For the uninitiated, GTA4 is what the new game craze Grand Theft Auto IV is referred to by. There are stories about people waiting at stores to make their purchase at midnight, amongst the many stories --- mostly bad news stories for decent folk --- that are doing the rounds.
But, some will say, it's only a game. But is that true --- really true? I don't think that anything which has a massive potential to take over the minds of our children can be referred to as 'only a game'. The big problem with Grand Theft Auto IV is not its marketing, but its message. The game carries the "M" rating for "Mature" and is to be sold only to customers 17 and older. There are warnings on the label of 'blood', 'intense violence', 'partial nudity', 'strong language', 'strong sexual content', and 'use of drugs and alcohol.' Is this really what you would consider to be a good influence on the lives of young people. I say 'young people' because the game is aimed at that group, and in fact --- shockingly, even to one of the games creators, Lazlo Jones, --- the group that is rushing to purchase this game by the thousand are 12 - 14 year-old boys.
Just think about the implications! Across our land there are young boys of 12 - 14 who are shut away in their bedrooms, often with the curtains closing out the light, playing a game that teaches them about car theft, drugs, sex, and all the other unpleasantries of this so-called game. Now ask yourself the question, 'Is this what I really want for my child?'
This game is another step into the darkness, away from the true Light, and poses the question of morality and moral influence on the minds of our young people. It is another result of living in an economy that has too much money, too little guidance, insufficient discipline, and too little respect, particularly in the arena of morality. It is part of the downward spiral that leads ultimately to the Abyss. Is that where we want our youngsters to end up?
These things are taking place under our noses. They are not secretive but blatant. It's the responsibility of Christians everywhere, and especially of the church, to offer moral guidance and not only condemn these things, but also campaign for a better society by their removal from it. Our youngsters are being lured into a moral abyss for the sake of producing gargantuan profits for the industry that is peddling this trash. If we do nothing, apart from perhaps going "Tut, tut!", then we are guilty by association of the heinous sin of helping to destroy childhood's innocence. On the other hand, one positive approach as a result of the game's release is that parents, teachers and church leaders, not forgetting the leaders of our country at the various levels, all share the opportunity for teaching our children about the importance of moral choice.