by Caryn Rivadeneira
Just days after defending “Game of Thrones” against a friend who accused it of being actual porn, I watched, wide-eyed, as a most troubling sex scene played out on my screen. I was tempted to dial back my defense.
After all, I love Jesus. I work at a church. I write books for children. I have children. I get what people fret about when they watch — or read about — “Game of Thrones.”
As a fan of the show, I see the explicit sex scenes. I see the violence. And I recoil. My defense of both of them, however, is that we’re supposed to recoil. No matter what people read (or see in the pilot), scant amounts of the boobs and the blood exist to titillate. Sex and violence almost always depict evil. Since I define porn loosely as something that exists only to indulge our lust for sex and/or violence, I can’t classify it as such. Even still, I understand the concerns people have about the dangers of seeing so much — no matter what its purpose.
Besides, the show offers so much more — namely, a fantastic story. One that turns familiar tropes on their heads (in “Game of Thrones” knights don’t rescue damsels from dragons. Damsels with dragons conquer the world) and one not afraid to let our favorite characters lose theirs. “Game of Thrones” speaks eloquently — if brutally — to our morality, our mortality, our humanity, our quests for power, our needs for purpose, for family, for hope.
However, “Game of Thrones” offers something else, something that caught me — a lifelong reader, student and lover of the Bible — by surprise. Watching “Game of Thrones” has made me a better Bible reader. Not despite the often despicable images — but because of them.
Hear me out.
As rough as the scenes in “Game of Thrones” can be, they are scenes similar to many in Scripture. Scenes of bloody battles and troubling sex. Scenes of torture and cruelty. Scenes of incest and sex between kings and queens with stomach-churning age gaps. Scenes in which women and the powerless have no ability or right to consent. To anything.
As surprising as it may be to some, that’s all in the Bible. Not that it’s all condoned in the Bible, but it’s there. Sometimes condemned, sometimes not. The Bible is a tricky book.
And though it sounds good to invoke the words of St. Paul and fill our minds only with “whatever is pure, whatever is lovely” and turn our eyes from violent and “pornographic” shows like “Game of Thrones,” the very things we turn from can help bring the pages of the Bible right to life. Yes, the brutal, broken often god-less world of “Game of Thrones” can help us understand the brutal, broken God-filled world of the Bible.
SOURCE: The Washington Post
Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of eight books, including “Grit and Grace: Heroic Women of the Bible” (Sparkhouse Family, 2017) and “Known and Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms.” Caryn lives with her husband, three kids, and one rescued pit bull in the near-west suburbs of Chicago.