But ‘Game of Thrones’ Still Has Porn In It

Blog | | Thursday, April 24, 2014
Do we just pretend the TV series doesn’t have live, actual naked porn? Is that how it is?

covers_agameofthronesseriesGame of Thrones. Game of Thrones. I’m already a little tired of hearing about Game of Thrones. But I must also ask this, and alas, I include Christians who read the George R. R. Martin books or view the HBO series: in all the memes, reviews, discussions, tweets, products, TV news, jokes, etc. — why does none of them give any content disclaimer?

Do we just pretend the TV series doesn’t have live, actual naked porn? Is that how it is?

Torture porn?

This critic at The Federalist focuses on another concern about the GoT series’ “realism”:

[… T]he creator of “Game of Thrones”—George R.R. Martin, who wrote the series of five massive novels (so far) on which the series is based—describes being conscientious objector during the Vietnam War who says he is opposed to war and wrote this story to show how ugly it is.

Izzat so? Then why does he feel compelled to write about war and killing and murder and blood, in hundreds of intricate varieties, for ten thousand pages? This is a bit like E.L. James saying she wrote the 50 Shades books as a warning against unbridled sexuality.

No, I’m afraid that the opposite is true. “Game of Thrones” is torture porn dressed up as pseudo-historical drama.1

Tracinski challenges the “torture porn,” and yes, this by itself is questionable enough, not only for moral reasons but creative ones. Do most readers/viewers need that to get the story’s point? Some may suspect the only correct answer is yes, but often it’s actually the least-creative artist who claims that the most effective way to show sin is with torture porn.

At this point folks may call me a legalist. They may say: “There’s all kinds of Gritty Truth in the stories and this is how the world really is, outside your comfortable sheltered bubble.” Some Christians do need “gritty” truth. Yes, evangelical sentimentality does exist. It can be annoying and is often un-Biblical. But other Christians may have overreacted and crossed into a mirror universe, a “comfortable sheltered bubble” that only allows exposure to exaggerated and imaginary depravity and brokenness. C.S. Lewis, no stranger to seeing nasty stuff, severely rebuked this notion by placing it in the mouths of demons:

Nasty = “realistic”; joyful = “escapist.”

Depravity = “realistic”; joy = “escapist”?

The general rule which we [demons] have now pretty well established among them is that in all experiences which can make them happier or better only the physical facts are “Real” while the spiritual elements are “subjective”; in all experiences which can discourage or corrupt them the spiritual elements are the main reality and to ignore them is to be an escapist.2

I ask: are you in Screwtape’s “real” bubble? Don’t be guilted by such “authentic” pragmatic, legalistic emphasis only on the fictional consequences of Hell. Try first following Jesus and setting your heart on Heaven — that is, the New Heavens and New Earth, this groaning world finally set free for joyful singing, and without a hint of saccharine sentimentality.

Actual porn

But far more concerning about GoT is the sex-scene issue. Here I enter some treacherous territory because some Christians have a habit of making strongly worded observations about things they know nothing about or have never seen (cf. the recent Noah film). In this case I believe I have the words of trusted friends and writers who do know what they’re talking about. For instance, Christ and Pop Culture writers in 2012 touched on this topic with four different perspectives, all negative. Co-founder Alan Noble concludes with this:

[…] Even if the explicit sex scenes do contribute to the themes of the series, that still doesn’t make them less tedious or explicit. For me, this means that I’ll be skipping as many of these passages as I can, since I think I’ve already gotten the message. And since I am more affected by visual images than written ones, I don’t plan to watch the HBO series.3

Yes, the Game of Thrones game by all accounts includes real actual porn. Naked people (most often women, of course) are being objectified and doing nakedy things. And that is wrong. Filmmakers and actors can simulate violence, simulate language, simulate other sinful behaviors. But to show nakedness and sex you can only actually 1) be naked and 2) feign to have sex. And let’s spare only a few details here: Unless the actor is himself/herself a goodness-of-the-body-denying, emotionless Gnostic Platonic ideal-person rather than a live human being, he/she will have physical and emotional responses to that “acting.” To do it “right,” you can’t simply do acting proper. There’s an F-word for that: fornication.

So what? We see people sin all the time. But my worst objection is actually that very few Christians could see this sinful behavior and not be tempted to indulge in that particular temptation of lust. Is Game of Thrones with straight-up porn something that Christians should watch, or at best watch while fast-forwarding the nasty bits but not admit it, perhaps because such admissions sound uncool or “fundamentalist”?

If you’re a Christian and Game of Thrones TV fan, unless you can prove:

  1. Live people don’t actually get naked in the show; those who say otherwise are lying or spreading rumors4;
  2. They do get naked, but that does not tempt me;
  3. They do get naked, and it does tempt me, so I always skip the naughty bits by some crazy self-censorship means;

Then I can’t help but doubt the “gritty realism” or artsy reasons for enjoying the show. I only think: “I’m sorry, this sounds like an artsy postmodern justification to enjoy a series partly because of its plain pornography cutscenes that are higher-budget than usual.”

At the same time, there is plenty of porn in the world already. Maybe you have grown in holiness to the point where it doesn’t tempt you as it does others. Maybe you’re one of those “super-Christians” who could walk straight into a strip club and ignore the naked folks and preach the Gospel (I am not being sarcastic; I’ve truly heard of such people, sort of like the chaps who can supposedly stick spoons and paper clips to their magnetized skin). So maybe you can enjoy/subvert Game of Thrones for God’s glory, and think I’ve gone too far with my criticisms and challenges. Or maybe you agree that some have gone too far in their fandom of the books or television adaptation. Either way, what do you think?

  1. Our Sick National Obsession with Game of Thrones, Robert Tracinski, The Federalist, April 11, 2014.
  2. Excerpt from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Read more from the book and further thoughts at Screwtape on Redefining ‘Realism,’ E. Stephen Burnett, SpecFaith, Jan. 27, 2013.
  3. Sex & Thrones: Four Christian Views on Sex in “Game of Thrones,” Alan Noble, et. al., Christ and Pop Culture, June 27, 2012.
  4. Unfortunately, Christians have been known to do this about some scary media franchises; but in this case I first heard from secular critics about the Game of Thrones objectification and nudity.
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E. Stephen Burnett is a journalist, aspiring novelist, and editor and webslinger at Speculative Faith. His mission: to explore and enjoy epic stories that reflect the truths and beauties of the first and greatest Epic Story, God’s Word. He also writes for a dynamic news franchise in Austin, Texas and delves into Christ-and-culture doctrine at Christ and Pop Culture. He also enjoys nonfiction, soundtrack music, and spending life with his wife, Lacy, in their home near Austin, Texas.

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66 responses

  1. Amen! Preach it!

    After hearing from many sources that A Song of Ice and Fire (which people seem to have forgotten is the actual name of the novel series) was the best thing to happen to fantasy since Tolkien, I gave A Game of Thrones a try. And I really did try; I made it through a full fifty pages of that moral wasteland before throwing in the blood-and-other-substance-stained towel.

