by: Glenn Ansley
I can’t say that I was surprised when I saw a Ouija board on the game shelf at a local toy store last week. I’ve noticed them before but never really stopped to contemplate the possible consequences behind their presence. Here, in the middle of a toy aisle geared towards young children, I found a box that claimed it could help you communicate with the dead. As I scanned through the other games, this burden of concern became increasingly heavy. There were ghosts and werewolves, magic eight balls, mystical creatures, witches and warlocks, dungeons and dragons… all ingeniously packaged as “child’s play.” At first glance many of us may take little-to-no interest in the content of these games. When my parents were young there was no reason to be concerned with the spiritual matter of Shoots and Ladders or Uno. Is this assumed innocence how board games or a deck of cards have been so easily replaced with Ouija and Dungeons and Dragons? Do parents not yet understand the repercussions that could come from picking up the wrong package? Do they not yet grasp the seriousness of this issue? Children are introduced to seemingly innocent themes that eventually open doors to dangerous and very real powers of darkness. Our culture is quickly moving into a spiritually dangerous state of being, yet it would appear we are oblivious to it all.
“We are leaving ourselves in an extremely vulnerable position as culture becomes increasingly interested in the spiritual world, yet passionately distant from God.”
Not only are board games opening the door for spiritual experimentation, but television, motion pictures, video games, music, and the written media are all growing as gateways for Satan into our unsuspecting minds. When I was a child my mother told my siblings and me that we were to no longer watch the Smurfs after she saw an episode containing what very much resembled a séance. Years later at an elementary school sleepover, my sister called my mom and asked to come home. The other girls at the party were attempting to talk to the dead. As a youth pastor, the Lord has led me to counsel several students who can attest to the consequences of these influences in their personal lives. They have approached me wanting to know if it is normal to hear voices in their heads, see demons over their beds, or to be constantly fending off Satan in their dreams. Their friends and classmates are anorexic, bulimic, suicidal, homicidal, and scared. Society has stepped away from the church and proclaimed that God is dead. Consequently, there is a direct correlation between what we are allowing into our minds and the many issues facing our world today. How long will we sit back and fail to make the connection between these rising statistics? We are leaving ourselves in an extremely vulnerable position as culture becomes increasingly interested in the spiritual world, yet passionately distant from God.
“How do we divide the all-to-familiar gray areas of our lives into categories such as right and wrong or pure and impure?”
Unfortunately, too many of us have made similar observations concerning the world around us, yet failed to take a closer look into our own lifestyles and habits. I have to ask myself if we are justified in so quickly pointing our fingers. If we are allowed to make such accusations against Ouija and Dungeons and Dragons, we must also weigh the gray areas of our own lives against passages such as Philippians 4:8, which should be the basis of our previous judgments. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, and if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” While some of us may not be enticed by the call of a Magic Eight Ball, Harry Potter, or South Park, we most likely do find ourselves being pulled towards movies, music, and other forms of entertainment that are just as displeasing to the Lord. The question that now concerns me the most is how do we discern the difference between that which is honorable and that which is dishonorable? How do we divide the all-too-familiar gray areas of our lives into categories such as right and wrong or pure and impure? The task, I am finding, is much more difficult than it first appeared. On the one hand we have conservative friends who passionately take a stand against issues such as the beat of certain music or the number of times you must go to church in one week. On the other hand, there are those who have more liberal views, attempting to convince us why it is okay to enjoy alcohol, use foul language, or even participate in sex outside of marriage. Both of these groups are able to use their own views of scripture as a basis for their respective beliefs. The questions that we must now ask ourselves are, “Does it matter?” And more importantly, “How do I know where to stand?”
A resounding “Yes!” must be the answer to our first question. Of course it matters. If it didn’t, we would have to seriously question passages such as Philippians 4:8 and I Peter 2:13, which stress the importance of abstaining from fleshly lusts. If there were no importance in whether we take a stand on issues such as these, we would have to question the contrast Paul makes in Galatians chapter 5 between the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit. The Word of God makes it exceedingly clear that we must be careful of what we allow to enter into our minds. I have learned that within my own life, the further I drift away from the Word of God, the hazier the truth becomes. As we allow this shade of gray to slowly overshadow more areas of our lives, it only leaves us vulnerable and wide open to Satan’s deception. This, in turn, creates within us many of the same spiritual issues our society is so enslaved to. Romans 7 and 8 teach us how important it is to keep our mind free of earthly desires and centered on the Spirit of God. Paul testifies, “but I see a different law [from the law of the Spirit] in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.” (Romans 7:23) This is why he will later state, “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
“Maybe it’s time that we stopped weighing our gray areas against what the world currently believes to be evil, and rather, judge them against what the Word of God says is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, or of good report.”
It is with this knowledge that we must all come back to the board games at my local toy store. At what point do the gray areas disappear and when will we begin to notice the black and white of the situation? Must we apply the truths of Philippians 4:8 to every area of our lives? Will a simple game honestly affect our relationship with the Lord? As much as I would love to justify our actions, there doesn’t seem to be any way around the Word of God. Maybe it’s time that we stopped weighing our gray areas against what the world currently believes to be evil, and rather, judge them against what the Word of God says is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, or of good report.