Jesus and Hollywood: What’s the Difference between Acting and Actually Doing, Especially as a Christian? (Pondering Profanity, Sexuality, and Violence)

 

 

Seems like a strange pair, but we born-again Christians love our movies and TV just as much as everyone else.  But where do we draw the line?

One of my favorite TV shows during 4th and 5th grade was surprisingly The Dick Van Dyke Show as it was featured in syndication on Nick at Nite.  It was while watching that show (I was around 9 or 10) that it occurred to me, “Dick Van Dyke is kissing Mary Tyler Moore, but in real life, they may both be married to someone else who has to watch them kiss another person.”  To me, that would just be too weird… and wrong.  As much I fantasize about being an actor in a flash-sideways version of my life in some alternate path I could have chosen for myself a decade ago, I have to acknowledge that as a born-again Christian, there would be an exhaustive list of limitations for me as a legitimate actor.  (Granted, Kirk Cameron got around the “have to kiss another woman” dilemma when he used his own wife as a stand-in at the end of the movie Fireproof.)

That’s not to say that there aren’t born-again Christians who act in mainstream media.  For example, there’s the often-mistaken-as-a-Jew-but-actually-just-Welsh-American actor Zachary Levi, who is the protagonist of the hit show Chuck.  He has been outspoken about his relationship with Jesus Christ.  Click here to see what he said in one of his interviews with Relevant magazine.  I am fascinated by his Hollywood success and his commitment to his faith.  I would love to ask him about this very topic today; specifically this question, “As a Christian, what won’t you do in a role?”  (Zachary Levi, if you’re reading this, feel free to comment and help me out.  Thanks.)

Where does a Christian draw the line when it comes to acting?  I would say kissing another person on stage is harmless except when either or both of them is married.  And what about “love scenes” (scenes that involve sexual activity, with or without nudity)? What about profanity? Are there any words you just shouldn’t say?  Personally, I could easily curse on camera before I could say, “oh my God”; because to use God’s name in vain is breaking one of the Ten Commandments, while cursing is simply a fading taboo of shifting rules set by the expectations of culture.  To me, there are plenty far more destructive ways that words can be used that go against the Kingdom of God, like gossip, malicious sarcasm, and belittling.

Here’s where it gets really tricky.  If you think it’s wrong to curse in a role or play a character who has premarital sex, how is that so different from playing a character who is a murderer?  At least by playing a killer, you’re truly just pretending to play a character who is obviously in the wrong.  But by being filmed semi-nude under covers in a bed, you’re sending a subconscious message that sex between two consenting adults doesn’t necessarily have any spiritual concerns attached to it.

So in theory, in 1983, as a born-again Christian, if given the opportunity to have Al Pacino’s lead role in Scarface, would I, should I, could I?  For it’s time, the movie Scarface contained more profanity than any other film in history.  It was originally rated NC-17 for its violent content.  But in the end, (sorry if you haven’t seen the movie but you’ve had 28 years to see it so I feel okay about giving away the ending) all of Scarface’s sins find him out.  It’s obvious that his life of violent crime led to his own demise and in the end, it wasn’t worth it. Does that mean that this movie teaches its viewers not to waste their lives in a mob, getting  involved with violence and cocaine?  In theory, yes.  In theory, it has positive, redeeming value because in the end, crime doesn’t pay.

That’s something I’ve observed about Christian culture.  It seems most Christians are okay with a character doing obviously un-Christian things if in the end they repent: Unlike the character of Stacy Hamilton, played by Jewish actress Jennifer Jason Leigh in the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, who decides to have an abortion and seemingly goes on to live a completely normal life, never regretting her decision.  I contrast that to the song “Red Ragtop” by Tim McGraw, whether the 20 year-old protagonist gets his 18 year-old girlfriend pregnant and together they decide to have an abortion.

