Game of Thrones

 In Pastor Jeff's Blog

“Simul Iustus et Peccator.” (“at the same time both saint and sinner”) – Martin Luther

As I write this we are just hours away from the conclusion of the television phenomenon known as Game of Thrones. Rarely have I seen so much energy and interest in a television series, and I confess I’m totally hooked.

In addition to great acting and beautiful cinematography, what makes this series so compelling is the complexity of the characters. Rather than the stereotypical “good guys vs. bad guys”, the characters in Game of Thrones are more complex. No one is absolutely good, and no one is absolutely bad. They are, all of them, a mixture of good and evil, motivated by love, hope, lust, pain, fear, power, honor and greed.

In other words, the characters are just like us. We are, all of us, at the same time both saints and sinners. And we lose sight of that reality at our own peril. Forget that you are a sinner and you run the risk of becoming arrogant, self-righteous and judgmental. Forget that you are a saint and you run the risk of the kind of self-condemnation that makes it impossible to truly love your neighbor. Game of Thrones, like Scripture, reminds us that at best we hold these two realities in tension.

By the time you read this, Game of Thrones will be over. While the series is fantasy, the reality to which it points is, I believe, one of the reasons that it connects so deeply with so many people. Good and evil are at war, and the battle is in each one of us. And one day, like Game of Thrones, that battle will end. God wins, and so do we.

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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Showing 8 comments
  • Sarah

    Wait, what?! The lead pastor is admitting to watching a show full of nudity (porn) and endorsing this show to his congregation? I am a little appalled at that. This show may have the worlds attention and have good cinematography but what about your morales. There is almost nudity in every season, let alone invest, rape, and prostitution. Why is a lead pastor let alone anyone who is a Christ follower endorsing this show? Let us not overlook these things just to be like the world. I don’t care if characters are good and evil – I would rather be careful if what I am letting into my own heart. This isn’t a show that should be viewed without filters. Very disappointed to be reading this from someone who a church should seek for guidance and wisdom.

    • Jeff Marian

      Thank you for your comment. I very much agree with you that GoT should not be viewed without filters. It is definitely not a kids’ show, and much of the subject matter is indeed quite dark. Though I have found the series compelling, my intent was not to endorse the show and recommend its viewing to just anybody and everybody, but rather to point out some universal truths about human nature that the show explores throughout. I wanted to take advantage of some common cultural language/experience (tens of millions of people watch the show–and many members of Prince of Peace) and prompt the viewers to think beyond the surface of the show–into reasons why the show resonates so deeply with so many–and to hopefully provide one particular perspective (saints vs sinner in each of us) that may help us live more intentionally and with more wisdom.

    • Reid Ridpath

      Game of Thrones, and the book series it’s based on, was inspired by many historical events including our scriptures. While the Bible doesn’t contain dragons its stories, poems, people would fit right in any episode of Game of Thrones.

      I was challenged by many parts of the series. I’m also thankful for a piece of art like Game of Thrones that so richly explores the flawed and broken hearts humans have, and also our capability of love and redemption.

      Saints and sinners indeed.

      • Sarah

        The drama might fit with what’s in the Bible but my concern is a Pastor who is viewing pornography (Pornography Definition: The portrayal of sexual acts solely for the purpose of sexual arousal). It is a slow fade – and for a Pastor to say he is hooked. Hmm…just makes you think.

        Our world has enough porn, human trafficking, and rape and that is outside the church. Let’s not endorse these shows and bring them in the church – we are called to have higher standards even if the whole world (tens of millions) are viewing it. I am sure we can relate to it still without viewing it. One of my life verses is – Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows through it. Proverbs 4:23. It seems like people need to have some discernment and use better judgement. As Christians we are called to be a light and salt and how are we to do that when we are viewing and doing the same things as non-Christians. Let’s do better.

  • Maggie

    I’m with Sarah. I am totally shocked that Game of Thrones (a show full of nudity, cursing, incest, rape, etc.) would be featured in your blog with a sentence stating you are “hooked.” Just because we are in this world does not mean we have to be of it.

    I respect your point about saints vs sinners and that each of us live in that tension daily. However, there a number of other ways to illustrate this – ways that are still relevant to modern culture that don’t endorse a show full of pornography, lust, incest, rape, cursing, etc – that can still resonate with your audience and your congregation. I agree with you that it is not a children’s show. But the filtering goes beyond that. As a Christian adult, we have choices on what we allow into our hearts and minds. To be hooked to this show makes me feel very uncomfortable with what you – a lead pastor at a large church – are allowing into yours.

  • Matt

    Hi Jeff,

    Firstly, I just wanted to say that I respect you as a Pastor and Brother in Christ.

    However, I’m very troubled by your endorsement of Game of Thrones. You state in the blog that you are HOOKED, which leads me to believe that you watch the show, and therefore are endorsing it (from the pulpit as well) as appropriate material for a Christian. What you do in your personal life is 100% your time and between you and our LORD. But I feel the need to stand against you when you endorse something like GOT from the pulpit (i.e. your blog).

    Because you are a pastor, when most people read your blog they will assume this is not only your opinion on the subject, but also God’s opinion. This is my issue with your blog. If we were having coffee as friends and you said you enjoy watching GOT, then I wouldn’t take any offense because what you do in private is between you and God. But your article is a blanket statement that endorses GoT and never mentions anything about the inappropriate scenes within GOT. You gave no disclaimer upfront about the crude scenes and laguage within GOT. Especially for the younger audiences of your blog this disclaimer would have been paramount prior to reading your blog.

    I would assume you are completely against all forms of pornography. And also, I assume you know the exact definition of pornography is “any material (audio, visual, etc) that is intended to stimulate erotic feelings.” And that is exactly what GOT does in numerous episodes/scenes. If someone cut the sex scenes out of GoT and played those scenes/videos as unique videos then they would be considered pornography. But our hearts/minds are tricked when the sex scenes are camouflaged and surrounded by, as you put it, “great acting and beautiful cinematography”.

    I am going to assume the best, that you weren’t trying to give an endorsement of the show but trying to make a comparison to the secular and the Christian world. However, if that was your intent you completely missed the mark.

    I hope you take this email the correct way. Not as judgement, but as iron sharpening iron.

    Blessings Jeff,

  • Kyle Pederson

    I deeply appreciate having a pastor who can speak honestly and openly about his take on a TV show. And I personally get more from a blog post that explores reasons why a show or storyline resonates with him (and may resonate in similar ways for millions of other viewers), than I would if the blog post rails against the unhealthy and dysfunctional behavior that the characters (and humanity in general) often engage in.
    There were scenes that were difficult to watch, but the storytelling and character development (perhaps the final season notwithstanding) were among the finest I’ve seen. And the show has prompted lots of deep, thought-provoking conversation among so many friends and family—Christian and non-Christian.

  • mike

    Good and Evil at at war. How true.

    And the position our church and its leaders take influence powerfully. Consider how one gets “hooked” on drugs by merely experimenting. Or the first step to being untruthful is that one little white lie. Think about God’s plan for family and how traditional ideals have been modified to permit that which is behavior specifically defined as sin in the scriptures.

    Wouldn’t it be better to try to support those who have difficulty avoiding temptations rather than promoting behaviors that have shown to lead to sinful behaviors. Giving in to temptations can have disastrous results.

    Don’t place yourself in the position of defending that which is opposed to what seems right. Place your hope in the Holy Spirit and the scriptures to lead you to seek a holy life.

    Romans 1:25

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