Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Confession

So.

I'm a Christian.

Not just sort of a "yeah, I suppose God exists and I go to church now and again" Christian, but an evangelical Christian who loves Christ with all his heart, believes deeply in the love and truth of the Word of Jesus, and believes that God created the world, all the individuals therein, and that everyone--yep, even us gamers--is His child, worthy of love and respect, no matter how we might disagree with their actions or choices. I believe that God loved the world so much, that he sent his only begotten Son, to live as a man, to die without sin, redeeming us so that we can spend eternity with him. I believe Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life as deeply as I can. I believe that the life without Christ can never be considered complete, no matter how rich or learned or well-liked or how many followers an individual has.

Over the years, especially before I came back to Christ, and laid down the burdens of cynicism and anger that life had given me, I was not always a nice person online (shocker, I know). I can only apologize for that, and to anyone who was hurt along the way. Everyone--even the people I disagree strenuously with--is a child of God, and I was not true to that. Even now, I fail, because I am human.

Much about the angrier, younger me has changed. I don't see my religion as an accessory or afterthought in my life; Christ is the center, and everything is seen in His light. In that sense, I don't just feel I need to share this, but to explain why the tone of this blog may have changed.

So why am I writing this now? I suppose in part, I've noticed around the blogosphere and on Google+, many of us Christians sort of creep around the edges, worried to incorporate any mention of our faith lest we be seen somehow as overbearing or primed for ridicule. But, in the end, it comes down to this: Jesus states in Matthew 10:33 (ESV), "but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my father in heaven". The Christian perspective and Biblical worldview should be the way a Christian views all things in his life, from his family life to his job to yes, his hobbies.

This can be a very intimidating hobby for Christians. Let's face it, since the early 1980s, Christianity has been seen as at war with tabletop gaming. I think as a consequence, many of us are extremely gun-shy about bringing our religion up, when it should be a source of comfort, of happiness, and the guide for how we treat others in this hobby and in our lives. We don't want to "weird people out", or be seen as some caricature, or have people throw whatever stones they care to. The thing is, we are partaking in a hobby that comprises a small part of a short life. Our interactions online, even in the most mundane conversations, might be the only example individuals ever have on how a Christian lives, or the only time they hear anything at all about the word of God. Sincere and firm in my convictions, why wouldn't I share to the best of ability what is so very important and life-changing?

So, ultimately, I guess if you're not a Christian, know that I still love gaming, and that this is still a gaming blog. (I'm not going to just start blogging about Dragonraid). I still love many of the same games, and will still write about many of the same things. some of the people I love and respect in this hobby are not followers of Jesus. But Christ also wants us to live an edifying life, and that should extend to my words on this site and online. I felt I owed you an explanation for when it does come up--and moreso than that, to let you know that Christianity isn't just one type of person or church. It isn't really found in a person or church at all--both of which are fallible and imperfect. We are tabletop gamers, and minis players. We play D&D and Pathfinder and Savage Worlds and Castles & Crusades and Star Wars and FATE and plenty more games besides. We get angry and sin and mess up--but we have the perfect grace and unending love of Christ as a comfort and a compass. (And yes, for all of us, we remain a work in progess!)

If you are a Christian, it's not just that we don't have to be hesitant or afraid to share our faith; in fact, that's the opposite of what Christ expects. The Great Commission says, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:16-20). Know that there are others of us out there, that we're there for support and encouragement, and that you should never let the temporary slings and arrows of a transitory world stop you from living the life you're meant to live. Share and live your salvation in this hobby, and be a light unto others. Don't be meek, or afraid, or worried you'll rock the boat. If salvation is truly as important to you as it should be, then wouldn't you do what you could to share it with the folks, fans, and creators we all respect and admire so much? And if a few people don't buy our books or unfollow us, what are those losses versus what is at stake? As the Apostle Paul said, "For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" (Phil. 3:8 ESV).