However, by the end of the song, though it’s not explicitly stated, the melancholy mood and subtle lyrics of the song itself convey the message “we can’t undo what we’ve done or beat ourselves up over it, but we do regret and it’s definitely a sad thing that happened”.  Rightly assuming that Country music fans are mostly Christians (simple demographics), they helped the song rise to the #2 position on the Country charts.

Entertain this thought: Ask yourself privately, as a Christian, whether or not you would play the role of a character in a play, musical, TV show, or movie who would do any of the following things:

-use minor profanity

-use stronger profanity including racial or gender slurs, up to the “f-word”

-use God’s name in vain, whether it’s by saying “oh my God” or “G.D.”

-play a character who has premarital sex and never encounters any real negative consequences

-play a gay character who never actually kisses another actor

-play a gay character who does kiss another person of the same gender

-play a heterosexual character who jokingly kisses a person of the same gender on the lips, which happens quite often on Saturday Night Live

-play a serial killer and rapist, though no explicit violence is ever shown on screen and who never curses or participates in any pre-material sexual relationship

-play a serial killer and rapist, though no explicit violence is ever shown on screen and but does participate in some premarital sex and who does some cursing

-play a serial killer and rapist, though no explicit violence is ever shown on screen and but does participate in some premarital sex and who does some cursing, but at the end accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior and from that point on lives a life in accordance to the teachings of Jesus

How is it any more wrong to play a homosexual actor than it is to play heterosexual actor who has premarital sex?  Though both situations are perceived much differently by the general population, when it comes to my understanding of the Bible’s teaching of righteousness, I don’t see how one is any different or worse than the other.  The way I understand it, Jesus died for all sin.  Sin is sin is sin.  No matter what kind it is, it separates us from God and causes every single one of us to need His grace.

Where do you draw the line as a Christian actor? Obviously to be involved in straight-up porno-graphy is out of the question for any sincere Christian.  But there are so many millionths of the scale to get to that extreme.  On the much slighter end of the scale is a man with his shirt off showing off his six-pack while he rides a horse bareback.  Further down the scale is that same man passionately kissing a woman while in a hot tub, both in their swimsuits.  Next is the same man and woman acting out a love scene in bed and though they are actually naked, they aren’t acting having sex underneath the blankets which strategically cover up certain parts of their bodies.

I remind myself that outside the culture of conservative Christianity, in reality the rest of the world behaves its own way regardless of our censorship.  To imagine a real life group of people who in their everyday lives never cursed or had premarital sex (outside of the conservative Christian world) is to me, simply unbelievable.  Taking away the elements of entertainment that are unChristian-like either makes the TV show or movie either A) unrealistic or B) a Christian movie like Facing the Giants.

I also remind myself that the Bible itself is full of violence, premarital sex, rape, and murder. There is homosexuality.  There are concubines.  There are instances were people cursed (like when Peter denied Christ).  The King James Version of the Bible even contains the words “piss” and “ass”.  If the entire Bible were made into an epic movie, could born-again Christians play every role?

But some point, acting is no longer simply just acting.  It’s doing.  So here’s my final thought about all this.  In some technical, annoying way, are we as conservative, born-again Christians actually hypocrites for being spectators of popular entertainment?

Imagine this: Instead of the majority of the cast of Friends and Seinfeld being Jewish, instead they were all born-again Christians.  Because of their faith-based convictions, none of them were willing to use any profanity or be involved in any situations that involved premarital sex.  I know how beloved these two sitcoms are among the majority of Christians I know.  But imagine a world where Ross Geller saying “We were on a break!” meant nothing to us.

Two Questions for You about This Today:

A) As much as we Christians love our sitcoms and movies, would they truly exist if we didn’t support them with our viewership because we ourselves wouldn’t be willing to play those roles the same way?

B) Where would you personally draw the line in regards to what you would or would not do for an acting role, hypothetically speaking, if you were an actor?

I sincerely would love to hear feedback from you, the invisible reader, on either or both of these proposed questions, by leaving a comment below.  You don’t have to leave your name; you can easily remain anonymous if you wish.

