What is Better? Paarthurnax and the Apostle Paul


In the lore of Skyrim, the past is filled with dragons terrorizing humans. The dragon Alduin led them and Paarthurnax was one of his lieutenants that assisted him. When Alduin started to falsely proclaim his godhood, Paarthurnax saw the need to stop Alduin and revolted against him. He taught mankind to use the Thu’um, or magic shouts made from the dragon language, to help defeat Alduin. The atrocities they committed forced humanity to defend themselves by banishing Alduin with the assistance of the Elder Scroll, an artifact made by an unknown race that mostly archive both past and future events. This particular Elder Scroll is used to send Alduin to the future, stopping his attacks at that time. 

Now, let us fast forward to the current time in the land of Skyrim.

Paarthurnax resides at the Throat of the World and is the leader of the Graybeards, who revere him. The Graybeards are a group of men who have dedicated their lives to studying the Thu’um. He has dedicated himself to helping rather than eliminating mankind. At one point during your main quest, you meet up with the Blades, the faction of old that have dedicated themselves to the eradication of the dragon menace. You wish to find out how to destroy Alduin, who has returned to destroy the world. In the process of your journey, you have to talk to Paarthurnax to get some translation of the Thu’um.

The Blades know that Paarthurnax lives, and they are adamant that he must die to pay for the sins that he committed in the past. This leaves you to go to the Throat of the World and make a choice. Despite his atrocious crimes, he also has been doing some good recently… What do you do? Kill him, or let him live?

“What is better? To be born good, or to overcome your evil nature through great effort?” ~ Paarthurnax, Skyrim

As you talk to Paarthunax, he hits you with this quote. What is truly better? Well the Bible does have a few things to say about this. First, in Romans 3:23 Paul states in no uncertain terms that ALL humans have sinned and fall short of the true Glory of God. All of us have done bad. Nobody is spared from the chains of sin. How can we say we are truly born good when this is evident, not only through the Bible, but each of our lives? Second, just because we all sin, does that mean we deserve death? Obviously, the answer is no! In Romans 6:23 it is stated that the wages of our sins may be death, but Jesus died for our sins so that we could inherit eternal life. Humans are also able to perform great works granted through the grace given to us by God.

The Apostle Paul may be the closest mirror we have to Paarthurnax in the Bible. Paul, back when he was called Saul, caused the deaths of many Christians. He dedicated his life to wiping out the Church, believing himself to be born good like most Pharisees of the time. After a literal come-to-Jesus meeting, Saul’s life was changed.

He then dedicated his life to helping build the early Church, and even penning many of the books of the New Testament! Paul found himself ruminating often on Jesus and His teachings. He traveled all over parts of modern day Europe and Asia Minor to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He wrote fantastic letters assisting new churches in following the footsteps of Jesus and capturing the heart of the Gospel. Paul, much like Paarthurnax, saw the error of his ways and did his best to remedy his sins of the past.

Where Does this Leave Us?

As humans, it is easy sometimes to believe that you can’t do any great works of God because of your past. We may think that there is no way to better ourselves. We believe that we are only worthy of what our perceived evil natures warrant us. How could we deserve anything other than that? However, through God, we know this isn’t the case! God feels that we are worthy of still residing with Him in Paradise. He gave His only begotten Son to die and become resurrected for our sins. This is seen clearly in the verse John 3:16-17, ” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

We are still capable of very great and loving acts, turning around our lives, and doing some great things. Through our transformation in the Holy Spirit, we can find ourselves giving generously and without hesitation to the poor or clothing the needy. We can start genuinely caring for our neighbors, knowing those who live around us and abroad by name. It isn’t easy to keep on the straight and narrow of ideal Christian living. Do not fret! Through great effort we are able to overcome our perceived evil natures and be the people God knows and sees in us.

Cody Massie

I am a firm believer that God can show Himself wherever people dare to look. I love looking for his fingerprints in video games especially! I have been gaming since I was young, and I am continuously fascinated with the medium.

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