Why I Returned to Game of Thrones

Josh Pease

Josh Pease
June 23, 2016

I had thought Game of Thrones was unrelentingly nihilistic. But now I see how it speaks to our own wounded Westeros.

June 24, 2016

Welcome Back! :) Love GoT!

Brian Pierson
June 24, 2016

Great post. (For the record, I'm not a GoT fan.)

Jr. Forasteros
June 24, 2016

You should read the chapter on GoT in Alissa Wilkinson's excellent new book. Westeros aches for Apocalypse.

June 24, 2016

I was a fan, but I struggled with the nudity and the Holy Spirit convicted to stop watching it as it wasn't good for my heart. This was just a few weeks after I gave up on The Walking Dead. Once again the Spirit lead me to let go of that graphic show, this one leaning towards violence.

June 25, 2016

JR: I'm reading that book right now!

Stacy: I hear you & think about that question often. As you imply I'm not sure if there's a definitive right and wrong there, but a sensitivity to God's prompting. Good on you for listening.

In terms of Walking Dead: I would argue that is - by far - the more nihilistic show at this point. It also has really plodding storytelling and characters I have a hard time caring about.

June 26, 2016

I've read several of your article Josh and appreciate your insights. But I don't understand how you can watch programs like GOT. I started to watch and was immediately confronted with graphic nudity. So I stopped. It sounds like there are great plots and characters in this series but I'd like to know how you justify exposing yourself to such graphic sex scenes?
I'm sincerely asking you how do you do this considering the example of Psalms 101:3I will "set nothing wicked before my eyes;"?. Please understand I'm not condemning you. I just would like to hear your reasons in the face of what the scripture tells us in this and other passages about exposing ourselves to scenes like the ones portrayed in GOT.


June 29, 2016

Um Josh I'm actually waiting for your response to Bob and I would like to hear your reasoning. You didn't really give a good answer to Stacy's comment either. I'm not condemning, but my co-workers know me pretty well and tell me I shouldn't watch it because of the graphic nudity and violence. I could give plenty more scriptures than just Psalms 101:31. Such an easy thing not to watch, but I guess that great storytelling is something you just can't stay away from.

June 29, 2016

He doesn't have to answer to you about inquiring why he's watching the show. Maybe he doesn't have convictions about the nudity and sex (which has diminished significantly in the most recent season) and so he's capable of engaging with it from a missional perspective.

Quote me Psalms and Proverbs all you want, but they're not prescriptive. I watch the show and don't struggle with it as much as the next person. That does NOT mean I will flippantly tell all my Christ-following friends to all go out and watch (Read: 1 Corinthians 8)

June 30, 2016

It's a simple question, I would just like to hear his reasoning. Also I know 1 Corinthians and comparing food to watching sex and nudity not sure that's a good one Kel maybe you have a better scripture? So I can start reading Playboy and other sex stuff from a mission perspective or for the articles? I could also give you many scriptures from Jesus himself on the subject, but you seem to be telling me it's all ok as long as I'm good with it and I don't have that conviction. Why do my co-workers who aren't Christian at all in any way tell me I shouldn't watch it. Do they know something you don't?

Josh Pease
June 30, 2016

Kel/David/Bob: they're all fair questions and Kel, your point about "not telling all Christians to go watch it" is probably the hardest for me to respond to. The truth is I am fairly careful recommending it to people one-on-one but I suppose within the context of this site there's a certain presumed asterisk of "might have material you find objectionable." Since there's plenty of places to find that info out - and since this site is about cultural engagement ... and since I have a word limit - I tend to skip past elaborating on that. However this conversation will make me reconsider that.

David/Bob: sorry for the delay. I've been on vacation this past week.

While I agree there are general principles in the Bible about what we do and don't watch, applying those is tough and very subjective. For instance I grew up in a church where the pastor publicly proclaimed The Simpsons as being evil and anyone who watched it as sinful. I ... well let's just say I disagree with that assessment. But that was his belief, based on passages like the one you quoted or the "whatever things are pure" passage.

That doesn't mean those verses lose all relevance but it does mean knowing what to do with them is tough.

For a long time Game of Thrones sat on the edge of acceptability for me, not just because of sexual content but because of how hopeless and bleak it all seemed. Generally I've stuck with it because I actually do find numerous places within the show that make me think, inspire me, or challenge how I view the world in a positive way.

As for the sexual content I'll simply say this: I know many people who watch in many ways. Some avert their eyes. Some fast forward. Some don't seem to struggle much with it in terms of temptation.

