Ask Your Preacher
I have a question about playing video games (for example, war games that involve killing people to win war battles). I know that these are just games, and I do like to play them, and I do not take them seriously. I asked someone that was part of a church before, and he told me that it was not the same thing as a sin and that it was okay to play war games. I think I might be taking sin too far when I think that I should not even play a video game, but I would like to know your opinion on the subject.
Sincerely, Pixel Killer
Dear Pixel Killer,
Playing video games is like many other forms of recreation – they are not inherently wrong, but they certainly can become wrong if abused. War video games come in all shapes and sizes. Some are ridiculously bloody and violent, others only moderately so. It isn’t wrong for a christian to enjoy playing battle-type games any more than it is wrong for boys to play “cops and robbers” in the backyard. The key to the whole thing is wisdom. It takes wisdom to decide when a video game has “crossed the line” into dark and disturbing realms. Video games like Grand Theft Auto (which portrays prostitution, theft, domestic violence, etc.) certainly qualify to be labeled as sinful, but not all video games are of that character.
Being a soldier isn’t an inherently sinful thing. John the Baptist taught that soldiers can be godly and that military life can be led righteously (Lk 3:14). So pretending to be a soldier while playing a video game isn’t inherently wrong either. The key is to make sure that you aren’t filling your mind with evil or dwelling upon ungodliness. God wants us to contemplate pure things (Php 4:8) and set our minds on heavenly, godly things (Col 3:2). Examine yourself and your habits to see whether that is the case for you (1 Cor 11:29-31).
There is a 'new' idea floating around that after a non-christian dies, they simply cease to exist. For them, there will be no eternal hell; they will only be destroyed on the Day of Judgment because God is a compassionate God and wouldn't allow the lost to suffer eternally. I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this, but since it is floating around the churches, I just want to make sure I'm not missing something here.
Sincerely, Oblivion Oblivious
Dear Oblivion Oblivious,
Hell is a real place that you really don’t want to go to. The whole idea of the wicked simply ceasing to exist is conjured not from the Scriptures - but from the mind of man. Consider these verses:
- The story of Lazarus and the rich man makes no sense without hell (Lk 16:20-24). Jesus would effectively be telling a scary myth in order to terrify people into going to heaven even though what happened to the rich man wasn’t true.
- The wicked go to a place where the fire burns, but the worm never dies (Mk 9:47-49)
- At the judgment the wicked shall go to where there is ‘everlasting punishment’ (Matt 25:46).
- There are various degrees of judgment in hell (Lk 12:46-48). This makes no sense if hell is nothing more than oblivion.
- A false teacher incurs a stricter judgment (Jas 3:1). Once again, what is ‘stricter judgment’ if hell doesn’t exist?
The false doctrine of ‘oblivion’ has cropped up amongst God’s people from time to time for many, many years. It never survives very long because it has no basis in Scriptural fact.
I have a friend who visits an astrologer or "psychic" and seems to put great stock in what this person says. I think it is a waste of time and money, but is it sinful? How about reading your horoscope?
Sincerely, Say It Ain’t Séance
Dear Say It Ain’t Séance,
Astrology, mysticism, séances, horoscopes, palm reading, etc. are all sinful. God condemned that behavior in the Old Testament (Isa 47:13-14). King Saul was put to death by God for seeking a woman that practices divining (1 Chr 10:13). Any Jew that was found visiting a ‘medium’ or ‘spiritist’ would be cut off from His people (Lev 20:6). In the New Testament, astrology is just as roundly condemned. Paul cast out an evil spirit that was fortune-telling (Acts 16:16-18). When someone became a christian, they confessed sorcery as evil, and many of them burned their books of the magical arts (Acts 19:18-20). If we want wisdom, we should seek it from God (Jas 1:5). All astrology, horoscopes, and the like are wrong.
I have been separated for almost nine years. My husband left me and is in another relationship. Recently, he attacked me in front of our eight year old and fractured my nose. I am filing for divorce now. I met a man in a Christian chat who is also separated, and his wife is seeing another man. He teaches youth in New Zealand as well lecturing in a Christian College there. He visited me once in March while in the USA. He now wants to come back in November to visit again. He plans on divorcing his wife in a little over a year, as their laws require a two year separation prior to divorce. Our relationship seems so godly since we haven't "sinned" - but I know I need counseling. I am seeking advice through you because I haven't told my pastor due to fear of being rejected by the church. Please help.
Sincerely, Seeking To Be Faithful
Dear Seeking To Be Faithful,
Your situation is a unique twist on an old problem, but the answer still remains the same – wait until you are both not married. It sounds like you both have legitimate reasons for seeking divorce from your current spouses. The only reason God ever allows for divorce is when adultery has occurred (Matt 5:32); sadly both of your spouses have done that. However, you are not officially divorced yet. Though it is unlikely that you will reconcile with your current spouses, you are still married. If you begin dating, you will be dating a married man, and he will be dating a married woman. That looks bad to everyone else, thus tainting your relationship in the eyes of others (Rom 12:17). Furthermore, it doesn’t just look bad – it is bad.
Since you have an eight-year-old, as a parent, you understand how quickly time goes by. In a year and a half, both of your lives will have changed dramatically, and you will be in an appropriate situation to decide whether to date each other. Even you admit that you need counseling as you go through a very difficult divorce. Your life and mind are not in a good position to be entering the dating world even if it were appropriate. There is a time for everything under the sun; now is a time to focus on picking up the pieces… not building new relationships (Eccl 3:1-8).
I am currently engaged to the woman I know I will spend the rest of my life with, but her and I are unaware of the limits we have sexually. Since we are going to be married and truly have no desire to be with anyone else, is there anything in the Bible that says we shouldn't be able to have sex?
Sincerely, Can’t Wait To Be Married
Dear Can’t Wait To Be Married,
There is a lot in the Bible that says you shouldn’t have sex until you are married. Gen 2:24 shows that marriage is the point where you are allowed to become one flesh. 1 Cor 7:2 points out that it is considered fornication unless you are married. If you sleep together before marriage, it is wrong.
Since you are truly committed to each other, then commit to waiting until you are married. Otherwise, find yourself a Justice of the Peace and get married now. If you have to choose between waiting to marry while being consumed by lust and getting married a little earlier but being legitimate in the eyes of God – get married (1 Cor 7:9).