I’m an avid reader (obviously) and fantasy/sci-fi/post-apocalyptic dystopian type YA novels are some of my favourites. Such as Incarceron. So it usually surprises my friends and acquaintances when they recommend The Hunger Games and I refuse to pick up the books, or watch the films. I was asked a while back by the ever challenging Timotheous for the reason why, and I have finally prepared my answer.
I did post all this through statuses and messages on Facebook, but I want to compile everything in one large post for the sake of future referrals.
Firstly, I can’t stand the hype. I did get through the Twilight series despite the sensation, but in my defence, I started reading those before there was a cult following, and they were so ridiculous and unintentionally hilarious that I whipped through them in no time. I didn’t have to deal with the posters and memorabilia being flung at my face until a bit later.
The main problem I have with the series is its ultimate message. The moral is subtle; it’s not like it jumps out at you and screams, “A society that murders its children is totally fine!!” but I honestly don’t think people see the big picture when they read/watch The Hunger Games, because if they did, there wouldn’t be such a following. Those without any religious convictions may not agree with my assessment, or even understand my stance, but I hope that at least fellow Christians will get a clearer picture of my total distaste for the series.
Let’s go back some two thousand years.
During the rule of ancient Roman emperors, Christians were slaughtered because they would not let the governing tyrants dictate their faith, charity, and witness. When forced into the arena, rather than murder their fellow man for sport, or burn incense to pagan gods or emperors, Christians refused, and were put to the sword, burned at the stake, fed to wild beasts, stoned, torn apart, martyred. It is for their testimony and courage under the most gruesome of trials that I cannot read, watch, and certainly not enjoy The Hunger Games.
To me there is such a simple solution. “Peter and the other apostles answered and said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”1 For a Christian, the answer should be clear: No. I will not offer tribute to a tyrannical government. I will not sacrifice my children to Moloch. I will not murder for the government’s sport. I will not give my money to a system that murders, brainwashes, and constantly strives against God and His Son. If I am killed for that, so be it. But no man, none can dictate to you or me to act against our consciences.
But the current regime is already implementing taxes and laws that undermine Christian values, and people are having to make the choice every single day whether to cave under the pressure and live against the Bible’s standards, or boldly take a stance and risk civil persecution for the sake of their principles. It’s not a “Game.” It’s not tolerable. To me, The Hunger Games only shows what could actually come to pass if Christians are too cowardly to refuse a tyrannical government it’s “tribute.”
And this is largely where I disagree with other Christians who enjoy The Hunger Games. I’ve heard some say that the protagonist is a brave and heroic figure. That she makes the sacrifice for her sister, beats the evil government, and remains pure.
I call bullcrap. (Pardon the expression.)
I do not feel at all that Katniss is a good role model. She still offers herself as tribute to the games. She makes that statement. “I offer myself as tribute…” as if the ruling oppressors are to be obeyed. She manipulates the system, she doesn’t defy it. If she was really courageous, she would have said no at the beginning, just like those who died in ancient Rome for refusing point blank to deny their Savior or pick up a sword to murder for sport. The whole town should have said, “No, we’re not giving you our children,” and probably would have been killed in a massacre. But they would have died doing the right thing; protecting their children from killing each other for entertainment. If the majority laid down their lives for the cause and just refused to be a part of it AT ALL, the martyrs would be enjoying eternal bliss, and the wicked could go on screwing up the world until death brought them to the pit of hell. But no one did the right thing. No one was willing to make the real sacrifice, and risk losing their own lives for the sake of their souls and to leave a good testimony for their children.
This disturbs me as much as the only scene I ever saw in the movie where a kid got his neck snapped by another kid for not guarding supplies properly. It hits too close to home. People today are becoming like this. They look at Katniss, and the new Batman, and weak characters who lie, manipulate, and cave under pressure as their heroes and role models.
When the Christian mother, Perpetua was imprisoned and tortured, she did not offer to burn incense to the Roman gods, or denounce her Savior to preserve her own life or that of her child’s. Rather, she held fast to Jesus’ words that it profits a man nothing to gain the whole world if he loses his own soul. Hers is the pattern of courage to follow.
Stephen, Peter, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and countless others did not let the people of their day believe in the lies of false gods and doctrines in order for them to “have their heroes” for a time. (I hate The Dark Knight so much.) Instead, they told the truth. They preached against sin. They refused to participate in the evils of the day, and they were killed by a tyrannical government because of it. They are the true heroes of our faith. You are not opposing evil if you are catering to it in any way, shape or form. You are supporting it. Katniss joins the game, and thereby supports it.
The perception that Katniss is a hero is exactly the kind of mindset that allows the current government to get away with so much. “Well, we were forced into it. The guys on top said we have to, so we do.” No, you don’t. You have a duty to obey God, and when the government tells you to do otherwise, you fight them on it with every fibre of your being. Hopefully not with violence, but if it comes to that, I’d rather die a thousand times for Christ than only once while at peace with the world. I realize I can say that while living in a relatively free society, but I do mean it.
I’m not going to condemn anyone who reads/watches the series. I’m sure a lot of Christians haven’t thought about it at length like I have, or perhaps they feel it serves a purpose as a warning. But to me, it’s not worth my time when there’s such a clear solution to the problem and the books offer no real heroes since everyone gives in to the pressures of evil. I’m not at all saying it’s easy to do the right thing when it means torment or death, but that’s why a martyr’s reward is the surest and best.
Christians, please remember; tyrants may rule for a time, but God’s kingdom is forever. It is Him we will ultimately stand before when he judges both the living and the dead. In the end, it is never worth it to compromise our faith and values.
1 Acts 5:29