What Will You Let Into Your Heart?

Man watching a static-filled television screen.

We are now in the midst of Summer and people have only begun to grow more and more with the anticipation of winter; “Winter is coming! Winter is coming!” If only I was talking about the seasons of the year because I love layering as the temperature drops. Around this time for the past six years, as  I mentioned, you’ll hear or see the phrase, “Winter is coming” everywhere you see pop culture mentioned. There are millions of people in their homes who know exactly what that means and they begin raving and blabbing on and off over a wonderful HBO television series that called, “Game of Thrones”. I have personally been on the receiving end of this show for its first few years and I remember how I always sat at the edge of my seat waiting for the next sword to be swung or the next person to risk their life at the expense of their opinion. I have learned to love and passionately hate characters in the series and you may find out that many other viewers feel the same way. This show has conquered the ratings of the TV world and can be considered to be one of the best shows ever. Yes, I did intentionally say, “ever”. It is that well received (source? don’t have one).

So, what?

Now, the reason as to why I am writing this post; it probably comes to no surprise, but this show has always stirred up controversy. It is known for the extra skin it decides to show, especially when the scenes come in almost any episode where male and female genitalia are clearly visible and what can be considered as soft-core pornography arises. Commotions bloom around the church culture every time this show is mentioned for this reason. I have heard this show nicknamed, “Game of Bones” by many, which clearly shows that sex is a big part of this show. I’ve witnessed both sides of the coin from my fellow Christian friends where some have continued to view it while most abstain from the idea of even starting it. I will say this now, that I will not approve or condemn anyone from watching this show, but I do believe that in the end, whether you want to watch it or not, you need to know what you are getting into. Check your own heart and determine whether this is a show worth viewing knowing what kind of images you may be putting in your head and what that may look like to the people around you if they knew that you were watching it. There is a lot to consider.

What will you let into your heart?

Let me head into my personal experience with this show, especially because, lately, I have been asked if I watch it and if I saw the season seven premiere this past Sunday. Short answer, no. I have not seen this episode and do not plan on watching it anytime soon, or ever. Long answer? Well, the answer really draws back to about two years ago, when I could say God “slapped me in the face”. I realized that it was not healthy for me to watch this show and that I had to ultimately refrain myself from viewing it. The hit series, Game of Thrones, in my opinion, has been a show that is very well put together. If anyone views a single scene of dialogue or an action scene where two knights are fighting toe to toe, then you will agree with me. The cinematography and editing make this show movie quality, but since the network needs to make an income and a profit from this show, they will put in what sells the most; violence, nudity, and sex. I’ll start off with the first one, violence. It really has no effect on me personally. I have always enjoyed violence and any bloodshed. Some may consider it a masculine trait, but regardless of what you may call it, I enjoy it. That was one of the main reasons that I returned back to the show for the first five seasons. Nudity and sex, on the other hand, was hard for me to digest. Ever since my early teenage years, like most men, I have struggled with lust issues and sexual temptations. This really became something that I knew I had to deal with when I watched the show. To give you some quick background, the TV show is an adaptation of a book series titled, “A Song of Ice and Fire”, by George R. R. Martin (Fun Fact: The Author resides in my hometown of Santa Fe and I have yet to meet him). The book does include some of the sex scenes or at least implies that romances ensue between certain characters. Since the visuals are the key component to the show, the creators take advantage of putting more graphic scenes and nudity that don’t always appear in the novels.

I’ll start off with the first one, violence. It really has no effect on me personally (at least, I haven’t noticed). I have always enjoyed violence and any bloodshed. Having played countless video games, I will entertain myself with this knowing that it is merely on a television screen. Some may consider it a masculine trait (or not), but regardless of what you may call it, I enjoy it. That was one of the main reasons as to why I stuck around with the show for the first five seasons. Nudity and sex, on the other hand, was hard for me to digest, not because I was grossed by it, but simply because it was the complete opposite. Ever since my early teenage years, like most men, I have struggled with lust issues and sexual temptations. This really became something that I knew I had to deal with when I watched the show. To give you some quick background, the TV show is an adaptation of a book series titled, “A Song of Ice and Fire”, by George R. R. Martin (Fun Fact: The Author resides in my hometown of Santa Fe and I have yet to meet him). The book does include some of the sex scenes or at least implies that romance ensues between certain characters. Since the visuals are the key component to the show, the creators take advantage of putting more graphic scenes and nudity that don’t always appear in the novels.

