Tuesday’s Truth for Youth: The Problem With Playing the Hero

Fantasy Worlds of Your Own Creation Let You be God

Give it back!” We all heard anguished screaming and arguing echoing down the once-peaceful hall in the guys’ dorm. It was my sophomore year in high school and 3:00 or 4:00 Saturday morning.
All of us guys had been sound asleep before the noise started. I groggily stepped out into the hall, only to be hit in the side by a flying chair! Oh, I was awake now—and mad! I looked across the hall and saw a guy I barely knew. He was new that semester and had kept to himself. He and our guy’s dean were in the battle of their lives over something. I couldn’t make out what it was.

What could be so important that this guy would risk getting suspended or kicked out of school? Then I saw it—a spiral notebook and a pen! What could it contain? Maybe a private note written to a girl? Once the dean had the guy restrained, he told all of us onlookers to go back to bed. We were consumed with curiosity. The next morning there was an emergency meeting to discuss this student and what had happened in the middle of the night.

Apparently he had become obsessed with playing a role-playing game called “Dungeons and Dragons”—to the point that he had stopped doing other things, necessary things, such as going to class, working, eating, sleeping! But it didn’t stop there. Earlier that fateful Friday evening our dean had found him using his computer to play the game and create several of his characters.

The dean had taken away his computer, so the student decided to use his typewriter to continue playing this game. When that was confiscated, he resorted to his notebook and pen. And that’s when the battle woke up all of us. To make matters worse, this student had begun to practice a type of witchcraft called Wicca, or white magic, and had begun to “educate” other students as well. He always wore black clothes and was very serious all the time.

At this point I want to clarify my position: I’m not saying that everyone who participates in role-playing games–now called massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or “MMORPG”–and other popular games (of which there are about 41 out now), is going to start practicing witchcraft like the guy at my academy did. That was a worst-case scenario. However, I am saying that anything having to do with consistently and consciously trading your reality and replacing it with another one is going to end up in some kind of spiritual conflict. Additionally, the vast majority of these games offer the players a clear and distinct pathway to: witchcraft, sorcery, wizards, and outright Satanic worship aka “the occult”!

Old-Fashioned Perspective?

Now, you might think that my perspective is a little old-fashioned or alarmist. I say this from personal experience, and from working with teenagers for more than 25 years. These games offer an overwhelming opportunity to escape present reality.  In its place, they can mold, make, or warp their own perspectives about life in the reality that they create.

The problem becomes, for many participants, that they lose either/or both: the ability to want to consistently live in their real life or—more troubling, I think, the ability to distinguish the difference between real life and one that is fictional. Additionally, anytime I have seen or experienced individuals who were interested in getting involved in these types of games, they always experienced social isolation, social awkwardness, and find it difficult to connect with real people, in the real world. Lastly, teens generally have problems with finding and keeping balance in their lives, anyway. Therefore, purposefully and consistently choosing to interact with a fantasy versus their reality, can spell danger.

That means that you need to be careful and discerning about any books and movies/TV, and games—video, online, and otherwise (including Ouija boards).

Purposefully and consistently choosing to interact with a fantasy versus reality, can spell danger.

What Does The Bible Say?

Let’s take a look at what God says in the Bible:

  • “Don’t practice any kind of witchcraft” (Leviticus 19:26, CEV).
  • “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:31, NIV).
  • “I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people. Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy” (Leviticus 20:6-8, NIV).
  • “A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.” (verse 27, NIV).

These are just some of the many Bible verses on this subject. At this point you may be asking, “What’s the big deal? Why can’t I enjoy these forms of entertainment? It’s not as though I’m going to start worshipping the devil or anything!”

There are several different reasons to stay away from these things, with the most important simply being what God has asked. When we love God, we obey Him—even if we don’t understand why He’s prohibited something. We’ll obey Him because we believe that He knows best and that He always has our best interest at heart. I believe that when God says “Don’t,” He’s really saying “Don’t hurt yourself!”

