Ask a Simple Question

Ask your child a simple question and then offer a simple truth about his online gaming experience.

“Have you played any video games with Bible stories or characters in them?” With this question, you may just broaden his mental vista to see that the games he plays do relate to real life. They relate either through foundational aspects supported by the Bible or they contain viewpoints antithetical to it. Games reflect a microcosm of life.  He will begin to see how games espouse, deny or denigrate God-honoring concepts and themes. You want him to be able to stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around his waist.


You may want to tweak that question depending on your child’s age and Bible experience, such as:

  • “Do you notice that some characters or players seem more inclined to sin or do bad things and that others are more inclined to try to do the right thing?” This can start a conversation about sin or temptation.
  • “Have you seen any characters like King David or Samson in your favorite video game?” This can initiate a dialogue about qualities of biblical leadership. Or about how God has a purpose and plan for our lives.
  • “Do some battles seem to have a purpose while some are just for destructive ends?” This question can lead to exploring the biblical ethics of war (there are many books on this topic).

The universe of Christian games is relatively thin. Many fail to appeal to a broad audience. Maybe the game’s goal is difficult to communicate or it lacks technical complexity. Instead, big money is spent on a multitude of games seemingly designed to distract or corrupt our kids.  However, that doesn’t mean a greater understanding of Christianity can’t be found within gaming—gaming itself contains a rich source of ideas to compare against biblical Christianity.


If your child does recognize that some games offer more Bible-appropriate values or characters than others, this is your chance to ask about them.

“How do you know the characters are behaving biblically?” If he responds that he notices when a character or player takes revenge, for example, he may believe the revenge is ‘justice’ and call it biblical.  This gives you a teaching moment. Because it is God who avenges His people; He reserves this right for Himself.

Learn about games from the perspective of those your child plays. At the same time, you will be learning about the scope of his Bible knowledge and his developing personal ethics.


There’s a good chance your child won’t recall Bible storylines or characters in the games he plays. As mentioned, the Christian world doesn’t create as many games as the secular world. That doesn’t mean your conversation ends.

Your answer then can be simply, “That’s probably not surprising, right? After all, the world is fallen. Many people don’t know God well. And people tend to make games about what they know.”

At this point, you can take the dialogue in various directions:

  • “Do any of the friends you play with believe in God and try to play nice because of that?”
  • “Which game seems to portray the world in the worst possible light?”
  • “Which games give you a chance to right the wrongs of other players?”
  • “Do you notice if the games make it more fun to do wrong or to do right?  Do they reward you for being bad or for being good?”

The ensuing conversation can be as simple or as complex as you are comfortable with. And as simple or complex as your child can manage.  You want to create an warm, open environment to hear his thoughts, learn about his online experiences, answer questions, share biblical truths, and point him in a better direction, if necessary.  Concepts you introduce can be developed over time—no immediate issue needs to be highlighted and resolved (unless you learn of a particularly harmful experience, such as bullying). Your goal is to listen, to learn, to share your biblical wisdom, and to gently train up your child in the way God would want him to go.


And remember, these conversations are possible even if you yourself have limited Bible knowledge. Take one step at a time; learn a little more each day.  Maybe this afternoon you hear with an open mind what your child has to say. Then tonight you do 20 minutes of research to gain relevant biblical understanding relating to his comments. Finally, you return to the conversation tomorrow with wisdom to share. Ultimately, you want to help him learn to demolish arguments that set themselves up against the knowledge of God.

“Have you played any video games with Bible stories or characters in them?” With this simple question, you will encourage your child to think about how and whether their games support or deny spiritual  truths. They can begin to understand what it means for something to be biblical. And whether biblical values are being espoused or mocked. Then, as you develop the conversation over time—during meals, in the car, after church—you will better lead them toward biblical truth.

Consider reading this next post.


Setting the Stage for Parent-Teen Communication

What, Mom? (With headphones on, leaning back, still focused on his screen.)

What has your son heard you say and is still hearing?  Your voice, muffled. You, speaking muffledly. Then more muffledly, only louder. Keep it up, and he’ll hear you most muffledly and likely most loudly! That’s not a good start to whatever you were hoping to communicate–and respect is on the line.

Respectful parent-teen communication begins with setting the stage for real listening.  But the stage in this case needs the props removed—computer screen, mobile phone, headphones—so you can start a dialogue in a way that encourages real listening. And as a result, you will teach your teen conversational skills that respect you and others.

The alternative is likely misunderstanding. Or, because you’re not feeling heard and he’s feeling aggravated about losing his flow, an argument could easily erupt. But not the classical kind of argument in which there’s an exchange of ideas and support for those ideas. Rather, the whiny kind, the negative kind, or the angry kind.

There are ways to interrupt your child on technology that don’t cause him to feel his work or even play is disrespected. (After all, he may have worked hard for that online ‘play’ time.)  A word fitly spoken is an essential bridge moving a dialogue toward persuasiveness and understanding.

