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Gabriel Theodoulos

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re: God of the Hills Alone?

Here is a thought that has motivated and driven our family with regards to gaming in virtual reality.

There is a wonderful event that takes place in I Kings 20. If you have the chance, go and read through it. In it, Benhadad decides to go and spank Samaria. He had 32 of his buddies with him, and he thought his coffers could use a little boost at the expense of Ahab and the 10 northern tribes of Israel.

So, Benhadad sent his messengers to Ahab, demanding that not only is all the gold and silver to be handed over, but that the Syrian armies have the pick from among the inhabitant's wives and children. This was too much to ask for the people, so Samaria sent the messengers packing.

The story continues that while the armies started setting up their siege of the city, a certain unnamed prophet of God comes to the king of Israel and announces that God will deliver the Syrians into the hands of Ahab. To make a long story shorter, the two sides fought, and Syria was pwned! Benhadad panicked and fled the field of battle to return home.

In an effort to comfort the king over his losses, Benhadad's servants explained that the reason why Israel won the fight was because their gods were the gods of the hills...

1 Kings 20:23
23 And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.


By now, some of you might be pondering what does this ancient fight between Syria and Israel have to do with online gaming. Please, bear with me and I will get to the point.

The old boy decides to take a chance and again invade Israel and Samaria the following year, but rather than fight in the hills, he is going to fight Ahab in the plains! He was convinced that Israel's God was just the god of the hills and not of the low lands.

Once again, as the armies were amassing, a man of God comes to the king of Israel with another message from God.

1 Kings 20:28
28 And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.


You see, Syria made a bad move. Behadad thought that God had no jurisdiction in the valleys, because he wrongly assumed that God was just the god of the hills. In the end, the armies of Syria were trashed, and Israel was victorious.

Now, here is my point!

When we log online and climb into our virtual world, too many times we check our Christianity at the door. What's the harm in playing a bad guy? What's the problem with a bit of piracy? Who is to know that I can-flipped a carebear? {oops! EVE Online terminology.} We think that God is just the god of the real world, and NOT God of EVERYTHING. This is evidenced with Christians who call themselves, "the Dark Sith Master" or believers going out and doing evil online. They view virtual reality as nothing more than a pretend, it-doesn't-matter game.

And they would be wrong.

I am the persuasion that this one factor is what makes virtual reality extremely dangerous for Christians. When my children and I started online gaming, we sat down and committed ourselves that we must be Christian in virtual reality as well as RL. We would fear God, and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:13-14), whether we were citizens of Amarr or citizens of the Republic. We know that if a person develops bad habits in his life, it twists his very character. I am convinced that as a blood-bought, Bible-believing child of the living God, I must do right not only in my real world, but also in my virtual worlds. When we do evil online, it creates a breech for the devil to get into our lives and create havoc with our walk with the Lord. This one principle is what motivates and drives our play-time. I won't allow my family to be pirates or scammers. I won't condone my children violating Scriptures, even if it is "just a game".

You see, the Lord is not just God of real life, but He is God Almighty. He is God of all reality, and is sovereign even over something as unimportant as a virtual universe.

Thoughts? Comments?
Verasol

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re: God of the Hills Alone?

Great read, and I agree with most of what you've said. We need to walk the Christian walk and let God guide us both IRL and in the virtual world; I sometimes have a problem with thinking that things online aren't as "important", and don't worry or even care what I say or do.

This was a nice reminder that Hey, it does matter. Those are people on the other side of the line, and I need to be a willing vessel for God to use me for His glory, no matter the where.
Also, it made me think of this verse. "Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God...." 2 Cor 6:3-4
Naandi

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re: God of the Hills Alone?

I have often said in the past that the gaming world is one of the most accessible, and yet most untouched, mission fields on this planet. We have such an opportunity to spend time with non-Christians and build relationships and rapport with them. But if the loudest gospel they hear is our actions and "play-style", how could we possible justify living unrighteously?

I also believe that this virtual world is missing a lot of accountability that you would normally see in our everyday lives. Somehow people think it's okay to ninja, steal, badmouth, gank, and grief. I'm not sure why its okay online and not in the real world, but I think as Christians we ought to stand out starkly from that behavior, and people will wonder why, and it becomes very easy for us to relay that glory to God.

Thanks for writing this up. I pray that this guild offers some of the accountability that many of us have been missing in our gaming lives. With encouragement from each other, I think we can all be very strong witnesses of God's enablement to make good decisions.


