Question about making promises/vows to God


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I've wondered about the whole making vows to God thing for a while due to a time back in February 2005 when i was 13 years old, closing in on 14 years old, where I had bought Grand Theft Auto 3 for the PC, and when i did i felt some sort of fear that if i told my church that they'd shame me and stuff so i threw the game away and ran to my prayer closet and asked God to forgive me for getting the game and then promised never to play GTA again.

Now, my history with GTA goes back to February 2003, when i first saw the game in action at a friends house and thought the concept of being able to run around and do what you will was pretty cool, so for my Birthday in March 2003, i got a PS2 along with a memory card, and Grand Theft Autos 3 and Vice City.

Needless to say, I had a blast playing the game, but deep down inside, i was questioning whether i should keep playing the game, and every day i went to sunday school, i would ask the teacher whether or not i should play the games anymore, and she said that as long as it didn't come before God, i should be fine.

However, I was very obsessed with the game at the time and at school through the rest of my 6th grade and all my 7th grade years, 95% of the stuff coming out of my mouth was stuff relating to GTA. If someone angered me, I would start wishing life was GTA so i could beat them up without consequences(via the wanted level cheat). A year's worth of talk about stealing cars and the other stuff in GTA did get me negative attention from the counselors who were worried that GTA might be growing too much on me.

Then, in February 2004, I discovered this one song on GTA Vice City called 2 minutes to Midnight by Iron Maiden, which I had been listening to in game, but when i saw the lyrics, i would concentrate on those lyrics and think on them, which wasn't a good thing at all, as it made me rebellious towards God for the next 4 months and i would blame every bad grade I got on a test on God trying to curse my work and as such i'd tell my classmates that I was going to invoke Satan's help in a bid(in reality i wasn't studying due to spending countless hours playing GTA and listening to the rock songs on it, which most contained Satanic lyrics such as the 2 Minutes to Midnight one) and then started drawing Pentagrams and stuff on my binders, whereas in the fall of 2003 i had been drawing Christian symbols and stuff on my binders, which further worried the teachers and my fellow students.

Well, in July of 2004 I went to a 5-day church camp and repented of my rebellion towards God, and the guy who prayed with me told me to get rid of my GTA games, which i did.

And so i was GTA-free until February 2005, where i thought i was strong enough to handle GTA, so i got it again and threw it away after my conscience bit me and thats where i made the whole promise to God thing.

Fastforward to Summer 2006, i again wanted to get the GTA games, so i turned to a passage of scripture that i hoped would be a way to nullify the promise to God i made concerning GTA, which was Leviticus 27 which talked about how if someone vowed something to God and then decided wanted it back that they could give 120% of its monetary value to the priest, so if it was worth $50 they would give $60 to the priest, for an example. Even though it does mention things that if devoted to the Lord, couldn't be redeemed. So i used that as a way out and got GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas and took the total, added the extra 20%, and gave it to my church.

Basically, i payed more than double the price, and when i would play them, my conscience would STILL bite, so in order to calm it down, i would go crazy in witnessing for God by spamming random forums on the internet(forums that didn't even require registration) about how if they didn't turn to Christ how they'd face God's wrath on Judgment Day, which did provide some relief but didn't solve the whole thing.

So i threw them away AGAIN.

So i waited 3 years, and then come April 2009 I decided i was strong enough to handle GTA, so i went and rented GTA Chinatown Wars for the DS and GTA 4 for the PS3. I didn't have much conscience problems concerning Chinatown wars, but when i played GTA 4 for the PS3, my conscience came rushing back to bite me again concerning that promise i made to God in 2005.

The verse that has given me the most trouble on this whole matter is Ecclesiastes 5:4-7, which states :

" When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?"

Which if i read correctly, if you make a vow/promise to God, EVEN a rash vow, is binding for life. Another thing in the Bible that i see as supporting that position is when Jephthah rashly vowed to sacrifice to the Lord whatever he first saw when he returned home if the Lord allowed him to win the battle, and of course as the story goes his daughter is the first one to come out and then the vow comes back to bite him as now he's forced to kill his daughter to fulfill the vow.