    I can tolerate a sex scene here and there on the page, or even on the screen (yes, I know it’s sin for the actors, but as a viewer I believe a film’s positive qualities often outweigh its sins, at least for me). But when, after a mere fifty pages, there wasn’t a single main character who hadn’t gotten naked in front of me — whether willingly or no — I realized this wasn’t some temporary trend meant to be endured; it was a central tenant meant to be celebrated. It’s what the book was about. And it wasn’t about to stop.

    So I put down the book.

    George R.R. Martin is no Tolkien. He’s just a dirty old man with a knack for cultivating empathy and tension. And his stories aren’t worth my soul.
    Austin Gunderson’s recent blog: An End to the MeansMy Profile

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    • For those who may doubt my credibility because of that “fifty pages” attestation, I’m probably misremembering the number. It was likely more like 150 pages. I think I tapped out right after Daenerys’ intricately-explicit wedding night extravaganza, whenever it was that that took place.

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  2. Tim Frankovich says:

    Some Christians about the Noah movie: “But… but… they’re making a movie based off the Bible! We should support it so they’ll make more! Be happy with what we’re getting!”

    Some fantasy fans about GoT on HBO: “But… but… they’re making high fantasy on TV! We should support it so they’ll make more! Be happy with what we’re getting!”

    Yes, we are hungry for seeing high fantasy on the screen… but this nihilistic Game of Porn is not worth it.

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  3. Dear world,

    I wish one day you would discover the “Lymond Chronicles” by Dorothy Dunnett. They are, from all accounts, like “A Song of Ice and Fire” in quality of character development and tension. In complexity and depth of story and breadth of characters. They chronicle a gritty time of history (1500s Scottland) with heart-rending realism mixed with a sense of fantasy and larger than life characters.

    BUT these books rise above the gritty and become a legend. They counteract the dark with an unstoppable light that always rises from the shadows. The author revels not in the pain, but in the healing. In restored relationships and in peace. Power is really found in integrity and compassion. In acts of selfless bravery.

    And no matter how dark the sky grows, you know that you can trust that the sun still shines above, and the storm will pass.

    Also, no one can write a sword fight like Dunnett. No one.

    So yeah, that’s my response to ASoIaF — there’s just better stuff out there. Read that. Who cares what is supposed to be popular right now? :D

    (public service announcement — the last book does end happily. Really. You’ll want to know this as you read the last book.)

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    • That was quite a recommendation! I think I now need to check out this story …
      E. Stephen Burnett’s recent blog: But ‘Game of Thrones’ Still Has Porn In ItMy Profile

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    • I’m not really a fan of historical fiction, but this sounds worth checking out.
      Robert Mullin’s recent blog: Writing Process blog hopMy Profile

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      • It definitely feels more like epic fantasy than historical fiction, even though Dunnett has done extensive research into the history. Which, as I too am not huge on historical fiction, think that just makes it more awesome, because now I know about a period of history I knew nothing about before thrown in for free. :D
        Joanna’s recent blog: The Scarlet Seed: Part 1My Profile

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    • The Lymond Chronicles are incredibly well written (if you can get through the first book, which is a bit of a hard slog at times), and they are by no means anywhere near as graphic as ASOIAF, but they do contain a fair bit of sexual, violent and/or disturbing content, even if most of it is more implicit than explicit. (On the other hand, these aspects of the story are seldom if ever taken lightly, and often have far-reaching consequences.)

      But if you enjoy being blindsided by incredibly clever plot and character twists, and having your emotions ripped out of you with fishhooks and repeatedly trampled upon in a narratively satisfying way (as opposed to merely being bludgeoned by the gruesome, gratuitous and narratively unsatisfying deaths of everyone you ever cared about, a la Martin), Dunnett is the writer you are looking for.

      (Personally, I couldn’t care less about the House of Niccolo series, because I’ve been told it contains none of the things I loved about Lymond and all of the things I didn’t, but I’m forever sad that Dunnett never got to write the final Johnson Johnson book.)

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  4. I’d like to view the saga, but I won’t. I doubt I’ll read the novels.

    I’m put off by the explicitness of it. It’s not so much that I’m concerned that it will tempt me to commit violence or sexual sin.

    It’s that I don’t feel I’m honoring God by burning extreme images like that into my brain. I tend to turn away from viewing explicit, gratuitous violence and sex because I know that those images really don’t go away.

    At least with a book, you can skip over them. But still, if an author can’t get his point across without them, then he’s a lazy writer. I have no time for lazy writers.

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  5. It’s not just game of thrones. Secular science fiction and fantasy novels have been sexually transgressive for quite some time., ever since the New Wave of SF started with the anthology “Dangerous Visions.” Maybe even before: Robert Heinlein especially was known for some deviant ideas about sex. Modern books haven’t escaped it; one could argue the paranormal boom was started by Lauren Hamilton’s Anita Blake books, which descended into bizarre sex so rapidly even her fans were bewildered by it. Paolo Bagiculppi (spelling) and The Wind-up Girl has some nasty scenes that would make GoT seem tame, and good luck with books like Storm Constantine’s Wraethethu’s series or a lot of feminist SF. A lot of the bad societal ideas about sex probably appeared in SF literature first.

    I can’t help but think a lot of Christian geeks came to geekdom late via the mainstreaming of a certain kind of geek culture, and then suddenly found out it wasn’t all roses and bunnies.
    dmdutcher’s recent blog: Five Series I’m Staying With, Spring 2014My Profile

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  6. some Christians have a habit of making strongly worded observations about things they know nothing about or have never seen (cf. the recent Noah film).

    Stephen, this surprises me because on SpecFaith 1.0 you gave some time and space to a critique of The Shack, including an explanation of why it was OK to do so even though you hadn’t read it.

    Making observations based on book trailers or reviews or discussions with those who have read the book in question is not somehow inferior to having read the book, or in the case of Noah, seen the movie, as long as facts aren’t distorted. Criticism of Harry Potter, for instance, centered largely on how it was promoting the occult, which simply wasn’t true.

    Negative review after negative review of the Noah movie, however, was written by people who HAD seen the movie and who agreed in essence with those who gave a favorable evaluation, about the main aspects of the story. The difference seems to lie in the “what it means” area.

    It’s kind of like me saying The Lion King is filled with false religion and someone else saying it was a beautiful movie with redemptive themes. We saw the same movie, but where I saw Eastern mysticism and ancestor worship, the other person saw a type of Christ praying to God the Father.

    Sometimes reviewers disagree and it doesn’t mean the one who disagrees with your position is somehow lesser in his abilities or approach, and certainly not worthy of being lumped into a “know nothing” category.

    Re. The Game of Thrones—I’ve never seen it or read the books, so I have no opinion. ;-)

    Actually I have the first book and have started it at least three times. I keep getting stalled, but not because of the violence or sex (I haven’t gotten far enough for the latter to be an issue). Rather, I haven’t connected with a character (who stays alive), so it’s easy for me to put down. I’ve thought I really should try once more, but your post makes me think perhaps it’s OK that I haven’t read this one (and those that follow).