I also think it's completely possible that what might be okay for one person isn't for another. I also acknowledge my position on this could change, although as Kel points out the show has gotten less sexually explicit - and more hopeful - over time.

Thanks for the comments. Appreciate the engagement.

July 1, 2016

Josh I want to thank you for responding. I know you don't have to, but you did write the article so why not give us some feedback. I also really appreciate your honesty. Sometimes things such as this are a little gray, but trying to make excuses or backing with biblical theology just doesn't work. I don't think watching a show is going to cause any real damage, but if I talked to Stacy or Bob about it and they are somewhat offended I wouldn't hesitate to stop. Just be open to that as well. I'm not a prude, but as I said my co-workers said it's not good for someone like me well then I respect them enough to say no. Just wanted to know why another person of faith would give it a nod to watch from what I've heard from them.

Bob Maddux
July 1, 2016

I gave you the wrong reference from Psalms in my post. It should have been Psalm 101:3. I'm a writer and t.v. and film producer. I don't produce them but I've seen R rated movies from time to time but I've often been grieved by what I've had to see. I know for some of my friends in the industry that it's not an issue, which I still can't understand. Some of them even make horror films with nudity and I don't understand how they can do that. I've been using Vidangel lately which allows you to edit what you watch. There are a lot of excellent movies which are well produced but I never see them because of content that I don't want to be exposed to. Now I can with this feature on my computer. Thanks Josh for giving your heart felt answer. I'm thankful for you blogs and this site. Keep up the good work.

October 17, 2016

Think about it. If you're watching the show, you're implicitly endorsing the sin of the women who sell themselves to this way and indirectly contributing to the incentivization of these women to be involved in more on-screen nudity.

Having said that, there aren't many shows on TV nowadays that don't involve the actors sinning on screen, so I suppose no one is pure enough to cast the first stone.

January 27, 2017

Hi Josh,
I appreciate your perspective on other reasons to watch GOT. I recently started reading the books and LOVE the story, but have been hesitant to watch the show because of How easily affected I am by nudity/sex scenes I see. A friend of mine suggested fast forwarding through them. Would I miss essential plot information or is sex so ingrained in the show that it is difficult to keep up with the show without also intaking the pornographic elements? Appreciate your insight, thanks!

May 21, 2017

The big problem I have wit the story that nags at me is that Dany is the mother of dragons. This to me means she is a reptilian, and just like hellywood always does, they like to make the truly evil ones in this world the victors. I won't be watching anymore.

Avinash Sarma
July 24, 2017

Hi Josh,
Greetings from India. Hope you are doing well. I have no problem if anybody watches be it a Christian or a non-christian to watch GOT. It is choice we make. However, I want make a few points about what you wrote and counter it with the Word of God. Proverbs 4:23-'Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.' Why would the word of God say guard our heart because everything flows from it. When we watch something like GOT which is filled with nudity, sex and violence how can be it good for our heart? In Matthew 15:19 Jesus say' For out of the heart come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.' So whatever we are mediating on will bear fruit in our heart and come out. Romans 12:2 to renew our minds with Word of God not the patterns of the World. Colossians 3:2 says 'Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.'

Our Philosophy is based on the way the word thinks or the word of God. I am not condemning you but we do not need to watch GOT to tells us about the World we live is a fallen World. Read the Bible (Which I am sure you do), it shows you we live in a fallen World.
Like a great bible teacher once said we We cannot flush our minds the sewage of the World and think we will get closer to God.
In End I want tell that I do not know you, however as brother in Christ will like to tell you be careful what you let into your heart. Go to Christ he will help you. Another question if Christ is in the living room with you will be able watch GOT with Him?
God bless you and may His will be done in your life.
Regards, Avinash

Peggy Muller
July 29, 2017

I appreciate this article and the thread of comments. I started watching the show because my adult children who are in their late teens and early twenties asked me to. They enjoy the show and wanted to know what I think. Yes the show has sex. We made a pact to fast forward the sex scenes. The show is gritty and violent. Given GOT utilizes English history as a reference for the world GOT creates, the Medieval era was gritty and violent. While it is hard to watch how women are treated, there is also a realism to this aspect. Young girls from royal families were political pawns used by their families to forge partnerships and/or curry royal favor. While the show is not about a real place, it has a flavor of real history as ugly as that history may be. On a final note, if one were to take some of the characters and story lines from the Bible, would such a show be any less violent or graphic? I am certainly not making that suggesting. It just makes me wonder if those who have a problem with the show have actually read the Bible?

