Friday, October 24, 2008

mortal sins, venial sins...and virtual sins reported this great news story yesterday:
Woman Arrested After Killing Virtual Ex-Husband

A 43-year-old Japanese woman, angry over a sudden divorce in the virtual online game Maple Story, has been arrested on suspicion of hacking into the game where she killed her once-virtual husband, authorities said.

Authorities said the Miyazaki woman illegally accessed the game with a password she hijacked from a colleague. That made it appear as if her coworker committed the online murder. According to The Associated Press, the woman told police: "I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry."

The hacking allegation carries a maximum five-year prison term.
Okay, so it turns out she wasn’t really arrested for killing her virtual ex-husband, but for hacking into Maple Story with someone else’s password. But even still it’s a great story.

Think about it: it’s not really your husband. And it’s not really a murder. But you're really in trouble.

Here’s a theological conundrum: what if Jesus really meant it when he said, “You have heard that the Law of Moses says, ‘Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’? But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (Matthew 5:21–22 NLT).

Contextually, many Biblical historians see the Law under Moses as a cultural moral advancement. When the Law said, “An eye for an eye”, it was actually a limitation on what an injured person could do to the one who victimized him. In other words, if some dude sucker punched you in the face and you lost your vision, you couldn’t kill him. The most that could be done was a reciprocal eye punch. Believe it or not, that was merciful in light of the historical moral context.

But Jesus takes this whole thing stratospheric—he invades our thought life. His point was: because God sees our hearts and intentions, this can’t simply be about behaviors. God is personally hurt by our thoughts when they are self-focused, vengeful, hateful, or arrogant. Why would He not be? How would you feel if your kids walked around perpetually feeling spiteful, angry and “me-first”? How would you respond if your second-grader swaggered around with his nose up in the air, rude to others and calling people moronic? Would you feel embarrassed? Angry?

Now what if you could hear your child’s thoughts?

What if virtual actions in a virtual world revealed our not-so-virtual and not-so-virtuous hearts? It’s just a game, eh? Or, in real life, it’s just our thoughts. Right? No one really got hurt, did they?

Maybe God isn’t virtual like Maple Story. Maybe this isn’t a game. And maybe we are actually responsible in a real way for our thoughts.

Maybe we need a savior because we’re virtually screwed up.

I do.


  1. Dave,
    I had a couple of guys show up to my house a couple of weeks ago from an unnamed church (withdrawn to protect the guilty)inviting me to attend. They started their questioning asking me if I already had a church. "Yes, I attend VCC." That much have triggered some virus software in their server because the conversation from that point became a debate instead of an invitation.

    One of their(numerous)objections was based on a perception (inaccurate from my point of view)that VCC is a works based chuch. I said, "well yea, I serve because of what Christ is doing in my life and there are many others there who are also doing tranforming acts because of the transformation they've experienced." I went on to explain that my behavior is a result of my transforming heart (which includes my thoughts, perceptions, attitudes, etc.)

    It's a results thing. As I continue to grind in faith God revels more areas in my heart (attitude, thoughts, motives) that are dark. As a result, my behaviors reflect that darkness or display a realization of grace. We can do "small things" only because of the BIG thing Christ did.

    Those church guys left not happy. I don't know what was worse for them, seeing the holes in their thinking or that their perception of VCC was challenged.

    Thanks for your posts.

  2. Wow, this is a lot to take in!

    I understand that God is about motive. If we think maliciously, we need to recognize that and ask forgiveness. I think its a great thing to strive for, this NO BAD THOUGHTS idea, but not possible. I think we need to be diligent with loving Christ with our mind, heart, and soul, and not being too prideful to ask Him for forgiveness, and daily recognizing our sins.

    Those are some initial thoughts I had after reading your post. Thanks for the challenging ideas...

  3. In speaking about virtuality, I am reminded of internet porn. I know lots of people who spend time looking at this stuff, thinking that it doesn't directly hurt anyone. But taking in what you say about God knowing our hearts, ... our intentions, ... this puts a whole new spin on how "harmless" it is.