Video games, vape pens, and alcohol (Gal. 6:8)

(Corey Alan Patterson) #1

I currently live in a household with a bunch of “believers” who grew up in the church but from what I see bear very little fruit. I’m having quite a bit of trouble understanding this. Almost every time I get home they have video games, vape pens and alcohol involved in their time they spend together.
I know that alcohol in itself is not a sin, but drunkenness is. From the Bible I can read how it talks about staying away from strong drink. I’m having a very very hard time learning how to respond to my roomates and the youth pastor in regards to this subject.

I grew up in the world and everything that they are doing looks very worldly. It is very hard to tell the difference between them (as born again believers) and the world. On top of all this, I live with the youth pastor who is one of the main shephards of the entire church and he tells me that he sees nothing wrong with it. Am I wrong for what I see? Am I wrong for how I see things? Do I judge to critically, or am I actually using sound judgment to see that they do not represent Christ or honor God in the things that they are doing?

What does Galatians 6:8 mean regarding video games, vape pens, and the use of alcohol?

Why should their liberty be determined by my conscience? If they partake in all these activities with thankfulness, am I doing wrong by denouncing what they do with their liberties they have been given (1Cor.10:29-30)?

Can someone please explain if there is any way video games, vape pens, and alcohol can honor God? And if it does not honor God then what should we be doing instead of these dead works?

(SeanO) #2

@Corey I understand your struggle. When I attended seminary I met some people who were wonderful, on fire for Jesus and true examples of Christ. They spent themselves in service to others and sought to further God’s Kingdom, love their families and pursue meaningful work. I met others who I did not understand because they spent their time exactly like the unbelievers I knew - talking about relationships / gossiping, playing video games and generally not seeking God in any way that was comprehensible to myself. I think the Scriptures that come to mind when I hear your struggle is Paul’s advice to Timothy and an exhortation to set our minds on what is good and pure:

I Timothy 4:12 - Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

My advice would be to avoid passing judgment on your roommates and do not violate your own conscience. Instead, be an example to them and pray for them. And if you feel that they are a hindrance to your walk with Christ, then prayerfully consider relocating yourself. It is unlikely that you will change them with open confrontation since you are not in a position of authority over them, unless you have a lot of trust bucks / influence in their lives.

Some signs that a pastime like games has become spiritual damaging, in my opinion, would include the following:

  • prayerlessness
  • a lack of love for others
  • putting our pleasure / entertainment before God’s Kingdom
  • living in a fantasy world rather than pursuing meaningful activity in the real world

But I do not provide that list to judge your roommates. Rather, guard your own heart and do not live in a way that violates your own conscience or walk with the Lord. Also, if they are in any way harming those under their spiritual care, you should raise that issue graciously with the elders (unless you already know that it will not be well received - certainly seek God’s guidance).

One passage that I hope could provide some wisdom is from Paul in Corinthians. He highlights the responsibility that those who Shepherd God’s flock have, notes that he has not violated his own conscience and provides a reminder that on the Day of Judgment the secrets of men’s hearts will be revealed. That is why we do not pass judgment on others - God will judge the secret thoughts and intents of their heart.

I Corinthians 4:1-5 - This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

Some Resources on Games

I thought this article by Gospel Coalition and the related book seemed a fairly balanced perspective. It acknowledges the danger of addiction and violence, but also provides room for the same type of creative expression we find in literature and other arts. I played Final Fantasy as a kid and actually found the stories meaningful and beautifully told. But there are other games that do glorify violence or are akin to the horror genre, which I detest, and are not wholesome in any way. I think video games require discernment just like movies or art or literature - they are a form of expression that can be positive, neutral or harmful.

(Corey Alan Patterson) #3

thank you Sean,
I will honestly say I do struggle with passing judgement on people; it is very hard for me because I see a lot of things that I believe do not help in any way shape or form a persons spiritual growth, and it’s disheartening to hear people tell me that I’m being too judgemental. But God has been very merciful toward me and gracious in how He has dealt with me and I should give that to others. Thank you for your time, and for the resources that you share and the knowledge that you have accumulated and share.

(SeanO) #4

@Corey How do you think Jesus would have engaged with them based upon your reading of the Gospels? Sometimes Jesus would leave a city behind and move on to seek those with open eyes and hearts. Sometimes he would rebuke. Sometimes he would weep because of the sin of those who ought to have known better.

