Yes the rumors are true. I am a Christian (A fairly passionate one at that!) and I played one of the most vilified videogames in the history of videogames.
I played it, and I didn’t hate it. So how did I feel about it then? I recommend that before you go any further you head on over to Gamechurch and read my latest post there: “Understanding The Carjacker: What a Privileged Player Learned From GTA” It’s a piece of writing I’m quite pleased with.
I need to state first and foremost: my playing that game is by no means an endorsement of it. (Take note, 15-year-old currently reading this!) To the responsible parent reading this, don’t buy it for your kids, it’s rated “M” for a reason. I’m sure you already knew that though. I can’t think of any game series that has been more demonized by Christians. Yet as I mentioned in the article, I was driven to play it by a desire to understand what made such a gratuitous game not just a commercial success, but a massive critical success as well.
If you were reading between the lines of my article you may have noticed the strong undercurrent that was the theme of the “slippery slope” of sin. The game is all about the depravity of human nature and how we cannot escape from that nature. In the world of “Liberty City,” just about everyone you encounter in involved in some form of illicit behavior. That being said, none are portrayed as crooked fiends, hell-bent on the destruction of civilization. No, they are presented as human beings. People with hopes and fears. People who used to be little children full of dreams, but got lost along the way.
Maybe that’s just the way I saw them. Because I was lost once too.
This is my point: Compromise is easy, even natural, and when you understand that, it’s easy to be merciful towards the morally compromised. As I was playing the game I was constantly being tempted to entertain certain thoughts that were stimulated by the blunt depictions of sexuality found in the game. As a man who desires to be pure and holy, this is not good for me. Yet even in my temptation and weakness I am reminded that the source of my purity and holiness is found in the grace of God, not my own behavior. I am so grateful for the empathy I gained from this game and for the insight it gave me into the simulated life of even a very violent man. I believe that God wants to bring restoration to all of creation, so when I see a simulation of the brokenness in the world as a result of sin, I must be driven by a desire to extend grace to cover and heal that brokenness.
One last thing. I think mature Christians have more to learn from a game like this than anybody. In our efforts to bring restoration to a broken world, we cannot run away from the brokenness. Light is stronger than darkness.
Look for a “Follow” post tomorrow morning talking about the interplay between light and darkness.