Christian theologian John Piper has made a career out of saying whatever nonsense comes to his mind, wrapping it in biblical phrases, and having his acolytes tell him he’s a brilliant preacher.
His latest rant is addressed to a reader who asks him, “Pastor John, what would you say to a Christian who watches the cable TV show Game of Thrones?”
Piper’s answer, not surprisingly, is to remind Christians never to watch the show. But not because of the violence. Even though beheadings are commonplace and the killings seem to get more imaginative and graphic with each successive episode, Piper’s problem is the nudity.
And he proposes a list of 12 questions Christians should ask themselves whenever they might see some nudity:
1. Am I Recrucifying Christ?
If we choose to endorse or embrace or enjoy or pursue impurity, we take a spear and ram it into Jesus’s side every time we do.
Because seeing a boob is exactly like torturing a man until he dies. (Temporarily.)
2. Does It Express or Advance My Holiness?
Nudity in movies and photos is not holy and does not advance our holiness. It is unholy and impure.
Just for the sake of argument, couldn’t one argue that not watching the nudity in Game of Thrones means denying the appreciation of the beauty of God’s creations?
(And should we assume Piper’s never seen a depiction of Adam & Eve before?)
3. When Will I Tear Out My Eye, If Not Now?
Jesus said everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
I’ve gone through several eyeballs just reading through Piper’s old posts…
He doesn’t get that there’s a difference between nudity in movies that require it, nudity that’s basically eye candy in a larger tale, and porn. The sex scenes in GoT are pretty mild compared to what else is on the Internet.
4. Is It Not Satisfying to Think on What Is Honorable?
Life in Christ is not mainly the avoidance of evil, but mainly the passionate pursuit of good.
5. Am I Longing to See God?
I dare anyone to watch nudity and turn straight to God and give him thanks and enjoy him more because of what you just experienced.
Dare accepted. if God created the human body, you’d think giving Him a high five over one of His creations would go over just fine.
6. Do I Care About the Souls of the Nudes?
When we pursue or receive or embrace nudity in our entertainment, we are implicitly endorsing the sin of the women who sell themselves to this way and are, therefore, uncaring about their souls.
7. Would I Be Glad If My Daughter Played This Role?
… [Christians] know deep down they would not want their daughter or their wife or their girlfriend to be playing this role.
If my daughter was cast on a show that popular, more power to her. More importantly, regarding the nudity, who the hell cares what I think?
In Piper’s world, men control women’s decisions at any age. If my daughter asked for my opinion, I’d give it to her, but the decision is ultimately hers to make. Given that she’d be an adult in this situation, I don’t see why my preference should be the final say.
8. Am I Assuming Nudity Can Be Faked?
…nudity is not make-believe.
Who is watching the show thinking the nudity is “fake”… and that it would be okay if that were the case?
Granted, there are entire industries devoting to changing what your actual body looks like, but the only question you should be asking here is this: Did the actor/actress film the scene voluntarily? If that’s the case, who cares?
9. Am I Compromising the Beauty of Sex?
Men and women who want to be watched in their nudity are in the category with exhibitionists who pull down their pants at the top of escalators.
What the hell sort of malls are near Piper’s house…?
In any case, public nudity has been around for a long, long time. Yet sex is still going strong. Game of Thrones isn’t about the change that.
10. Am I Assuming Nudity Is Necessary for Good Art?
There is no great film or television series that needs nudity to add to its greatness. No. There isn’t.
I disagree. I’ve seen (actual, classy, meaningful) movies where nudity was central to scenes and hardly gratuitous.
To paraphrase Stephanie Drury, nudity isn’t necessary for great art, but it doesn’t imply bad art, either. Context matters.
What about sex as a ploy to get people to watch the show? Well… no shit. That’s exactly what’s going on most of the time in GoT. It’s not a secret.
11. Am I Craving Acceptance?
Piper thinks Christians are watching GoT so people will like them.
He completely ignores the fact that the show, as its biggest fans will tell you, is incredibly compelling. They’ll watch it by themselves if they have to. It’s not about peer pressure or acceptance. It’s about entertaining.
12. Am I Free from Doubt?
I don’t even know what this one has to do with the show.
But you should be worried about anyone, Christian or otherwise, who says he’s 100% certain about his religious beliefs.
If we extended Piper’s argument, then Christians should never step inside art museums either, or else they’ll be punching a ticket to hell on the way out. His view is that the naked body is something to be ashamed of, never celebrated. It’s the same sort of twisted logic that has forced some religious women to cover themselves unnecessarily from head to toe, led to rampant sexual abuse in certain traditions, and made comprehensive sex education hard to enact in many states.
The guy watching Game of Thrones isn’t the problem here. The problem is that too many people take Piper’s advice seriously.