As if it couldn’t get enough publicity with that finale, Game of Thrones has made the news after prominent evangelical pastor John Piper claimed that to watch the show is to re-crucify Christ. Not mincing your words there, are you Pastor John?
HBO, the production giants behind Game of Thrones, announced that its flagship show was the biggest in the company’s history. This is no mean feat considering it has the privilege of boasting a back catalogue including The Sopranos, The Wire, Sex & the City and Curb Your Enthusiasm. So for Game of Thrones to be dubbed, neigh, knighted, the biggest of them all, shows the magnitude of the series.
John Piper responded to a few questions from regular readers about the content of the fantasy drama on his podcast. His response was transcribed into a blog post on his site, Desiring God. It resulted in a 12-point question guide for Christians to ask before watching the show.
So how do we respond to Pastor John’s post? Option 1 – throw the toys out of the pram: ‘That’s just great. Now I can’t watch my favourite show. Thanks, John.’ Option 2 – Reject the premise because you reject his thoughts on other issues: ’He’s old and believes in a form of church leadership that I don’t believe in. Therefore everything he says is rubbish.’ Option 3 – critically engage.
My first response to his case was one of annoyance. I was going to have to challenge a part of my life that had been comfortable. It’s funny how we hold certain things back from submission to Jesus, isn’t it? We honestly and earnestly offer our lives to Christ with two open hands, and then something like this comes along and we realise that one hand has actually been behind our backs.
So Pastor John probably has a point.
There’s one issue he didn’t really talk about though. Our children. As millennials, we are often dubbed the most narcissistic generation of all time. Considering those who come after us might therefore be somewhat of a struggle. (For the record, I don’t believe we are; we’re just self-confident.) It’s obvious, but society today is significantly different to what it was 20, or even 10 years ago.
It’s hard to imagine Game of Thrones being on the silver screen before the last few years. What constitutes a 12, 15 or 18 seems to be based on a more liberal scale than the same age restrictions from the last few decades. What is now considered normal was once abnormal. New standards have been set for typical television.
When you grow up in any given context, you don’t begin to ask questions until late teenage/early adult years; the current generation thinks of now. We have a biblical responsibility to think of who comes after us. My wife is pregnant with our first child, so I’m forced into thinking about the kind of world I want them to grow up in. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that world to be one that perpetuates TV shows and movies that are full of rape, mutilation, torture, incest and extreme sexual violence. I don’t want that to be normal.
We stand on the shoulders of our forefathers; what was their ceiling is our floor. Our ceiling will be our children’s floor. This is a wonderful picture of possibility. Our children have the possibility to achieve more than we ever will. But the depravity of this generation also provides foundations for their floor too.
Silence is acceptance. Critical engagement is vital. Let’s consider the trajectory that our actions today will take. Being a part of the ‘in Christ Jesus’ story means we have the authority of heaven to say what is right and wrong. What kind of world will we create for those who follow us?