The sermon was titled “Fatal Attraction.” It was a cautionary message to those of us who were married members of the congregation to scrupulously observe the wedding vows we took according to God’s holy ordinance:
To have and to hold each other from our wedding day forward. To forsake all others who might come between us. To love each other, comfort each other and keep each other, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, until death do us part.
But wait, said the junior pastor. He had an additional vow to suggest to Christ- following couples – to assiduously avoid watching “Game of Thrones,” the HBO series that begins its seventh season tonight.
I was taken aback by the pastor’s pronouncement. I could understand him condemning adultery. I could understand him discouraging divorce. I could understand him warning of the evils of strips clubs and massage parlors.
But I could not fathom why the pastor saw fit to mention a lone TV show – “Game of Thrones” – as if it singular poses a clear and present threat to Godly marriages.
I don’t think the pastor was impugning the morality of those in the congregation who have a taste for HBO’s critically-acclaimed fantasy drama, which is based on the best-selling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” authored by George R.R. Martin.
I imagine he simply thinks the violence and debauchery fairly regularly depicted on “Game of Thrones” is inappropriate entertainment for Christ followers.
That’s where I believe the junior pastor erred – by turning a “disputable matter,” as the Apostle Paul called it, into a matter of Christian doctrine.
Indeed, in 1 Corinthians, Paul writes: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful for me, but not all things edify.”
Now, let us not misconstrue what the apostle is saying. He is not suggesting it is acceptable in the eyes of God for him to disregard the Ten Commandments; that he can murder, commit adultery, practice idolatry (or whatever else he sees fit) with impunity.
No, what he is saying is that practices not addressed in the law, not set forth in the Bible, either directly or indirectly, are not verboten to Christ followers. However, he suggests, we would do well to avoid things that are neither helpful nor edifying.
The pastor obviously believes that “Game of Thrones” has no redeeming value to offer Christ followers. But in Romans the Apostle Paul advises: “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.”
That’s good advice not only to pastors, but the entire body of Christ. Let us remind ourselves that not all of us are mature Christians; that there are many among us whose faith is week.
We do not help them grow nearer to God and stronger in their faith by quarreling with them on disputable matters. So let us not look disapprovingly upon those who, say, patronize bars. Or those who listen to secular (rather than praise and worship) music on their Ipod. Or those looking forward to the new season of “Game of Thrones.”