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Sacrificing Game of Thrones

movie theaterAbout a year ago my wife and I thought we would try out the show Game of Thrones. The first episode of the first season was interesting enough. The plot was engaging and I could see it building into an interesting story, but the main thing I noticed was multiple nude scenes.

We watched another episode and promptly concluded that Game of Thrones was not OK for me to watch with my history of struggling with porn. The sacrifice wasn’t great on my part. I was certainly disappointed, but Jesus is worth it.

Several months ago, Cap Stewart published an article on his blog called Hollywood’s Secret Rape Culture that turned my stomach. Young actresses have been manipulated into nude scenes through means that would be considered rape if it weren’t broadcast on movie screens across the country.

He followed that up with another article asking, What About Actors the Willingly Undress for the Camera? Surely there are actors and actresses who do this without being manipulated. He compellingly argues that we are participating in an abusive relationship by sending our money to the studios and directors who pressure young men and women strip in front of a camera crew (and an ogling world).

These were very powerful arguments to me. Nudity is not simply about the harm I do to myself by viewing it, but also by the support I lend an abusive relationship by watching it. I am encouraging men and women to be abused by sending my money.

With these new convictions, I didn’t have to test my conscience with the new Godzilla film (that would have been tough). Then X-Men: Days of Future Past came out and on reviewing the film, I found that Hugh Jackman has a scene where he was nude on set.

Now the test had come, would I support a film where a man was asked to be nude on set. I do not struggle with same-sex attraction, so my own temptation is not a problem. It is of concern that Jennifer Lawrence plays Mystique who is a questionably nude character. Do I watch this film that very possibly pressured Hugh Jackman into nudity?

I decided that I could not, in good conscience, support this film.

Cue the parade, fireworks, and celebratory speeches. Everyone should now sing my praises as I have made this massive sacrifice for the Kingdom. God sure owes me now. I have sacrificed a whole movie to him. Yes, I took an entire motion picture and told God that he could decide whether I watched it or not. He is lucky to have a follower so dedicated.

I think this highlights one of the silliest parts of this debate about what films we should not watch for reasons of conscience. We as a people seem to think we are doing something extraordinary to give up an hour and a half of entertainment. If we can’t give up a movie for conscience sake, how will we ever take our cross and follow Jesus?!?

Part of the reason this is so difficult is our culture (and particularly our youth culture) places a premium on being relevant and  in touch with culture. We live in a day where failure to see a movie is perceived as being out of touch: irrelevant. No one wants to be irrelevant.

This argument is compelling only if we have idolized being relevant. Do you know what is relevant in all cultures at all times? Being delighted and delightful. How is this accomplished? Loving a delightful God. Certainly many who have not seen that God is sweet to be with will not understand why you would ever choose to give up a movie or money or comfort or you life. This will be mysterious to them. Why would you ever do that?

This is a very valuable question for them to ask.

The world does not need more cultured copies of itself wearing cross necklaces. No, the world needs a savior who loves it and died for it. Christian, we need to value holiness far more than relevance.

So my challenge to you is to say that you should not support any movie with any nudity. You are most likely supporting an abusive relationship. Yes, you will be odd and the conversation where you tell your friends that you can’t see that movie will be strained. It will have never occurred to them that this movie is harmful.

Not until you showed them.

We have a short life to live. If relevance and holiness are at odds, by all means leave relevance behind. Maybe, just maybe, God will be pleased to use your irrelevance to bring another sinner to Jesus.

As it turns out, a saved sinner is quite relevant in Heaven.

-Chip

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4 thoughts on “Sacrificing Game of Thrones

  1. You speak as if you know abuse. You do not, I can tell. I have heard the words of a child prostitute, sung operatically clear through the deep night. Whatever abuse there is in television, it pales in significance to the true abuse in the world at large.

    Yes, if you can, save someone. But look around you, I dare you. I daresay you can find someone within your church who is being abused (possibly by another churchgoer, even a pastor). Keep your eyes open for sin.

    • Mian,

      You are right to say that I have never been abused. I do not know that kind of suffering for myself. The pain in the world is much deeper than I can imagine.

      Also the abuse that happens in the broader world is much more serious than the abuse that happens in Hollywood. The girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, the child led to extermination at Auschwitz, the man dying alone of cancer, their suffering is greater than what would occur in front of a camera.

      My point is not that their suffering is equivalent, but that I should not finance the abusive relationships that occur in front of those cameras. Please don’t hear me saying that all suffering is equal, it is not. But the fact that there are more abusive relationships out there does not mean that these abusive relationships aren’t just that, abuse.

      Mian, the suffering you have seen is heartbreaking. Please don’t hear me minimizing the pain there.

      Thanks for your comment,

      Chip

  2. While I certainly respect your concerns about nudity in television and motion pictures, is your assertion that nudity in and of itself is worse than other elements we find in television and movies? Would Game Of Thrones been acceptable to watch without the nudity, but retaining its trademark violence? Study after study has shown that violence in television and movies is more damaging to our population than sex and nudity, yet because of our Puritanical roots in society, we somehow classify nudity as “dirty” and violence as a way of life. Which do you believe God finds more offensive? The portrayal of rampant violence in our television shows and movies, and the total disregard for the value of human life it instills, or 10 seconds of Hugh Jackman’s butt?

    • David,

      I appreciate your point. There are certainly limits to what violence is acceptable and what is not. I have never watched a Quentin Tarantino film partially because of the gore and violence.

      That said, there is no clear biblical statement against watching violence. There are clear commands about viewing nude women. This means it is a question of conscience. You have strong conscience problems with violence and you should not view it. You want to spread your view of violence as very harmful, by all means, preach that message.

      The focus of this article was not violence and I find much less clear evidence in the Bible that viewing violence is specifically a problem. i appreciate you bringing this up thought. You sure made me think about it, which is a great thing.

      -Chip

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