What Does it Mean to Be Christian … and an Actor?


The Magnificent Seven lands in theaters today, starring Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington and burgeoning superstar Chris Pratt. Next week, another box-office megastar, Mark Wahlberg, will unveil his latest action flick, Deepwater Horizon.

All three actors, incidentally, are Christians.

“Put God first in everything you do,” Washington recently told the graduating class of Dillard University, a liberal arts college in New Orleans. “I pray that you put your slippers under your bed tonight, so that when you wake up the morning you gotta get on your knees in the morning to find them. And while you’re down there, say thank you. Thank you for grace, thank you for mercy, thank you for understanding, thank you for wisdom, thank you for parents.”

Pratt talks about how praying for his son, born nine weeks premature, “redefined” his faith. He regularly posts Bible verses on Facebook. He encourages his fans to pray for sick children. And this Easter, the actor posted a series of pictures on Instagram showing himself and some friends building and erecting a gigantic cross.

Mark Wahlberg, a Catholic, goes to church every day. He credits his faith with turning his life around when he was a troublemaking teen. “Anything that’s good in my life is because of my faith,” he told Time back in 2010. “A lot of people get in trouble, go to jail and find God, and the minute they don’t need God anymore, they’re gone. But I spend a good portion of my day thanking God for all the blessings that have been bestowed on me. If it all ended today, I’d be happy. I’ve had such an amazing journey.”

I don’t doubt these actors’ spiritual sincerity. In fact, I think I could learn a thing or two from them. Even though I work for a Christian organization and spend lots of time talking about faith and film, I don’t post lots of Bible verses on Facebook. I don’t go to church every day. Do I put God first in everything I do? My honest answer: sometimes. When I remember.

But all three of these guys have made movies that we’ve knocked, and sometimes knocked hard. I called The Magnificent Seven’s body count “unseemly” and some of its more notable acts of violence “sadistic.” And I was pretty nice to Seven in comparison to Ted 2, the last movie of Wahlberg’s I reviewed. I said that film was a “poly-blend stuffing of filth.”

Which leads me to a question. When you’re a Christian and an actor, does that obligate you to take roles that are in line with your beliefs? To appear in movies that reflect those beliefs?

It’s an interesting question, and one that I think Christian actors themselves struggle with on some level.

Kirk Cameron, the Christian film industry’s go-to star these days, famously told NBC’s Today show that in Fireproof, the actress playing his wife (Erin Bethea) was swapped out for his real-life wife (Chelsea Noble) when the script called for a kiss. “I have a commitment not to kiss any other woman,” he said. In the same interview, he admitted that even in his latter Growing Pains days, when he was the ABC show’s teenage heartthrob, he clashed with producers when the script strayed into what he considered immoral territory.

Denzel Washington has starred in plenty of movies that Cameron would reject. But in many of those movies, he plays a man of principle and honor. The Book of Eli, a dystopian R-rated thriller, features Washington’s Eli protecting (spoiler warning) society’s very last Bible, for goodness’ sake. In Training Day, Washington plays against type and slips into the skin of corrupt monster of a policeman. But the guy dies at the end, apparently because Washington wanted him to. The only just ending for such a foul character, perhaps?

“I’ve been fortunate as an actor,” he told Parade magazine in 1999. “I’ve made some interesting films, and I think some of the work I’ve done has touched people. Maybe it sounds corny, but I try to do things for goodness’ sake—to send a good message.”

Wahlberg, meanwhile, jokingly asks for forgiveness for some of his on-screen parts. “Holy Father please forgive me,” he said during Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia last year. “I’ve always hoped that the good Lord has a sense of humor when it comes and pertains to many of the movies I’ve made.”

There’s a certain irony in the fact that these actors’ willingness to speak out about their faith also leaves them open to charges of hypocrisy. We do not shake our heads sadly when, say, Joaquin Phoenix makes a movie we find morally objectionable. We don’t get mad at Brad Pitt for appearing in an R-rated flick. We don’t have a vested interest in their career choices. They’re not in our Christian club.

But when we learn that a prominent actor or actress claims to be a Christian, we hold them to a higher standard—and perhaps rightfully so. As believers, we should honor God in all we do, right? Actors are no different.

Still, this stuff is tricky.

I’m glad these people talk about their faith. And when they make a movie that feels like it’s in line with that faith, it makes me happy. But when they make a “bad” movie, it doesn’t make me mad or sad. Maybe it should, but it doesn’t. I don’t think it’s my job to stand in judgment when it comes to the motives of these people’s hearts. That’s a responsibility God reserves for Himself.