    It’s sad if our literature, our stories, follow the porn industry. Really sad.

    Becky
    Rebecca LuElla Miller’s recent blog: CSFF Blog Tour – Numb By John Otte, Day 3My Profile

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  7. Many of the best “secular” fantastic literature novels — i. e., award winners from authors like Connie Willis — don’t include deviant sex, or, sometimes, no explicit sex at all.

    I read the first two or three of Martin’s series, and decided that the main problem with the books was that they didn’t affirm anything. And, yes, there was deviant sex early on, namely sibling incest, but the main problem was that nothing was affirmed, which meant that, as LuElla Miller said, it was hard to connect with any of the characters.
    Martin LaBar’s recent blog: The Bible and protecting the environmentMy Profile

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  8. Why can’t they make a Dragonlance series? Like, with the full CG treatment? Or a Wheel of Time series? Or Robin Hobbs’s series with Fitz and the Fool? And why HBO, which is notorious for its nekkid people? There’s so much better fare out there. My brother tried to read GOT, and echoed the above sentiment–Martin is a dirty old man who hates people. I don’t have time to read books like that. My TBR pile is high enough.

    Come on and make Raven Boy movies, already! (So many feels!)

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  9. I pretty sure it’s just me, the pinko-liberal-relativist Millennial, but I’m just not outraged about it. Granted, I’ve only seen a few episodes here and there, so I’ve only caught so much boobage and incest and whatall, but ehh. There’s a pretty distinct difference between consensual sex, even if it’s mostly with naked prostitutes, and rape and incest. The okay-to-chaotically-neutral dudes pay to do prostitutes but don’t abuse them. (Tyrion seems to like making sure his hookers also have a good time. Yay?) Creepy-to-super-bad people do rape and incest and manipulative sex. So there is some sort of moral distinction, but I have a suspicion that it’s not quite enough to soothe and reassure everyone else here.

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    • Eh, it’s more like some of us have seared consciences before we came to Him. I’m Gen-X, but was heavily into what people would probably call transgressive works now, and that does a number on you. Can lead to culture shock and envy when dealing with people who don’t have the same background.
      dmdutcher’s recent blog: Five Series I’m Staying With, Spring 2014My Profile

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  10. So maybe you can enjoy/subvert Game of Thrones for God’s glory, and think I’ve gone too far with my criticisms and challenges.

    Whether or not I can enjoy and subvert Game of Thrones for God’s glory remains to be seen, but I do think you’ve gone too far with your criticisms. (Though not with your challenge.)

    I’ve been intending to read A Song of Ice and Fire since before the HBO series; it was simply never my priority. Maybe I’ll bump it up slightly higher on my mental list of things I want to read.

    I don’t have high expectations for A Song of Ice and Fire, but I want to read it anyways because it’s popular. However, I don’t think that motivation is illegitimate. I’m too awkward to fit in with peers even if I wanted to. However, many of my non-Christian peers are familiar with the franchise. I’m a Christian who loves fantastic stories and thinks about them critically. Game of Thrones should be one of the very few things that I should be able to talk about sincerely and critically, even with non-Christians, without being socially awkward. I don’t try to convert non-Christians, but I want to be able to point out truths that I think I see, in the contexts that I see them. Fantasy is one such context for me. There may be better fantasies, but pop culture makes popularity relevant.

    Also, I want to think of myself as a critic, even though I don’t deserve the title. The specific sub-genre of A Song of Ice and Fire is of my particular interest. Here again, popularity matters. I want to be capable of criticizing trends in high fantasy. For this goal, I can’t rely on second-hand testimony. I need to be familiar with the important works.

    Finally, I still hold out hope that A Game of Thrones can both be enjoyed and subverted.

    I’ll give the example of the remade Battlestar Galactica television series, which also had sex scenes. I watched through it last year, and I’m very glad that I did. I wish more Christians would watch it, because there is a wealth of thematic material that we can use and rejoice in. The good themes are not even hidden and marginalized. You don’t need to look past anti-Christian material to find the gold. The entire story is built on narrative archetypes that are fundamentally tied to Christian themes. Seriously, the plot of Battlestar Galactica is worthy to stand alongside The Lord of the Rings in terms of glory and honor and beauty.

    But there’s sex. For the most part, I skipped past the sex scenes. But it’s Netflix, and you have to see the frames to navigate past them, and sometimes it gets stuck in an awkward moment. It’s still worth it. Expecting non-Christians to make a show with a realistic aesthetic without having any sex scenes would be like expecting non-Christian students at a state college not to have sex scenes.

    I’m painfully aware that I am susceptible to sexual temptation, but television doesn’t bother me much. I face more temptation to view porn when I turn on my computer and I’m tired and depressed than I’ve faced in response to seeing sex scenes on television. If television shows with sex scenes are too dirty for Christians to watch, then the Internet is too dirty for Christians to use. (Much like trying to skip past sex scenes in Netflix, you can’t avoid accidentally seeing provocative images on the web.)

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    • Battlestar Galactica is a thousand times better than A Song of Ice and Fire.

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      • William Adama says:

        I don’t think so. But I’ve only seen the pilot.

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        • In that case, you’re about as qualified to judge the sci-fi show as I am to judge the fantasy series. I may have only read the first part of the first ASoIaF novel, but I’m currently halfway through season three of Battlestar, and, thus far, it’s absolutely lived up to its promise of profound philosophical engagement. It grapples with questions of theology, morality, politics, and sociology, all while acknowledging the metaphysical nature of reality and following characters who strive to apprehend the good, the true, and the beautiful in both this life and the next.

          I’m not hearing anyone make such a claim about ASoIaF.
          Austin Gunderson’s recent blog: An End to the MeansMy Profile

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        • I don’t think so. But I’ve only seen the pilot.

          Which pilot, sir? They’re all dead! ;)

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  11. I used to read Stephen King religiously because he was incomparable with words, and for creating a mood. Then one day, around Four Past Midnight, I realized that I didn’t like the mood he constantly created, and gave away his books.

    I just traded in the first four novels of A Song of Ice and Fire for the same reason. Austin put it much more eloquently than I could have, but the conclusion he reached was identical: “George R.R. Martin is … just a dirty old man with a knack for cultivating empathy and tension. And his stories aren’t worth my soul.”

    Amen.
    Robert Mullin’s recent blog: Writing Process blog hopMy Profile

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  12. Incidentally, I do not in any way condemn readers/viewers of whatever stripe. I do believe strongly that this has been and always will be a “meat sacrificed to idols” issue. I found Martin quite engaging, but my objection to him is not “content” or even “intent.” It’s worldview. I have no problem going through a dark tunnel, but I want to see light at the end of it. I know that suffering is senseless, so to continue to wallow in it in a framework of futility is not something that interests me. War is a great divider; it brings out the best and worst in human nature. Martin, however, does not seem to recognize the notion of “hero.” Interesting characters, and even those with their own moral code, but the general impression I get from his series is from Ecclesiastes: “Meaningless, meaningless, cried the Teacher; everything is meaningless!”

