The Church and Halo – Evangelism or Killing Simulator?

An article printed in the Sunday New York Times written by Matt Richtel approaches the the hot topic of Halo fever with a religious twist, is it morally right to use Halo video games as a tool to draw young people in to church? Furthermore, should the church advocate the playing of such a violent video game at all, let alone with in the walls of the congregational building?

The first problem I find is the misquoting scripture, a main point in the article, with obvious motive against the church. Had Matt actually looked up the 6th commandment he had referred to he would see that the correct translation of the Hebrew text is “you shall not Murder” (Exodus 20:13). I hope that you are able to tell a difference between killing and murder. The story of the Halo universe pits humanity against an alien race called the “Covenant” bent on destroying all life in the universe. Defense of sentient life in the universe seems like a reasonable cause for “violence.” But that’s all really just part of the story mode, and not what the kids are reported to be playing at these events. These evening gaming sessions are geared toward team multiplayer. Pitting 4 vs. 4 or 8 vs. 8 players with a team goal. By eliminating the other team or carrying a flag from one side of the map to another one team triumphs over another. I wonder if the author has ever been on a team, oh, say a soccer team (I’ve seen lots of blood at soccer games). The benefits of team work are undisputed. The ability to work with other people, communicate, and work towards an objective to name a few. Does the author truly put no value those things?

It’s also worth noting that no one is killing anyone else while playing this game (or any other video or board game for that matter). The players are killing (or attempting to kill as the case may be) the characters the other players are controlling. Take chess for example. When you move your piece forward on the board and take (or “kill”) the other players pawn, you are not killing the other player, just the piece the other player is controlling. This is all too often overlooked when discussing video games and would be good to remember.

The game has been rated “M” for mature audiences. Whether you agree with that or not is not the point. The game has some blood in it, so you must be conscious of who plays it. But, take this image into consideration. You will not see any more violence than that in the game. Does the New York Times require you to be “mature” to view that image? No and it would seem silly to them to do so. So why the double standard?

I would not think twice before having a Halo night at church, just as long as it was clear to parents what we were doing. It is much better to have kids playing Halo at church than buying drugs at the local apartment complex and playing while they are waiting to hook-up…

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