There is no responsible way to play Russian Roulette.
This is a thesis which one hopes is both non-controversial and almost universally agreed upon.
For those not familiar with the concept, Russian Roulette is a gambling activity in which a single bullet is put into the cylinder of a revolver and then spun. Thereafter the cylinder is snapped shut, the gun is pointed at one’s own head, and the trigger is pulled. If you don’t die, you win money. If you do die, the game is over for you. It is an activity traditionally participated in by individuals who are suicidal, drunk, stupid, or some combination of the three.
There is no responsible way for a group of friends to gather and play a quick game of Russian Roulette. Even if no one gets hurt the first time, it is only a matter of time until someone does. The very act of engaging in the game is a text-book example of being irresponsible.
Likewise, there is no loving way to play this game with other people. Love hopes for the best for everyone. It does not put others at risk for the thrill of seeing whether or not they are stupid enough to kill themselves.
Finally, there is no smart way to play Russian Roulette. If you have a group of friends dumb enough to suggest such a thing, you really need to find a better quality of friend with which to spend time.
Now, if we are all on the same page with those points, let’s make some more pertinent applications.
Consider drinking and alcohol abuse. About one in ten people who drink alcohol are going to become full-fledged alcoholics. The number of drug-addicts to drug users is, one would expect, much higher. The use of these substances is going to result in some number of deaths. In 2015, nearly a third of all traffic-fatalities were the result of drunk driving. The use of such substances is likewise going to result in a number of other undesirable circumstances including rape, broken homes, child-abuse, ruined friendships and bodily injury. Broken lives, caused drug-use, plague our communities. The problem is recognized as being an epidemic. The solution, some suggest, is to engage in these behaviors more responsibly.
But if you know, that when ten people all decide to go drinking for the first time, statistically, one of them will become an alcoholic and it is going to wreck his life, wouldn’t the responsible thing to do be not to do it? Well say the nine, it didn’t affect us. That’s a bit like the survivor of a game of Russian Roulette bragging that the other fellow just didn’t know how to handle his revolver. Where is the love? Where is the responsibility to help one’s brother?
Consider likewise, extra-marital sex. About one third of the population, says the CDC has a sexually transmitted disease. That’s pretty poor odds. At some point during their life, it is estimated that about half the population will contract such a disease. Nearly 20 percent of homosexual men in the United States, in 2010 were said, by the CDC to have HIV. Add to this very clear problem, the problems of pregnancies out of wedlock, fatherless children, destroyed marriages, broken hearts, jealousies, and guilt,… and you have an activity that, while enjoyable in the moment, has a good chance of getting someone hurt.
Sin is like that. Even before we talk about the spiritual problems sin creates in ourselves, we must face the fact that sin always carries a high risk of causing direct harm to those engaged in it.
There is no responsible way to sin. The very act of engaging in sinful behaviors is gambling with your life, your health, your relationships and ultimately your soul.
There is no loving way to sin. When you sin, you are taking a chance on hurting others. The thrill you get from the behavior is at the risk of those you claim to care about. You are not only putting your soul in danger, but theirs as well.
There is no smart way to sin. The smart thing to do is to take the Bible’s advice: “As for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11; ESV) And if you have friends that are suggesting and urging you to participate, you really need to find a better quality of friend with which to spend time. (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:33)
If sin has plagued your life, there is a solution to be found in Christ. The church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.