If you have ever dived into mainstream anime, you have probably come across the term “harem” at some point. Traditionally, a harem is a genre within otaku culture that involves one main character that is surrounded by three or more others of the same or opposite sex. The relationships create a complicated love triangle and usually fit inside of most romance anime. These are played off as innocent fun and appeal to comedy, always presented in a positive light. Most of the time, if you are trying to identify a harem in an anime, all you have to do is look for that one male character that seemingly has all the ladies nearby throwing themselves at him left and right.
Sword Art Online immediately comes to mind when I think about popular harems in anime and our black-haired lady killer Kirito is the king of them. Sending his mind into a virtual reality video game, Kirito discovers that the usual log out button from his menu display has disappeared and he is forced to fight his way through various bosses and enemies to win his freedom. But what’s any good survival story without a large cast of female characters desperately seeking his affection and love? Asuna, Silica, Lisbeth, and Sachi are only counting the girls from season one alone! There are many other women from other virtual reality video games that he meets and allows them to fawn over him continuously.
These relationships usually start off when Kirito is just being a genuinely nice guy, helping out a young lady in trouble. But once the girl insists on doing more, going further, he complies. Then she expects something of him every time they are together and he allows them to do more. Suddenly, Kirito is stuck in the middle of multiple girls that all want him for themselves. Now we can cut Kirito a break with Asuna because she was the only girl that he truly had deep feelings for. The sacrifice, selflessness, and seriousness that he shows through his actions prove that he has real love for her. But when we look at the other girls that tried to steal his attention away from Asuna, it is apparent that he allows them to do as they please and it grows into a fully-fledged harem.
It’s funny because as a Christian and believer in Jesus Christ, I can clearly see these typical harem tropes from Kirito relate to real life. In fact, King Solomon of Israel has much likeness to the sappy romance story we binge from Sword Art Online and it’s easy to see it fall into place in 1 Kings 11 of the Bible. To set the scene, Solomon has just risen in authority over his country and has done things like building the temple. He is a big-shot man in Israel and naturally has many women in his domain that flaunt themselves for gaining even a piece of his wealth. These are girls that lived in countries that opposed the Lord and He specifically told Solomon to stay as far away from them as possible. God knew that they served false gods and didn’t want him to be led astray. But when Solomon saw their beauty, he couldn’t resist and allowed himself to commit sin.
The King of Israel, taking 700 wives and 300 concubines, probably had a larger harem situation than any anime ever created and it ended up destroying him. Long story short, Solomon began to build places of worship for the gods of his multiple wives and turned his heart from the Lord. He did not fully commit himself to God and decided to ignore the warnings he was given. Solomon had multiple chances from the Lord to change his ways, yet he still sunk low into his sin. As a result, God punished him by taking pieces of his kingdom and handing them over to a more responsible person. He was in ruin, never satisfied by the women he acquired, and left in depression because of his bad choices.
Looking at Kirito and King Solomon side-by-side, one is the man who has gone too far and the other is a boy who has almost gone too far. Both are falling away from God’s original design for marriage, which was one man with one woman, and are leading themselves into consequences that they are putting on themselves. Although Kirito wasn’t married to anyone except Asuna and didn’t have any sexual relations, he was walking a dangerous path that could turn his heart like it did for King Solomon. He could be easily swayed to go to far with the relationships he has with the girls around him and commit sexual sin. And once Kirito makes those irreversible decisions he will leave himself in the same situation as our hopeless romantic Solomon.
The Lord knew that harem relationships with romance were never healthy for mankind and set boundaries to help us escape the consequences of sin. Maybe you are stuck in your own real life harem, whether with physical women or digital images from pornography, and know that your actions will ultimately lead you to ruin. You could be like King Solomon who already blew it or Kirito who has almost blown it. Regardless, Jesus Christ can give you a new start in regards to sexuality and save you from your sin. He has your best interests in mind and only wants the best for you. So the next time you see a harem in an anime, remember that God has something better for you and that your future is better than what the world has to offer.