For as long as entertainment has been around, Christians have discussed (and argued) about how to best engage with it and where to draw the line.
It can be tricky to apply biblical wisdom in a way that is not legalistic.
I’ve been guilty in the past of adding rules to the Christian life not set out in Scripture–and have been called on it (thank the Lord for those brothers!). But I have also seen people exercise biblical wisdom to things–and then be called legalists instead of the wise God-fearers that they are.
The recent HBO show Game of Thrones has created a debate among Christians due to its high amounts of sexuality and nudity. In a recent article 12 Questions to Ask Before You Watch Game of Thrones, John Piper exercises biblical wisdom in dealing with this show and the issues that arise. (I highly recommend you read the entire article or listen to the Ask Pastor John episode on SoundCloud below.)
I’m not up with the times when it comes to TV and movies (that ship has sailed a long time ago!) and I’ve never seen the show Game of Thrones, but I do know a lot of Christians watch it. I find Dr. Piper’s biblical argumentation compelling and convicting not only for Game of Thrones, but for any type of entertainment filled with nudity and sexuality.
Below are three highlights from the article with a couple thoughts of my own marked in italics and with an asterisk*.
5. Am I Longing to See God?
I want to see and know God as fully as possible in this life and the next. Watching nudity is a huge hindrance to that pursuit. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The defilement of the mind and heart by watching nudity dulls the heart’s ability to see and enjoy God. I dare anyone to watch nudity and turn straight to God and give him thanks and enjoy him more because of what you just experienced.
8. Am I Assuming Nudity Can Be Faked?
Nudity is not like murder and violence on the screen. Violence on a screen is make-believe; nobody really gets killed. But nudity is not make-believe. These actresses are really naked in front of the camera, doing exactly what the director says to do with their legs and their hands and their breasts. And they are naked in front of millions of people to see.
*(Let me add that adulterers will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:10) and that our choices in “entertainment” can consist of people performing deeds that will damn them forever. Such a terribly tragic thing that should not entertain–but make us mourn.)
11. Am I Craving Acceptance?
Christians do not watch nudity with a view to maximizing holiness. That is not what keeps them coming back to the shows. They know deep down that these television shows or these movies are shot through with the commendation and exaltation of attitudes and actions that are utterly out of step with the death to self and out of step with exaltation of Christ.
No, what keeps those Christians coming back is the fear that if they take Christ at his word and make holiness as serious as I am saying it is, they would have to stop seeing so many television shows and so many movies, and they would be viewed as freakish. And that today is the worst evil of all. To be seen as freakish is a much greater evil than to be unholy.
*(A couple of verses to keep in mind: Romans 12:2’s “do not be conformed to this world…” and James 4:4 that says, “…Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” We should be concerned about pleasing God with all of our thoughts and actions, not people.)