If you’re not a conservative, born-again Christian, still free to answer as well… and please know how aware I am that the content of this entire post probably seems a bit… out there.  For all I know, you may find it either laughable or offensive that we believe premarital sex is wrong or that kissing someone’s spouse is both weird and taboo.  But what good is a religion that has no backbone or reasonable standards, despite how counter-culture those limitations may be? Thanks for reading despite the culture shock of it.

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43 thoughts on “Jesus and Hollywood: What’s the Difference between Acting and Actually Doing, Especially as a Christian? (Pondering Profanity, Sexuality, and Violence)

  1. Dude, this post deserves wayyy more attention.
    I’ve thought about it myself. But when an actor takes the Lord’s name in vain, it’s not acting. When an actor ogled another character, that’s not acting. Anything violent is acting.

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  2. This One was Hilarious and Educational but the absolute TRUTH. I have read the Bible and it goes to show I still have more to read! I say “PISS” and “ASS” all the time since I had children. So if its in the King James Version…….I’ll be looking for whether its usage is ‘a good thing’. Parents will always get that one day and/or one child that makes you loose it and use it. (“Hope you never have to CURSE!”) Like you my conscience is leave all other bad words out……..and “Yes!” although hearing a curse is really FUNNY sometimes, TV should be censored. Some people look at sinful shows for Entertainment. Its really not FUNNY to ME and I guarantee you…….ITS NOT FUNNY to GOD! The Closer You get to the Lord God…..you don’t want to see the FILTHY SINFUL CRAP on TV. In the beginning YOU WATCH…..its funny because you really arent EMERGED in GOD’s WORD-you are still learning…….Then the More you get into GODs Word…..you may use what you see to LEARN from it(example to teach your family…..as in NOT to DO the SIN you see others do ). Sadly many see that these TV shows have encouraged and tricked People into thinking their SIN is OKAY because someone else is doing it. More Importantly, the more you learn about the LORD GOD, PRAY and WORSHIP GOD…..you want nothing to do with SINFUL TV because you dont want to CONTAMINATE your SOUL that you are working so hard to PURIFY. So many have to grow to the point where they want absolutely nothing to do with seeing sin through TV to let it TAMPER with their SOULS to promote TEMPTATION and WRONG thinking. People who give in to sin are tricked into thinking……ITS OKAY because they SAW someone else do it……even if it was FICTIONAL and they saw it on TV. NOT KNOWING GOD’s Commandments create a lot of people in the world who cant distinguish FICTION from REALITY until they themselves are being punished from the SIN they commit. Trying to convince the WORLD that SIN-or what you are doing wrong is OKAY and one they COMMITTED is an argument that they were BORN that way is a load of CRAP. GOD and JESUS came to tell the WORLD that you can let SATAN trick you into beleiving that…….but if you dont turn to the Lord God of ETERNAL LIFE, you will see the Firey Pit……..so let me see you LAUGH at that ONE! EVEN Satan will “sin” and tell you boldly “you have to forgive me for it.” Do we really think that the “Judge” God……has to forgive us even at the last minute-judgement? Satan is not forgiven…….because he refuses to REPENT and TURN from his deception that he will win more souls than God. Still Fooled? People who turn to CARNAL ACTS and SIN are looking for LOVE…….in all the wrong places. ONLY GOD is LOVE. BE LIKE GOD and BE LOVE.

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  3. I’m a devoted Catholic and also an actor. So far I have only done theatre but I plan to do film/television. I would definitely never do something that involved gratuitous sex, violence, or foul language. I have thought and prayed a lot on what is alright and what is crossing a line. I am fine with cursing a bit but like you, will not use the Lord’s name in vain. I will never do graphic sex scenes or any nudity. And certainly I would never play a person getting an abortion. I don’t always play characters who do what I agree with. But they are just characters. All different types of people have to be represented in art. But when something goes from art to trash, that’s where I draw the line.

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    • Kelly,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. I’m curious- did you already answer this question before you started acting? Or is it something that revealed itself over time?