    When I find authors with a worldview that not only acknowledges the presence of evil but the need to combat it, I am much more likely to invest myself in their books, even if they don’t write as well as Martin.
    Robert Mullin’s recent blog: Writing Process blog hopMy Profile

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    • Eloquently put, Robert. It’s the difference between content and theme. I can stomach some pretty depraved content if I trust an author to explore it within a framework that rejoices in truth and goodness and beauty. But when I know an author acknowledges none of those things, then the depravity becomes not merely pointless — irredeemable — but also idolatrous. It becomes an end in and of itself, not merely a means to some greater end. No matter how strenuously Martin’s fans may insist that his stories don’t glorify depravity, the fact remains that A Song of Ice and Fire posits no alternative to depravity — no transcendent ideal, no absolute morality, no supreme deity to define and condemn evil. All that’s left is unrestrained human nature in a world where dominion is the only good, survival the only goal. If Aslan is king in Narnia, Darwin rules in Westeros. And if tomorrow we die prematurely (as all marginally-decent Martin characters seem to do), then today let us eat and drink and be merry and bang our sister. Who’s to say it’s wrong?

      And besides, Dear Hypothetical Reader, it kinda turns you on. C’mon … admit it. You know you like it. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s just like porn, except it’s not porn — it’s high art! It’s, like, deep and stuff. It says profound things about feminism and the human condition and … hang on, hold that thought — my favorite character’s getting raped again. Gotta call ya back.

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    • Dan Oaks says:

      I’ve only read the books. The porn scenes (and yes from the reviews I’ve read that is exactly what they are) made me decide to stay away from the TV series.

      Martin is not my favorite author. Mostly because he is so depressing about the ways evil wins. Yet I do think he has a very powerful point that reviews like this overlook.

      He does have a hero. That hero is killed very early. Yet this hero led a good life, a very good life, and that goodness lives on. The rest of the series shows evil ascendent, in control, and apparently unassailable. Yet it also show the goodness of the man they killed is still moving in the world, still making a difference in many people’s lives.

      To me the message of Martin is not as dark as people seem to say. I think his message is that goodness cannot be killed. You may kill a man, but the good he has done does not die with his death. Compare this to the villains who die, whose plans quickly disintegrate. Oh their actions keep on having an effect after death, but a corrupting and destructive effect. Everything they built through their expedient amorality crumbles to nothing.

      I wouldn’t recommend Martin, but he’s not as despairing of virtue’s efficacy as most people seem to think.

      He is also very likely to be a dirty old man.

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      • The rest of the series shows evil ascendent, in control, and apparently unassailable. Yet it also show the goodness of the man they killed is still moving in the world, still making a difference in many people’s lives.

        Fascinating! I look forward to examining the books from that angle, if I ever make the time to read them. I’m in no hurry to do so, but I’m still convinced that reading them would help me, even if only to relate to others. I have no desire to see the television show.

        This reinforces my suspicion that there is some good to be found in everything that has any value at all. I don’t think it’s possible to say dogmatically that the potential good in something is worthless on account of greater bad.

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  13. You have the right to judge television by any criteria you like, but I wish you’d done a little more research before accusing Game of Thrones of being porn and, weirder still, accusing Game of Thrones viewers of mainly watching the show because they like to see nekkid girls.

    Normally I don’t have a lot of patience with people who critique things they haven’t seen or read, but in this case I give you a total pass on that point because if you did watch or read it you would probably have exactly the same opinion.

    *****

    “If you’re a Christian and Game of Thrones TV fan, unless you can prove:

    1 Live people don’t actually get naked in the show; those who say otherwise are lying or spreading rumors4;
    2 They do get naked, but that does not tempt me;
    3 They do get naked, and it does tempt me, so I always skip the naughty bits by some crazy self-censorship means;

    Then I can’t help but doubt the “gritty realism” or artsy reasons for enjoying the show. I only think: “I’m sorry, this sounds like an artsy postmodern justification to enjoy a series partly because of its plain pornography cutscenes that are higher-budget than usual.””

    *****

    1. I have watched every episode and read every book available to date, and yes, there is a LOT of nudity, semi-nudity, and nudity from angles you never expected. There is also LOTS of sex–incest, prostitution, sex between loving married couples (but they are hot married couples, so watching this will still taint your soul with sin), rape both foreign and domestic, gay sex, funeral sex and—here’s the best part–sex AND nudity WHILE a character is explaining an important plot point. So you actually can’t skip the “naughty bits” if you want to know what’s going on. In the Game of Thrones, you see sex and nudity or you change the channel.

    2. I think you are using the word “tempt” incorrectly. I think you mean “titilate”, or “turn on”. E.g., you can feel pretty safe about being tempted to sleep with Emilia Clarke–’cause it ain’t ever gonna happen. However, if watching Game of Thrones doesn’t turn you on at some point, you should see a therapist and I pity your spouse. In sum: GoT is not only sex-full but inevitably sex-y. If one of your goals in life is to avoid all visual sexual stimulus, do NOT watch Game of Thrones.

    3. See the second portion of #1.

    I myself am not a Christian anymore, so I can watch this show that I love without the compulsions that you are dealing with. From such a perspective, I want to explain a couple of things and hopefully get both you AND your friends who think you are uptight for not watching GoT off of your respective judgement trains.

    1. You have every right not to watch Game of Thrones, and no one has the right to pressure you to do so, for any reason.

    I love this show and the books almost to the point of obsession, but I have never recommended them to my conservative Christian parents; in fact I warned my dad off of it pretty strongly. I also have friends who just don’t like historical fiction, or fantasy, or shows with a lot of violence. I don’t try to get them to watch it, either. I myself don’t like horror shows or serial killer shows, and I’ve just recently convinced one of my friends that I am never going to watch American Horror Story or The Following, no matter how good they are. I’m just not into that. And you as a Christian have every right to tell people that you are just not into shows with graphic sex and violence and/or morally grey worldviews, no matter how well-done they are.

    2. On the other hand…
    If you want to go farther than saying “graphic sex and morally grey worldviews make me feel depressed and dirty so I don’t want to watch Game of Thrones for my own personal reasons,” you really need to have better information. There are reasons that this show has won multiple Emmy’s. Read some interviews with the author before concluding that he is just “a dirty old man.” Read some synopses of the incredibly complex plot and perhaps some interviews with actors about their characters’ nuanced development over time before concluding that nudity, sex, and brutal violence are the only things GoT brings to the table. Look up some promotional still shots and appreciate the artistry that goes into the set and costumes before you decide that the high production values are just to make the “porn” look better.

    Short version of all of the above:

    Game of Thrones is not porn. I’m not saying “it’s not porn” because it doesn’t have sex, I’m saying “it’s not porn” because it has so much more than sex. If you don’t want to watch it, that’s fine, but don’t attack it based on so little knowledge.

