This will not be a long post. Because the issue doesn’t seem all that complicated.
I don’t understand Christians watching Game of Thrones.
Whenever there is a new episode, my Twitter feed overflows with people talking about Game of Thrones. First off, I’m always amazed that this many people have HBO. But second, and much more importantly, I’m always amazed that a number of people I respect—smart people, serious Christians, good conservative thinkers—are obviously watching (and loving) the series.
True, I haven’t seen it. Not an episode. Not a scene. I hardly know anything about the show. I know many people consider it absolutely riveting—full of compelling characters, an engrossing story, and excellent acting, writing, and aesthetics.
But isn’t it also full of sex? Like lots and lots of incredibly graphic sex? I did a Google search for “Game of Thrones sex” and found headlines (I avoided images and only read headlines) about sex scenes you can’t un-see and the best sex scenes of the series and why Game of Thrones is so committed to nudity and explicit (sometimes violent) sex. Unless I’m mistaken, the series hasn’t taken a turn toward modesty in recent months. It seems to me sensuality—of a very graphic nature—is a major part of the series. And still, a good number of conservative Christians treat the series as must-see TV.
I don’t get it.
I won’t repeat what John Piper has already written. His twelve questions are well worth asking, not only for this show, but for all our entertainment choices. I just want to ask one other question: Does anyone really think that when Jesus warned against looking at a woman lustfully (Matt. 5:27), or when Paul told us to avoid every hint of sexual immorality and not even to speak of the things the world does in secret (Eph. 5:3-12), that somehow this meant, go ahead and watch naked men and women have (or pretend to have) sex?
I know some people will say it doesn’t bother their conscience or that it’s art or they can view sinful sex without participating in it themselves. But that doesn’t change what the Bible says about the importance of purity and the power of the eye. The fact is our consciences should be smitten; steamy sex scenes are not the kind of art for which we can give thanks; and it’s hard to imagine Paul would have been cool with the believers in Ephesus watching simulated sex for a fee each month, so long as they don’t hook up in real life.
I don’t expect those who are strangers to the light to be bothered by the darkness. But for conservative Christians who care about marriage and immorality and decency in so many other areas, it is baffling that Game of Thrones gets a free pass. “Look carefully then how you walk,” is God’s word to all of us, “not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).