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Dear Matt Walsh: Watching 'Game of Thrones' Doesn't Make Me a Bad Christian


Matt Walsh is a hero of mine. I agree with almost everything he writes, but not this.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Dear Matt,

I’m one of your biggest fans. I’ve followed your work since before you came to TheBlaze and, though you’re younger than me, the passion and conviction you show in your writing has gone far beyond just inspiring me to better articulate real Christ-centered conservatism to the world around me, but also to get off my “writing duff” and put my own thoughts into words.

However, ironically enough, I’m about to write a piece to disagree with your recent “Game of Thrones” condemnation. I get what you are saying, but I’m going to write it nonetheless, and not just because I’m a card-carrying nerd who’s a sucker for virtually anything with a sword, shield, or tavern wench in it.

I’m going to write it because, while you made some excellent points about the depravity of what we call “entertainment” today, you picked an odd place for your “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Photo Credit: Shutterstock 

In fact, the “Game of Thrones” “rape scene” that occurred at the end of the last episode isn’t just a man made of straw, it’s a straw man you’ve admittedly never even laid eyes upon. Those may be the easiest kind to knock down, but they’re also the easiest to critique.

No, you don’t have to see a show to know what’s in it or to condemn it, but you do have to understand the context of the scene in question. You ask, “Is there ever a good reason to watch a rape?” and you correctly answer “no.” You also correctly note the difference between “celebration and exploitation of the evil” and merely portraying it.

Problem is, not only did the actual audience who watched the show not actually watch a rape on Sunday night, they also didn’t see the act of rape exploited or celebrated.

George R. R. Martin, the author of "A Song of Ice and Fire," upon which the HBO show "Game of Thrones" is based, is a liberal. But even liberals don’t approve of rape (baby killing, maybe, rape … no, unless it’s a man in prison, of course), and I’m pretty sure the screenwriters and producers don’t either.

If the rape were celebrated, then yes, you would have an incontrovertible point. But, it wasn’t. And I can tell you I have enough faith in the producers of the show and in humanity in general (at least at this point) to say it won’t be celebrated or exploited next week either.

In fact, Ramsay Bolton, the character that actually commits the rape, is one of the cruelest characters to ever stain the pages of any novel, much less Martin's. King Joffrey, a dude that makes the Roman emperor Caligula seem like a great guy to have a beer with, also does horrific things throughout the series.

Anyone who keeps track of the story at all would have been disgusted by Ramsay’s actions, but not surprised. Why?

Psychopaths do psychopathic things. Evil people do evil things. If someone watched that episode and didn’t recoil in complete horror and disgust, they’re probably a psychopath too.

What I can tell you is that nothing, not one single second, of that show made ANYONE besides a complete and utter psychopath want to go out there and rape someone. If anything, it shows man’s depravity and desperate need for Christ.

But do we need a show like “Game of Thrones,” based on a story by an author who purposely fills his world with little black and white and lots of gray, to show us, as the article you linked to said, how much this world needs Jesus? Isn’t the real world bad enough?

Maybe, but where do you draw the line for the rest of us?

You write, “I’m saying that the Bible tells us to protect our purity of heart and mind, and if those exhortations don’t apply to a show like 'Game of Thrones,' when and where do they apply?”

As you say, there is a place for “adult” entertainment, and I agree. However, the logic you use above is little different than the Baptist preacher I grew up under warning his parishioners to stay outta them “Satanic Hollywood movie theaters.”

You know, because Jesus would never go see ANY movie.

By your logic, do we cut out any movie or television that utters a “cuss word?” How about war movies? I can see it now – “Oh bologna, Sarge, Capt. McGrew just got his stinkin' head chopped off by an Asian of Viet-Cong persuasion!”

Yes, I know you aren’t really saying that, but nevertheless, it is your logic taken to an extreme.

You purposefully leave out your own movie and television choices, and I really don’t blame you for that because then people who disagree with you can begin to critique scenes in those shows to poke holes in your point. You also don’t really draw a line either, except at “Game of Thrones.”

I do believe a line exists. Want to know where I draw it?

1.) As you said, and I agree, if a show celebrates and exploits evil, then I’m done. There are plenty of shows like that, shows I avoid like the plague. I happen to think “Game of Thrones,” while there are scenes I wish they would leave out, isn’t one of them. Maybe you do, which leads to my next point.

2.) If a show violates your conscience, stop watching it.

Those are pretty good lines to draw, but the crazy thing about this freedom we have in Christ is that, absent clear Biblical instruction (i.e. adultery, gossip, murder, etc.) you don’t get to tell me where that is, and I don’t get to tell you. Yes, license is a problem in our society. We both agree on that. But legalism is a problem too. Yes, political correctness is a great example, but our "Christian" brand of it permeates many churches and Christian circles.

I respect you as a writer and as a person, and I completely respect your decision to not watch “Game of Thrones.” What I don’t respect is your condemnation of the show to others, especially when it’s based on an incorrect assumption.

Allow me to answer a few of your questions:

You ask, “What was the point?”

Answer: The point was that a bad guy did a really bad thing. Bad guys tend to do stuff like that, which will make it all the sweeter when/if he eventually gets his comeuppance.

You ask, “Why did it need to be shown?”

Answer: It wasn't actually "shown," not in graphic detail.

You ask, “What purpose did it serve?”

Answer: Again, a plot device in a really good story. When you watched Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot,” wasn’t Col. Tavington’s demise all the sweeter because of the awful things he did?

You ask, “What value did it have?”

Answer: I don’t know, maybe to show that evil will take people to horrible places, like rape, and it’s never, ever, ever OK?

I love a classic good vs. evil tale where evil reigns for a while but good triumphs in the end. We all do. But that isn’t the story Martin wanted to tell. He wanted to portray a world with less black and white and a lot more gray, because that’s the kind of world we live in, a place where good people are capable of evil and evil people are capable of good, but monsters still dwell among us.

Martin's world, like ours, is a place where evildoers sometimes do get their just desserts, but not always. As real people with real, human, God-given emotions, we want to see Sansa free. We want to see the Starks finally get their revenge. We want to see evil punished. But Martin, like real life, doesn't promise us that. He does, however, promise a riveting story about how characters survive and persevere despite incredible odds.

In the Middle Ages, the era in which the story, though fantasy, is based, I’m sure there were a lot of lords and kings and even ordinary husbands who thought it was OK to rape their wives. Thankfully, we have evolved to the point where the majority of us react in complete disgust, not at the writers (unless they are celebrating and exploiting it), but at the kind of world where someone could seemingly get away with such an act.

If “Game of Thrones” serves no other purpose, it should be to remind us of that.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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