Natalie Herbert
August 9, 2017

I am a Christian and I watch the show and LOVE it! I don't look at any of the sex scenes,I fast forward all of that because I watch the show ONLY for the amazing sceneries, characters and the plot and reality of brokenness and how we need to be wise and careful..just like Josh was saying. I honestly just take the good out of it and love the great work put into the series..all of the details. I have watched some of the Walking Dead but the Holy Spirit makes me feel heaviness when I watch it so I stopped. But as for game of thrones, I feel peace because I don't struggle with lust and I guard myself just in case by skipping all of the inappropriate scenes that are part of the show sometimes. But really though, it's such an amazing show. NED STARK reminded me of Jesus, how he was innocent and was condemned, simply for trying to save his daughters..and how he was killed when he only sought for what was right and just..wow. anyway God bless you all. I just wanted to share my personal opinion and thoughts. :-)

Michael Turner
September 5, 2017

The issue here is not GOT. It is so many people justifying watching the programme. I have found that giving an account of my actions, is that I am actually feeling guilty in what I have been doing. As for leaders and conservative Christians watching GOT. Well as Paul said. He that thinks he is standing firm may end up falling. Jesus is the only example. There is not many Christians out there that live a spirit filled that God intended them live. That I have see anyway. My non Christian friends agree with this opinion. This debate is an indication of where the church is today, certain where I live in the United it is. God bless you all in the Game. Michael xxx

September 22, 2017

I am Christian who is watching the Game of Thrones and I have read some of the legalistic comments. I too, wonder if those making such comments have actually read the Bible. I had a two hour conversation with my 18 year old son about the series and it was one of the best conversations we have ever had. We talked about what it means to be honorable and how brokenness leads to humility. Many of today's Christian leaders do not preach from a place of brokenness and see the world as black and white. The Bible is full of gray and clearly demonstrates the inner struggle that all Christians go through throughout their life. Even Paul called himself "unspiritual" and "wretched". Just read Romans 7:15-25. What we need in our churches today is less righteous talk and more rigorous honesty (like Paul) about our own personal struggles. We all struggle just like the characters in the Game of Thrones and redemption is possible (through Christ) for anyone, no matter what you have done in the past. Redemption IS a theme in the GOT series. And I completely respect those who do not watch it because of those same struggles or because of personal convictions. But don't judge those who do.

February 19, 2019

I’m going to be completely honest. This article was so discouraging to read. As a young, Christian woman I am shocked that so many of my generation are turning their eyes from the Word to submerge themselves in a story. I understand many viewers watch this program for the plot, HOWEVER, within the plot (within the very first episode) you find yourself looking at completely naked women, watching graphic sex scenes...you are watching porn with an in-depth story.
Would you allow your children to watch this show? My guess is probably not. Not only for the violence everyone is talking about, but you definitely wouldn’t want your sons and daughters being influenced by the sexual content.
No man (or even woman) can say , in confidence, that they think God would be okay with them watching such a show.
I know I am taking the risk of sounding self-righteous here. I apologize for my tone. I’m mostly just in shock that I’m reading an article written by a pastor, a husband, and a father.
Do you think your eyes seeing countless sex scenes and naked women won’t impact your wife’s self-image? Do you think your guard is up and you’re ready to defend your family , both home and church, against wickedness when submerging yourself so deeply in one of the worst parts of our culture?
Again, I understand that many viewers really do just love the characters and the story, but WHO DO YOU WORSHIP? God? Or Game of Thrones?
Could you sit down on the couch with Jesus the Christ and turn on Game of Thrones? Because you are. But what if you actually saw Him?
There’s a reason rooms get awkward when you’re sitting down watching a tv show with your parents and all of a sudden the characters are naked or there are multiple crude comments/jokes made. It’s because it’s wrong and you don’t want to be in that company while viewing such content!
I realize I’m not referencing any scripture here but I’m being very intentional. Scripture can be taken out of context too well.
If anyone is reading this, please pay attention to the themes of the Bible and you’ll quickly see that we are NOT meant to be watching such things. We need to be set apart. We are the people of God and will fail at expanding the Body if we allow ourselves to be entertained by such evil.
Thank you to anyone that has read this. Once more, I apologize for my tone and truly do understand that intentions are not bad when people defend this show and watch it. Please know my intentions are good in writing this and are coming from a place of sisterly love.

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