When has enough become enough? Truly?
In scanning the news today, I came across an article that talked about a remarkable trailer for a new video game, Dead Island. The game is apparently a classic zombie invasion, and for that reason alone did I read the article and even watch the trailer. The trailer had some amazing and stunning emotions behind it. To call it anything but a masterpiece would be, in truth, wrong. However, to call it beautiful, pleasurable, or even exciting would also be wrong. There was nothing of value to be found in that trailer.
Note: You can see the trailer if you want. There’s a link in the article. For good reason, you have to enter your age. There is no language, horrific violence, and no sex. However, having said that, I will say that I am NOT a better person for having seen it. It is easily the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in recent memory, and it haunts me still. As a father, it would break my heart to even think that my children had found any sense of satisfaction from that video.
Watching that, and especially reading the article–a MUST read if you have any opinions on the moral issues surrounding video games–led me to ponder video games in general. In our house, we decided with our very first game system, a GameCube, that we would not permit anything rated lower than E+ in our house. Ever. We made that decision after witnessing the gore, violence, and language of many first-person shooter games that were popular then and only more popular today. At that time, we cleared our home of any and every game like that, and there were some very difficult choices. Age of Empires III is a classic and a favorite of mine. While I could have justified it’s place by pointing out that it has no language, no sex, and limited violence, I could not in good faith look past that T rating. And both Courtney and I knew that even one justification would be sufficient to lose all credibility with our children. Given the choice between enjoying that game and having the moral footing to lead my children as we have been prompted, I chose the moral footing.
However, we did not extend the ban to playing such games. Every now and then I join a friend or two for a game night. After watching that trailer and reading that article, I have to wonder if I can anymore…. It seems such a lame double-standard.
It’s been several years since our DVD purge, and Courtney and I were talking about it again just a few weeks ago. We talked about how it has changed us, and we both recognized that it has made us infinitely more sensitive to the vulgarity and violence of media today. In fact, it changed us enough that we did the Purge, Part II and cleaned out even more. There wasn’t as much to pull, but we still found some things that, frankly, offended the spirit of our home.*
One thing we talked about in particular was the nature of spiritual growth. I’m convinced that Satan uses spiritual principles and patterns in ways that are only slightly removed from the truth. Just as Satan would never tempt a normal man by saying, “Go commit sexual sin!” he would move that man ever closer to committing such atrocities by slow enticements, removing us step by step from the safety of spiritual folds. In a similar way, God will not command perfection of us just yet, nor will He command perfect obedience from the beginning. Rather, He leads us step-by-step, precept-by-precept, from truth to greater truth. As we grow and learn, the opportunity to assume greater responsibilities and capabilities are offered to us.
We’ve seen this in our lives these last few years in many ways as He’s guided us from choice to choice. Looking back now, we recognize that the choices we made two years ago were only difficult then. Now they are natural, meaning more that they have become our natures than that they are easy. We make those choices because the Lord has remade us that way, shaped our attitudes, our abilities, and our very natures to be so.
In a very interesting discussion some months ago, the Elders Quorum postulated on what it means to take upon us the name of Christ. One person pointed out that one meaning of taking upon us His name is to become as He is in every way. As Alma 5:14 asks us, “Have ye received his image in your countenances?” Taking upon us His name implies much more than just being good people and being baptized. It implies a literal translation of our very natures in such manner that we become as He is.
As I watched that trailer and read that article, I mourned for the loss of what we should be as people; For the potential for growth that could be ours if we moved for truth as rapidly as we moved for the base and meaningless things of this world.
… It hardly needs to be said that much of what passes for entertainment today is coarse, degrading, violent, mind-numbing, and time wasting. Ironically, it sometimes takes hard work to find wholesome leisure. When entertainment turns from virtue to vice, it becomes a destroyer of the consecrated life. “Wherefore, take heed … that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God” (Moroni 7:14).
Surely a closer inspection of our lives in regard to video games would warrant some change for many of us. It does for me both in quality and quantity.
I’ve been thinking much of MarlaJayne’s post on fathers that I linked to yesterday. It’s been some time, but several years ago I postulated that Satan’s mission is really much easier than we would be led to believe. In any family, Satan only needs to destroy one person to effectively derail the entire family. In any family, Satan only needs to destroy dad.
As Elder Callister of the Seventy once said:
Eternity is a long time to live without light, especially if our spouses and descendants also live in darkness because there was no light within us, and others, therefore, could not light their lamps.
Dad is, by design, the direct link of priesthood authority between any family and God. Dad is, by design, the head of the household, the head of the family, and with his wife at his side as his equal, he should lead in all things spiritual. Does it not stand to reason that dad is, by Satan’s design, his primary target? Does it not stand to reason that dad then, by Satan’s design, will be assaulted, attacked, and abused in every conceivable way?
Satan is not stupid. Satan, better than most of us, understands how to entice, ensnare, and enslave, and he will do so if we but give him an inch.
Men, it is our responsibility now, as it has always been, to stand for truth with the inherent nobility our God has bestowed on each of us. It is time to say that Yes, I am in truth a child of my God, a direct and living descendant of a divine being endowed with the power and ability to become as He is, that I have been provided the means to be saved through the Atonement of His Only Begotten Son, and that I have the privilege of standing as joint heirs with the Savior. If…
The Savior once summed up the commandments and the law by summarizing that we should (1) love God above all else, and (2) love our fellow man like ourselves. I think we might say it even more succinctly that the entire breadth and measure of the gospel of Christ can be summed up in three simple words: Come Unto Me.
The open invitation to be as the Savior is is truly open. It is available to all. The price is simply the promise and willingness to obey, to turn our lives over to Him, and allow Him to work in us as He would. The promised blessings far outweigh the earthly pleasures of this life.
*I do and always will maintain the right for each person to decide for themselves in regards to the media they choose to allow in their home. You will never see me judge you for the privilege to exercise your free agency as you see fit. I have, for myself, felt the promptings and inspiration that I consider personal and important to me and my family. You have that same opportunity, and who am I to question whether you have and what you have felt prompted to do. All I will ever do is invite you to seek for yourself the answers that are readily available to anyone willing to seek them.