Would Jesus Watch “Game of Thrones?”

The news media briefly turned its attention to the Hit HBO series, “Game of Thrones” last week after US Senator Claire McCaskill (Dem, MO) tweeted that she was done watching the show because of a rape scene that aired on the most recent episode.

The news attention to Madam Senator’s comments and controversy it generated has “Game of Thrones” trending on whatever social media outlet you care to name, and I venture to guess that the extra publicity has done absolutely nothing to lower the show’s ratings. Matt Walsh weighed in (of course) feeling vindicated in his decision not to follow the show after the very first episode aired a scene of graphic incest. Other writers weigh in from a feminist viewpoint, others from a mixed feminist/artistic.

What is curious to me is that even those mainstream writers who condemn this particular scene are careful to point out that they are not trying to censor the show for being “edgy” or “controversial.” Hell forbid we attack the sacred cow of “artistic expression.” No, they are upset because it was “unnecessary” and the camera doesn’t focus on the victim, but on a third person observer. Basically, if the scene were even more graphic it would be artistically and feministically acceptable.

I, for one, and many others chose not to watch the show because we knew that, like other HBO shock series, graphic sex and violence were going to be a major part of the show. We were not wrong. In the show’s four seasons 133 characters died on screen in graphic, gruesome and violent ways. Four seasons, ten episodes a season, you do the math. According to IMDB there has been a scene of sex or nudity in every single episode in the first season, and between seven and nine out of ten of the more recent seasons.

The response from people defending the show has been equally loud. They point out (with some truth) that people who are up in arms about this scene are not very consistent. This is not the first sexual assault scene. Rape, incest, violence against women and children, and homosexual activity have been on the show since day one. The show’s advocate’s arguments range from, “the show needs to be realistic,” to “most fans don’t watch it for the sex” to “I suppose you think we should all go back to watching ‘Leave it to Beaver’,” to “It’s just entertainment. It isn’t real.”

So would Jesus watch “Game of Thrones?”

Usually when an older person asks “Would you be doing this if Jesus was in the room?” it is a rhetorical question. That is, the person asking already knows the answer he or she expects, and so does the person being asked. I want to ask the question as a real question. Would Jesus watch “Game of Thrones?”

Well, at the outset I find it hard to imagine Jesus watching any TV shows. I think He was most likely too busy. Remember, this is the Jesus who spent three years wandering around preaching and teaching and healing the sick, and who had to pull away into the wilderness at night in order to get time to pray. I just don’t think He would have had the time. During His private family life I think He most likely would have enjoyed spending time with family and friends more, and if He did enjoy TV it would probably be as a social activity.

Cain Slaying Abel, by Jacopo Palma, 1590
Cain Slaying Abel, by Jacopo Palma, 1590

Do you think Jesus would restrict Himself to “I Love Lucy” and “Andy Griffith?” I don’t think so. In fact I am quite certain He would not, since we know for a fact that the one book which He absolutely did read, did in fact contain all of the objectionable content that makes “Game of Thrones” so controversial. Even a casual familiarity with the Old Testament reveals that it is full of sex and violence. Since many people are not even casually familiar with the Old Testament, let me help you out. In the Bible you will find:

I could go on with murder, fratricide, genocide, adultery, misogyny and general cruelty, stupidity and ignorance, with the difference that, unlike “Game of Thrones” these are not “just entertainment.” Unfortunately they are history. They really happened

There is a word for all of this.

It is called Sin.

With that pointed out, let us re-ask the question: would Jesus watch “Game of Thrones?” Of course, He would. He does. That is the meaning of the Incarnation, that God had mercy on our helpless enslavement to the endless cycle of misery, addiction, oppression and despair, and so He became one of us. He descended to our level to bear our sins. Does Jesus watch our sins? He became our sins!

For our sake He made Him to be sin, who knew no sin…

— 2 Corinthians 5:21a

But let us not forget the rest of the passage…

So that in Him we might become the righteousness of God!

— 2 Corinthians 5:21b

Jesus watches everything we watch. That was what Gethsemane and the sweat and blood were all about. He was watching. He was with us. Yes, Jesus does watch “Game of Thrones.” He watches the weekly celebrations of degrading sex and pointless violence. He watches those who are watching it, filling their souls with the darkness, gradually numbing themselves and telling themselves, “It’s not real, it’s just entertainment.” He is with the actors and actresses embedding themselves in an imaginary world of power, oppression and lust, and making that world come alive. He watches all of that, as a parent might watch a teenage son go off the deep end, powerless to prevent it.

Jesus also watches porn. He watches it as it is made, as the participants brutalize and degrade each other, as the producers and purveyors profit off of the enslavement of others. He watches the addicts in their rooms with the lights off. He watches the children coerced, tricked and bribed into selling their bodies in front of cameras.

Jesus watches slavery. He is with the children in sweat shops, in brothels, in orchards and mines and rebel armies. Jesus watches the real violence, the real rape, the real sexual perversions, the real power-lust, and then, as if the real sin wasn’t enough, He watches us make up stories showcasing and glorifying all of those things. It isn’t enough that it happens in real life. It isn’t enough that we have to watch it on the news, (and do nothing) but we also apparently have to imagine new ways of doing evil, and act them out, and watch other people acting them out, and it had better be “realistic!”

This we call “entertainment!”

He watches, and He feels, and He bears and suffers all of that and cries out, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me!”

He doesn’t want to see it, or feel it. He only watches because He loves us, and because He knows we can never cast off the darkness and come to the light on our own, unless He submits to the Father’s will, and bears the darkness for us. So He does.

So the answer is, Yes. Jesus would watch Game of Thrones. He does watch it, and it makes Him sweat drops of blood. We can safely watch it when we can watch it with His heart, which is one of love and compassion and willingness to lay down our lives to end the evil so graphically portrayed.

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