John Piper has made it crystal clear what he thinks about the idea of Christians watching the hit TV show Game of Thrones. In a nutshell? They shouldn't.
The fantasy drama continues to be a ratings hit for HBO, with the closing episode of Season 4 a few weeks back pulling in 7.1 million viewers, a significant step up from the 5.4 million who tuned in for the Season 3 finale.
While it may be one of the hottest shows on TV at the moment, it has been criticised for copious amounts of nudity and sex scenes. "Vikings" creator Michael Hirst likened the show to "soft porn" and fans of the original book series have long complained that the amount of sex and nudity is far higher in the TV version.
One GoodReads user, 'Joseph', commented way back when season 2 was airing: "I'm getting a little bored with the rising boob count in Game of Thrones ... just like a 14 year old is running the show. There was never that much sex in the books, and on the show its just getting silly how often it is; rather than feeling like its imitating life etc it just seems for the sake of it."
Joseph will surely be even more bored of it by now, as the boob count continues with every episode.
Pastor and theologian Piper says he has been asked by Christians whether they think it is ok for them as believers to tune in to the show.
These Christians will probably be doing some soul searching after Piper wrote a lengthy answer on his Desiring God website in which he goes as far as to say that, for Christians at least, watching the show is akin to "recrucifying Christ".
"It is an absolute travesty of the cross to treat it as though Jesus died only to forgive us for the sin of watching nudity, and not to purify us for the power not to watch it," he writes.
"If we choose to endorse or embrace or enjoy or pursue impurity, we take a spear and ram it into Jesus's side every time we do. He suffered to set us free from impurity."
And if that's not enough of a reason for any Christian to kick their Game of Thrones habit then he has 11 others, mostly asking Christians to consider whether what they are indulging in advances or hinders their holiness and purity.
"Nudity in movies and photos is not holy and does not advance our holiness. It is unholy and impure," says Piper.
As a simple rule of thumb for the guys, he tells them to ask themselves this question whenever they are tempted to knowingly tune in to nudity: "Would I be glad if my daughter played this role?"
He says in answer to his own question: "Most Christians are hypocrites in watching nudity because, on the one hand they say by their watching that this is okay, and on the other hand they know deep down they would not want their daughter or their wife or their girlfriend to be playing this role. That is hypocrisy."
Still not convinced? Well, Piper sure is and he's also pretty sure Jesus's words in Matthew 5 – if your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out – speak into exactly this kind of issue.
"If Jesus told us to guard our hearts by gouging out our eyes to prevent lust, how much more would he say: 'Don't watch it!'" says Piper.
As it can be pretty confusing sometimes about what is right and wrong, Piper concludes by pointing people back to their consciences and a verse he says makes life really "very simple" - Romans 14:32: "But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."
"My paraphrase: If you doubt, don't. That would alter the viewing habits of millions, and oh how sweetly they would sleep with their conscience.
"So I say it again. Join me in the pursuit of the kind of purity that sees God, and knows the fullness of joy in his presence and the everlasting pleasure at his right hand."
If you are presently a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ and the Game of Thrones, you've got some time yet to make up your mind before the show returns to the small screen some time next year.