I was conversing with JoJ over at Free Notherner’s Christian Masculinity, and was finally able to pinpoint the difference between the pro-game and anti-game debate that has raged about the Christian manosphere for the past half decade or more.
The part that got me started is that he came to the exact same conclusion that I did — the heart matters to God — but we came to exact opposite conclusions. This bothered me until I went back to the pyramid model and envisioned it from different angles.
The top-down (anti-game) view is this: We know that we don’t operate in a moral vacuum so therefore we can see that no “technique” or “tool” is void of spiritual ramifications. This is why game looks like a toolbox but is not — you cannot use a “tool” based in dark triad traits and expect not to be corrupted by it.
The down-up (pro-game) view is this: We know that a Christian man who has a heart for God is able to sort between “techniques” or “tools” which are good and bad, and thus he can confidently say that eliminating neediness is going to make him a more effective man in successful communication, while on the other hand he may not use anything related to the dark triad because he knows that it will corrupt him. In this way, “game” can be seen as a tool because of the discernment of the individual.
I’m pretty sure that we all agree that the knowledge by itself is not sinful (though some ways in which it is acquired can be). The main reason why I am “anti-game” per se is that it’s good to look at what “not to do” with game such as not be needy, not seek validation from women, not pedestalize them, etc. but be very careful on what to use from game on what we “should do.” It’s the “should do” techniques that may be subtly based in the dark triad that will corrupt. From the top-down view, that would be eschewment of game on a broader level as self seeking especially if you don’t know the spiritual ramifications of such, though if you can adequately distinguish between them (through the Holy Spirit) from a down-up it can be viewed like a “tool.”
The game debate, in the end, is indeed a matter of perspective it seems. I wouldn’t necessarily say that one side is right or wrong. In theory both views are adequately supported insomuch as God wants your both your heart and He wants good fruit/good works from Christians.
If we take a look at the pyramid from a top-down perspective, I know that as a Christian I can see that there are two pyramids and that implementation of knowledge (game) is spiritual devoid if it bears bad fruit which much of game does. It either falls into one camp or the other. One of God and one of the world. However, if I’m looking at the pyramid from the bottom-up perspective, I can see that it starts with the heart and therefore if you serve God you will only do things to please him which can include some of the “implementation of game knowledge” that will help you become a better Christian or see better the insight from Scripture.
However, in practice I think the top-down framework to view actions is best (the anti-game view) because it looks at the fruit of actions for not just the self but for everyone involved. This is why I still continue to say that techniques like dread game — which is rooted in the dark triad — are of the flesh. Although it may improve the marriage as an end result, it can also result in sin along the way. As Jesus said, “you shall know them by their fruits.” An improved marriage but with sin is not how God wants us to live.
I’ve already proposed a ‘filtering method’ for “game” that seems to adequately eliminate most if not all of the dark triad techniques while keeping the soundness of “tools” a Christian man can learn from the knowledge of and practice:
- It is good to know to learn about what to do and what not to do from the nature of intersex relationships from the Scriptures, godly mentors, prayer, fasting, meditation on the Word, etc.
- It is good to know what not to do from knowledge of the nature of the flesh such as game.
- But I would be very, very, very careful about what learning what to do from something inherently selfish like game.
Though, in Love, there needs to be a wholeness in the thinking of not just “self” but “us” as a Christian man interacting with a woman. Therefore, everything should be tested against the Scriptures and Holy Spirit in accordance with the question,
- Are my actions drawing myself and others / women closer to God?
This is the heart that God wants, and the heart motivated to action and knowledge that will “bear good fruit.”
My final thoughts on game:
If someone is clearly putting God first in their heart and actions whether they are “pro-game” or “anti-game” I support them. Whether they see me as “repackaging game” or whether I’m building “godly masculinity” I don’t care.
The debate is utterly pointless and a waste of time.
What matters, ultimately, is that I can effectively get out knowledge of how to instruct those who want to be masculine men of God.
P.S. This is the last game debate post I will ever write (hold me to it!) because I consider it resolved. The rest of the Christian masculinity posts with references to game will be on filtering and implementation with theological underpinnings.