So since i guess no matter what you're superglued to a vow for life, how am i going to go about getting rid of my desire for the Grand Theft Auto/Saints Row games? I know Saints Row wasn't out when I made the promise to God, but i presume that the vow would cover any "hip and gangsta" sandbox game that involved the stuff GTA involves.

So how do I go about no longer desiring GTA?
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Well, breaking a vow/promise you made to God is a very bad idea...but forgivable... We all desire things we shouldn't and you must just fight the temptation to play, and pray for strength to resist it... I mean I still find myself wanting to do things I am not suppose to but I pray for strength and resist it... I think to completely remove the desire to the play game is not very possible...I mean it is possible, but very low possibility... You just need to pray and fight the temptation...
If you were still a child at the time you made the promise then I don't think it counts as binding because when you're still under the authority of your parents you don't have the standing to be able to make commitments of your own.

However, it sounds like the problem here isn't about the promise but about the desire to do something that has shown itself to be very harmful for you. The bad effects that come from your actions may just be natural consequences of how this game affects you, or may be the attempts of deterrence from a loving, caring God, who, like any responsible parent, has to be willing to enforce boundaries harshly sometimes if necessary to protect His child from a real danger that the child doesn't yet fully understand.

Wanting to remove the desire for yourself is a noble goal, and you can try to accomplish this by moving closer to God and filling your life with more good things in hopes of finding activities you enjoy even more than this one to lessen your temptation, but it sounds like what you are dealing with is an addiction, not just a temptation, so that alone may not be enough to help you.

My best advice would be to find yourself a support network to be accountable to, that will support you and pray for you and will not let you struggle with this alone. If you have a local church that would be a good place to start, or maybe the men's forum here would be of help, especially since it deals with a specific gaming issue that others may have some experience with. I don't know offhand who to contact for that, but I'm sure someone here could point you in the right direction.
Oh, and I also wanted to point out that the vows that you are referring to in the scripture aren't the same as the one you made. In those vows, the maker of them asked for something from God in exchange for their vow, so the keeping of their vow was required as a promised payment for something they received.

In your case it doesn't sound like you asked for anything that you are bound to repayment for, you just made a false boast that you would keep yourself out of a certain sin by your own strength that God probably already knew you weren't strong enough to handle on your own, like when Peter promised the Lord he wouldn't never forsake Him when the Lord knew better. That's a completely different kind of promise and not something I can recall God ever holding against anyone.
yeah, i believe that now i'm strong enough to handle the GTA games, as i don't go around drawing pentagrams on my binders like i did back in 2004.

I'm 18 years old and am a freshman in college, compared to being almost 14 when i made the vow to God about GTA.

I've wanted the GTA games so i could go back, play them through for a 100% on them and experience them as compared to 2003-04 when all i cared about was gunning down random pedestrians, although i'll probably still do that in GTA if i get the games back.

You mentioned the scripture about the parents authority being able to override a promise to God. In the Bible it talked about how if someone made a vow to God, their father had the veto power but if he didn't veto it, they were superglued to the vow for life.

However, my father died back in January 2003 and my mother never vetoed my promise to God. My main concern was being shamed in front of the church by either me talking about the game again or by God magically revealing to them my return to GTA, and thats why i begged for forgiveness with the vow i'd never play it again.

The one thing holding me back from GTA is the fear that if i get it, God will get angry and start destroying everything i put my hands to. I even fear that if i get the game, God will strike my Xbox 360 with the RROD and then if i'm still playing it when the rapture occurs(Pre-tribber here), God will leave me behind to go through the Tribulation period.

Anyway, if Jephtath was forced to kill his own daughter to fulfill the vow, then it seems to me as if though God wouldn't want me to get the GTA games and play through them and experience the story, with the occasional carnage session in there just for fun.

Back in 2003 and 2004 i talked about this stuff with the people at my church about swearing to God and they pointed me to the verse where Jesus said it was better not to swear or make vows at all, and I laughed at them like it was a big joke. Boy did i make a mistake. Another foolish vow i made was back in 2007 when i bought this game for the PC called Just Cause, and i stuck it into the DVD drive and it froze the computer no matter what i did, and since it was made by Eidos, I made a vow to God not to buy any games made by Eidos only to find out later that the problem was with the DVD drive, made by Lite-on, and not the game. Came to bite me when I wanted to play the Battlestations games on the Xbox 360, which are made by Eidos.