      Nick

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  4. I have been thinking a lot about this, and what really got me started on it was the fact that one of my good buddies, is an independent filmmaker. He’s wanting to put me threw a screen test to see what I can do. The script is wacky and slap stick. There is no non-family friendly content in it. It’s just kind of rude and disrespectful toward your elders. Me and my mom have been discussing it lately. Whether I should play this person or not. Yes, she’s fictional; but I don’t want to give off the wrong impression of who I am as a child of God. I’ve already made up mind, that I will not become an actor in Hollywood. As of right now, I’m looking into becoming a Veterinarian Technician first. But the fact that all of the entertainment out there, and even out of Hollywood, is not just bad, it’s purely dangerous, concerns me immensely. I’m only twenty, but I understand that as a Christian (means little Christ in Greek) that I am accountable to what I watch and take in with not just my eyes and ears, but my heart and mind.
    If I were to cuss, and do anything else shocking when acting, I wouldn’t be glorifying Jesus. I’d be prostituting before the devil. Not my thing.
    In 2009 God gave me the wonderful chance to work as an assistant to the director, who was my buddy. It was anything but glamerous. It was hard work!!! But I thoroughly enjoyed it, because it was more of a “family project” You can find it here at http://WWW.YouTube.com under the title name
    “Drifters.” Whenever I watch an actor perform in a scene, the first thing on my mind is “Did that kind of thing hurt them in a way, that their un aware of?” I’m a horse racer, so I’ll give you track term. Nowadays, actors are basically jockeys, who are acting in poor written scripts, and mistreated.
    It’s my belief that Hollywood’s timing is limited. Soon they’ll be no more, and we as Kids of the King of Kings, will take back the ground that we handed over to the enemy. Now, the only thing I try not to do. Is judge the person in the role. I’ll I can do is pray for them, Like Zachery Levi. Chuck has, unfortuneatly now gotten it’s self on the list of the parent’s television council. I once watched it, but now I’ve turned away. Because what I now think each time is, “Would I have chosen that role?” I can safely say no.
    But that still doesn’t make me immune to temptation. “The wiry fact of the day is this. “A true Christian who keeps himself from being polluted by the world, won’t be able to make a real living as a Hollywood performer.”
    James sums it up best, when he says this: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and “TO KEEP ONESELF FROM BEING POLLUTED BY THE WORLD.” It’s not just a good thing, but a God thing; that I’ve picked being a Vet over an actor. – “I don’t have their job, therefore I don’t really know just how tough it really is.” Wonderful topic, I haven’t been able to get my mind off of it. WRITE ABOUT IT SOME MORE, HUH?!!!
    God Bless Ya!!! On His Track Always,
    Jess.

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  5. I have no clever answers but I just wanted to say that I love your blog, having just stumbled on it today – and that I’ve been pondering this very question about acting myself. Partly because I’m a writer – the novel I’m writing isn’t Christian fiction, the characters are in relationships and therefore have sex (implied rather than described in great detail). They don’t use profanity – I think on the whole I wouldn’t mind that so much, but they certainly don’t take God’s name in vain – even though when I have been writing dialogue I have often heard their voices in my head with God’s name in it and in reality they probably would. But I’m not sure how far I would go with that. I think it works with this novel, but it may not work with another – and then what? And how does that all interact with our call to be salt and light in society? Hmm. Points to ponder.

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  6. I think this is a very good thing to ask. I have been thinking about it myself lately, I am also a fan of the show Chuck, but think that these such standards are to be put into practice if we Christians want to be a light in this world.I also as a young woman, wanted to be an actress, as is most young women think about doing so at least once in their life. But the movie-world has gotten so thick with immorality these days that, its rare to find an innocent/clean movie. I think Born-again actors should read your blog and really ask themselves if they are willing to risk their careers for the sake of Jesus name. The Bible says “We are in the world, but not of it.” This means we don’t stand for worldly things.We have to stop thinking that toning down our beliefs and standards are whats going to make a difference. If we want to make the biggest impact on this world, we have to shine our light as bright as we can. Putting a cover on your candle isnt going to help anyone. I’m not talking about judging others or those in the world, but simply just adjusting ourselves to a purer lifestyle. And the world will be drawn to it. “If my name is lifted up, I will draw all men unto you”. So the Bible says. But we cannot lift up the name of Jesus while bringing His name down with our actions.