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    • From the bits of text I’ve read by proxy, dude does write chicks weird, as though they constantly think about their own bodies the way men do. Though it’s not as if “good author” and “dirty old man” are mutually exclusive. Maybe he’s just a mildly dirty old man.

      And just out of curiosity, if you’re no longer Christian, do you consider yourself as anything else in particular? Atheist, Buddhist, whatever? And what brings/keeps you here on this site, because I have muddled motivations as to why I’m still here. I also have muddled motivations as to why I still consider myself Christian.

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      • From the bits of text I’ve read by proxy, dude does write chicks weird, as though they constantly think about their own bodies the way men do.

        (In the voice of Gimli) “And do you know what this Dwarf has to say to that?”

        Answer: Poor Mr. Martin, he’s just not getting any.

        Slightly crass, but true, and a very Lewisian argument. C.S. Lewis makes it in Mere Christianity: that the society obsessed with sex indicates it has both been engorging itself on the topic and starving for the actual stuff.

        I have muddled motivations as to why I’m still here. I also have muddled motivations as to why I still consider myself Christian.

        In the divine sense: you’re here because God ordained it so. ;-)

        On the human level, only you can answer that. In John 11:25-26, Jesus Christ once asked one of his followers the question that anyone professing to be a “Christian” (“one who is like Christ”) must answer:

        “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

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        • Quick follow up. I realized that I never addressed this part:

          “From the bits of text I’ve read by proxy, dude does write chicks weird, as though they constantly think about their own bodies the way men do.”

          Based on names and profile pics, it looks like everyone in this comment thread except me is male. (Except Notelia–you may well be female, apologies if so.) As a female who has read the books multiple times, I never got this impression at all. I’m not sure how you guys think that women think about their bodies, but we do know that ladyparts are sexy and occasionally assess how sexy various males of interest would find our specific ladyparts.

          Honestly, though, I’m not really sure what parts of the book Notelia and Mr. Burnett are talking about. If you can give me a chapter reference I could respond in more detail. But overall I and thousands of others have found the female characters of ASoIaF to be remarkably complex, sympathetic, and powerful in their own ways. Even Catlyn, who at first seems like a fairly weak character evolves to be one of the most fierce and savvy diplomats in the War of the Five Kings. In my opinion, Michelle Fairley really does her justice and then some with her on-screen portrayal.

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          • Chick, actually, but the bit I read by proxy was, I think, from Danerys’s (sp?) perspective, about the way her legs moved in the sandsilk pants and the way her breasts moved under the painted Dothraki vest.
            Of course, Your Mileage May Vary even amongst us ladies, but I generally don’t think of my body like that. The ladies who chimed in the comments of that article also didn’t have a running commentary in their brains on the current state of their sexier parts.

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      • “From the bits I’ve read by proxy, dude does write chicks weird, as though they constantly think about their own bodies the way men do.”

        Exactly. That is exactly the perception I came away with from reading A Game of Thrones. It’s the main reason I call Martin a dirty old man: no matter which of his characters’ eyes I looked through, no matter their gender, no matter the situation, there were very few moments when they didn’t have sex on the brain. In feminist-speak, A Song of Ice and Fire is deliberately crafted to appeal to the Male Gaze.

        And by the way, my identification of Martin as a dirty old man should in no way be construed as a dismissal of his literary skill. In terms of sheer technical excellence, most other genre authors (and certainly myself as an aspiring author) can only dream of achieving his mastery of plot, pacing, and characterization. But that has nothing whatsoever to do with the moral repugnancy of his works’ pornographic content and nihilistic themes.

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      • “Good author” and “dirty old man” may not be mutually exclusive, but saying an author is a dirty old man in what comes across to me as an extremely dismissive tone does imply that that person making the statement doesn’t appreciate the author’s general talent or specific purpose in using sexually charged scenes to make a point.

        I consider myself a humanist. After a long spiritual/emotional/intellectual journey, I’ve found myself unable to believe in the supernatural but still quite concerned with morality and human nature and the way that they are explored in art and literature.

        I came to this site because I have a Google alert for “Game of Thrones” and this blog post made it into my results email yesterday. I clicked the link because I was interested to see if a conservative Christian reviewer would have anything interesting to say about Game of Thrones besides the obvious “conservative Christians probably shouldn’t watch this because it has a lot of graphic sex and a very morally ambiguous worldview.” Seems not. I commented anyway in hopes of getting the author and reader to think a little more about what’s going on with this show.

        I’m not trying to get anyone to stop being a Christian. The older I get, the more I think that life is a process of discovering what you really are rather than making yourself into something. I am really not a religious person. You may, deep down in your heart, be a Christian, and if so you should definitely follow that–keeping in mind that there are almost as many variations of Christianity as there are Christians.

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        • “Good author” and “dirty old man” may not be mutually exclusive, but saying an author is a dirty old man in what comes across to me as an extremely dismissive tone does imply that that person making the statement doesn’t appreciate the author’s general talent or specific purpose in using sexually charged scenes to make a point.

          Bear in mind that the Biblical Christian — that is, one striving to base his/her beliefs on Scripture out of love for a personal savior, Jesus Christ, rather than using something called “Christianity” as a means to other ends — would hold that all of us, apart from Jesus Christ’s personal salvation, are “dirty old men.” The Biblical Christian doesn’t mean such a term as any kind of insult that could not also apply to any human being apart from Jesus Christ — or to Christians at their worst moments (we believe we still struggle with sin).

          And welcome to SpecFaith, Bethany, at least for this one topic!

          I consider myself a humanist.

          Classic, “cosmic,” or somewhere in between?

          Classic humanism, anyway, is likely a runner-up to Christianity and would be my go-to religion of choice were I somehow to become convinced Christianity were a great hoax or some-such. Classic humanism shares some moral beliefs with Christianity, such as the goodness of the human spirit and the preservation of life, the value of courage, technological development, to boldly go where no one … etc.

          I clicked the link because I was interested to see if a conservative Christian reviewer would have anything interesting to say about Game of Thrones besides the obvious “conservative Christians probably shouldn’t watch this because it has a lot of graphic sex and a very morally ambiguous worldview.” Seems not.

          I do hope you understood the parts where I fault human impulses for the wrongful use of the show, and not the show itself as some evil Thing that harms people from the outside. The Biblical Christian is operating from a basic assumption about right and wrong, that it exists, that it is objective, and that people violate that standard not by seeing something Bad but by following sinful temptations that arise in their own hearts. This view of sin and human nature is foreign to some of those many strains of Christianity (though not as many as you presume), but it is one that Jesus Christ Himself endorsed in Mark chapter 7.

