Bible Question:

Is it sinful for an actor to play the bad person in a movie that is overall good? Is it sinful to play Judas, a Roman guard, or Ramses in the Prince of Egypt? My only worry is that if an actor is pretending to sin is he sinning in his mind?

Bible Answer:

Have you ever wondered if role-playing or being an actor in a movie, a skit, a theater, a computer game, a church play, or in a bedroom is sinful? The answer depends upon the nature of the role-play activity. Before we give examples of role-playing that are sinful, we need to establish a biblical principle regarding role-playing. This is necessary since our surrounding cultures operate with little or no biblical principles. In addition, 1 Peter 4:3-5 tells us that our cultures want Christians to engage in the same sinful activities they do.  When Christians do not join them, they are criticized. So, the message is that we cannot look to the culture for a biblical principle for role-playing.

Role Playing Sexual Activity With A Non-Spouse

Role playing sexual activity with a non-spouse

 

A very important passage that establishes a biblical principle for role-playing is Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8 (NASB)

Here we learn that God wants us to control our minds. He wants our minds so that we “dwell” on what is excellent and worthy of praise. The Greek word for “dwell” is logizomai. It means more than a simple thought. It has the idea of a disciplined mind. Therefore, A.T. Robertson summarized this verse with,

We are responsible for our thoughts and can hold them to high and holy ideals.1

That is, God wants us to control our minds so that we dwell  on or think about that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent or worthy of praise. The opposite statement would be that we should not be dwelling upon sinful situations, or sinful acts that are not honoring to the Lord. So, this gives us a biblical principle that role-playing must not include sinful ideas, actions, and words. We will call this the role-playing biblical principle (RPBP).

Another passage that supports this principle is 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 (NASB)

Here we learn we must examine everything, including role-playing, with the desire to hold fast to what is good. The Greek word for “good” is kalos. It has the sense of beauty mixed with intrinsic goodness. It describes the highest goodness. Also, the Greek word for “abstain” has the sense of staying as far away as possible. So, we are to stay far away from all forms of evil and cling fast to the highest form of goodness. When we apply this to role-playing it means that we must always seek the highest moral excellence and that which is worthy of praise.

Every Christian must ask themselves, “How can a Christian, whose sins have been forgiven, want to pretend to commit sins? Why would a Christian enjoy pretending to sin when Christ has set them free from sin.”  1 Peter 1:15-16 commands Christians to . . .

But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “ YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NASB)

 

How can a Christian, whose sins have been forgiven, want to pretend to commit sins?

 

Given the biblical principle, how can a married man or woman role-play committing the sin of adultery? Matthew 5:27-28 warns men and women to not lust after someone to whom they are not married. How can an actor imitate the role of a seducer of someone to whom they are not married? How is such role-playing dwelling on what is excellent and worthy of praise?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28 (NASB)

In addition, if someone argues that they can role-play in an adulterous situation that involves touching of any kind, is it possible he or she may violate 2 Timothy 2:22?

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22 (NASB)

Just having to role-play such a situation opens the person to temptation.

Here are some examples of role-playing activities that violate the role-playing biblical principle (RPBP):

1. Role-playing kissing and or engaging in some sexual activity with someone to whom you are not married. This role-playing activity violates the biblical principal since Matthew 5:27-28 warns married couples to not lust after someone to whom they are not married. For single people, Scripture prohibits fornication.

2.  Role-playing a husband acting as a policeman who engages in sexual activity with a woman he has arrested. In this situation, his wife plays the role of the arrested woman. Why would a Christian enjoy pretending to commit rape, adultery, and forced sexual activity?

3. Role-playing a man acting as a murderer. Since the sixth commandment says we shall not murder  (Exodus 20:13), why should anyone find pleasure in this type of role-play?

4. Role-playing an angry woman throwing items or cursing at others. Since we are commanded to not become angry (Ephesians 4:26; James 1:20).

5. Role-playing sexual bondage with anyone.

6. Role-playing a first-person shooter game where a Christian plays a game that involves killing.

7. Role-playing the murder of someone.

8. Role-playing Satan or a demon.

Each of these examples violate the role-playing biblical principle. They are not activities that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:8 is an imperative in the Greek language, which means it is a command for us to dwell on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent or worthy of praise. How is pretending to commit a sin true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent or worthy of praise? How is pretending to commit an act that is displeasing to God true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent or worthy of praise?

So, can role-playing in a church play or the theater be sin? The answer is yes! The biblical principle (RPBP) discussed in this study applies to both situations.

 

 

References:

1.  A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), Php 4:8.

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