(Corey Alan Patterson) #5

Very good questions. The Weeping and praying more is what I should be doing. I will continue to talk to God about this. It’s hard cuz I find myself more angry about the situation. I have no excuse I should not be angry I should be broken. maybe it’s me that needs to be the one to change more than them. I’m sure I’m the one being tested to change more than them. it reminds me of the book “Tortured for Christ”. Again, I’m really struggling with this… I wish I wasn’t so angry and I wish I was able to actually influence them and love them properly. I could see how far I am from the heart of God.

(SeanO) #6

I think the wonderful thing about the Scriptures is that they teach us to pray in honesty to God. King David always confessed his feelings openly to God and then asked God to guide his heart. Jesus, I completely understand Corey’s anger. It is frustrating to see people who claim your name living like the world - not responding to you with heartfelt devotion. How do we deal with this emotion? Give us wisdom and strength by your Spirit Lord. We also pray for these young men who have lost their first love - renew their love for you Jesus. Remind them of the times when they really knew how deeply you loved them and how great their sin was - teach them to hate sin again and to shed tears of joy for their salvation. Use them for Your Kingdom and give us wisdom to process these emotions. Amen!

(Corey Alan Patterson) #7

Amen… All in

(Sarah Stoddard) #8

Hi @Corey. I appreciate your honesty on here. It takes a lot of courage to voice your inner thoughts and struggles. A couple things I’ve learned over the years by having friends who claim Christianity and seem to be anything but is that God’s timing is different for everyone and different people are tempted by different things. Are we not all sinners at the end of the day? Does God love them any less or love one type of sinner more than another? I think there’s a lot to be said about your character and own spiritual growth that their behavior concerns you. If they truly have given their lives to Christ, I have no doubt that God will reveal their sins to them, however that may be. If not now, maybe in a few years, or maybe not until they pass away. Either way, God will have His glory in the end. I pray that you can be an example to them and that God can use you in their lives to help them grow spiritually, whatever that looks like. I agree with @SeanO, if the situation continues to cause this much unrest, you may need to remove yourself and find new roommates.

Side note: I also played Final Fantasy and other similar video games growing up. Although I don’t play anymore, I’ve made many friends over the years who’s common interest was video games. If nothing else, it allowed me to have an avenue in which to build relationships. I have no doubt God certainly meant for me to have those friends.

All the best! :blush:


(Michael Petrie) #9

You are asking some very good, thought provoking questions. Whether saved or not, one’s behavior most closely represents their heart condition. In other words, those behaviors are not just being questioned by you, but I would argue by others as well outside of the faith.

We are told that people should see a difference in us as Christ followers, compared to others. If that is not present, then the comments you received from Corey and others are spot-on. I would pray for them deeply, but as far as the Church leader, I think it would be acceptable to ask him some direct questions…“Tell me Pastor (X), as a man who is a self-professed Christ follower and one who is held to a higher standard than others with respect to not leading others astray, how do you navigate the gulf that represents words, from actions? With respect to questionable behavior, where do you draw the line? If a non-believer were to notice and provide comment on, “…see, deep down these Jesus-freaks are all the same.”…How would that make you feel?”

Vaping…sigh…bad habit, addictive substance… does it keep one out of heaven? No…but it may get you there faster (too soon to tell).

Drinking alcohol…I think you covered it well related to drunkenness. I would also add the possibility of causing another brother in Christ to stumble? I have nothing against it per se, but I would certainly not want my 14 yo son to see me doing so…Why?..because he may have addictive behaviors I may not be aware of and I want to be cognizant of that as a Father. I would argue the same is true for people we hang out with…we simply don’t know often times if they have addictive tendencies.

Video games…sigh…as an old dude at (almost) 48, I can think of numerous things one can do to better their life. Self development such as studying God’s word, understanding financial matters/investing, shooting sports, hunting, fitness, spending time communicating face-to-face with ones you love, etc. In light of these things, I find it is a waste of time, but some may find my favorite past-times like sporting clays and hunting as wasteful as well. Suffice it to say that if a hobby takes time away from my relationship with God, loved ones and a lack of “self-care” (I hope the guys are at least showering), then it is probably not a healthy balance.

Yes, my son plays video games, but he is limited to 1hr/day. Why? Because I want all the folks on their couches playing constantly, working for him someday and not the other way around. No, he’s not crazy about it, but as parents, we are responsible for his spiritual and personal development until he is an adult.

In summary…I think you got your head screwed on pretty straight. Stand firm in the faith brother!