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  7. This is a great blog. The last R rated movie I saw was Rain Man. That movie had the “f” word so many times. It’s a shame too because it didn’t add to the story. After that my husband and I as Christians made a pact to not watch, rent, buy R-Rated movies. This was a long time ago so the R rating seems to be slipping down into some PG-13 movies now adays. I stumbled across this blog googling Zachary Levi who I loved in Chuck, Chipmunks and the voice in Tangled. We have kids now so the R-Rated thing is even more important and we rarely have the TV on. I sort of told God I’d just not do the R-Rated thing and hope that it would help. If I was an actor, I would struggle with these very questions. Where do you draw the line. I used to play on a softball team with athesists and lesbians. We would go out after softball games for a beer. Sometimes, I would have one other times not. We would talk about movies and they all always respected me for sticking to my guns on the R-Rated ban. They also recently had a new respect for me as I told them about my before Christ days. They found it less hypocritical because I lived through drug abuse as well as other things. I don’t know about any of that because it is not a time I am proud of, but if it gives relevence or a chance to tell them about Christ, then I have to take it – it is part of where I came from when He saved me. A lot of other Christian friends ask why I played softball with people like this. How are we going to reach them, if we are not in the world with them. We just can’t be “of the world”. Thanks for the blog Nick – it is a great discussion.

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  8. So glad someomne is surfacing this issue again. Convictions are not easy nor popular. But shouldn’t we ask ourselves these same questions for any profession? Are our jobs ethical? Do we respond in a way at our workplaces that reflect Christ, or are we ‘playing the part’? As far as roles, I havbe faced similar issues as a writer. How do I make the villain truly bad but say, “gee golly, or oh shoot”? It’s a hard spot to be in, and everyone from Flannery O’Connor to Ann LeMott in Bird by Bird. In short: Let God tell us what is ok, and then I think He will say “Be holy as I am holy…”

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  9. This is a good topic as a Jesus lover, I just don’t see the entertainment world as being that appealing ( like I did when i wasn’t saved. I am a singer/but after giving myself to Jesus I can’t bringmyself to be motivate by the external and carnal world… Hmmm, and now my son wants to get into acting … The issue is, if we never let our selves become famous if you will, how can we be a light to the world? If no one knows you, who can you minister to? But in the entertainment world which is run by or defeated foe “satan”, us Christians can’t side step being involved on projects that glorify the flesh… Because that whole entertaient world glorifies flesh… It’s so tricky .. Gotta go in and talk to The Holy Spirit about this one… It seems that on eah and every project you would have to pray an ask for guidance. And whatnot your married. I mean kissing “acting” and kissing for real.. Both involve your lips spit and flesh smacked against someone elses… And how many times can yu play with the flesh before your heart an mind are tempted … So are we Christians suppose to stay away from these aspect of the arts all together?? Idk

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    • Thanks Fateemah. It’s so difficult to grasp and to try to figure out. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment today 🙂

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  10. I think it’s in the overall message. If I were an actor and had to do a scene that say, involves violence–I could do it if the message I’ll be sending (perhaps by the end of the movie) is that violence IS and would be wrong. After all, I would just be A character. Jesus had his parables and had to use ‘evil’ characters in his stories to send a message. Jesus was a writer and an artist; I believe he would understand.

