Friday, April 19, 2013

Christian Gamers - The Heart of a Gamer

The bible talks about calling on the names of other gods. Exodus 23:13 “"Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.” What does this mean for a game with a polytheistic pantheon?

Most fantasy games, at least the ones I have been involved in, have more than one god. In fact, most have more than two gods. The gods are broken out into multiple pantheons and given specific portfolios. A portfolio is the ‘power’ of that particular god or goddess. Can we as Christians role-play a cleric in a fantasy world where there are these real gods or powers that have real powers within the world itself? And what happens when we call on their names in character?

We know that Jesus spoke in parables but what is a parable? A parable is a story. So we know Jesus spoke in stories. In Matthew 12:34 “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd by using stories. He did not say anything to them without telling a story.”
OK so Jesus told stories. When we play a game we’re basically telling a story. What is the purpose of playing a game? Primarily it is for fun but it is also to have a struggle against good versus evil. The story of good versus evil we have seen in multiple instances in the New Testament. Jesus told many stories of various people given the same chance and choosing to do good over evil. We knot of the story of the talents, of the widow, of the Good Samaritan and many more besides.

The bible also talks about what’s in our hearts and how when we love God we do so with a loving and with a giver’s heart. In Psalms 119:11 the psalmist says “I have hidden your word in my heart so that I won’t sin against you.” In this instance we see that if we put Jesus first in our hearts and his truths first in our hearts we are protected from sinning against him. This does not mean that we won’t sin but that does mean that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit.

In the case of portraying gods or goddesses or clerics that worship them I take the game as a game. It is only a story – ultimately one of good versus evil. Through the story the characters define themselves as either good or evil and play within the context of the fantasy realm that they are governed.

There are two ways to handle this as a GM that I have seen. One is that all gods are only minor gods under God and they all get their power from him; but most fantasy games do not have a Christian background so this presents a problem for Christians who want to not blaspheme but still want to role-play their character. Taken literally this means that you should never use the names of other gods etc. Well we know that the bible is not entirely literal. If it were the case even studying the old gods of historic pantheons for a college class would be blasphemy as would watching anything on television these days.

Jesus talks about what is in your heart. Luke 6:43-45 “A good tree does not give bad fruit. Also, a bad tree does not give good fruit. Each tree is known by the fruit it gives. People don’t gather figs from thorny weeds. And they don’t get grapes from bushes! A good person has good things saved in his heart. And so he brings good things out of his heart. But an evil person has evil things saved in his heart. So he brings our bad things. A person speaks the things that are in his heart.”

So at the end of the day when you are playing in character it really comes down to what you believe. Do you believe that you are calling upon the spirits or are you playing within the world that your GM has presented? Are you trying to change real life by playing a character? Do you intend to worship this fictional god when the game is over or do you intend to continue with your real life responsibilities and your real life worries? Why are you playing the game? Do you play the game for fun and to relax and to tell a story of good versus evil with some friends at a table?

My heart is good and my intentions are good. Over the years, the gaming table has fostered life-long friendships. We help each other though the good and bad and thick and thin both in the game and in real life. When one of us is sick we are all praying for each other. When one of us is injured we give each other comfort. When one of us is on the verge of a breakdown we help. We do life together. We are there for each other. God knows what is in my heart and he knows why I do what I do.

In the end it is all about what is in your heart.


  1. Great post. Even if I have played a Cleric, the "god factor" was in name only. Unless the DM made it a part of the story line, it was never a factor for me. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you Paul. I am just trying to do my part to expand the hobby to Christians.