Mr. DeYoung – Here’s Why Christians Watch Game of Thrones

Kevin DeYoung recently penned a short blog post over at The Gospel Coalition expressing how he doesn’t understand how many conservative Christians give Game of Thrones a free pass. He raises an additionally fair question to those of John Piper, who raised a set of rhetorical questions to demonstrate the resounding “no” of their proposed, hardened hearts.

Articles abound on the correlation between pornography and Game of Thrones. Mr. DeYoung is quite correct: all one must do is type in a Google search and read the headlines. Yet the sad reality is that this is not an isolated instance; Christians watch all sorts of things under the auspices of entertainment that are simply unfitting for the command to avoid every hint of sexual immorality. Game of Thrones certainly isn’t the only sexually explicit show I find many Christians buzzing about on the internet.

So why add my voice to the mix? Why write yet another blog post that addresses the topic of sexuality in entertainment when so many Christians will read it and offer a hand-wave at best? Perhaps I am simply a glutton for punishment – but earnestly, my hope is that by approaching this from a slightly different set of propositions, some might be convinced to finally turn from this sin.

I was speaking with a friend last night during dinner, about the text of Romans 12:1-2 wherein Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

What we paused on for a brief time is that this conformity to this world takes on both an active and a passive role. There are some ways we actively choose conformity to the sinful patterns of behavior and thought that this world holds dear – and then there are ways where this world has the ability to “press us into the mold.” There are ways this happens without us even being cognizant of this process.

Think of it like this: I’m an American. I think and act like an American in many ways – yet don’t necessarily notice the cultural presuppositions and ideologies I hold until I am confronted with another set of opposing ideals. When I meet with a person from half-way across the globe, it is very apparent to both of us that I am not like they are, though we may share a great deal in common.

This is precisely the same thing we must think about in relation to our personal holiness and the choices we make. We are beings sown in sin – and sin has a very real, very tangible manner with which it produces death in us. Yet we are now in Christ; the old self has been put to the cross – so there ought not to be this production of death in us, but life. We ought to be about the business of carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed.

There is not only a vested interest for us to pursue holiness, but a manner by which we can actually see the stark difference of our sinful nature in opposition to the perfectly holy nature of the God whom we serve. It is in this that we make our abode, so that we might present ourselves as an offering to God, one that is living (continual), holy (set apart), and acceptable (well-pleasing). By the grace of Christ, we are not only made aware of our own nature and willful conformity to this dying age, but we can be actively transformed by the renewal of our minds so that the passive conformity we undergo can also be corrected.

Yet this little section in the book of Romans is an incredibly pivotal moment; it stands at the precipice of Paul’s gospel. The former chapters of the book are stressing the indicative side (the factual reality) while the latter chapters will express the imperative side (the commands in light of that reality). Paul’s “therefore” in 12:1 stands then as a marker in the text to bring to mind all of what has just been discussed in chaps. 1-11. It is simply making the point that in light of what Christ has done – you now must walk in this manner because it expresses that reality and equips you to further walk in that reality.

For what purpose? Worship. It is all about worship and glorification of God. That is the terms Paul speaks in here – and the terms Scripture speaks of all throughout the Scriptures. The Westminster Confession of Faith sums it beautifully by ascribing man’s chief end: we are to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Yet I sense this is the crux of the issue; we don’t want to embody the fullness of the implications of this in our life.

We aren’t all that concerned about whether or not watching a show like Game of Thrones expresses the embodiment of loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind – and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We aren’t all that concerned about whether or not watching a show like Game of Thrones expresses the embodiment of a living, holy, and well-pleasing sacrifice. We aren’t all that concerned about the expression of our worship in every facet of our lives. Yes – this is a battle for all Christians, but there must actually be some semblance of a battle!

I earnestly believe we Christians tend to think trite thoughts of God. We think trite thoughts of His holiness. We think trite thoughts of the crucified Christ. Is it any wonder then that we likewise think trite thoughts of personal holiness and moral virtue? Is it any wonder that we’ve lost a sense of gravity to the cost of Christ’s sacrifice through the routine, deadening of the conscience?

There is a fundamental difference between the one thrust into the reality of a sinful world where he/she must battle against the things presented before them – and the one who willingly invests their time and money into things which are simply not fit for one bearing the name “Christian”. I just wonder in this discussion: at what point? At what point will Christians stop trying to find the line to toe and simply make the decision that even if there are filtering devices, the ability to fast-forward and/or avert the eyes, etc., there are some things worth abstaining from altogether? At what point will we seek the sacrifice instead of the gratification – even in the “small” things?

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  • A J MacDonald Jr

    The cares of the world choke out the fruit of many believers.

    • Denny

      yep

  • J.L

    Wow. This was really thoughtful and helpful. Thanks for adding your voice to the “fray.”

  • fights

    We had numerous Christian friends who were watching so we tried for about 6 episodes. I just couldn’t be part of it and I felt that even fast forwarding through the sex parts was somehow still supporting the show and its producers.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I don’t follow how Romans 12 has any bearing whatsoever on whether Christians should watch a TV series with sexual content. In so far as Romans 12:2 says not to conform to the spirit of the times, Paul states in v3 that this means not being overly high-minded and instead be temperate and self-controlled (a good example of which might be not getting too high minded and judgemental about their television viewing?) and he goes on to state this means dealing with each other in love in this way in exercising spiritual gifts (including prophesying and teaching). How this relates to how Christians should or should not take an evening off to relax in front of the TV is beyond me.
    It is also a troubling sign of twisted priorities that in TV series full of graphic violence and brutalities it is the nude scenes that bother you. If you think what Christians are watching on television is that important, when did sex become a worse sin than violence and hatred in the teachings of Christ?
    NB In the Greek I am not at all sure that the hekasto “to each” in verse 3 attaches to the “measure of faith” given out by God, since this leaves the hos (“according to the measure of”) without a point of comparison. If “to each” were attached to “be temperate and self controlled” the verse would read “be temperate and self controlled to each according to the measure of faith God has allotted”, which would fit better with the rest of the chapter, be more relevant to the foregoing discussion about those who do or do not comply with Jewish law and be parallel to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 8 on food sacrificed to idols.

  • Tiny J

    Game of Thrones sucks.