Is it hard to be a Christian actor? This Two and a Half Men star thinks it may often be.


Modesty!, etching, published by G. Humphrey , ...

Modesty!, etching, published by G. Humphrey , London, 7th June 1821, (Caroline of Brunswick, wife of King George IV, at a theatre in Genoa, with her secretary and constant companion Bartolomeo Pergami) Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Museum number: S.51-2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“What I would say to a person who is firm in their faith and wants to go into an acting career: It is such a difficult thing to do without compromising your beliefs. Even though you are just pretending, if you sign the contract and agree to do what they are doing, even if your character is not evil or doesn’t compromise your belief, you are in a world similar to that of Alexander the Great. Everything the Greeks did was to promote their own worldview, their schools, their theater, their religion, and their sports. You are either in the world or with God. Committing yourself to some kind of job that isn’t committed to God is going to bring so much trouble into your life. It’s not good and not something I would suggest that someone seek.”

So says Angus T. Jones, the 19-yr-old star of Two and a Half Men. Now, I would have to agree with Jones that this particular show, which has for years made Jones himself one of the wealthiest child star on television, has few if any redeeming qualities. “Filth” may not be too strong a word. But he is raising a larger question here: Is it possible to be an actor and a Christian?

The 3rd-century Roman Christian Tertullian thought not. And he had some good reasons: “The Shows” of his time included nudity, sexual acts, and violence–including gladiatorial contests and the public execution-by-wild-animals of many Christians. They also took place in settings explicitly dedicated to idols. Here is Tertullian, in his de spectaculis (“The Shows”):

“Are we not, in like manner, enjoined to put away from us all immodesty? On this ground, again, we are excluded from the theatre, which is immodesty’s own peculiar abode, where nothing is in repute but what elsewhere is disreputable. So the best path to the highest favour of its god is the vileness which the Atellan gesticulates, which the buffoon in woman’s clothes exhibits, destroying all natural modesty, so that they blush more readily at home than at the play, which finally is done from his childhood on the personof the pantomime, that he may become an actor.

“The very harlots, too, victims of the public lust, are brought upon the stage, their misery increased as being there in the presence of their own sex, from whom alone they are wont to hide themselves: they areparaded publicly before every age and every rank— their abode, their gains, their praises, are set forth, and that even in the hearing of those who should not hear such things. I say nothing about other matters, which it were good to hide away in their own darkness and their own gloomy caves, lest they should stain the light of day. Let the Senate, let all ranks, blush for very shame! Why, even these miserable women, who by their own gestures destroy their modesty, dreading the light of day, and the people’s gaze, know something of shame at least once a year.

“But if we ought to abominate all that is immodest, on what ground is it right to hear what we must not speak? For all licentiousness of speech, nay, every idle word, is condemned by God. Why, in the same way, is it right to look on what it is disgraceful to do? How is it that the things which defile a man in going out of his mouth, are not regarded as doing so when they go in at his eyes and ears— when eyes and ears are the immediate attendants on the spirit— and that can never be pure whose servants-in-waiting are impure? You have the theatre forbidden, then, in the forbidding of immodesty.”

The Puritans, too, abominated the theater (one scholar argues that this was largely because of the visible and physical elements that made the word-centered Puritans nervous, reminding them of medieval Catholicism). And many Victorians–especially early on. And holiness and some Pentecostal folks, until quite recently.

While we might not wish to say that all acting, all theater is bad–I certainly don’t–what do we think of Angus Jones‘s objection to the particular kind of theater in which he is involved? And his comments about it being, at least, hard to be a Christian in today’s screen world?

And what about that other facet of Jones’s statements, addressed briefly by Eric Metaxas: Is it the duty of Christians prominently involved in culture-producing industries to publicly call out those aspects of those industries that are likely to be harmful (by Christian lights) to people’s morals? If they don’t do so, then who will? And if they do so, then do their comments carry a particular kind of credibility, coming as they do from within those questionable enterprises? I think that may be so.

It doesn’t take an industry insider’s word (I hope!) to show most Christians that Two and a Half Men is filth. But perhaps an insider’s word can become a wake-up call (for example) to parents who let their kids watch this show and other empty, morally disgusting entertainments. I hope so.

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