So, that's that. A few paragraphs that took me far, far too many years to type. Whether or not you're a Christian, if you want to talk about any of this, you can always email me at mail.rpblog(at)gmail.com. I'll have a review upcoming of a couple of products hopefully this week, and we'll continue with our gaming stuff, hopefully with kindness, grace, and a love of the incredible blessings we are given to enjoy in this hobby. And if I happen to roll a natural 1 on that from time to time, just remember I'm not perfect--just forgiven.

19 comments:

Daniel Luce said...

You know, at first I +1'd this to show solidarity, but I realized it deserved a comment.

I too, am a Christian gamer. And it's been something I've pondered for many of the same reasons you've given.

You've also given me some things to think on. Thank you for that.

adeptgamer said...

I am also a Christian my brother and I have your back :) I know it can be difficult to carry the banner in our modern society but don't be afraid. We are everywhere! God bless you and yours!

THOMAS said...

Nice post! Glad to see your honest, kind confession. Refreshing!

A Miller's Musings... said...

Beautiful post. I understand the part about Christianity vs Gaming. At one point in my life I attended a church that felt games, cards in particular, we evil. That sadly, should have been my 'red flag', but it wasn't. Before I felt conviction either way, I questioned the very thing that brought me joy and more so, brought many fine people together for fellowship. I grew up in Michigan and Michiganders game during the long, cold winter months. I don't see or believe that there is anything wrong with gaming. God knows the desires and intentions of our hearts and yes, we are human and sin on the daily, but we are not evil or condemning ourselves to a fiery eternal after-life! IMHO, game play is NOT a heaven or hell issue. Great post.

SpiralBound said...

I am not a Christian. To many of your statements of faith, to be true to my personal beliefs, I would have to state a complete disagreement with them. I agree with many of the New Testament guidelines for how we should treat each other, but that's as close as I get to agreeing with what Christianity espouses.

Yet, I still respect the right one has to their beliefs. As a NON-Christian I applaud your non judgemental commitment to your faith. You have as much right to be an honest and openly Christian gamer as I do to be an Atheist gamer.

I believe that ritual, faith, and spirituality are an essential part of a healthy life, thus I am glad you have found your source for this. I have seen firsthand the comfort derived from genuine faith and I would not be so selfishly cruel as to deny it to anyone.

In this current social climate it takes courage to stand up and state any personal beliefs outside of a direct environment for that belief. We collectively tend to label and even prejudice against those who mix topics of a personal nature (religion and gaming in this instance). I expect there are plenty of Muslim gamers worldwide and they too are likely to feel the same as you for all the same reasons. This is wrong and it is only by people like you standing up and openly saying, "I am a gamer and I am also this other thing too" and then having the rest of the gaming community who have thus far only identified as just a gamer to NOT condemn or marginalize you for being a whole person that we will redress this wrong. None of us are ONLY one thing, and it is hypocritical of us to prejudice against those who "break the fourth wall" so to speak and share a bit more if themselves.

I am NOT a Christian, but I 100% support you for being both a gamer and a Christian. I've enjoyed your gaming posts in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

A.L. said...

I was raised christian but don't consider myself to be one any longer for various, personal reasons.

I think a lot of people game to gaming to escape various persecutions and stressors in life but forget that other people are here as well. As long as no one is being hostile or judgemental I see no reason why we can't all just co-exist as gamers. People, regardless of faith or creed, shouldn't have to hide it. Not at the gaming table.

Karen in Wichita said...

Yep.

And on the flip side, there's the awkwardness of sharing the hobby with other Christians. Son's been trying to recruit Pathfinder players in youth group, and I keep waiting for him to run afoul of a Pulling-influenced sort (like my mother, I'm sad to say). It's hard to explain to him that people like this are "well-intentioned but..."

J-M said...

Awesome post. As a fellow Christian, I appreciate your sentiments and your vulnerability. That could not have been an easy post to compose. If you ever want to chat theology, or gaming, please hit me up. I am always willing to chat about my two great passions!

SpiralBound, you hit on some great points as well. Our society, in general, seems to want a homogenized environment. But beliefs, and identity are so much messier than that. If we want to actually get to know someone, and be invested in their life, requires the posture towards others show in Zack's and your posts.

