The short answer is I’m not going to tell you my opinion.
And here’s the reason, everyone has an opinion! No matter what I think, someone is going to certainly disagree and emphatically state that I’m unequivocally an irresponsible Christian (not that this would actually bother me, but it is unhelpful in every sense of the word.)
I will, however, tell you my opinion on similar phenomena. In my opinion, Pokemon Go falls into the same category (in my mind) as Harry Potter and Halloween activities, which means I would be careful about saying it is certainly evil or certainly not. Now, I know that the parents who are likely to be the most upset with me right now are the ones who have looked into Pokemon and discovered everything the internet has to say about the apparent naming of characters after demons, channeling spirits and all that, but stick with me for a minute, and just to bring everyone up to speed, please take a moment to Google “Pokemon Go devil”; you will get some interesting stuff that will make want to you burn every device and video game console in your home.
But now, in fairness, do a few more searches. Try this: “Pokemon Go is good for Christians/church.” You’ll still get a few of the negative sites but also some glowing reports. Then do another search “Pagan origins of the days of the week.” You see what I’m getting at? If you search for “Jesus Christ and Horus” you will discover many sites claiming (falsely) that Jesus was nothing more than a continuation of ancient sun gods and cults. Chances are if you were to search for the right key-words you would even find people who have said absolutely asinine things about your church; people who have not attended there, or who were offended by off-hand comments or those with an agenda. (Just like if you google your name you may find that you are a drug lord from Latina America.)
Here’s the principle (and you see where I’m going with this), if you are going to rely on the internet for your information you had better get good at gleaning correct information off of the internet. I could start a website tomorrow and say absolutely anything I wanted and if I make it punchy enough and a tad controversial and if I can break into a sub-culture I will get hits on my site. A follow-up to careful internet research is this, even if you carefully glean correct information from reliable sources from the net, you will still have to discern what is right for your family. I think a problem we are facing right now in culture, which most certainly includes the Church and Christians, is that we are unable to reason our way through difficult challenges and that we don’t have a relationship with Christ that is robust enough to confidently say, “This is right or wrong for my family” when others disagree.
Here is how I would approach the Pokemon Go craze:
- I would do some research on it. And yes, I would definitely go to some low-budget, whack-a-doo, backwoods websites if only for the pure pleasure of it.
- I would weigh what I see against what scripture says. Is there a clear comparison that can be drawn to a scriptural reference? For example, does it promote dishonouring parents, or actively practicing witchcraft?
- I would ask myself if it is a healthy distraction/use of money for me or my kids.
- I would take these questions to God in my devotions.
- I would ask my wife what she thinks, and where we disagree I would submit to her decision on the matter.
- Finally I would TALK to my kids! I would explain to them that if we are OK with games like this that we need to be respectful of families that aren’t. (This is very important.) We don’t judge them or criticize them for their decision. And if we decide this is not a game we want in our home, we would explain to our kids that we will be respectful of families who disagree with us. We would talk about strategies for what we could do if Pokemon was the theme of a birthday party they are invited to or if they were made fun of at school for not playing it.
And as a bonus, if I were hesitant in my spirit to play a game like this, but my kids were old enough that they are really embracing their relationship with Christ, I would let them be part of the decision and I would work very hard to find a compromise where we disagreed. I would have to feel very strongly that it is sin to play a game to shut it down. (Notice I didn’t say a game that would lead to sin, that’s practically every game we play!) In the same way that I want parents to seek God’s heart on a matter, I want my kids to as well. If I simply enforce rules on non-essential issues, or things I don’t like, then I am not helping them to become healthy mature Christians.
The reality is we will constantly face “Pokemon Go” questions and so we need to learn principles that can guide us through each challenge. Remember, Paul says in one passage to avoid eating meat offered to idols and in another that is would help their budget! He wasn’t being contradictory, he was being contextual. There are times when it is right and other times when it is wrong. For some a drink of alcohol is acceptable, for others it would certainly lead to sin. Be wise and have an honest relationship with Jesus!
Now let the comments begin.
P.S. Dear adults who are crowding street corners searching for monsters and eggs, you look ridiculous.
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