(Michael Petrie) #10

Sorry…meant to say “SeanO”

(Tim) #12

You know bro I usually don’t comment on any posts but this one is particularly close to my heart.

Is the real issue here games, a couple beers or vaping? Probably not but what concerns me is the overall spiritual condition of the American Church in these latter days. There are a couple things that I’ve been particularly troubled over.

  • Complacency
  • Indifference

Both of which I believe contribute to “Luke warm believers.”

When I read the Bible I just don’t see Christilikeness expressed well in drinking, smoking or wasting large amounts of time playing games. We’re told to be alert & watchful or remain vigilant. We’re told to pray that we be found worthy to escape these coming troubles & stand before the Son of Man. Christ strongly exhorted His Church in Revelation to watch their doctrine & guard their hearts.

We just can’t afford to sit around have a stagnate prayer life & neglect GODs Word. The early church contended for GODs will for their lives DAILY. They took up their cross daily & followed after Jesus.

There are a few things that I’ve been particularly troubled over.

  • Complacency
  • Indifference
  • Luke Warm People

Let’s look at how Paul viewed this issue:

1 Corinthians 5:11-12 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or coveteous, or an idolater, or a revilar or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
12 For what do I have to do with judging those who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?

If we did a better job of judging sin in the house of GOD then most of our congregations wouldn’t be filled with levan which a little of corrupts the whole batch.

I’m not saying run around with a White Wigg on passing judgement on everyone but some things are just obvious.

Jesus told the rich young ruler there was one thing he was still lacking & then told him to sell everything he owned & follow him. That man went away sad…

1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in them.
16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes—and the pride of life is not of the Father but of the world.

So once again is it a matter of a few beers, smoking or games…or is it a deeper matter of the heart? Is it lawful to play games… yep Is it lawful to have a few beers… yep…is it lawful to smoke…maybe…however are these things in the porportions you described them a potential sign of a deeper problem…it’s very likely

I said above two things concern me.

  • Complacency
  • Indefference

Let me applaude you because you’re clearly not indifferent but concerned over the current spiritual condition of your friends.

May the Lord bless you with wisdom in this area.

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #13

I would start by asking them WHY they are Christians to begin with. The reason I say this is because most christians usually don’t think of why they follow Jesus and end up being a christian for the same reason someone would be a Hindu or a Buddhist. This is definitely the case with the christians in my life. If christianity is true, shouldn’t we have better reasons to be christians than other religions? This article and video will help:

Now on the topic of video games (as an 18 yr old, i have no interest in video games, i’d much rather read a good book) i remember reading a book (Swipe Right by Levi Lusko) that referenced this article (please note that this is by a secular scholar):

According to this article, these are real problems in today’s world, even in our church communities. The Church isn’t immune from the culture. We need to know why we believe and stand firm on the Rock, to stand for the truth and not see Christ as a unnecessary pastime or social inconvenience.

I pray that you, Corey, will find this helpful and please keep fighting the good fight!

