Should people in God’s Church participate in activities such as paintball, laser tag or other similar games? Should they allow their children to engage in activities that involve pointing a gun at another person?
[P]erhaps no toy will excite the imagination of little toddlers (especially boys!) as a gun.
Today’s toy stores display dozens of models and varieties, all the way from a tiny replica of a cowboy’s six-shooter right up to a deadly looking submachine gun that “shoots real bullets.” Complete with some of these sets will come even electronic gadgets such as real-life targets in the shape of a man, which will fall over when struck, and then spring back up to be shot at again.
And what a pity! What a pity it is that naive and gullible parents seemingly take for granted or carelessly assume whatever is manufactured and produced, and therefore offered for sale designed “for children,” must be all right for their children to use. …
Today the gun ranks as the biggest seller of the toy line! Matched six-guns of the cowboy and Indian era are often slung low on the hips of a 4-year-old outfitted in a space helmet holding a death-ray gun leveled at your midsection. Most popular was the fad of secret-agent weapons of the 007 ilk. Transistor radios, fountain pens, attaché cases suddenly transformed into fantastic death dealers at the touch of a kiddie’s finger.
Guns are for killing. If you don’t intend to kill, don’t use a gun—the real thing or an imitation! …
It is, believe it or not—and shocking though it may sound to many of us in this “modern world”—absolutely wrong for children to play war! To see a little child pointing anything, whether real gun, toy replica or a simple piece of wood he picks up, at another person, and pretending to shoot him is a heinous act. It’s wrong. It should be stopped by parents who have any sense of love and responsibility toward their children.
Further, the source of such play, such as the tv and magazines that inspire it, should be removed or strictly controlled. Then, the parents should really explain God’s principles regarding killing. They should impress upon the child the dead seriousness of ever even playfully pretending to point a gun at someone.
—The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Just months before Mr. Armstrong died, Dexter Faulkner wrote the following:
But we in God’s Church are supposed to be living a different way—a way that leads to peace, happiness and every good thing. Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong has taught us that we are the Kingdom of God in embryo. We should be living a way of life that is an example of what God’s Kingdom is like.
Each succeeding generation under the government of God and His Church should be better than the one before it, because a better foundation should have been laid.
Our children are sanctified. They have a better starting place than many of us did. We should be able to help our children avoid the pitfalls that caused us so much grief in the past by teaching them a better way.
In the Millennium, swords will be turned into plowshares. If a remnant of war is found in a field, it will be formed into a useful instrument. A father then would use this opportunity to describe to his children the time when men fought and killed each other. He would explain how Christ returned to change that way of life so people could live in peace with each other.
Then, he would involve his children in turning the rusty rifle barrel or other “sword” of destruction into a useful tool. Mr. Armstrong has a watch made from a cannonball given to him by King Leopold in recognition of Mr. Armstrong’s efforts toward peace. It’s during the Millennium that “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, And great shall be the peace of your children” (Isaiah 54:13; nkjv).
—Worldwide News, Aug. 5, 1985
Therefore, we should not participate in any activities, including paintball and laser tag, that involve pointing a gun at another human being—even though the gun is not real. As The Plain Truth About Child Rearing says, we “should impress upon the child the dead seriousness of ever even playfully pretending to point a gun at someone.” If older teens and singles participate in these types of activities, younger children will want to follow their example.
Nerf guns can be acceptable if they are used for target practice and the like, but they should not be pointed at other people.
Similarly, some “water guns” are made to look very realistic—like a real pistol or machine gun. These should not be used and pointed at each other. However, some water guns are made in the shape of a soaker, obviously designed to project water. Some are designed to look like a fire hose or even animals. These types of devices can be used and enjoyed within the spirit of God’s law.
Notice another quote from that 1985 article: “My boys were taught as they grew up that guns are not toys. I explained to them that when they were old enough I would teach them the proper and safe use of guns. Later, when they were in their teens, their grandfather could take them hunting with him, knowing they knew how to responsibly use the rifles they carried” (ibid).
This is the right spirit that should be followed when discussing guns with our children and teaching about their proper use. There is a proper and safe use of guns, such as target practice, hunting for food, and even killing other animals that may cause problems or danger in some way. With this in mind, there is nothing wrong with a child having a BB gun, 22 rifle or other guns once they are mature enough and properly taught so that they know how to carry and use the gun. But be sure to always emphasize that guns are not toys and they must be handled and carried responsibly—never pointing them at another person.