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  11. I’m here because I googled this very question. Really well thought out and written post. Sometimes i wonder if I’m watching something with language and pre-marital (insinuated) love scenes, that I’m party to it? Just like the actors. I love a good movie and clever character development but drawing the line can be hard. I even find with my mummy blog (which is not s Christain blog) I want to show my faith and proclaim it in a way that readers can understand. My faith comes through my blog because it’s who I am put I don’t write for christains, if that makes sense. I’m reminded that it’s not me that is doing the converting, it’s the Holy Spirit; it’s my job to be obedient to what God asks of me and take up opportunities given to me. So getting back to the actor thing: I couldn’t do it but then I ask myself: should I then watch it?

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  12. Thank you! I was thinking about this recently after seeing “12 Angry Men” at a local performance. I knew several of the actors and knew one of them was a Christian and went to church and stuff. His character said “bull—-“. And I talked with my dad and we went through it. I knew I wouldn’t use God’s name in a careless fashion (“Oh my—“) or Jesus’ name, because I just couldn’t. I also decided I wouldn’t drop an f- or s-word. I also resolved not to do some other things, because it’s just not something I’d be comfortable seeing, so I definitely wouldn’t be comfortable doing it.
    It hasn’t come up yet and if it does, I know our director is quite lenient if someone has strong convictions about that, but I knew not all directors would be that way. And, yeah, I think it does come down to personal convictions.
    Thank you for the post! Very, very helpful! I’ll be keeping it in mind.

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  13. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It brought to light a lot of good points. I. E. The point you made about making the Bible into a movie. Thank you for writing this.

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      • I LOVE THIS POST! And appreciate it. I agree with Pete. My biggest problem are comedies especially “family comedies” that want to add profanity. I’m a devout Christian and studying to be an actor, all my life I have never sworn when acting (It’s definitely not always needed) but now I am starting to study more intricate roles I see that sometimes profanity makes the horrible character I’m playing, or at least the unfortunate surrounding and background he comes from. (I still will and think it’s compulsory to have boundaries as there are some words I won’t say) there are many parts to this eg. MOTIVES. Some parts I just won’t play and that’s because I feel as A Christian & as people in general we have a responsibility to use our gifts for Good. A wise man said “Freedom is the right to do good, not the right to do whatever you want.”

        Back to Pete: I would play scarface which in theory is a sad, profane but ‘cautionary tale’ before I acted in some silly “Comedy” that aims at teens telling them that sleeping around is fun without any consequences.
        My main worry is whether a child sees my work or not: When I was a kid I turned on the TV past 11pm and there was a sex scene (basically porn) on my TV, this has vividly stayed with me till this day. (So I’ll probably go as far as taking my shirt off and getting into bed lol)
        If a movie is for an older crowd let it be because of its storyline and ideas not because of the content. A horror movie is not for an older crowd, it’s for a crowd that likes horror, I don’t like horror and I know plenty of other adults that don’t, and kids alike.
        Atm my aim is to uphold my responsibility as a Christian and a person, to not mislead on camera but to tell a cautionary tale worth telling, anything else I won’t do.

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  14. i totally agree with this post, this is very interesting and i do think about this alot, if i were an actor would i do the same things. i dont think i could, and that is why i dont think i could be successful as an actor. i dont like it when someone says G damnit or any kind of profanity yet many of my favorite action films like with arnold and stallone and so on have some cursing in them. ive learned to regulate what i watch. im not into comedies much especially todays comedies cuz really all they are is SEX comedies, not comedies. why do they ALWAYS have to talk about sex?? sex isnt funny, and seeing so many people just doing it really makes me cringe. and look at the crap you see today. movies with such blatant titles like “friends with benefits” and “no strings attached”. what are these teaching kids and people? be promiscuous and slutty and not give a damn. wow what a message! yeesh, they sound like porn movie titles, yet they are actually mainstream! that says something sad about the culture today. i think movies have really gone down in quality the last 10 years. i watch alot of older things, but again im very selective. but i myself, though i do believe i got the looks and maybe even the talent, i would and could not be an actor cuz i have way too many limitations and i wouldnt get far probably since im so against everything the liberal hollywood people stand for. im totally against same sex “marriage” (it could never really be marriage because it isnt condoned by God), against drugs drinking smoking, premartial sex…yeesh, just about everything!