(Corey Alan Patterson) #14

Isaiah and Tim,
I feel like I have received a second wind from both of your comments. Seriously, thank you so much. Isaiah, I have been the one that was trapped in that world of porn and video games and drugs for 15+ years and I know the damage that it does. It has impacted my life in ways that people can’t imagine or don’t imagine or try not to picture. All those things Ted said are on point. The article, “the demise of guys”, has giving me info to speak on additions like video game and porn and other additions alike like tv and news. Arousal addiction is destroying our generation and Satan is using these tactics to manipulate young people into believing that they have something wrong with them like ADHD and bipolar and things like that (by the way at age 14 I was diagnosed bipolar and I just continued to smoke weed instead of take the pills they wanted to test on me. 10 years later they found out that those pills produced something in the man that made men’s chest bigger; man boobs). Instead of solving the real problem, that is, filling their bellys with the lusts of the flesh ( arousal addictions), instead of disciplining their children to not play so much video games ( I would almost just cut them all out), and instead of cutting the time spent on tv almost all the way off; people would rather get pills and try to get instant results not realizing that those pills are not the solution. GET AWAY FROM SO MUCH WORLDLY PROGRAMING. I bet if we stopped watching so much TV and stopped playing so much video games and things like that, and started reading and studying more of God’s word and participating in academic activities that helped be fruitful and multiply like God wanted for us in Genesis , there would be a huge shift in our generation. People might not agree with what I have to say but I could tell you that my family, as we speak, has succumbed to TV, video games, and unendless pleasures that destroy their lives. I did the same things and praise God that He was merciful and gracious toward me and opened up the eyes of my heart while I was being detained over and over. I got called out of the darkness and made a conscious choice to repent from all those manipulating programming systems; to take off the Dead Man, to get away from Dead works and put on the new man and participate in the good works He has set before me. Only by His grace was all this possible. I continue to turn to Him. Finally, enough was enough and He gave me the strength to turn it all over to Him. The power of the Holy Spirit is real and we can live that life He asks from us. Be holy, for He is Holy. God didn’t ask us to do something that was impossible. Of course, without Him it is impossible. But with God it is possible.
SeanO, I did also buy the book, “Of games and God a Christian exploration of video games by Kevin Schut. I will read it and see what it has to say. I just received it in the mail yesterday. But, from what you both ( Isaiah and Tim) said in your responses has encouraged me to fight the good fight of faith. I often feel like the bad guy because I say things that I understand to be dead works and speak out against it and somebody " from the faith” tells me they see nothing wrong with it and I need to be careful because I could be too legalistic or something like that. They are under grace, this I know, but this does not give us freedom to do whatever we want with the time that we have been given and Paul makes that clear in a lot of his Epistles. Jesus also speaks out against those who do not take up their cross. I see things that I know for a fact are destructive for someone’s spiritual life and speak out against it and Im the one that needs to calm down and get off my high horse and things like that. Yes, I need to find resources so that I may have the information and knowledge and education in the subject to have a firm argument so that I may speak out in a way that is right ( and the Holy Ghost has to be present). Yes I need to be able to suffer long and be kind and I need to not be easily provoked and I need to be gentle and learn how to speak into peoples lives. Yes I could read and pray that God allows me to love like explained in 1st Corinthians 13. I also can read 1Corinthians 5:12 and pray that God gives me the gift of discernment and boldness to speak and my life long process to be full of grace and truth.

Tim, I have not been raised in a Christian home or a Christian Community ever. From what I see, there are so many people who claim Christianity but as it says in the resources that Isaiah sent me, most of them do not even know why they are Christians. I believe most of them have answers that are similar to what was said in the article Isaiah sent me. And honestly, I would have had the same answers before. I did a couple semesters at Valor Christian College and studied Old Testament history and New Testament history and that has strength me greatly in my Faith; so much so that I can finally go past the feeling and dont just have a transformation experience , even though these things have happened and are important. When I was a druggy, shooting up dope, I’ve had a great encounter as I repented and was telling God that I could not do it anymore and that He had to take over my life. Two days later I ended up in jail but before I went to jail, as I was in handcuffs, I remember inside my heart (The Voice), God telling me that I asked Him to take over and that He was with me and I remember saying back to Him “okay it’s time to get my life right with You.” Through the 67 days in jail I had the most amazing experiences as I read through the Old Testament and was broken about the way that I have lived.

Tim, I have definitely been very irritable and stirred up and broken and can’t understand why people claim Christianity but their lives look like the world. Though I do understand that I did the same thing when I didn’t truly understand the price Christ paid and the power that He gives through the Holy Spirit to repent and live a godly life. Those few things that you are particularly troubled over (Complacency, Indifference ,Luke Warm People), has been troubling me the more I get involved in youth ministry and Young Adult Ministry. It’s even true when I talk to people who’ve been Christians “all their life” and it seems like they love the world and are of the world. It truly seems like there is so much apathy here in America. I read about what’s going on in other countries, how the Christians there are persevering through persecution, and I wonder if we were persecuted here in America like they are being, would we remain steadfast in our faith?

Thank you for the second wind!
In Christ’s love,
Corey A. Patterson

(Monica Diane Hall) #15

I agree , Tim, with everything you said. As believers we are to carry the aroma of Jesus.

(Isaiah J. Armstrong) #16

Wow, that is quite the testimony! God sure has done some great things in your life, and i know he has more in store for you. I’m so glad that your faith has been refreshed by the articles that i posted, but remember I’m only an instrument for God. He gets all the glory!
I suggest you explore the Cold-Case Christianity website as he has a lot of helpful resources about the nature of God, and how to defend Christianity as well. Check it out, I know it will be helpful. i also suggest J. Warner Wallace’s three books that he has written (they are on his website) as they are very helpful as well.
God can do anything, nothing is impossible!
God has blessed you so very much! He can help you and guide you through tough times!

(Corey Alan Patterson) #17

just bought three books and I think that was one of them. Also bought the other one that was suggested in the post above. forensic faith