies has put together a list of eight sins one commits when he looks at pornography. It’s hard to read. I won’t give the complete list, but one that all Christians need to consider is what Challies calls “the sin of sexual assault.”
We don’t like to think of ourselves as sexual assailants, but the shoe fits. “A nauseating quantity of pornography is violent in nature,” writes Challies. “Sometimes these women have volunteered for such degradation and sometimes they are forced or raped into it.”
Many women, maybe the great majority, have been drugged or forced into pornography or have been sexually abused. Consider these chilling words by pornographic “actor” and producer David Mech: “The female actresses, in my opinion, are all damaged. I have yet to meet a non-damaged professional female who left her job to make adult videos.”
Whenever a man looks at pornography, he is viewing someone’s (often very young) daughter, sister, or even wife. She is not a “model” or a woman happily giving herself to a stranger. She is an image-bearer of God being exploited for the most selfish of purposes.
The Bible’s One Method
The Bible gives only one method for fighting sexual temptation, and that’s flight. Joseph ran from his boss’s wife when she tried to seduce him. Paul commands us to “flee” sexual temptation.
There’s no in-between. You can’t dally on the edges of sin. You’re either sinning or you’re not. Scripture doesn’t give us “it’s not really that bad” excuse.
Jesus calls His disciples to take up a cross and follow Him. If this means turning from video games you enjoy because they can lead you to sexual sin, do it. Jesus says this graphically: “If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.” That’s how hard we must guard ourselves from temptation.
If you’re addicted to pornography, many ministries offer practical help in fighting it. For example, Focus on the Family offers a list of Christian counselors who can assist you as you work to break free from the addiction. Many churches also have pornography addiction support groups. And you can invite your closest, most trusted friends to come alongside to encourage and hold you accountable.
Video games can be a lot of fun. But they can also be a danger zone. Parents need to watch what their kids are watching (and be prepared for huge push-back if they say “no” to the game the child wants to play). Adult gamers need to have committed Christian friends playing with them.
Love what’s good. Hate what’s evil. Avoid anything that might lead you to what’s evil. Even if it’s just an apparently innocent video game. Ask God for the strength to do just that.
Rob Schwarzwalder is a senior contributor at The Stream and a senior lecturer at Regent University.