Justifying what doesn’t need to be justified.

The results of this caused me to introduce the show to a friend who luckily doesn’t have these same temptations or convictions as I do. I only say lucky, because he became my “Game of Thrones’ TV Buddy”. He was my “accountability” partner. I would force myself to never watch an episode alone in case I had trouble with lust, thinking that this would be my medication to continue to watch the show. The problem started with the fact that the images would burn themselves in my head. I can recall some of the scenes as if I just watched them, yesterday. This is what I believe many should consider as they watch the show. What are you putting into your thoughts and how is it affecting you? After a few seasons, I, then, came to a point where I found an alternative stream online that displayed any show you wanted and the explicit content would be skipped for your convenience. This was not a good solution as the show included major plot points in some of the eluded scenes. Simply stated, with so many plot holes, it was not satisfying. I wanted to find a way to watch this show where it was okay for me. Like I said, I fell in love with the action, the characters, and the story. I kept trying to justify the enjoyment that, in the end, was not helping me with my sin.

So, in anyone’s walk with God, we need to realize the sin(s) in our lives and what is causing them to appear and indefinitely consume you. So, two or so years ago, I had a crazy spiritual impact at a conference, where I knew that the sin from this temptation in my life had to stop. Sometimes it may take a particular setting or place for this to happen, but we need to continually ask God to show us where we need to grow and change. In doing so, God showed me the verse, 1 Corinthians 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” This verse is not unique from the topic of sexual immorality, but it caused me to think of what I was doing. It doesn’t particularly say to avoid one kind of sexual immorality, but to flee from it, in general. I began to analyze my life and see where I was letting images in my head that caused temptation. I ended up having to drop this show along with other pieces of entertainment. I had to close all doors where this was creeping into my life. It was not easy, though. As I said, I was highly involved with the show. I threw away the books from the series along with some merchandise. I cut the show cold turkey from my life.

Refocus

But this doesn’t mean that I am done. It was difficult to know that the show kept running with new seasons. Just as this episode premiered last Sunday, I still ask myself if it would be okay to start watching it. After a quick thought, I have to convince myself not to go back to that moment where I want to fall back into sin. And I will say this, I don’t seek or search anything that will seem tempting in other shows, movies, or media. If something pops up, I have been able to be fine with it, but if I notice that the premise of the content is based on “what sells”, then I will stop. I encourage you to do the same with any sin and/or temptation that you may be dealing with. Take a step back and see where the sin is conceived. I had to eliminate the entertainment. I heard it stated this way, “I don’t want to stop eating junk food and candy. I just want to stop being fat.” How do you think we will progress in any walk if we don’t first learn how to take the first few steps? From experience of this show and seeing what becomes popular, I have come to believe that people are absorbed by entertainment.

Understand the severity of what we will let into our lives and its effect. What will you let your eyes get distracted by? Even something as small as food or social media can be deemed bad. Things may be created as “good”, but can be corrupted into something perpetually “bad”. Don’t try and justify yourself if you have any slight feeling that what you are doing is not okay. If you have any doubt, just ask yourself if you think it is worth your salvation. Again, I will not necessarily tell you to do the same as I did with the show. But you may have something else in mind that you know is becoming a distraction. We are responsible for changing. We are the ones who have to decide. In the end, it is between you and the one who will judge you.

 

I had a few other biblical references that I thought of as I wrote this post, but I couldn’t really find how I could fit them in. I will list them below and I encourage you to give them a glance. Thanks.

 

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