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Where’s the Line When It Comes to Dark and Violent Media?

Hey Eddie, I have been a fan of fantasy role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons since I was 12 years old. However, now since giving my life to Christ I hear and read a lot of things by religious leaders condemning these games I have come to enjoy. Are these games still OK to play as a Christian or do they really lead us onto the path of evil?

– Derek

Beholdeth, Wizard Derek! Ye hath made an inquiry that hath confounded Dungeon Masters for thine ages! That is, how shall we slayeth the mighty dragons, beholders, mind flayers, and giants if thine God forbids such battleth? How, Sir Derek, could we possibly consider capturing the seat of power of the Land of the Purple Dragon if thine Christian Manual forbids such game play!? Derek, bring forth thy 12-sided dice (D12), for we are to embark upon a quest…

OK man, I can’t write like that anymore. It took me the better part of an entire pot of French Press just to get those references right. So, it’s just you and me now—a guy who likes D&D and a guy who knows nothing about it. However, just because I don’t know too much about the game, doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the question. Because all of us, at some point, have wrestled with the basic question of if our actions are taking us down an unsavory path.

For you, your struggle comes with a game like Dungeons & Dragons that is full of dark, violent and iconic imagery. But, for a larger population of people, this conversation has been had regarding the Harry Potter franchise, the decision to celebrate Halloween and countless other opportunities that may be perceived as having a darker element to them.

What then shall we do?

First, I think it’s important to examine the material that you’re engaging in. As I said, I know very little about D&D, so I don’t know if it’s a harmless rolling of dice and slaying of mythical creatures, or if there is some deeper, more sinister element to it. Are women being mistreated? Is murder condoned? Is the content more than just spooky, but clearly pointing to elements of a satanic nature? Is sin regarded as a positive attribute? You should be asking questions like these, and not just giving yourself the “it’s only a game” way out. Personal feelings aside, you need to take a hard look at what you’re playing with.

For example, I have no problem with the Harry Potter books/movies. I’ve read all of them, and while I agree that they dabble in things like wizardry and dark arts, I find it all to be silly, harmless and not in any way pulling me away from God and truth. However, I won’t play Grand Theft Auto because women are victimized and murder is routinely encouraged. These are things that I simply can’t ignore and participate in—even in game form.

So that’s the first litmus test, is the game/movie/material in question inherently promoting sinful behavior? If not, you can move on to the next question …

What does the material do to you?

Derek, most of the time, the problem with things we enjoy has less to do with what we’re actually engaging in, but rather how it’s engaging us. By this I mean that sometimes we use things that are harmless for purposes that are harmful. This could be the case with anything. For example, while food may just be something you use to nourish yourself and occasionally enjoy, for me it can be a form of escapism, self-soothing and acceptance. Do you see the difference? Is there anything wrong with food? No, of course not. But is there something unhealthy in how I can use it? Certainly.

The question I’d ask of you, Derek, is what are you using D&D for? My hope is that it’s just a game, and one that stretches your strategic mind, engages this side of you that loves the art of storytelling, and even brings you into community with fellow gamers. However, is it possible that D&D is a form of escapism? Or even worse, does the game actually sway your heart and mind toward a genuine interest in the occult, satan or sin? I can’t answer this question for you, but you can—and should.

See Also

Which leads me to my last bit of advice. Derek, you need to engage others in this process of self-exploration. Because while I may have my opinions and views, others who I respect (and are not fear mongering, fundamentalist, Christians) would disagree with me. They would say that watching Harry Potter, playing role-playing games, or even letting my kids trick-or-treat is a slippery slope to something more dangerous. And you know what, even as I write this I realize it’s probably a good time to pray about those opinions again.

In any event, don’t ignore the voices of wisdom that surround you, Derek. God gives us community so that we can be informed and refined. Allow those voices to speak truth to your very good question.

Yours in preventing the rise of a new dragon empire,

Eddie

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