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Dadin

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re: God of the Hills Alone?

Just like Verasol, I thought it was a great read and I also agree with most of what you said. It's one of the reasons I'm here. I'm nervous about being on a PvP server - I don't want to be ganked. However, what's more important, staying totally in my gaming comfort zone or having my game-time also be positive time in which I'm being edified and being a part of something that could even make a huge difference in others' lives? This guild is a blessing to me, and I have thought of pretty much exactly what you posted in regards to it. God is my Lord of everything - and that includes gaming time.

I'm curious about one thing, though. When you talk about following scriptures even in game, do you just mean in regards to interactions with fellow players or also in regard to story choices? As Christians, I think it's very clear and not even up for debate that we should be kind to our fellow gamers - no scamming, pirating, or griefing. When it comes to game choices that don't affect others, though, how do you feel? For example, if you played a smuggler character, would stealing anything be off limits within your personal character story? Another example: would a sith character playthrough be off-limits? For me, I think both of those things are OK, but I could see where one could disagree. From my first example, I would make a choice in-game to steal a food shipment from a greedy noble to feed an orphanage, but I think that, as theft, that would be wrong in real life. I'm curious about you thoughts on the subject.

Again, great post. I enjoyed it a lot. Also, I see you're not a member. Are you thinking about joining us?


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Gabriel Theodoulos

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re: God of the Hills Alone?

Naandi wrote:
I also believe that this virtual world is missing a lot of accountability ...


It is so easy to forget the spiritual implications of computer use. Too many of our friends and pastors have had to drop from the ministry because of neglecting their stand against unrighteousness online. This is why in our home, we have all of our 'puters in our one room here. And my gang has learned that daddy's 'puter kung-fu is not to be reckoned with when it comes to logging details.
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re: God of the Hills Alone?

Great thread, all. To show Christ to the vastly unchurched world of online gaming; that is another reason this guild is great. Many opportunities ahead. Am fortunate to be a part of it.

Gabriel Theodoulos wrote:
This is why in our home, we have all of our 'puters in our one room here. And my gang has learned that daddy's 'puter kung-fu is not to be reckoned with when it comes to logging details.


This is fantastic. If God decides to bless my house with children, I will do this as well.

But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.
Joshua 24:15


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Nm-Horn

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re: God of the Hills Alone?

nice stuff, nice
Gabriel Theodoulos

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re: God of the Hills Alone?

Dadin wrote:
... snip ...
I'm curious about one thing, though. When you talk about following scriptures even in game, do you just mean in regards to interactions with fellow players or also in regard to story choices? ... snip ...


Sometimes one, sometimes another...

I wish there was a single cut-and-dry path to follow for every single action, but I don't think there is. The major aspect of SOTOR's constitution is that each member seeks to have a close and intimate relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is important for every aspect of life, whether in the board room, behind machinery, or wielding a light saber. This guidance is extremely important, because we need wisdom to handle everyday life decisions.

My post was intended to share with you what I believe how God is leading me and my children. But while I am firmly against piracy, someone else might identify it as patriotic privateering.

Romans 14 shows us that some eat meat for God's glory, and some abstain from meat, to glorify God. In the end, our ultimate goal is to glorify God.

For my children and I, we don't have a problem playing Star Wars characters, as long as we don't replace the one true God with some imaginations of a "Force". We also don't view the use of the Force as witchcraft, but as an integral element in fictional nature. But, as you most likely are aware of, there are brothers and sisters in Christ who are very sensitive to anything related to Star Wars and/or Science Fiction. God's Word tells us to be mindful of our brethren:

Romans 14:1
1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
Romans 14:21
21 It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.
1 Corinthians 8:13
13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.


A new brother in Christ came to ma last week, weeping how God had convicted him on all the DVD movies he owned. The Lord led him to throw all his movies out, including his entire Star Wars collection. I would not dare flaunt my liberties in front of him, out of fear that I would cause him to stumble. This is why I am careful who I talk to about my gaming activities. Is it wrong to participate in a virtual world, swinging light sabers to fight off evil? No. But some weaker brethren are coming out of life-styles that this would be a stumbling block. God, keep me from being a tool of the devil (Galatians 5:13-14).

