Tonight, as my family and I were out for an evening of dinner and errands, we wandered into a video game store. My attention was immediately caught by a young couple shopping with their son, who appeared to be about three or four years old. The mother was showing this little boy various video games and asking him which one he wanted. The father came and got him and then told him he had an important question to ask him and to pay attention. He said, “If I buy you your own Xbox, so you won’t have to stop playing your games when Daddy wants to play, would you like that?” I confess, at this point, I moved closer while pretending to peruse the shelves, just so I could hear the rest of the conversation. The little boy jumped up and down in excitement, and then began whining because he wanted to play the store demo model. The mother ran over with two video games in hand, and asked her husband which version of “Resident Evil” they should purchase for the little boy.
Now I was certain I could hear something else…the sound of my heart breaking for this little boy. His parents were buying him his own video game system so he could play in one room, while his father played in another. They were also purchasing him a video game, rated “M” for “Mature” (although my 9-year-old questioned whether a truly mature person would play this game!). This game is classified as a “survival horror, third-person shooter” game, involving multiple weapons, evil spirits and significant gore. In case you didn’t catch it, let me reiterate…this little boy was three or four years old. He should be watching Veggie Tales while sitting on his daddy’s lap, not blowing people to bits on his own videogame system while his daddy plays his own games in another room. I couldn’t help but wonder how long it will take before the innocence in this handsome little boy’s eyes is completely gone.
How does this happen? Did his parents wake up one day and decide that these were appropriate games for their son to play? I don’t believe so. Instead, I think that they probably grew up playing such games themselves, being sold a bill of goods by the world that we live in which told them that this is appropriate fare for childhood consumption. Games, books, movies, and other forms of entertainment have steadily grown worse and we have become numb to the effects they are having on our society and on our children. Like the proverbial frog who never noticed that the pot of water was steadily growing hotter until it was too late, we have slowly become so jaded that we think nothing of buying a three-year-old an incredibly violent game or of feeding our teenagers a steady diet of sex, violence and foul language via the TV, video games and popular music and books. And then we wonder why our society has no respect for life, as is evidenced by the number of abortions performed annually in our country and the laws slowly being passed to support assisted suicide. We wonder how tragedies such as Columbine can happen, why our kids are bullied at school, or how children can be beaten to death by their siblings while play-acting games such as “Mortal Kombat” (for those of you outside of Colorado, this happened here recently).
Over the past few years, my husband and I have become ever more concerned about the degree of our own jadedness. We’ve discovered movies that we enjoyed as children now seem immoral and profanity-laden. We’ve discovered that books that we used to love now seem unacceptable. What concerns us most, however, is what we might be missing. As God reveals more and more things to us that we never before recognized as being opposed to His will for us, we wonder what things we have stubbornly or ignorantly missed. As He teaches us more and more how to raise children who are wholeheartedly devoted to Him, we learn to beseech Him for eyes like His to evaluate the choices that we make for our children. We learn to not just accept something because “everyone else does it” or because it “seems okay”. We learn to make decisions that are often unpopular, sometimes with our children, and even sometimes with other Christians. We learn to pray fervently for wisdom, strength and discernment in all of our choices, and to not make decisions by default…and we pray for God to remove our tarnished hearts and restore us to purity. For God promises us: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20)
I pray for that little boy, that God will protect his heart. I pray for his parents, that God will show them the error of their ways before it is too late for him. I pray, too, for all of us, that God will open our eyes so that when we see such things as we saw tonight, we will not walk away feeling self-righteous, but will examine our own hearts and our own degree of corruption, and that we will be broken before Him and will ask for His forgiveness and purification. May God remove our hearts of stone…
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