Game of Thrones and Christian Puritans

I recently stumbled upon an article published by the Gospel Coalition’s Facebook page entitled “I don’t Get it” about how the author cannot understand how and why Christians can enjoy watching Game of Thrones in good conscience.

[ https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/kevindeyoung/2017/08/08/i-dont-understand-christians-watching-game-of-thrones/ ]

The Author admits that he has never watched ANY game of Thrones episode, so his criticism comes entirely from hearsay. He also admits that the most popular responses from Christians to his question include the show’s superb storytelling, vivid characters and epic setting. Yet he basically ignores all of this, and says that Christians cannot watch such a show in scriptural conformity because it has graphic sexual scenes, and has maintained such scenes throughout the seasons.

I dissent.

First, this angers me that Christians on respected forums are writing what amounts to “fake-news” articles on art and culture. It is morally and intellectually wrong to criticize something without knowing the subject matter. If the Author had actually watched even some of Game of Thrones and then had the same arguments, he might have points worth listening to. But arguments from ignorance ought never to come from a Christian.

Second, his argument is actually factually incorrect, at least in part. Due to complaints by the cast, the directors have reduced the number of on-screen nudity involving main cast characters. Though some scenes still show nudity, it is not as much as was shown in the early seasons.

Third, shall Christians forebear something because it is not 100% pure? The Author argues that it is sinful to look upon nakedness like this. His implication is that it is too tempting and gratuitous, and will arouse lustful thoughts/desires in the viewers. However, the author completely misses the point of the nudity in many of the scenes, and the overall context they have in Game of Thrones.

One of the things which makes GoT so attractive to audiences is its unflinching portrayal of the world and the characters in it. This is not a world of pure saints and ravaging devils, though there is perhaps one character who has honor above the rest and several who are despicable beyond measure. Anyone, no matter how integral to the “plot”, may be killed off unexpectedly. Religion is revered by many simple people, and some hallowed ones. Political power is wielded rightly and harshly by different people.

In short: the show portrays life as it really is. And it does so very well: intricately and in all the nuanced ways that make an excellent character study for how people can choose to live their lives. Honor is not always rewarded; cruelty sometimes conquers love, the wealthy are sometimes oppressive, sometimes benevolent.

Tyrion_1_3295189b

Tyrion Lannister, a Wealthy aristocrat who transforms from being a hedonist to a man of purpose as the show progresses.

This is good storytelling because it’s what people in real life actually experience; It’s a mirror by which the audience can safely see the world around them, filtered through a fantastical lens.

 

As for the sex; sex is as much a part of the human condition as power, love, lust, mercy or cruelty. While the show did have some very gratuitous scenes, most of them actually gave insight to the characters in them.

Demanding 100% purity in the narrative is actually not desirable because it does not show accurately what these settings were like, how the characters thought, and what motivated them (yes, sex can be a powerful motivator, just ask Helen of Troy or King David).

bible0069

The Sons of Benjamin stealing women for forced marriages, book of Judges. Gustave Dore.

Even the Bible doesn’t remove these aspects from its stories. The Bible is replete with incest (Absalom and his sister), fornication (Samson), multiple-wives (Solomon and David), Adultery (David) and homosexuality (Sodom and Gomorrah).

Nowhere does the Bible endorse any of this of course. But neither does Game of Thrones.

Perhaps instead of complaining about why some Christians are actually attracted to good art and storytelling, the author should ask why Christian critics and artists seem so inept at producing it.

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