Many times when people get involved in the supernatural, the paranormal, the occult, or witchcraft, they do it to gather knowledge or power that others don’t have. They do it to make themselves special, or to try to gain control over others. God, however, wants us to get knowledge and power only from Him. He doesn’t want us to make gods of anyone or anything else—whether it’s ourselves (which is the draw with MMORPGs) or the forces of nature or the earth (Wicca, paganism, or witchcraft).

And, that’s the first commandment that God gave, isn’t it? It’s found in Exodus 20:3: “You must not have any other god but me” (NLT).

When we get involved in occult practices, we try to get around God and make ourselves powerful without Him. We aspire to “be like God” (Genesis 3:5). That’s the idea that many fantasy books and movies promote—overcoming the powers of darkness by being able to control white (“good”) magic ourselves.

“Live Your Truth!”

There are other reasons this type of entertainment is dangerous. Regarding those MMORPGs, getting involved in something that allows you to create characters and people and give them certain quirks, characteristics, and powers actually begins to fool people into thinking that fantasy is in fact reality. I’m sure that you’ve heard someone say this type of idea: “I’m just living my truth!” But the truth about that statement is that there is only One truth! Truth isn’t a subjective thing. It’s a very objective thing that there’s only one of! The sad reality is that life is complex and confusing enough without adding that extra problem! When you get involved in watching, reading, or playing things related to witchcraft, etc., you automatically give Satan and his evil angels (demons) the green light to waltz right into your life and—even more dangerous—into your mind and set up shop there.

Who Is In Charge of You?

Again, I’m not saying that just because you watch or read or play these types of things you’re going to be instantly possessed by demons. But little by little, bit by bit, the enemy hooks into you and begins to lead you away from God and from your desire to follow Him. Every day you must make a conscious decision as to who will be in charge of, well, you!

Leviticus 20:7, 8 says: “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy” (NIV). If we turn our life over to Him, He gives us the power to be holy—to be different from the world.  And your life, my life,  may be the only “Bible” or “Jesus” that some people ever see. So then, we strive to live in a way that represents Him well.
Take some time to review all of your entertainment habits. God may be asking you to walk away from some other things as you draw closer to Him.

How to Entertain Yourself Now

Right now you may be asking, “Well, then, what am I going to do now?” or “What’s left?” Again, the Bible has the answer for us.

That answer is found in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise” (CEV).

Not sure what types of games, TV shows, movies, reading materials, and other entertainment fall into this category? Ask someone. Ask your mom/dad, brother/sister, a godly friend, pastor/youth pastor, teacher, school counselor, or some other trusted adult. Pray daily that God will give you the wisdom to make good choices, and the strength to stick to them. In addition, you might need to choose new friends. You heard me right! If your current friends want to do things that you know will undermine your relationship with God, then you need new friends who are also totally committed to God.

At the end of his last personal letter to the Christian church, a champion of the Christian faith named Paul wrote a serious warning about choosing the right friends. Paul gave his young friend Timothy a crucial piece of advice. I’d like to share this advice with you. I know you’ll see their relevance to what’s happening in today’s culture:

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, NIV).

Paul isn’t describing some Baal-worshipping, rabid enemy of God and His people—he’s describing those who call themselves “Christian.” What does he say to do? Don’t hang out with them, as much?

No! He says, “Have nothing to do with such people.”

I know it’s a tough pill to swallow, and maybe you didn’t want to read that.

How about one more question: which person are you? You’re either the one he’s warning, or the one he’s warning about.  How you respond to God in light of this passage of Scripture will let you know where your heart stands.

OK, just one more scripture. This one comes directly from Jesus Himself as one of the plainest warnings. “Anyone who loves their father or mother [or friends] more than me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37, NIV).

“What’s wrong with D & D?” you ask. Jesus says “A lot!”

This Halloween season, take some time to examine critically the choices you’re making related to your media diet and ask yourself: “Whom am I really worshipping?” There are only three choices: God, me, or the devil. I hope you choose the only right answer, because your choice determines your eternal destiny.

Additional Resources

Parental Concerns About “Dungeons and Dragons”

Teen Questions About “Dungeons and Dragons”

https://www.gotquestions.org/Dungeons-and-Dragons.html

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