          Please understand also that I spend most of my time discussing how to find the good, the true, and the beautiful in many stories that some Christians have written off as just plain pagan and without redemptive value (such as the recent Noah film by a non-Christian director, or the Harry Potter series). For my writing, critiquing the GoT TV series is quite an exception — it’s rare that I come close to suggesting, “Story X has only bad things to offer most Christians.” And I do make this judgment based on the Biblical standards of what qualifies as “sin” — the Biblical Christian does not see sin as being offensive primarily against another human being, but against God Himself, the good and loving Creator Who has the right to be Lord over all His people’s lives. So for us it’s not about wrongfully wanting to get in bed with a certain celebrity. It’s about taking a good gift of God — the gift of sex — and even for moments effectively saying: God, I don’t care how you meant this to be used, I prefer to think of it or use it this way. It’s a violation of His good Law.

          (Christianity is never limited to discussions of how we can avoid breaking God’s law; there is that whole “Jesus Christ alone can save us from the consequences of violating God’s Law” part of it — the Gospel. Yet Biblical Christianity is never less than talking about God’s Law and the sin problem: a concept common to all creeds of Biblical Christianity, no matter how much they differ elsewhere.)

          By the way, SpecFaith is a team-built website and resource for fans who want to explore all epic (or “speculative”) stories for God’s glory. So the fact that this little exploration has found its way outside any faith “borders” is a bonus.

          I am really not a religious person.

          I think this is true only if one narrowly defines “religious” as believing in a God or gods. Instead I have met many people with Godless beliefs who are some of the most sincere and devoted religious people who ever existed, and it seems strange to avoid (backhanded?) compliments of them as such. :-) Earlier I alluded to classic humanism of the Roddenberry style — the classic Star Trek series creator was as religious about his “non-religion” as anyone.

          You may, deep down in your heart, be a Christian, and if so you should definitely follow that–keeping in mind that there are almost as many variations of Christianity as there are Christians.

          [Citation required.]

          Seriously, this is a trope common even to friendly critics of Christianity, but it’s far oversold. All Biblical Christians (as opposed to those who use “Christianity” as a means to, say, right-wing or left-wing social action, family security, etc.) agree on the essentials of faith. SpecFaith’s writers and especially readers hail from a vast variety of denominational backgrounds (Reformed and “Arminian,” charismatic and non-, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Nazarene, Wesleyan, Assemblies of God, etc.). After all, there are many varieties of “humanism” (I alluded to two general divisions above) but no one would dispute that all called “humanists” have beliefs that are unified in many ways. So alas, I must leave this already-lengthy comment with a contention that it’s simply wrong to say “there are almost as many variations of Christianity are there are Christians.”

          For a little more, you may be interested in the SpecFaith Faith Statement, here. It’s based on several very similar faith statements to which all Biblical Christian groups and denominations adhere, with some qualifiers about our views on stories.

          P.S.: Anyway, naturally while I was writing this several other subtopics have come up, among them whether this piece should have been a more in-depth look at the Game of Thrones universe, etc. Roger Ebert used to say that the good critic should critique what the artist set out to do, not necessarily what the critic wishes he had attempted. :-P From there I would argue: This piece wasn’t meant to be an in-depth look at GoT as much as a challenge to Christians who may feel intimidated into accepting something they simply don’t feel comfortable with. For the in-depth look, I would refer to the same secular critics to whom you’ve alluded, or to the Christ and Pop Culture piece to which I linked.

          Furthermore, you may notice I acknowledged Christians will have different views on the sex content. Some (I know one of them) can surely watch the series, appreciate the artistry, and dodge the porny bits one way or another. But I do stand by the claim that they are the exceptions, and that in fact a red-blooded person of either gender who tries to enjoy the Artsy Stuff without having sexually related side effects is actually trying to squelch a very natural and otherwise good desire to enjoy and pursue and fulfill sexual attraction. Christians don’t believe the attraction is bad and certainly don’t hold that sex is bad (no matter how much we get confused about the topic, how do you think we reproduced this whole time?). In fact the better Christians get rather perplexed by how much other folks are insanely obsessed with their own bodily sexual parts and practices. Earlier today my wife found a Craigslist ad for women hoping to film themselves being touched in All the Right Ways. Frankly this amuses me to no end. Apparently the more people go on about sex the less they show that they are actually Getting Any — at least, of the good stuff, the kind that even secular polls shows comes from monogomous committed partners. And not to reject the fact that some Christians are sexually repressed, but the more people stare at their own crotches the more I think: Wow, some folks really are desperately trying to catch up to where Christians in red-hot marriages have been all along.

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        • Go on with your awesome humanist, nonreligious self. Though unlike Burnett, I don’t define “religious” as “having convictions or a sense of awe and joy.” My muddled motivations have existed long before now and will probably persist until further notice.
          But yeah, these guys have their limits, like insisting on using the word “Biblical” even though that’s a pretty useless word and also in a No True Scotsman sense, and they follow the stereotype on Christians about sex irritatingly closely. And also having a vocal population of Calvinists. And here there be Six-Day Creationists, too. That’s what you should look out for if you want to dink around more in this corner of the Internet.
          notleia’s recent blog: Reviewing ‘Quest for the King’My Profile

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    • Did you not read the title of this article? “Game of Thrones has porn in it.” Nobody here has said anything different. Nobody here is making the case that A Song of Ice and Fire is nothing but porn. That’s a strawman argument, so of course it’s easy to debunk.

      What is porn, to you? I’m genuinely curious to read your answer.

      But regardless of your answer, the definition of the word as I understand it is this: Porn is imagery of explicit sex, especially when employed for entertainment purposes. And, under that definition, any novel series or television show that contains explicit sexual imagery as prolific as that in Game of Thrones is obviously, incontrovertibly pornographic.

      If as a nonchristian you’ve been ‘freed’ from Christian compulsions of sexual morality, then I don’t understand why such terminology is an issue for you. If Christian sexual mores are only so much social manipulation or patriarchal conformity, then why get offended at the use of the term “porn”? What’s wrong with porn? If you feel no compulsion against being titillated by a TV show, then why not embrace the concept?

      If a book contains a ton of action scenes, we call it an action thriller, without regard to the quality of the writing. If a film contains a plethora of humor, we call it a comedy, regardless of how lowbrow the gags. And if a TV show contains endless amounts of nudity and explicit sex, it’s perfectly accurate to refer to it as porn, regardless of its production value, the knit of its costumes, the nuance of its actors, or the intricacy of its plotting.

      Porn is porn is porn is porn is porn. You can make an argument that there’s nothing wrong with porn, but you can’t tell me that a pornographic show isn’t pornographic just ’cause it also contains some pretty amazing artistry.
      Austin Gunderson’s recent blog: Scenic AustinMy Profile

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      • I hereby accuse Austin Gunderson of flagrant and uncited academic plagiarism from my brain.

