Unless you’re living under a rock (or the proverbial bushel), it’s impossible to have missed the phenomenon that is Game of Thrones. Part fantasy epic, part prestige television, its controversial subject matter has made it a bit of a touchy subject for Christians. Both straight-laced Protestant pastors and boozy Catholic rabble-rousers have condemned the show for its graphic sex and violence. More importantly the fact that the author of the books on which the series is based has blown through multiple deadlines and promises to his readers demonstrates the precipitous decline of moral values in America.

Yet the Bible—a book that we all have in our homes—is also full of graphic violence and descriptions of sexual perversity. The unsavory content covered in an hour of Game of Thrones is surpassed by 10 minutes after lights-out at any Christian camp hosting boys between the ages of 8 and 13. So we must ask ourselves whether there is some redemptive value in Game of Thrones’ blood, guts, and boinking. After all, we don’t want to repeat the Christian subcultural errors of the 90s that condemned Harry Potter (which is probably the closest thing to decent literature most millennials will bother to read) or Dungeons & Dragons (which is really a great way to develop the skill of loving something bizarre and arcane, a necessary prerequisite for full participation in any Benedict Option community).

Thus, we must look to see if there are Biblical themes that we can apply and use to relevantly communicate the Good News to our neighbors who are fascinated by the show. Is one of the many characters who gets eviscerated a Christ figure? Does the darkness and despair of the series point us to our longing for a True King? Are the sorcery and swords meant to help us more deeply imagine a world in which monsters can be slain? Is there a Gospel message in Game of Thrones?

No. There isn’t.

Posted by Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at www.MatthewAndMaggie.org

  • Matthew Miller

    Genuine LOL

  • David Wolf

    Oh snap!

  • RustbeltRick

    “A regular contributor for Afraid to Engage Pop Culture”

    • Scott Tenerman

      He is entirely correct. I’ve read the first three books of the series a dozen times apiece, book four at least six times, and the fifth and most recent book twice. The books aren’t entirely without value, especially the first three, but the last one was utter trash. The TV series stripped the only traces of what’s good from the books, and presented a completely nihilistic vision.

      Afraid to engage in pop culture? It’s like saying “afraid to step in dogs—“. Not afraid, just don’t wanna.

  • Cal P

    The conclusion gave me a sigh of relief.

  • David Mosher

    This was fantastic!

  • Mike

    I’m sorry, but where is the soft-core porn in Harry Potter?

  • Scott Tenerman

    WHEW.

  • John

    Does this article make any meaningful contribution to society or provide any thoughtful relevant commentary?

    No. It doesn’t.

    What a load of utter, holier than thou, masturbatory nonsense.

    • BWF

      I didn’t have the same reaction. I actually found the satire in the form of the article pretty pointed, even though it was brief. Even as someone who is a serious fan of the Song of Ice and Fire books (the basis for the show), and whose problems with the TV series lie mostly with the unfaithfulness to the written source material, I can still appreciate the point that is being made (or, at least my guess of what the point is).

      Walther’s take(linked in the article), though – that was definitely a useless piece of malarkey.

      • John

        I’m not sure how this should be viewed as satire, except potentially satire of the author’s own work? Again, he makes no effort to address any of the points he seems to be refuting, no discussion of the actual content, and not even the briefest acknowledgment of any actual themes in the show, whether good or bad.

        It’s click bait, pure and simple. And worse than that, it seems to be click bait derived from the author’s own self satisfaction.

        • Scott

          Agreed John, this was nothing more than self righteous venom. There are many Christian themes throughout this series. Obviously the author does not watch “Game of Thrones”.

  • Renee’ Flory

    Yes, I’m one of those who lives under a rock…living without tv, as a choice, to guard my heart and mind…and to be fully alive in the present world, not in one created for me. …. I am also very interested to read your article as I wrestle in our cultural wars, both with words and in prayers. Unfortunately, your article ended at the introduction. Please, write on if you are wanting to actually address the impact of this dark series, both in and out of the Church. Waiting for Part 2 of this cliff-hanger to have something to say to someone who’s worldview and spiritual life is being shaped by this.

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  • Scott
  • Scott

    I sometimes wonder if we as Christians live in a clean moral tidy little bubble where everything is black and white and the darkness that is clearly seen in the Old Testament is completely ignored. However, I do believe that all scripture is God breathed, but that all scripture points to Christ. But if we were to act out all of the dark passages of the Bible that include incest, violence, rape, slaughter, cannibalization, etc.. in a movie or series of some sort to be seen by viewers we would have a story that looks much like GOT, if not worse. I understand that reading something verses seeing it acted out is much different but to say that GOT is bad because of its immoral content is living in a bubble and in complete denial about what it means to be human in a fallen world. The Bible certainly does not hide this. But the good news about GOT is that there are Biblical themes throughout the show that helps us to see that we live in a world in which every believer and non-believer struggle. As my pastor once said, “Struggle is a sign that you are alive”. GOT has throughout the series Christian themes such as redemption, honor, darkness, light, good vs evil, etc.. It also shows that a great king can not lead unless they have been broken. Humility is the result of brokenness and without brokenness there is NO fruit.

    Life happens and as a result there is pain, suffering, immorality, carnality, brokenness, tragedy, carnage etc.. The author of this article completely misses the point and is in denial about what it means to be human in a fallen world. Yes, we as Christians should not engage in sin, but the fact is that all Christians sin every single day. Some believers (like the Corinthians) are living worldly carnal lives. But when the dust settles we have forgiveness and redemption in the finished work of Christ death and resurrection. However, struggle means we are fighting to be a light to the world and live fruitful lives. (even Paul is honest about his struggles in Romans 7:15-25). It is the self righteous that do not feel they need a doctor. It is the self righteous that do not struggle because they believe they have already crossed the finished line. The Bible is not black and white. It is grey and dark in many places. Moses was a murderer. David committed adultery and had the husband of Bathsheba killed. Lot slept with his daughters. Hmm! sounds a lot like…
    But, thank God there is hope in Jesus Christ.

    The following passages are examples of the darkness that is in the Bible:

    …causing parents to cannibalize their own children (Lev. 26:29; Jer. 19:9; Lam. 2:20; Ezek. 5:10)

    * …causing pregnant women to having their wombs ripped open and their children dashed on the ground (Hos. 13: 16)

    * …refusing to allow any compassion to keep him from smashing parents and children together (Jer. 13:16)

    * …commanding the Israelites to slaughter every man, woman, child, infant and even animals – “everything that breathes” – though they are not to harm trees, for “trees are not your enemy” (though babies are?) (e.g. Deut. 7:1-2; 20:16-20)

    * …telling Israelite men that, while everyone else in a region is to be mercilessly slaughtered, they may spare women they find attractive and marry them. However, if they later “find no delight in her,” they may turn them out on the street (Deut. 21:10-14)

    * …commanding parents and others to stone to death children who are stubborn or who strike a parent (Ex. 21:15, 17; Lev. 20:9; Deut. 21:18-21)