There I sat, waiting for my son’s seventh-grade band concert to begin. One by one, young musicians moved toward the rest of the group assembled in the middle of the gym. One boy stood out to me in particular, his awkward gait, the large brass instrument he struggled to carry and his black shirt bearing the words “Assassins Creed” on the front.
For those who don’t know, Assassin’s Creed is a very popular series of video games. The objective is to kill a whole lot of people, and, for this reason among others, it is rated M for mature players only. It has become a cultural phenomenon, selling more than 55 million copies.
Somehow this didn’t fit. Why is a kid who is barely a teenager advertising and presumably playing a game intended for adults, a game that simulates brutality and graphic violence?
I believe that our world today has largely exchanged the sacred gift of life for a lust for violence. Many people are not even aware that this has happened, for the culture has been numbed to these things. As songwriter Bill Mallonee writes, “Babies are torn ’cause nobody wants ’em, whales canonized by some government program.”
In the book of Genesis we read that the Earth was filled with violence. This was the reason God destroyed humanity in Noah’s flood. In the gospels, Jesus says that the last days will be like the times of Noah.
Surely this has come upon us. Ultra-violent games and movies are commonplace and celebrated nonchalantly, even by people of faith. Martial arts have transitioned from an honorable art to brutality resembling ancient gladiatorial games conducted for bloodthirsty mobs.
Movies are the same. In his first movie appearance, John Rambo killed nobody, and only one person died in the entire movie. Three movies later, 236 people were killed.
The fact that more than 50 million unborn children have died in the last 40 years in our country further illustrates our devaluing of life in society today. It is confounding to consider that for every six people in America today, there should be one more walking around.
I am not advocating that we get rid of all fun and all firearms. War is a reality. I have guns and I trained in martial arts for many years. I will walk away from a fight but will kick butt when necessary. But that is not my drive. It is one thing to be able to hurt someone. It is another to enjoy it. Real men know the difference.
I’m pretty old-fashioned, and I’m not ashamed of it. I just don’t believe our kids need phones that have access to the Internet and all its evils. Maybe the generations to come would be more loving and less obsessed with violence and sex if they did things that would build their bodies and character instead. Maybe climbing trees and playing sports and learning to use dad’s power tools would benefit. Seems like common sense to me.
The same is true for adults. May we who find ourselves reading this consider the words of Isaiah the prophet. This is what characterizes a person aglow with the fire of God: “He stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil.”
Humans were never intended for violence. I believe that we bear the image of One who can destroy the universe with a thought, but chooses not to, and promotes peace instead. May we seek the same.
The Rev. Jeff Miller is the pastor of Vineyard Community Church in Augusta.