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      • I did read the title of the article, and I was expecting a much more interesting read. Alas, the content of the article was almost exclusively about the sex and nudity that the author has heard that Game of Thrones contains. A show that “has porn in it” is not really a thing. Either a show is porn or it is something more than that. If the author wanted to argue that the show has artistic value generally but some scenes devolve into nothing more than pornography, he should have written a very different article, preferably one that acknowledges at least some of the many merits of the show. (He would also not be alone in that opinion. Many secular critics have questioned how necessary the sex and nudity really are to the show.)
        I haven’t given a lot of deep introspection to the definition of porn since one already exists. According to Wikipedia (which is shockingly accurate and reliable these days), “Pornographic films or sex films are films that present sexually explicit subject matter for the purpose of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction of the viewer. Pornographic films present sexual fantasies and usually include erotically stimulating material such as nudity. Unlike erotic films, pornographic films contain explicit sexuality and do not claim any artistic merit.”
        So, in the encyclopedic sense, Game of Thrones actually does not contain pornography because all of the sex and nudity scenes have artistic merit (see: multiple awards won by said show) or if you want to be really horsey about it, at the very least they *claim* artistic merit. If you take the sex and nudity scenes in the full context of the show, their primary purpose is not sexual arousal. Obviously they want to evoke at least a little arousal, but their primary purpose is develop the plot, characterization, and setting of the show.
        I care about the terminology because the word “porn” is still derogative when applied to a show like Game of Thrones. As mentioned, pornography by definition doesn’t claim any higher artistic purpose than sexual arousal. Game of Thrones absolutely does. (Whether you think it lives up to that claim or not is another argument, though I hope you would watch at least a season of the show before trying to make that argument.) I don’t have a problem with porn or with people watching porn, but I do have a problem with people dismissing all of the hard work and talent that goes into GoT by calling it (or any of the painstakingly crafted scenes within the show) nothing more than pornography.

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        • Ah, that explanation makes a little more sense to me. I suppose I could accept a description of Game of Thrones (book or show) as “erotic” art rather than “pornographic” art. I’m interested in being accurate, not dismissive. My argument isn’t that Martin’s work is poorly constructed, but that it’s immoral.

          As for the difference between “a pornographic show” and “a show that has porn in it,” I drew that distinction in response to your defense of the show based on its high production value and storytelling savvy. In my mind, a show that portrays explicit sex is automatically porn, regardless of its quality or additional intentions beyond viewer-titillation. But if “porn” to you means “a show whose sole purpose is viewer-titillation and which pays no attention to artistic merit,” then I’m willing to amend my description of A Song of Ice and Fire to “erotic fantasy.”
          Austin Gunderson’s recent blog: Scenic AustinMy Profile

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    • Regarding the nature of temptation vis-a-vis titillation: Matthew 5:27-28 has something to say about that, for those of us who take Jesus seriously. If I intentionally allow myself to look with lust upon (i.e. be titillated by) Emilia Clarke, for instance, then I’m committing adultery with her in my heart. My intentions matter just as much as my actions. So while it’s true that the sin-danger for me wouldn’t be physical — at least not yet — that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be tempted to sin. What’s at stake is the state of my own heart and mind.
      Austin Gunderson’s recent blog: Scenic AustinMy Profile

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      • Okay. I was just saying that however many intentions you and millions of others may have of sleeping with Emilia Clarke, you can rest assured that you will never have the slightest chance to consumate that temptation. I thought that might ease your mind a little.

        But if wanting to sleep with an attractive celebrity counts just as much as actually sleeping with her…wow, that’s a whole new world of cred for a lot of people.

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        • It is a terrifying thought, isn’t it? And Jesus doesn’t stop there. He not only identifies lust as mental adultery, but He goes on to assert that anger is the equivalent of mental murder (Matt. 5:21-22). It’s almost unthinkable, isn’t it? These are impossible standards. They demand not just perfect behavior, but also perfect desire. God has never been interested in mere external conformity. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

          According to Jesus, I’ve committed mental adultery and mental murder countless times throughout my life. Because I’ve wanted to do these things, I’ve proven myself to be a sinner at heart. I’ve fallen short of God’s glory. My desires testify against me.

          And that’s precisely why I need Christ’s redemption. Without His death and resurrection on my behalf, I’d end up paying for my own sins.

          But now that He’s given me life, I’m free to follow Him out of gratitude instead of fear. And, because I want to be like Him, because I want to love my wife with the same kind of single-minded love Christ demonstrates toward me, because I want to be mentally free to love the other women in my life as sisters and as fellow human beings instead of imagining them as sex objects, and because I want to treat Emilia Clarke with the respect she deserves as a person made in the image of God, I refuse to watch her undress for the sake of entertainment.
          Austin Gunderson’s recent blog: Scenic AustinMy Profile

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          • Emilia Clarke has no problem with you watching her undress for entertainment. She even did a live nude scene during her run in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on Broadway. She’s quite proud of her body, with good reason IMHO, and would rather you watch her than not watch her. So lets leave “respecting Emilia Clarke” out of this.

            The premise that thinking about something is just as bad as doing it would have more appeal to me if the opposite were also true. In other words, why is a flash impulse to slap someone just as bad as slapping them, but a flash impulse to give money to a beggar is just another one of those good intentions that the road to hell is supposed to be paved with?

            I’m willing to accept the idea that thoughts have power, but I don’t understand why only bad thoughts have power. It sounds like an awfully good way to manipulate people by guilt tripping them.

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            • If “showing respect” was defined as “doing unto people whatever they want and/or expect,” then I’d respect alcoholics by buying them a drink, druggies by getting them a fix, and prostitutes by patronizing their services. But I don’t believe that a person’s desires or expectations always reflect what’s best for them, and I’m willing to put my life where my mouth is by treating them accordingly. I understand that you find nothing inherently wrong with Emilia Clarke putting her nude body on public display, but I do. And I refuse to enable what I believe to be self-destructive behavior on her part. That, to me, says “respect.”

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            • As for sinful thoughts vis-a-vis sinful actions, I’ll echo Stephen’s response below. Sinful behaviors are certainly worse than sinful thoughts, but that doesn’t mean that the thoughts themselves aren’t also sinful. I’d also say the same thing about good intentions vis-a-vis good deeds: it’s better to have good intentions than not, but intentions by themselves don’t actually accomplish anything without accompanying action (James 2:14-17).

              I think the distinction I’d draw here (and it took me a few minutes of hard thought, because your challenge is a thoughtful one, and I appreciate it) is that good thoughts (“Maybe I should buy that homeless man some food,” “Maybe I should forgive my idiot coworker instead of resenting him,” “Maybe I should quit checking Facebook and get back to work”) are pointless and self-deceptive unless they lead to action, whereas sinful thoughts (“Wouldn’t it be nice to do Emilia Clarke … Mmm!”) are self-destructive in and of themselves, even if they have no tangible effect beyond one’s own mind. They disregard God’s moral will and create a mental environment of sin-glorification that makes it easier for one to sin in the body.

              Again, Christians believe that total perfection, not some arbitrary level of compromised adequacy, is the standard. That’s why I can stand with confidence before God only in the power of Christ’s perfection, which He’s bestowed upon me through His death and resurrection.

