Spiritual Perspectives


IT’S JUST ACTING

Gary W. Summers

           My, what an enlightened society we have become!  On the front page of the “Life and Times” section of the Orlando Sentinel (January 21, 2004) are a man and a woman naked in bed, but there is nothing wrong with it (ostensibly) because they are “actors.”  Yes, they are the two main characters in a play that begins with them “naked, in bed, in the throes of sexual passion, in front of an audience that’s barely five feet away” (E1).  So, people probably paid money to see these actions.

 

     Is it possible to imagine anything more perverted?  No, we should not ask, because someone will think it up and produce it (in fact, they probably already have).  Such a thing would disgust anyone with a minuscule spark of decency. Needless to say, the newspaper was not “judgmental”: they ran a story on how emotionally trying this could be to the “actors.”  “Even for actors, it’s a lot to ask—to take off their clothes in front of strangers, and to make love convincingly to someone they have only just met while their husband or wife sits impassively in the third row” (E1).  As Wayne Coats says, “It’s too bad that stupidity isn’t painful.”

 

    “Oh, but it isn’t real; it’s only simulated” (E3).  Oh!  So they only try to make the audience think the worst. How deceptive Satan is to convince people that it is all right to sin by being naked in front of strangers under the guise of “acting”!—if they are in fact deceived.  Has our societal conscience been so seared that we have no shame any more?  “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?  No!  They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush” (Jer. 6:15a). 

 

    As for strangers “performing” in the way described, such is not unusual; we usually refer to it as the casual sex mentality.  What kind of marriages can these “actors” have?  What are their spouses thinking?  Have they no self-respect?  How many times has a spouse become enraged over such sexual behavior on the part of a husband/wife?  This conduct may not actually pro- provide grounds

vide grounds for divorce, but in any other situation, it comes hairline-fracture close.  Those guilty souls who are only partially clad and passionately embraced when discovered by a spouse should protest that they were auditioning for “acting” roles. This writer can not speak for the way in which a woman would feel, but he knows there is no way he would sit in the audience and watch another man simulate making love to his wife!  To try to justify and excuse such actions as “acting” is ludicrous.  Even the dullest knife in the drawer should be able to figure that out.

 

     Elizabeth Maupin, who concocted this clever slant on the play quotes the director: “No one blinks an eye when actors get naked on TV or in the movies…. But it’s a different story when the actors are live” (E1).  If he is correct on the locale being source of the problem, then shame on us.  One wonders how many Christians have supported nudity in the movies by going to see actors disrobe.  Have we had the right perspective?  Have we set the right example?  When Titanic was all the rage, why didn’t it bother “Christians” that the main female character was shown in the nude from the waist up?  Three years in a row the Academy Award-winning film featured similar nudity.  Presumably, people are not going for that purpose—to see the exposure (after all, there are other outlets, if that is the goal), but why aren’t such scenes keeping people away from the theaters?  Why aren’t we offended any more?

 

     The director fairly reeks with bits of wisdom: “Part of it [the play, gws] is to try to get to a level of emotional nakedness.  It’s a metaphor about taking your armor off and letting people see you for who you are” (E3]. Right, and I’m Billy the Kid!  Who can believe this tripe?  Is there no way to show who we really are besides taking off our clothes?  One thing is certain—all who are connected with this play have shown what they really are—nasty, defiled, and depraved.

 

     

     The reader will be pleased to know that the “actors” are now very comfortable showing off their bodies on stage.  The nudity, they say, “feels exhilarating.”  God has another name for it—shameful.  The male lead remarked, “But if you actually go ahead and let those walls down and take those clothes off, it’s liberating.”  The Word of God calls it licentious.”  How sad it is to see people attempt to justify their sins to themselves.

 

     All a person has to do is to rewrite the Holy Scriptures in order to maintain a good conscience before God.  A few suggestions are provided for future thespians from the ASV (Actors’ Standard Version):

 

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (unless called to simulate wickedness upon the stage or on the screen) (2 Cor. 7:1).

 

But as He who has called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct (except for theater performances), because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

 

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men (unless he is in a play which promotes nakedness as a metaphor for who we really are), but for the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-2).

 

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery (unless a little side romance flares up with your co-star because the simulation got out of hand), fornication (which, of course, it is not for an actor who is a professional), uncleanness (unless in the name of a cinematic masterpiece), licentiousness (except to provide a measure of reality in a box office hit)... (Gal. 5:19).

 

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth (unless it’s part of the script), but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers (but our task is to provide reality to the public—and to make it as graphic as we can) (Eph. 4:29).

 

In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel (unless they want to feel exhilarated by removing their clothes for a performance)…but which is proper for a woman professing godliness (unless the woman is an “actress”) with good works (1 Tim. 2:9-10).

 

That each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor (even though sex sells more tickets) (1 The. 4:7).

 

     The question is, “What is the highest priority?  Is it God, or is it entertainment?”  The Christian who checks a legitimate translation will still find the admonition: “Set your mind on things above, not on the things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).  It remains the case that Christ should be “our life” (Col. 3:4).  Seldom does the entertainment genre seek to lift us up, improve our character, or in-spire us to accomplish great things (although occasion-ally it happens).  And even when they attempt to do so, there apparently are few script writers with an intellect or vocabulary that transcends a sophomore in high school.  It is difficult to be inspired by the noble actions of characters who at one moment speak honorably and the next soil our ears with offensive language.

 

     It is not uncommon for young people to have seen or know every movie released in the last five years or to know who has starred in what.  But how many teen-agers and young adults are as competent concerning the names of those men and women in the Bible?  How many have memorized stories and scenes from the Scriptures as they have from movies?  How many can quote passages from the Bible the same length as the words from some of their favorite songs?  How many can talk to their friends as comfortably about salvation or Biblical themes as they can ramble on and on about Hollywood’s latest release?

 

     Although society is dominated by the entertainment media, it is lamentable when Christians are.  Who is dictating to whom?  Who is influencing whom?  Why are so many young people growing up and demanding to be “entertained” in worship, if our culture has not developed a one track mind?  Not only is this fact demonstrated by our thoughts and speech, but we ought to ask, “Who has had more influence over how Christian young ladies dress—Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez—or Paul who wrote 1 Timothy 2:9-10?

 

     With necklines down to what should be private, skirts and shorts up to where modesty has fled, screaming, and missing middles to tantalize from a another direction, it is no wonder that rappers have such a low opinion of women.  If we were to go as far as swimwear, the descriptions would get worse.

 

     How novel it is when young ladies with values and self-respect dress modestly!  Can anyone seriously imagine the women who sometimes accompanied Jesus exposing their breasts, belly buttons, and thighs.  It is doubtful that even prostitutes appeared in public unclad in that fashion, although in Corinth they were brazen enough to uncover their hair.

 

     This is not a cultural issue (they did it that way, but we do it like this); this is a Biblical and moral issue.  If everyone in Jesus’ day went water skiing on the Sea of Galilee, would Peter and John have been out there, competing with each other, wearing a strip of cloth less than a foot long?  Doubtful.  The question is not, “How is everyone else dressing, and what are they doing?”  The Christian should ask, “What does God expect of me, and how can I impact this world in a positive way?”

 

 

*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "Whatever the article name from above is (12/14/04)."

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