What great arguments John Piper gives for avoiding television shows like Game of Thrones! For decades, we haven't had cable, so we couldn't flip to it or couldn't watch it without effort, but the fictional historical period would have piqued my interest before reading of the perversity of it. Piper reads the slide toward Gomorrah and here throws obstacles to slow it. Christians shouldn't be watching it. But why?
I'm right with Piper on being against television shows like this. I applaud him again. He reads like a separatist in this article, making certain types of arguments you'd hear from a separatist or a fundamentalist. He's preaching personal separation. The truth honors God.
Piper's article doesn't define nudity. He assumes everyone knows what it is. Does everyone? I don't think so. Scripture doesn't use the term "nudity," whether KJV, NASV, or ESV. It uses "nakedness" (ervah) which is merely shameful exposure of the body. Is that nudity? It's not a subject evangelicals talk about much. They admit it's out there, but they won't tell you what it is -- too afraid perhaps. Is the true problem only someone having all his clothes off and showing his vital parts? He doesn't say. He assumes we know. He doesn't make a solid argument even against nudity, whatever it is. He tells us not to look at it, even that it is sin, but he doesn't tell us what "it" is. Some might think that these -- defining nudity and what is wrong with it -- don't matter, but they really do. When these are not defined and reasons given, then people take it into their own hands.
John Piper sounds like he's being tough on Game of Thrones and the like. He doesn't like that stuff himself. He won't watch it himself. Besides not liking it and not watching it and giving people reasons for not watching it, he and evangelicalism treat dress and entertainment like a liberty issue. They don't draw lines on this. Even here, Piper won't say you "can't do it." These things are non-essentials to evangelicals and increasingly more with fundamentalists. If a fundamentalist talked about a television show like this, many men will say that he's not being gospel centered or that he's diminishing the gospel by emphasizing a non-essential. When John Piper does it, people agree with him, and give him a pass, perhaps because he has a well of good will for what he accepts from other people.
I looked at the Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN website to see programs at Piper's church, surfing to the youth and then camp section. There was a video promoting Bethlehem's camp. On the video, there were visuals of many girls wearing shorts all the way up to their crotch area. There were photos of girls with swimsuits. I didn't keep investigating, but this is where the evangelical standard becomes very subjective. Is this a biblical standard or a preferential one?
Piper sees a problem. Evangelicals do. You can see it with their reaction to same-sex marriage. They are rethinking their doctrinal statements, their covenants, and even their stands on separation. But they don't have a biblical, defensible standard. They don't offer a definition of modesty or nakedness. Drawing the line at "nudity" isn't scriptural. The Bible doesn't use the term. If they were consistent, evangelicals should be angry or upset, because Piper is going beyond scripture with this standard, but we all knew evangelicals were being selective with this terminology. It's not a biblical, but convenient. Piper can erect a barrier to prevent further moral erosion without tuning in to God's position.
God is one, and He reveals one truth, one goodness, and one beauty. The correct understanding of God is most important. The gospel itself is all about God and not us. We should, well, desire God. And God isn't represented by the aesthetic, the culture, of Piper and evangelicals and fundamentalists like him or who identify with him. They are actually a part of the problem, maybe the worst part of the problem.
Pornography is about lust, about defiling, about profanity. It makes common what should be kept sacred. Made in the image of God, we keep our clothing on. In so doing, we keep our marriage covenant sacred. Showing more body is that moral defilement that dishonors the imago Dei. Evangelicals already do that with their music. They already blaspheme God with the profanity of their worship. They already cater to men's lust that way. They take what is already more sacred, the worship of the church, and make it common. They take holy words and defile them with sensual music. This perverts a true understanding of God worse than the "nudity" does, and it happens in church, the holy congregation of the Lord.
Evangelicals opened up the movie house to Christians. Evangelicals eroded stands against secular entertainment. They already wouldn't make these applications of scripture. It was part of their thinking about evangelism and how they could reach more people. They reasoned, like liberals, that a certain sociology could help Christianity along. They already have relegated so much to the realm of the non-essential. John Piper sits and accepts Mark Driscoll, a profane preacher with the Christian kegger parties. And now we're reaching these unacceptable depths to a generation like Piper, who was right there, a part of the cause, Piper has something to say to try to stop it. That train has already left the station.
Many fundamentalists, especially young ones, won't admit what I'm writing here. This is the truth, but they cannot declare the emperor's nakedness. Evangelicals go after all the doctrinal issues, but that is not the downfall of Christianity. They have a conduct and an aesthetic that is not becoming the gospel or sound doctrine. It changes the meaning of the doctrinal and practical terms. They won't do anything about it, because their enrollments are shrinking and they've got to meet the payroll. They look for a "centrist" point of view, as I heard it from Steve Pettit in this summer's BJU town meeting. Pettit can't say something is wrong with Northland because he won't do that about a parcel of land where he parked his trailer after a long trip and his children ran on to said property with sheer joy. A place where they had such a good time can't receive criticism. Pathetic. This is where we are at in Christian discernment today, and it is Piper and those with him that brought us and helped bring us there. Game of Thrones itself departs from "centrism," a center point, which happens to be continuing to move to the left.
There is so much wrong, but I'll leave you with this to think about. If you can't see it or admit error, you are a contributor to the slide. May God have mercy on you.