Fantasy Worlds and the Saint

Artwork based on The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim

Artwork based on The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim

A lot of the problems within the Body of Christ can be reduced to the lack of definitive, Godly, commonsensical guidance on contemporary matters. Part of this is because the Church is largely divided between different denominations, so guidance is not synchronized among the Believing world, and part of it is because those in charge are often too out of touch to really understand certain issues. On one hand, we have elderly pastors, elders and priests who don’t truly understand modern entertainment mediums and some modern problems, and on the other, we have young pastors, elders and priests who have lived sheltered lives and therefore cannot properly asses the world before them. Commendably, many are not of the world, but lamentably, they are not really “in the world” either.

Video games and fantasy entertainment are realms where little guidance, or poor guidance is offered by many, if not most Christian leaders. Just where do we draw the lines as to what is and what is not OK? How do we avoid being legalistic, while still striving for holiness and living honorably? I will attempt to answer these questions.

First of all, unlike the great pastor, Pastor John MacArthur, the author of some excellent study Bibles, I do not believe fantasy is wrong in the least bit. I also don’t believe that just because a story contains magic, that it is automatically promoting real witchcraft and is therefore occultic. There are books, games and video games which are overtly occultic, but most are not, even if they do contain magic. Sorcery, giants, dragons, the undead, werewolves and more are a part of Western lore, just as Medusa, Hercules, the River Styx and Cerberus are a part of Greek (and therefore also Western) lore. If you’re white, these kinds of things are your very heritage. Your heritage, and the heritage of others, should not be buried, and it is perfectly fine to celebrate it and find joy in it, provided one stays within the bounds of the Word. For years, Christians have enjoyed the Classics and Greco-Roman mythology, much of which contains magic. It is also fine for Christians to enjoy mythology that is Oriental, Norse, Celtic, or even contemporary, such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy or the Elder Scrolls video games.

There are different media; books are not the only medium to convey fantasy worlds. I just mentioned the Elder Scrolls games. Just as it is fine for a Christian to enjoy a fantasy world in print, so too is it fine for a Christian to enjoy digital fantasy worlds and fantasy movies. Christians who condemn games like Skyrim and World of Warcraft, but enjoy the tales of Hercules, are basically condemning a specific medium and/or a fantasy world merely because it is not ancient and was therefore unknown to the Reformation/Renaissance era Christian authors they probably have read who often referred to Greco-Roman myths.

Now, I am not saying all fantasy is fine. There are fantasy worlds that are clearly grotesque and vile. For example, the Hellraiser movies construct a version of hell and demons and the world which can only be described as evil, blasphemous and satanic in nature. Then there are worlds such as Middle Earth, which do not seek to revel in evil, pain, occultism or blasphemy. As to whether or not something is good, the rule of thumb is to listen to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads all true Christians, and a Believer will not feel comfortable interacting with something that is obviously wrong. For example, the Spirit will not let me comfortably watch a Hellraiser film, but I feel no guilt while playing a fantasy video game such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I pray that God would show me what is wrong and convict me, so that I would not dabble in anything He would not approve of. Being our Loving Father, it is always in our best interest to heed His holy guidance.

Some of you may wonder about video game fantasy worlds which are enjoyed from the view of a villain protagonist. For instance, what about

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Rivendell

playing as an evil warlock or death knight in the PC game World of Warcraft? Well, if God only allows for people to play heroic roles, such as the role of a paladin or priest, there will be no one to play the antagonist. Having fun with playing an antagonist in a video game is usually akin to enjoying an acting role in a play as a villain. If it’s fine for a believer to play King Herod in a Biblical play, it is fine for him to also play as an evil wizard in World of Warcraft. In both he is merely pretending, he isn’t actually cutting off the head of John the Baptist, or uttering evil spells to raise an army of evil dead to do his violent biddings.

Many Christian’s get very caught up in a legalistic outlook rather than following the Spirit, or simply ignore the Spirit altogether and do what they wish. Both are ungodly responses. We need to use our God-given reasoning abilities and follow the Bible and Spirit, and not invent Biblical precepts out of thin air as to what is good for the Christian and as to what is bad. Many things are simply neutral. Additionally, even if something is not unclean, it does not mean it is good for us either. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:23 – “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up” (ESV). If fantasy worlds dominate too much of our time and we do not spend an adequate amount of time in prayer, in the Word, with our families, tending to our responsibilities or taking care of the Temple of the Holy Spirit (our bodies) then they are no longer an escapist blessing to be enjoyed and thankful for, but a hindrance to our lives and our walk with the Lord. Then, they must be put aside and our lives must be rebalanced.

I put a lot of thought into these subjects and prayed often with the Lord for guidance on them. I believe He has given me this insight to share regarding fantasy. I hope that you would listen to the Spirit and not touch anything unclean, but that you would also avoid condemning things which are not strictly wrong for a person to enjoy (I say a person rather than a Christian, because there is one law for all mankind, not a law for believers and then a law for nonbelievers). Please feel free to share your thoughts on the matter, or any Scripture you feel pertains to the issue.

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