I am not sure if this is the answer you were looking for, but it is the best that I can give. In the end, walk closely with our dear Shepherd. He will guide you.
NewYears1978

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re: God of the Hills Alone?

Wow, since joining the guild way back I have been so busy I sorta fell away from the guild and well gaming in general. Havee been busy with life and work and such.

Today when I got the newsletter I decided to go check out the forums and this is the first post I read. Very good post!

When I first started online gaming (Ultima Online) me and my buddy were thugs..we griefed and caused people to be killed etc etc. I never really even thought about it but you are right that is really not a Christian attitude to have even in a game.

Thanks for the reminder. I recently was convicted during an event we had at church..and finally gave up all my "modded" consoles and stopped pirating games..I had done so for many years not even realizing it was completely wrong..despite my justification for such.

So anyways, thanks for the great read...lots of great replies in the topic too!


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Thaspeare

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re: God of the Hills Alone?

I like this post, and the beliefs represented here. It is very much in line with one of the reasons I joined SOTOR.
xKrusadex

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re: God of the Hills Alone?

Great post...

I do like the extrapolation from Kings. It really does apply to the online world where people "can live in an alternate reality" and treat people badly whereas they would never have the guts to if it were person-to-person interaction.

I personally don't think it is wrong to "play a Sith" or to be a "bad" character but I have never felt obliged to even want to do so. I could never be the bad guy in Fable, I always picked the defender/paladin/honor vanguard types of characters in games because it was always more gratifying to fight for peace and righteousness.

In a way...maybe we like playing the evil factions sometimes because it lets us indulge our sinful nature just a little bit. However as far a pirating goes, it really is black and white. If you didn't buy it you stole it...there doesn't have to be a gray area there. As an artist, I would definitely not appreciate some kid coming along and passing along some work that I devoted my heart and soul into to his friends for free. Why can't we just pay for things and support our directors and artists without having to muddy the waters and act like instant gratification is no big deal?


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re: God of the Hills Alone?

Great post, Gabby.

I've always valued RPGs for the way they offer me the chance to play out "what-if" scenarios for myself. However, I generally find myself skewing inevitably towards the "good-guy" line as I play. I really have to force myself to do things like play an Imperial-aligned character in games like Star Wars Galaxies, and when I play KOTOR or Mass Effect, I always seem to wind up with a full Light Side or Paragon bar halfway through the game.

I also really look forward to letting my in-game actions stand as a witness to other gamers, as Coara Naandi observed:
Naandi wrote:
I have often said in the past that the gaming world is one of the most accessible, and yet most untouched, mission fields on this planet. We have such an opportunity to spend time with non-Christians and build relationships and rapport with them. But if the loudest gospel they hear is our actions and "play-style", how could we possible justify living unrighteously?

I also believe that this virtual world is missing a lot of accountability that you would normally see in our everyday lives. Somehow people think it's okay to ninja, steal, badmouth, gank, and grief. I'm not sure why its okay online and not in the real world, but I think as Christians we ought to stand out starkly from that behavior, and people will wonder why, and it becomes very easy for us to relay that glory to God....

I avoid things like ganking lowbies, and always try to see to it that loot in raids gets distributed evenly -- no ninja-Need rolls for me! I always try to discuss my Needs in advance.

There's a whole virtual universe full of personal choices we'll have the opportunity to make, big and little. In a way, it's almost a bit intimidating to think that I will be wearing an in-game badge of my allegiance to Christ. It's kinda like the stereotype of that inconsiderate driver with the Christian fish symbol on his car's tail who just cut me off on the expressway. I'm praying now that my actions will be worthy reflections of His spirit working in me.


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Julmay

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re: God of the Hills Alone?

impressive....very impressive. this was a very good post and it goes so well with what SOTOR wants to portray to everyone. i am glad that Gabby got a little gabby with us on this topic wink

i have made this thread a stickie so that it does not get lost in the mix

excuse me for the paraphrase, but......

But as for me and my guild, we will serve the LORD.
Joshua 24:15
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re: God of the Hills Alone?

Amen.


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DeltaFiveBravo

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re: Hmmmm....

I never thought of it that way. I know inside of me I always want to do good. I love the fight and war (disabled combat veteran), but you are right. There is a line that seperates war and murder, to do it online is doing it in your heart. In the Word it does discuss if we lust or sin in our heart we have still commeted the sin. Thank your for that piece a meat to chew on brother. Lets live free, fight well, and die hard, amen.


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