For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rated "M" for Mature. Yeah, Right.

As if we need any proof at all that the world’s way of looking at things is all upside down, backwards, inside out, etc., just look at how we rate games these days. Our oldest son did some work for a family in our church, and for payment they gave him an Xbox. Now, our family has never been much into video games; up until that time we still played a couple games on an old Sega system we got at a garage sale. But to be quite honest, I’ve enjoyed the baseball, fishing and racing games we’ve picked up for the newer model.

Of course, buying games is a challenge itself. Not only to folks (normally) shell out big bucks for the system, but then the games are all $30-50 and up. Not this family! We check the discount shelf at the used game store and for the half dozen games we own, haven’t paid more than 10 bucks. But I digress.

Back to the game ratings game. As most of you probably know, these games all come with a rating. “E” means it is supposedly appropriate for everyone, small children included. We pretty much stick with this one. “T” is for teen, which essentially means that as a teenager, you are now allowed to witness more violence, profanity and lewd/sexual content. And then we wonder why our kids are so desensitized to these things.

Interestingly enough, in looking for a game the other day my son found one that was rated “E” but then also said it contained some violence and profanity? So why not change the rating to “T”, according to their standard? Or are we now moving to this stuff being suitable for my seven-year-old? Anyway…

The real kicker is the “M” rating. “This game rated ‘M’ for Mature.” In world-speak, this means potentially lots of blood and violence, extreme language issues and most likely some gratuitous sex stuff thrown in for the heck of it.

Now, I know this is nothing new. Movie ratings are likewise suspect, with lewd humor being common in even G rated childrens' films; while movies with overt Christian themes are rated PG-13 for “thematic content” that may be objectionable. As in talking about Jesus. And, I digress again…

My issue with the “M” for mature thing is two fold. Number one, you and I both know that these games are primarily made for teens. The game systems in general are aimed that way and certainly marketed that way. And when they show these dazzling effects on the TV ad, even my 17 year old is impressed. So when they come on at the end with the rating, I’m sure most kids immediately say, “well then, I guess I won’t be buying or playing that game.” Yeah right. Just one more way to get worldly garbage into our homes.

But number two, and the real issue here (aren’t you glad I finally got there?!) is the whole idea of the word “mature.” Maturity carries with it the idea of being fully developed, moving beyond infancy; as in “grow up already.” And yet, these games, with their sex, profanity, etc. are really the height of immaturity. People who have matured shouldn’t be engrossed by games that promote childish, immature passions.

And therein lays the difference between the world’s standards and God’s. God’s Word tells us to seek maturity. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:20 “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” And we all know what that maturity means, putting away silly, childish, sinful things. As Paul also writes in that same letter: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Being a man, putting away childish ways, is to stop being fascinated with profanity and sexual titillation. Growing up means to act like an adult and get over the stupid potty humor, crude innuendo, etc. But the world tells us this stuff is for the “mature.” Talk about upside down, backwards, etc.

I could further digress into a discussion of the worldly idea of adolescence in general, and how we keep putting off further and further the expectation for our children to grow up and act like adults, but I guess that’s enough for now.

We ought to be seeking maturity. We ought to be putting childish ways behind us. And so it becomes obvious, or more obvious, that this means turning our back on the attitudes and ideas of this world. Instead, we need to be focused on God’s Word, God’ standards, godly attitudes and actions.

Some might argue this would mean forgetting about those silly games altogether. Personally, I don’t think a little video baseball hurts anything. (Although my wife just laughs at me when I brag about how many home runs I hit. “You know it’s just a game, right?”) But these things should be kept in check, never become overly time consuming, and certainly never overtake the amount of time we put into God’s Word and His service. God’s Word; now there’s something truly rated “M” for mature. May you grow up in it daily!


mikew116 said...

Good post, Scott, something that I haven't read addressed that way before.

Corey P. said...

My thoughts exactly - awesome post, Scott.

repeater75 said...

Actually, in a world where most males aged 18 - 34 are not much more than boys that shave, I believe these games are actually being marketed to 17 - 34 year olds. There are actually statistical studies that back this up, even showing that there are more video game players OVER the age of 18 than under. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but I have been around it enough to see that there is definitely something to it. In any case, the culture has certainly not stopped becoming more and more coarse with time. The best thing a parent can do is teach discernment so that as kids inevitably encounter it, they know it isn't God-honoring behavior or coming from a valid, biblical worldview.