              But if we must speak in terms of degrees, then here’s the thoughts/deeds hierarchy as I’d imagine it:

              1.) Good desire and good action (i.e. perfection — achieved over an entire lifetime by Christ alone).

              2.) Good desire and sinful action (i.e. the imperfection of powerlessness and frustrated intentions).

              3.) Sinful desire and good action (i.e. the imperfection of dishonesty and legalism).

              4.) Sinful desire and sinful action (i.e. the imperfection of honest, straight-up rebellion against God’s moral will).

              Everything below the first item is imperfect, and therefore unacceptable to the God of perfect justice. Everyone who’s fallen into one or more of those categories at any point in their lives is in need of the total atonement offered by Christ (James 2:10-12).

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          • Again, as Austin pointed out, the Biblical Christian’s concept is that we have a Creator, an Owner, a very good God Who gave us good gifts that are best enjoyed when we enjoy them for His glory and in relationship with Him, and not apart from Him. It is actually when we take the gift and run away from him, being ungrateful children playing in the corner, that life turns upside-down and ultimately we lose the only ultimate joy we could ever have: not just by using God’s gifts rightly, but by enjoying them for the praise and enjoyment of Him personally. The Christian calls this gift-abuse “sin.” And yes, the Biblical Christian says that even sinful thoughts are grave offenses against this good and loving Creator. The point is not that thinking a sin is equally as bad as actually doing the sin. (The Bible itself says that some sins, such as abuse of the weak, are worse.) The point is that even the thought of a sin is so far beneath the dignity and holiness and love of this God that we ought to despise it.

            Apparently Christians have done a very poor job of defining why we actually believe that some things are sinful — or else it’s just a perplexing concept to one outside Christianity. During your (longer?) stay at SpecFaith I hope we can set the record straight a little bit. Again: Sin isn’t all the same level of bad, and sin isn’t bad only because it hurts other people. It’s bad because it says to God, “I don’t care for the joy You intended for me to have, with this gift, in a life of enjoyment of You personally; I’m going to play with Your gifts my way.”

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        • I’d be cynical and say that your boyfriend (if you have one) probably will never have a chance of sleeping with Emilia Clarke too, but if he starts telling you that he wants to sleep with her, starts a huge porn collection featuring her, and starts going on about how she doesn’t mind him watching her and she’s proud of it you’d be less sanguine about it pretty darn quick. You don’t have to physically consummate the temptation to have it alter you over time.
          dmdutcher’s recent blog: Review: The Circle Girls: Once Upon A Witch, by Anya NovikovMy Profile

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          • My problem with all this is that there’s a lot of black-and-white going on here in regards to Emilia Clarke. How much admiring of her hotness does it take before we’re theoretically lusting after her? I’ve heard people use “finding sexually attractive” and “lusting” as synonyms (even “finding person aesthetically attractive” = “lusting”), but I find that to be unnuanced. Theoretically, if Chris-Evans-as-Captain-America were 1) not fictional, 2) interested in me, then yeah, sure there’s a chance we could boink, but there’s a lot of mileage between “nice pecs/you’re adorable” to “want to shake the mattress?” (Or at least for me there is. I have to remind myself to be aware that there are people who have a shorter distance between the two points [but they are two different points].)
            notleia’s recent blog: Reviewing ‘Treasure Traitor’My Profile

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  14. Good post. I’m not interested in gratuitous nakedidity (or violence). I had someone pull “but the sex scenes advance the story” on me. Uh. Sure.

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    • Half the time I am tempted to forego any Biblical/holiness arguments and instead simply raise one eyebrow and say with an I-hope-Christlike smirk, “I’m so sorry you’re not Getting Any.” Well, this is what I would be tempted to say to George R.R. Martin or the author of Fifty Shades of Gray, anyway. :-P

      But! seriously, the argument here is not “you’re enjoying pleasure, and that’s wrong,” but “you are far too easily pleased (and your ‘pleasure’ is boring).”
      E. Stephen Burnett’s recent blog: But ‘Game of Thrones’ Still Has Porn In ItMy Profile

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  15. Austin – great points and thank you for such biblically sound reasoning.

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  16. Papal Bull says:

    “Yes, the Game of Thrones game by all accounts includes real actual porn.”

    Right there is where your blog loses all credibility.  You haven’t watched the series, nor read the books, therefore your blog on the subject is both irrelevant and worthless.

    I have at least watched the series (up to early Season Two) and I can say with authority the following.  It is not “torture porn”, since the violence is not extreme or graphic (an obvious problem is blindly trusting other sources without confirming facts yourself).  However it is pornography because it relies on sex scenes to cover deficiencies in the story.  What mostly disturbs me is the exploitation of sexual violence as an entertainment device.

    I decline to watch further because I prefer honest porn to porn disguised with better production values.  Truly it was said, “You can’t walk in dog shit without getting your shoes dirty.”

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    • Papal, welcome to SpecFaith.

      Your comment is one of the more unusual comments I’ve seen on the internet.

      Here’s a short paraphrase of your two major points:

      1. Your article sucks because you haven’t even seen the “Game of Thrones” TV series.
      2. You’re right anyway about the series’ porny parts.

      So I suppose this is a sort of backhanded praise?

      Right there is where your blog loses all credibility.  You haven’t watched the series, nor read the books, therefore your blog on the subject is both irrelevant and worthless.

      For at least two reasons this is bunk:

      1. I’m relying on the words of those who have seen the series. Now that includes you, a “hostile witness” who ultimately concludes my perception of GoT porn — based on firsthand accounts — was correct.
      2. Secondhand punditry is not automatically inadmissable. If you disagree with said punditry then you’d first need to say, “Your view of the  thing is incorrect, and here’s why.” Accusing the other person of not having firsthand evidence does not automatically make an argument.

        For example, I fault many Christians for having incorrect notions about what goes on in the Harry Potter series. I say, “You’re spreading slander or at best ignorance about the stories, and here’s how.” But my prime objection is not that they rely on secondary sources at all — it’s that they (at best) rely on wrong or even deceptive secondary sources.

      As for your rebuttal to the “torture porn” element, you’ll note that I referred to another pundit and titled the section with a question mark (“Torture porn?”). But my main objection was to the firsthand viewer’s ignorance of porny-porn while he emphasized torture porn. Some people can be exposed to actual “torture porn” and get away with little besides an upset stomach. But most people can’t tolerate actual porny-porn, naked-people porn, without being tempted to indulge in sexual lust — not to mention the fact that unlike torture porn that relies on practical effects, CGI and acting, an actors must inevitably actually sin sexually to make porny-porn.

      E. Stephen Burnett’s recent blog: Steve Laube on Marcher Lord Press Regenerating into Enclave PublishingMy Profile

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  17. Thank you for this, and for your follow-up column as well. Well said.

    I watched part of the first episode of GoT. When they got to the orgy, I was done. I have not watched more. It was already clear, what, twenty minutes in? that prurience was an underlying driver of the show. Yes, it’s porn. It’s demeaning and exploitative of the actors and of women generally.

    Christians need to leave it alone.

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