Question:

Hi,

I was just wondering is it a sin to play Airsoft? Airsoft is a game in which people shoot rifles that majority of the time are mock models of actual firearms that shoot plastic bb's. The objective, generally, is to shoot the other person with a bb and they're out (in war like scenarios). People wear protective masks or goggles most of the time. Nobody really gets hurt, but I wanted to know if the thoughts of shooting others with bb's would be considered violent thoughts. I understand it is wrong to have even the slightest thought of violence when it distracts you from living a righteous life because sin is sin, but is this taking it "too far"? I assume the question can be applied similarly to playing Laser Tag, Paintball, Nerf, etc.

Just in case your wondering what I mean when I say "taking it 'too far,'" I am trying to say unnecessarily banning an action that doesn't offend the Lord.


Answer:

I can think of two sides of this which would need to balanced. I'm not going to give an outright "yes" or "no," but rather outline the boundaries that need to be considered.

For almost as long as mankind has existed there has been warfare. Weapons had to be practiced, since you can't wait until battle to find out how to use your weapon. David clearly had used a sling to shoot stones many times in his past. The Lord improved both his aim and power when facing Goliath, but David was using a weapon that he was familiar with. Some weapons are practiced with targets because of the danger to other person. You don't practice archery on a live person. Others weapons are practiced with people with care, such as sword fighting.

Therefore, it can be viewed that games like Laser Tag, Paintball, and Airsoft are all kid versions of practicing for actual warfare -- similar to kids using wooden swords to practice swordplay.

The other side is that people are aiming at real people. There are people who don't distinguish play from reality well. There are also people who allow their emotions to cloud their minds and they use real weapons to harm others, treating the real weapons as if they were toys. I think what concerns me most is that young men have a hard time thinking things through. There have been too many cases were even soldiers were accidentally shot by a fellow soldier clowning around with a real weapon, confident that the weapon was not loaded, only to learn that it was when it was too late.

One of the things my own father insisted when growing up was that we were little that you don't even aim a toy gun at a person in play. He wanted us to learn first to respect human life, even in play. As we got older we did play war games, just like any other boys, but by then we were well versed in the difference between play and reality. If we were holding a real weapon, it was never pointed at another person. We always treated it as if it was loaded. Any carelessness was not tolerated. "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man" (Genesis 9:6). That respect for human life cannot be lost.

What concerns me with some of these games is that they make the situation too realistic. They don't keep the distinction between play and reality separated. If you can keep the two distinct, then I have no complaints. If you can see it as practice for becoming a police officer or a soldier, I have no problem.

There are people who think they can remove all violence from society. The problem is that the wicked will always be violent. "For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence" (Proverbs 4:17). Such must be controlled and that job is given to the government. "For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Romans 13:4). Thus, the distinction between proper and improper use of violence must be instilled in people and it should be reinforced, even in play.