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What Does the Bible Say About..Acting?

I was wondering if the Bible said anything about acting. I know it says that in everything we do, it should be pleasing to Him and that we shouldn't make others stumble; but in the true thespian sense, when one acts one becomes someone else and portrays the actions of that character not of one's true self. But I also know that if I watch an actor--whom I know proclaims he or she is a Christian--cuss or have premarital sex, it makes me wonder. Even though I know he or she is just acting and therefore isn't really committing those sins, I question if it's right. Not to judge them, but for my own personal struggle because I love to act. I really feel like it's a gift I have and something God may have given me, but then I wonder if i can use it and still be a good Christian. What are the limits? Is kissing a guy (another actor) because the script says to, wrong? Can I justify it as just acting? I'd appreciate any response and applicable Bible verses you may have. Thank you.


It is interesting that you ask this right now. In June (2002, when this question was asked) I was in a production of the musical version of "Peter Pan", and this weekend I audition for a role in "Fiddler on the Roof." (I obtained the lead role, and went on to play it even though it involved a depiction of drinking, when I do not personally drink alcohol.) Obviously I find nothing in the scriptures that would prohibit acting, in itself. I am, of course speaking of acting on a stage, where everyone knows you are playing a role.

There are about 31 scriptures that use the term, and condemn, hypocrite or hypocrisy. This word originally meant a stage actor—one who wears a mask. What it is condemning is wearing a mask in everyday life, pretending to fill a role that is different from your real character. But you don't ask if this is wrong; your question related to acting in the theatre.

You ask about the limits on acting. While it is possible that most people would realize that you are playing a role, some might take the same attitude as you and wonder whether you are condoning some of the things in that character. In the interest of abstaining "from all appearance of evil," (1 Thessalonians 5:22) it might be best to be careful about which roles you take. Since I don't smoke, I wouldn't take a role in which smoking was an essential part of the character. In the same manner it might be better to be careful in taking roles involving premarital sex, adultery, or other sins. (Kissing another man would not be wrong unless the context was a homosexual encounter.)

Paul established a rule about eating meat that may have been offered to idols in 1 Corinthians 8. Essentially he says that if anything I do causes a brother to stumble, I should avoid it. I think the principle applies here. Acting is not in itself wrong, but if the role you take or the play itself glorifies sin and there is the probability that someone would misunderstand your stand against that sin, then you should probably wait for another role.