In managing online time, teach your child to listen well to you. You are also teaching them to respect you. And then patiently respect your child in return. The communication methods and respect you model within the home is what your child will likely apply outside of it. We are to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord and to teach them to obey us as parents. Meanwhile, we remember that if we’re showing the fruit of the Spirit, we will be showing them patient and kind instruction out of love for them.

Parent-Teen Communication Without a Screen in Between

So, don’t compete with a screen in between you. Or with headphones that are meant to eliminate ambient noise–you, in this case.  Take the lead to avoid this interference, because your teen probably won’t–and will more likely see you as the interference.  Help your teen learn how to listen and to make more effective arguments by teaching them to first disengage from technology. Tap his shoulder (if he can’t hear you through his headphones). Say “Let’s talk a minute” or “I need you now.” After you’ve made clear the need to talk, offer him a few seconds to break away from the technical task in front of him.  Proverbs 15 reminds us “a patient man calms a quarrel.”

Help Your Teen Listen

Most online activities involve a process. If you allow him to be online, it’s not fair to interrupt that at your every inclination. He can’t abruptly stop this process without error, aggravation, insult to an online team member, loss of one’s train of thought, or data loss.  You can respect your teen by forewarning him of your need to discuss something and then allowing him a moment to ‘get into position.’

Now disengaged from technology, he can better listen to what you have to say. And he’ll be able to reply without distraction. Instead of appearing to deign to give you his time, he may be more fully attentive, a sign of respect. You are teaching him to love through actions, not just words.

Both of you now fully present, a polite, clear and logical “argument” can commence. You have helped him listen under authority–a useful habit for his long-term good. And quality, respectful parent-teen communication may prevent unintentional disobedience resulting from misunderstanding.

So, take control of your relationship through better communication methods. Insist your teen first be free from distraction.  Only then can a full discussion–or argument–be most productive.

And when your teen questions why he should have to take out the garbage today, you can look deeply into his eyes and give your most cogent argument:  Because I said so.

Samson over Master Chief

Maybe you have a child who is dolefully lurking in your vicinity. He begrudgingly said goodnight to Master Chief in Halo: Infinite after your third request. Could you turn this into a moment to help him gain a smidgen of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom—biblically speaking?

Master Chief is a strong “supersoldier” with telescopic vision, as you may know from your child’s long hours of videogaming. You consider which strong men of the Bible you know, and Samson comes to mind (Judges 13-16).

It’s time to engage.

Talkin’ ’bout the Bible: Samson

“So, you play as Master Chief when you play Halo, don’t you?” you ask.
“Yeah,” your child answers.
“He’s a hero, right? With strength, fighting skills, and even telescopic vision?”
“Do you remember any heroes like that in the Bible?”
“No. Aren’t they all, like, just quiet men who think about God?”

(Simplify—or give greater nuance and complexity—to this sample dialogue depending on your child’s age, maturity, and Bible knowledge.)

“Actually, the Bible describes a strong warrior and judge named Samson who was dedicated to God. God gave him supernatural strength. That’s because he had a mission to do. The Bible says ‘He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines’ (Judges 13:5b).”

He’s beginning to hear, “Blah, blah, blah.” So, you ask another question.

Keep His Interest

“Do you get to choose what kinds of missions you play through as Master Chief?”

(He’s paying attention again. Listen for his answer and what kinds of missions his personality draws him to. This will be valuable in future conversations.)

You continue: “Samson’s main mission was to kill off some evil Philistines to help Israel. He got distracted by beautiful women, though, and some bad relationships. He was distracted by what he saw. Does Master Chief’s telescopic vision ever cause him problems? Does it ever hurt your mission or only help it?”

(Play off whatever his response is for your mutual enjoyment or continue your story.)

“Samson’s distracted eyes eventually caused the Philistines to catch him and PLUCK OUT his eyes. Not only that, but a woman—the Philistine Delilah—tricked him and cut his long hair, which God had made the source of his strength. That made him powerless. Samson and Delilah is a famous Bible story. Can Master Chief be robbed of his powers?”

Pay attention to his response—always listen like the caring interlocutor you know you can be.

The Last Word

“Our overall mission—you would probably call it a ‘campaign*’— is to stay close to God. He’s our greatest power and gives us our strength. He gives it through the Holy Spirit, not through our hair like he did for Samson. God also gives us missions. Samson’s mission resulted in him killing the Philistines by pulling down the pillars of the building they were in. But it killed him at the same time. Still, he was avenged for them plucking out his eyes, and he served God’s purposes in the end. If he had kept his eyes and thoughts on God more—been more obedient—it may have been a better result for him. How does Master Chief’s story end?”

(Let him answer and have the last word.)

Your child may know his Bible heroes and not think that Samson is the best person to compare to Master Chief. That’s OK! If that’s the case, you can both, over time, do a little reading to find a better match. That’s all good; it keeps the conversation alive. And he’ll be on his way to comparing and contrasting heroes himself—gaining knowledge and understanding, and thinking biblically.


*I am told that many missions make a campaign.