Could You Play Gay?

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I work a part-time job in a non-Christian environment. I am the only believer in my immediate work station, and I can think of only a handful or so of professing believers in my whole building. This can sometimes give me a unique voice in certain conversations, and because of that I get asked lots of questions. Some of the question are of a contentious nature, while other questions are purely out of curiosity. Recently my partner asked me one of the latter.

Knowing that I am an evangelical and knowing something about my past experience in theater he inquired of me, “If you were still an actor would you play a homosexual?” My initial knee-jerk reaction of “NO!” was caught before it left my mouth, and I was able to ponder the question more thoughtfully. I had never really thought about this particular problem. I had thought much about what it meant to play immoral people on stage, and had even done so in previous performances. I had thought about what it meant for homosexuals to play Christians (this came about with the controversy surrounding End of the Spear a few years ago). But I had never thought about what it meant for Christians to play the role of homosexuals. A thought occurred to me as I pondered further on this subject: do Christians make homosexuality a worse sin than others?

We know that to God sin is sin! It’s all the same, in one sense anyways, because it is all equally offensive to Him. But for some Christians, homosexuality strikes us as some how more sinful than, say, speeding or lying. Would I play a liar on stage? Would I play a cheater, womanizer, murderer in a show? The answer became clearer in my mind as I compared the sins. It all relates to story and message.

What is a particular film or play trying to say with its overall production? What does the story value and promote? If sin, whether that is lying or homosexuality is endorsed then I struggle to justify playing that role. If, however, sin is condemned, or its consequences are spelled out that might convince me to take the role. There are a number of related questions that need to be asked as well. What is the role of character? Is he a good guy, or bad guy? Hero or villain? Does his sin play a major part of his character or of his activity in the production? The recent news about Dumbledore raised the question in my mind, “If I were a famous actor, and an evangelical Christian, would I play the part of Dumbledore?” I think I would. The reason being his sin is not a part of his role in the movies. The larger question to ask in all of this pertains to the nature of “acting” itself.

Is it possible to “act” the part of someone and not have to agree with, or endorse, that character’s morality? I think, to some degree, this must be true. You can “play the part,” so to speak, and not condone the activity, though this of course does not excuse those who participate in pornographic films and the like. There are some parts that cannot be separated from immorality, and Christians should not take such roles. Any role that asks you to sin against God is not one Christians should take. But with that in mind I must say, perhaps to my own shock as much as to yours, that there are cases where I would willingly and to my best ability play the role of a homosexual.

I suppose the final question to ask is as follows: Just how mad, do you think, the homosexual community would get if a Bible believing Christian played gay in a show?

About Dave Dunham
  • Alan Noble

    What a challenging question! Living under the New Covenant means that we must hold everything up to the Light of Scripture–the result is that we often find that we have created a law or extended the definition of a certain sin. And homosexuality is one sin that the Church (myself included) can easily place as an uber-sin. As you so rightly point out, “sin is sin.” May God give us the grace to know what sin is and what sin is not.

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    Presuming I could actually perform, I could absolutely play any kind of character whether good or bad, righteous or sinful.

    So long as the role would not cause me to actively engage sin in order to perform the role.

    I would play a gay character or a murderer or a tax evader or a politician so long as the role did not require me to perform the sinful deed associated with the character. Murder is easy because screen murderers only play at killing. Tax evaders, while often times taking to their role quite ably outside the realm of fiction, are not actually required to do so by their acting. Homosexuality could go a number of ways.

    Is the character merely gay and does not perform his sexuality on-screen? Great. As we move from asexual action toward the realm of the explicit, the soft and permeable boundary between light and night becomes ever more dangerous. Just as it does for straight characters who engage in heterosexual romance on-screen.

    Essentially, my willingness to perform the role of a homosexual man is identical to my willingness to perform as a heterosexual man. It all comes down to what do I have to do?

    Oh yeah. And what the tenor of the scene is. If there is a scene involving any level of intimacy, I would be far less comfortable performing in such a way if the scene is played for titillation than if the scene is played for the sake of the story.

