Should Christians Watch 'Game of Thrones'? John Piper, Kevin DeYoung Respond

( [email protected] ) Aug 08, 2017 01:07 PM EDT
August 8, 2017: Two prominent pastors - Kevin DeYoung and John Piper - weigh in on whether Christians can watch Game of Thrones in good conscience.
HBO's "Game of Thrones" shattered records by snagging 10.1 million viewers for its Season 7 premiere last month. HBO

Game of Thrones (GoT) - HBO's groundbreaking show - has remained one of the most talk-about series in TV history since hitting the big screen in 2011.

And it's only getting more popular: 8.89 million watched the Season 6 finale in June 2016, and the series shattered records by snagging 10.1 million viewers for its Season 7 premiere last month. One TV critic went as far as to call GoT the "Greatest Show in the History of Television."

But can one be a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ and watch Game of Thrones - which features copious amounts of nudity and sex scenes - in good conscience? Two prominent pastors - John Piper and Kevin DeYoung - say no.

"I don't understand Christians watching Game of Thrones," DeYoung, author and senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church, bluntly stated in a recent op-ed published on The Gospel Coalition website.

Although admitting he's never watched the fantastical show, DeYoung said he's aware that sensuality "of a very graphic nature is a major part of the series" - yet many Christians still "treat the series as must-see TV."

DeYoung asked: "Does anyone really think that when Jesus warned against looking at a woman lustfully (Matt. 5:27), or when Paul told us to avoid every hint of sexual immorality and not even to speak of the things the world does in secret (Eph. 4:3-12), that somehow this meant, go ahead and watch naked men and women have (or pretend to have) sex?"

The pastor acknowledged that some will say they can view sinful sex without participating in it themselves. However, he argued that doesn't change what the Bible says about the importance of purity and the power of the eye.

"The fact is our consciences should be smitten; steamy sex scenes are not the kind of art for which we can give thanks; and it's hard to imagine Paul would have been cool with the believers in Ephesus watching simulated sex for a fee each month, so long as they don't hook up in real life," DeYoung asserted.

"I don't expect those who are strangers to the light to be bothered by the darkness. But for conservative Christians who care about marriage and immorality and decency in so many other areas, it is baffling that Game of Thrones gets a free pass."

In 2014, Piper made headlines when he suggested that watching GoT is akin to "recrucifying Christ".

"It is an absolute travesty of the cross to treat it as though Jesus died only to forgive us for the sin of watching nudity, and not to purify us for the power not to watch it," he wrote in an op-ed published on

"If we choose to endorse or embrace or enjoy or pursue impurity, we take a spear and ram it into Jesus's side every time we do. He suffered to set us free from impurity."

Piper asked Christians to consider whether what they are indulging in advances or hinders their holiness and purity: "Nudity in movies and photos is not holy and does not advance our holiness. It is unholy and impure," he said.

He urged men to ask themselves this question whenever they are tempted to knowingly tune in to nudity: "Would I be glad if my daughter played this role?"

The pastor said in answer to his own question: "Most Christians are hypocrites in watching nudity because, on the one hand they say by their watching that this is okay, and on the other hand they know deep down they would not want their daughter or their wife or their girlfriend to be playing this role. That is hypocrisy."

Piper contended that Jesus's words in Matthew 5 - if your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out - speak into exactly this kind of issue.

"If Jesus told us to guard our hearts by gouging out our eyes to prevent lust, how much more would he say: 'Don't watch it!'" he advised

He concluded by pointing people back to their consciences and a verse he says makes life really "very simple" - Romans 14:32: "But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."

"My paraphrase: If you doubt, don't. That would alter the viewing habits of millions, and oh how sweetly they would sleep with their conscience," he said. "So I say it again. Join me in the pursuit of the kind of purity that sees God, and knows the fullness of joy in his presence and the everlasting pleasure at his right hand."

Tags : Game of Thrones, Kevin DeYoung, HBO, John Piper