To be honest the fear is the only reason i've been keeping the vow so far, and even then i'm doing it with resentment over not being able to play the games, however, since God keeps his promises towards us i guess it's a small price to pay to try to keep my promise to Him.
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Phrankdatank - I wasn't inclined to get into this discussion - but your last post brought up a couple of items I just need to say to you - I'd be happy to discuss any of these if you want:

1. I think you misunderstand Jephthah's situation. The judges were not the most religious people - just the people God chose to use. Most of them were very flawed individuals (just check out Samson). Jephthah made a rash vow he should not have made and should never have kept. He was not forced to keep the vow - God did not want him to kill his daughter. He followed up his rash, stupid vow with a rash,stupid fulfillment. Two rash stupids do not make a righteous. If you were out of your head for some reason (anger, alcohol, depressed) and made a vow to God to jump off the next cliff you came to - do you think God would want you to keep that vow? NO - he'd want you to repent of being stupid.

2. Jesus says clearly - quit making vows: “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’ But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one." Matthew 5:33-37 (NLT)

Now there are some other issues going on - Jews tricking and cheating other Jews - but his point is the same: Be an honest person - with others and with God. Don't puff yourself up with vows and promises - just do what you are supposed to do and don't do what you shouldn't do.

3. You need to dump GTA from your gaming desires - if it is causing you this kind of grief you do not need to be involved with it at all. Fearing God lowering the boom on you if you do something - is not the kind of 'fear' the Bible talks about having for the Lord. Jesus was using hyperbole when he said if your eye is causing you to stumble along pluck it out. This is just a video game - pluck it out. Mind you - I'm not saying this because GTA is such a horrible game or anything - but because it has caused you to struggle in your relationship with the Lord for five years now. I agree with RiverTigress - it sounds like more than a temptation, it has become something between you and God. Heed her advice - you do need a good support network. We online can pray for you but you need a face to face group to help you wrestle with this.

I'd recommend: a) You repent of making vows and live honestly before God. b) Show your honest repentance by dumping GTA (without a vow), praying to God for strength. c) Find a good support group to help you through all this.

Again, I'm open for discussion - I'm praying for you - and for a support group for you
I'm in a Christian group here in college called Chi Alpha which is a non-denominational group, with a sort of affiliation to the Assemblies of God.

I tend not to voice my troubles with other believers except in rare cases like this, and never say anything when the prayer requests part of the services takes place.

I've gone around telling people that I hate the GTA series and any other "hip and gangsta" gangs in attempt to try to suppress the desire, which according to Psychology(i took AP Psychology in High School), is a defense mechanism called Reaction Formation where one who is struggling with a certain vice goes around screaming at others how bad the vice is and how they should stay away from it, which only temporarily relieves them. So i definitely need to do something else.

My main desire for getting GTA this time is not to do as much of the carnage stuff the games are famous for as much as to play them like an RPG like Fallout 3 or something, experience the story and complete the games. Although that may be a lie that the enemy is feeding me. Maybe GTA is just the "forbidden fruit" that God has allowed to be in my life, just like in the Garden of Eden when God told Adam and Eve "You can eat of all trees except for this one."
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Jesus loves you so much But that is not a good idea i just read the first paragraph and that made me remember my vows for staying pure to no have a girlfriend or have sex until I'm old Married Thank God,God led me to your post But Its not a good idea Just pray about God helping you with temptation. And he will help he may help tomorrow Today a few mount's But if you ask you shall receive like i did I asked God for a computer ever since i was 11 now I'm 13 so it took 2 years for God to give me one so I am very thankful for how much God blessed me You can fight this temptation. Phillipeans 4:13 we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us
Alright, thanks for the help guys. I won't be breaking this vow with God, but I definitely won't be making anymore.

Guess i can view GTA as something i'm giving up for God, and looking at it honestly, GTA isn't much to give up anyway.