  • http://chestertonianrambler.blogspot.com ChestertonianRambler

    I’ll one-up you. As someone else living as a Christian in a largely secular environment…I feel I would be a far better actor to play a homosexual than most.

    The reason is this: yes, Christianity condemns homosexuality and creates a rather prominent divide between the two groups–one I don’t want to minimize. At the same time, I have one thing in common with homosexuals: a fundamental, even THE fundamental aspect of my identity is something that the world doesn’t understand and buy into, something often made the brunt of ignorant jokes, something even associated with evil by certain groups.

    (I’m not talking here about the New Atheists, I’m talking about the sometimes reasonable reactions to hate crimes, abortion-clinic bombings, and the similarities between Christians and Muslims in their absolute faith in a providential God.)

    I think, really, if I played a homosexual the role would be controversial due to my religion–but I don’t think all controversy is bad. The fact of the matter is that, at the end of the day, I would have to admit that I’m playing a character whose identity is based on sin. That would anger a lot of people.

    But if I were to be fully honest about things, I would say that I base my own identity on a thousand sins–starting, perhaps, with the pride that makes me presume to any identity above “chief of sinners” and “saved by grace.”

    I don’t think it would make me any friends, but it just might put the ideas of the gospel in the heads of some members of the “homosexual community”–a gospel that cuts across righteousness and sin alike to point out our wretched state and need for a savior.

  • Beth

    I seem to remember david playing a womanizer, gambler and a drinker all in one play!

    I think you make a great point about how christians place homosexuality on a pedestal above other sins.

    i had a relative once say, “But homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God!” when i was defending a friend of mine who was gay. i was so appalled at her self-righteousness that i couldn’t even reply.
    ALL sins are an abomination in the eyes of God [at least according to the Bible that i read]
    i don’t know how many gluttonous, self-righteous preachers i have heard placing certain sins on pedestal far above their own.
    the condemn homosexuality [among a myriad of other sins] and with the same mouth eat enough fried chicken at the church potluck for an african village.

    i apologize for the tangent, but this topic really resounds well with me.

  • David Dunham

    I suppose the reason homosexuality gets more attention is because homosexuality as a lifestyle is much more “in-your-face” than the myriad of other sins we all struggle with. It is a blatant, intentional, forthright display of sin, and in such a way that says I will not submit to God!

    That being said, however, we still have to face the fact that, as you say Beth, all sin is an abomination to God. Christians need to do a better job, overall, of reaching out to homosexuals and not fearing them or hating them.

  • Geoffrey Seven

    Have to disagree a bit here. The other sins are just as blatant and intentional — we just don’t notice it as much because they are our sins and we like ‘em better.

    When we walk around proud, fat, angry, lecherous — how is that any less blatant a display? Indeed, it is often far more blatant, given that the gay people I know lead sober, low-key lives. I am a worse sinner than any of them.

  • David Dunham

    “The other sins are just as blatant and intentional — we just don’t notice it as much because they are our sins and we like ‘em better.”

    That’s actually the point I was trying to make. We’ve become accustomed to our own sins. In fact there are groups of sins that are quite acceptable to the church (such as being proud, fat, angry, and lecherous). Homosexuality is, at least in the media, more abrasive than these other sins.

  • Geoffrey Seven

    Got it. Thanks for the clarification. Add to my list of sins the tendency to not read carefully :-)

  • becky

    question. (as dwight says): being gay is a lifestyle/identity/wrapped up in the essence of a person kind of thing, not a ‘oops, i was just speeding.’ or ‘whew, i am totally drunk. i had i waay too many tonight’. is this why it is so ‘talked about’ or ‘set apart’ from the other sins? is this why people have such a hard time with naming/placing it? i know i do. i’ve had friends say, ‘don’t give me the love the sinner hate the sin ****. this is me. it makes up everything i am. if you hate the act of homosexuality. you hate me’

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    Is it really set apart or talked about more than other sins in anything but our current culture?


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