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  15. As an aspiring actor, there are questions I have gone over and over in my head a million times. Where do you draw the line between acting and life? Can it really be separated like some people claim?

    I have discussed a lot with my mom, and for swearing, I really don’t have a problem with if it adds to the movie or keeps in line with the setting of the movie. For example, in the movie The Fighter, the characters swear a lot. I think you probably hear the f-word about ten times per character. However, the story would not at all be realistic if they weren’t swearing. They are trying to portray this story accurately, and they are also trying to portray the harshness of the lives of these people. And so if I were acting in that movie, I wouldn’t mind swearing. However, I think it’s pointless and unnecessary when there is just a single f-bomb, pretty much just so they can get an R-rating.

    The one thing in which I still don’t know where I stand is on the side of kissing and sex. Because I personally would prefer not to do anything on screen that I wouldn’t do in real life. But say I was playing… Bethsheba in a movie about David’s life. In that, there would be at least implied sex. And not premarital sex, but sex between two married individuals. However, there are major repercussions for their actions. So in that case, I think I would be ok with the situation. Though I wouldn’t want to be totally naked making out on a bed. But then you come to the question of, in a situation like that, how far is too far? Because if the directors are trying to portray their story or vision, and that is to have you making out lying down on a bed, then where do you say, “Ok, no.”
    Opposite the whole Bethsheba scenario, there is the scenario where it is your classic RomCom and the entire movie all the viewers are rooting for you to have sex because that’s what everyone looks for now. That isn’t frowned upon, people want it to happen. So in THAT situation, do you decide not to promote premarital sex by even implying that it happened by sneaking out a window? Even though you would be comfortable making out and implying sex in the Bethsheba situation?

    These are still a lot of issues I am dealing with and processing. I am still pretty young and haven’t really gotten into the industry in the way I dream of, but I want to nail down my answers to these questions before I get out there and have a panic attack because a director asks me to take off my clothes or say the f-word.

    And also, what about Zachary Levi? I really respect everything he has to say and his wonderful acting talent, and I adore the show Chuck. But would I be comfortable making out with someone in a tank top and underwear in a hotel room (it happens in the show)? Or what about when the characters [SPOILERS] Chuck and Sarah move in together? They aren’t married yet and theyy are having sex and sleeping in the same room and it’s normal. I personally would definitely not be comfortable making out under the covers in my underwear, but is it ok to do that if it’s innocent and you yourself are not stumbling because of it? And even if you yourself are fine with it, what about the message you are sending to the viewers? In that case though, you run the risk or really not being able to have a career.

    I hope my processing didn’t sound like insane ramblings. I would LOVE to hear any further thoughts. 🙂 And I am so happy I stumbled upon this article!

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  16. I wouldn’t think of using the God’s name in vain. I don’t believe in using the initials to indicate some profanity, because by definition it’s still saying the same thing because of intent. And, why as you’ve noted in your article”…the character of Stacy Hamilton, played by Jewish actress Jennifer Jason Leigh…,” what does her being “Jewish” has significance in your point? Now as far as the kissing scenes go, in movies during the Dick Van Dyke era, especially before then, they didn’t actually kiss on the lips, but turn their faces at an angel to give the illusion of kissing on the lips or “french kissing” as well. As far as profanity goes…I wouldn’t, and some actors have in their contracts none-use of profanity. Something I’ve recently thought of:
    I guess they could do a voice over for profanity/vain speech, or put in a bleep to indicate such, w/o the actor actually saying the word, but then where does that leave the ethics of the imagination, do you want to be prompted to fill in the words mentally(for those who have an idea of what word(s) might have been indicated, how spiritually healthy is that? As far as ‘marriage.’ some people are married to their jobs, spouse, etc. I think if you’re going to play roles and only acting and not actually doing some of those known as a sin, and the movie’s outcome is not to condone then it looks like it can be OK.