Zachary Houghton said...

Thanks for all the well-considered, awesome responses, guys. I appreciate the willingness to listen and understand, even for those who might not share all of my beliefs. It was really nice to wake up to this today. The hobby can be a rough place, but there are some moments that remind you of the really good parts (and people!), too.

fractalbat said...

I'm glad whenever I hear an Evangelical say, "I love gaming." It's a welcome counterpoint to the 80's. I've been fortunate to know several willing to do so.

I'm glad to hear when someone finds a path that leads them to being a happier, kinder person.

This is your space and you should be comfortable expressing yourself in it.

I appreciate that you share your love of gaming with others, regardless of if they share your religion or not.

Your Dragonraid comment is priceless :)

Zachary Houghton said...

One of these days, I seriously need to play Dragonraid to see what it's like. $30 for a boxed set? That's not too bad. For some reason, I thought it was way more expensive.

Roger said...

I am also a Christian gamer. This was a very well written post. Hooray for getting that out in the open!

Grandpa Chet said...

Dragonraid still exists? Never saw it, except in ads Back Then.

Congratulations on coming out of the closet, as followers of Christ are none too popular these days. You think gamers are hostile towards Jesus? You should see how magicians and mentalists treat their fellows who are also Christian!

Just one more of those things we gotta expect in these days. But it's funny, when you consider so many Christian roots in rolegaming vs the pseudo-Christians who thought a game of Let's Pretend could be more powerful than Heavenly Father.

*jeep! & God bless!
--Grandpa Chet

dragolite said...

While I am not a Christian, at all...it took guts to put this up. Well done. I have no problem with having Christians at my table. The only thing I do have a problem with is when that religion tries to come into the game. I have a player who demands that his character worship "Creation." While in some campaigns, it is alright, it isn't alright in all of them. Mini rant over.

Thank you for the "confession." And I hope you have many many years of great gaming ahead.

SpiralBound said...

A valid point. The stereotype of a born-again Christian is that they will constantly make everything be about their beliefs. However, it is that (inaccurate) expectation which made it so stressful for the OP to finally just admit to even having a religious belief. The problem you describe is someone who obnoxiously pushes their views on others, not a "Christian Gamer" problem.

I once had a player who was obsessed with Succubi, he was forever making characters thet were either a Succubus or were connected with them in some manner. It got old fast... Another player had personal gender issues which they expressed by overtly playing alt gendered characters and kept trying to steer character interactions into being about gender acceptance, berating players who didn't play along. Again, not fun.

My point is, we all have different things we hold near and dear, and so long as we are appropriate about HOW we express such things, there shouldn't be cause for anyone to be offended just because so-&-so likes, believes, or is passionate about "x".

Richard Iorio II said...

I'm an Atheist. I do not shove me beliefs on anyone, but I have no problem whatsoever with anyone who believes in a higher power. It is a sad day when someone has to worry about saying they are a Christian.

I am not angry with you, just angry at the nature of the world.

I respect you as much now after reading your post, as I did before.

Be proud of your beliefs, there is nothing wrong with that.

killervp said...

I am a Christian, a gamer who runs a game that is rebuilding an Egyptian God, with a group of people whose beliefs range from Christian to Atheist. Thank you for standing up for your beliefs.

My own observation is that the majority of Gamers are more interested in your quality as a human than someones political or religious beliefs- and that is one of the main reasons I love the gaming community!

Diffan said...

I too am a Christian and it warms my heart to read what you've written here. We should never fear what others do or say by showing our beliefs.

Sabin M. Jarvis said...

I just found your blog about seven minutes ago, from a link on the Syrinscape facebook page. I paged down through your last article before landing on this one, and I read the whole thing. I agree completely...
It was a beautiful thing that a Christian could say what you said, your love for Christ, and that you didn't feel it conflicted with your love of games. All in all, inspirational and fun. A real pleasure to read!

Sabin M. Jarvis, Author of The Siege of Sarpay