Wretched, a radio show and a YouTube channel, released two videos about whether men should play video games.[i] Todd Friel, the host of Wretched, made a few points about how videogames can be a part of a Christian man’s life. I’d like to respond to them, so I would recommend anyone who is reading this to go to the videos to understand what I am responding to. I’ll include the link at the bottom of the blog.
To start my response, I’ll first establish what I agree with Todd Friel – or what I’ll grant for the sake of his point, before I get to my 2 critiques of one of his points which is the conclusion, or take-away message, of his videos.
I agree with Todd Friel that no Christian should compromise their duties and responsibilities with their time of rest and enjoyment. I believe every Christian agrees that one’s duty to our fellow man and to God should not be subverted for our time of enjoyment or relaxation. I also agree that there are video games that no Christian should play; given their content. I do not agree that at least 70% of all video games containing violence or killing, arethings no Christian should use, but I will grant that point for the sake of his point. Let us, for the sake of Todd Friel’s criticism, assume we have a Christian who works six days, and puts a day aside for rest, and this rest is spent playing video games.
Given what I have laid out, I now have two big criticisms for Todd Friel in his video, A final word on men who play video games, I hope.[ii] In it he explains that we do not consider how we think about the time we spend on rest and he asks us to ponder how the Old Testament saints spent their time. He invites us to consider how much time we spend on our duties as Christians and how much time we rest. I want to give two criticism to this question.
- However long they spend on it, it is irrelevant as a question for us. We should honor our responsibilities given by God. We need to fulfill our duties as Christians. We also need to take a day of rest. It is, however, unnecessary to ask, “Am I spending enough time working for God.” Let me ask this question: How long should we pray? On what days? The Didache, which is a 1st and 2nd century church document, says in chapter 8, “Pray thus three times a day.”[iii] This was a common document used in many churches to teach heathens how to live as Christians. They were fine with them just praying three times a day. Todd Friel could say that this doesn’t speak about how we should live as Christians today. My response will depend on what he would mean by that. If he’s insinuating that somehow they didn’t get it right, or somehow we know it better as some Christians imply in their objections, then I would say, “Who am I to take their word on what are proper biblically-sound practices? 21st century American Christians who received their Bible from the fathers of Christianity, or the fathers of Christianity who were given the responsibility by the apostles themselves to secure and preserve the teaching of scriptures along with the practices?” If they saw fit to simply pray three times a day, then anything we add is additional.
The second meaning Todd Friel could adhere to is that the practices of a time should not be the standard for all Christians. I agree, because in the same way that in a household what is proper for one member to do may not be proper for another member, what could have been proper for one time may not be proper for another and will have to change. The principles are fixed and stay the same throughout time, but the way they take shape in cultures is not inflexible so that they are the same. This is because there is such a thing as time and place, and thus culture. What would have been proper for what constituted prayer in one culture can still be adapted in another culture, or perhaps it is inadmissible entirely and we, as Christians, must figure out how it applies in our culture. In the same way that we do not pray the same way that even the saints in the first century did, we cannot judge how long a rest is too much by judging it by the Old Testament Israelites. The only constant is that we must work to fulfill our duties wherever we are and take our rest in how our culture sees it proper.
- I warn that we should not beat Christians up over this. This seems like a odd thing to say but considering that Todd Friel, and men like him, have done this in the past on matters like this, it is not a stretch to be fearful of thinking that Mr. Friel has a hammer behind his back waiting to hit us. I give you the case of a video of Paul Washer talking about a fellow minister. In one video titled, Joel Osteen and Self-Esteem According to Paul Washer, where Paul Washer compares an evangelical minister to Joel Osteen and makes the implication that the minister is going to hell. Why is that? It was because, while on a golf trip during a time of rest, Paul Washer asked him, “What has God taught you this week?” to which the minister said he didn’t want to talk about it and wanted to take a break from it.[iv] I’ll admit that’s odd. Maybe there’s something going on in his life. The last thing I would do, however, is go up on my podium and compare this minister, whom I presume is an evangelical orthodox preacher, to a heretical teacher like Joel Osteen. The division and strife that Todd Friel and his ilk bring is such that every question they ask, it seems, will always have a hammer behind it. Some may say, “Just because Piper or Washer says it, does not mean that Todd Friel means it as well.” I would have sympathy for it, except that they all think alike. They may present themselves differently, but their theological bents and emphases are almost the same. Unless they have stated otherwise, they essentially endorse each other’s message.
Thus I don’t know if I’m ever safe with men like Mr. Friel on matters of how much work I do for the Lord. It isn’t about simply whether I committed sin, but that he demands that I produce the same amount of profit as the servant who produced 10 coins when he was given 1 coin. I would have to ask Todd Friel, “Is your question coming from a place of encouraging me to do more work and praising me for what I have done? Or when I go before you with the work I have done, you will demand whether I worked hard enough? Will you badger me and pester me that, no matter how many hail Mary’s I give or how many sins I confess, my work will not satisfiy the purgatory of your judgement?” That’s my question for men like you when you ask, “Have I worked hard enough for God?”
[i] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7QGVNTKXzw. Access December 18, 2017
[ii] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iu0jvqBdfHU – Access December 22, 2017
[iii] – http://www.thedidache.com/
[iv] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pXcPLnKmBRQ&t=204s. Access December 13, 2017