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  17. I’m starting to get into acting right now and I made myself 5 rules for picking a part:

    1. No blasphemy or saying his name in vain.
    2. It can’t say or imply that any sin is ok.
    3. The production must, in the end, have a positive, or at least not negative, message.
    4. I must be comfortable playing the part.
    5. It can’t have anything in it that will, without a doubt, cause others to sin.

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  18. I don’t go to the movies any longer and will not ever buy an American made movie on dvd/bray due to the use of the Lord Jesus or GOD name in vain. I will buy a bbc movie or series because I have yet been subjected to the disrespect towards the Lord.

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  19. I’m American, my husband is Lebanese. We’re both in the movie industry. We’ve had numerous conversations about this topic before, and never really came to any solid conclusions except for the obvious. But it’s hard to decide sometimes if the reason you ask yourself these questions is for your own sake or for the viewers sake and how to make a good example as a Christian to them? The one thing I always came back to was the fact that in Lebanese TV(as well as most middle eastern tv), the plots and stories would make you cringe if they were filmed for Western tv, just simply because in Hollywood they would graphically show it, whereas there it’s just told through conversations and interactions. They aren’t allowed to show nudity, kissing, sex or anything suggestive on TV there. And in the Golden Age of Hollywood, you also had the same thing where the plots weren’t that different than plots now days, and nor were people any more righteous than now, but not directly showing it meant that the whole family could watch it. Mainland Chinese cinema also features a lot of sex and violence. But instead of showing a sex scene, they pan away (similar to old Hollywood movies). So I think the main problem with modern or Hollywood movies/shows now days is that it relies so heavily on the “shocking” and the “graphic” to get our attention and stir our emotions, that they’ve lost sight of the true art of story telling. A video camera pointed and shooting something happening live is not really directing, or story telling. It’s just a lazy dude with a camera.

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  20. On a separate note: I think that every person has a different degree of what they feel comfortable with, and what they deem to be the line. I think if you’re a full time working actor, with the sudden script changes and rephrasing that comes, it’s hard to comb through everything. So I think if something comes up and you’re like “yuck” then you obviously shouldn’t do it…but otherwise I don’t think you should worry so much about it. About setting an example? That’s really really hard! To be honest, most shows and movies are really just entertainment. But in entertainment there is usually a message. I think that if you get offered a role for a film or show that has an obvious message, then you have to consider what message am I sending? But if not, then just take the story or the role for exactly what it is, and ask yourself if the minor details that may make you uncomfortable as a Christian, like cursing or other moral character flaws, are there because of necessity or because the script is lacking talent and content.

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  21. What this really goes to show though is that as Christian actors, we should really be praying for better directors! I think the talent and pool is there of devoted Christian actors. But boy! I sure haven’t run across that many articles aimed at directors on this very issue (and they are the ones that have the power and control the script).

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  22. Now that I am born-again, I also have had questions about movies. I consider Hollywood and modeling to be vanity, yet do enjoy family movies. That’s a tough one that I need to pray about.. Hollywood has westernized Yeshua/Jesus.

    He is a Jewish Rabbi, he taught in the synagogues and definitely did not dress anything like the movies or pictures portray Him. As for the Jewish women, they kept their hair covered.

    As the ministry grew and spread out, it began to change and was influenced by other cultures. I hope people will investigate on their own to get to know the genuine Yeshua, our Lord and Savior. Here is a good site to start your study:

    . http://www.jewishvoice.org/who-is-yeshua/

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  23. This post is not out there at ALL for me. I have been acting in some way, shape, or form for the last 12+ years and actually just earned an MFA in Acting. And yet, as someone who prioritizes their faith above all else, I am very unsure whether there is any clear path for me in acting. I have prayed and talked about and journal’ed about and am now starting a book about how things might be done differently, but I still wonder if acting in itself is a sin. Talk about feeling conflicted and stuck! I am trusting His voice and His timing in all of this, and I know I am on this path of question-asking for a reason. But I do long for clarity and answers. Thank you so much for this post! It was well-thought-out and encouraging.

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