The question recalls, for some reason, C.S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy, a book from his Chronicles of Narnia series. In the book, the one-time Calormen princess Aravis is asking Aslan, the book’s Christ-figure, about the fate of an old servant she once knew. “Child,” says Aslan, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”

The decisions actors make seem to be an intrinsic part of their own story. If they make a “bad” movie by Plugged In standards, sure, I have all the license in the world to tell you what makes it so. I’m fine making a judgment on a movie. But to judge the people for taking part in the movie? That makes me uncomfortable. It seems like infringing on the tale that they, and God, are writing.

But enough about me. What about you?

Who wrote this?

Paul Asay has been writing for Plugged In since 2007 and loves superheroes and finding God in unexpected places. In addition, Paul has also written several books, with his newest—Burning Bush 2.0—recently published by Abingdon Press. When Paul’s not reviewing movies, he hikes with his wife, Wendy, runs marathons with his grown kids, Colin and Emily, and beats back unruly houseplants. Follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Ballet Basics More than 1 year ago
So is being a Christian and an actor wrong? I think it is wonderful to portray a Biblical story, like Jesus did with all of His. But what if I want to play in a Historical movie? Is it wrong to like entertainment, or want to be in entertainment? Even if I don’t work for anyone and make my own personal writing and stories. Should I not do that? I have been praying about this and I still just don’t know. I know some people won’t even go to the movies, but I love tv shows that are clean such as Little house on the prairie. Should I not watch that because it is entertainment? I am really stuck on this, I just want to please God and make Him happy with me. 
garland thornton More than 1 year ago
So, ok, question? There is a great movie and there is supposed to be a bad guy? Who would portray the bad guy? Someone has to do it to get the message out...
PatchesJones More than 1 year ago
How about an actor who claims to be a Christian but takes a couple of roles playing gay men? He even kissed a man in one of the films. GROSS!
Plus he keeps saying really ignorant garbage like "The loving Christian thing to do is to support gay marriage, transgenderism and abortion. ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE OF SATAN! NOT GOD! I do pray for him and family. I hope his children haven't been led too far astray from God due to the extremely immoral and irresponsible influence of the man's fellow actors and some singers he hangs with. Not to mention a radical grandmother who is as far removed from God as they come!
It's like they serve God with their lips but their hearts are far from him. He has said he reads all kinds of books including one's written by atheists. I get it, he's searching. I wish I could help him as a Christian friend. 
Lorna Wilson More than 1 year ago
I am listening to what people are saying about actors 'playing a role' which is different from their real live character and I can understand where most people are coming from. Even if the actor/actress did not use profanity, for example, then perhaps they should not be in a film that might be offensive.

God is no respecter of person I think we will all agree. So I raise the bar for actors/actress and as I raise it with my hands, my hands go higher with the bar also.

So I say, should a Christian work at a restaurant that has a bar? Of should they work for a company that has violated social justice issues, or supported immoral causes. If we remove ourselves from contact with "the world" then how far will our witness go? Who knows if some have been sent by God to "Hollywood": for an example. The scribes and Pharisee criticized Jesus for eating (fellow shipping) with publicans and sinners and some even called him a winebibber (drunk).   I wonder what some people would say about Jesus Christ today?
Not trying to offend, just asking questions, I am reading seeking understanding...
Ken Reynolds More than 1 year ago
I understand. Yes, we are in the world, but not of it. And we are called to be a light in the world. If we look and act so much like the world around us that we bear more resemblance to them than to the stark difference of whose name we bear ("CHRISTians"), then there is most definitely a problem. Certainly actors can be Christians, but they should choose scripts that reflect their beliefs- His standards. Work may be very hard to find, but we must be selective. God is capable of the impossible and can make a way in the desert. If one loves acting, does one need to do that in Hollywood? Or, if one is called to Hollywood to shine the light of Christ, does one have to be an actor to do that? We MUST be firm. Read Deuteronomy 7 and Ezra 9-10. We are not to mix the holy race. We are not to intermarry with the peoples of the lands. God bless you.
Nathan B More than 1 year ago
Mr Asay,

Thank you so much for writing this article.  You have given some good points and asked some questions that give me reasons to ponder.  My only comment on the whole "Being a Christian and an actor" question is this.

The Bible says, "Judge not that you be not judged.  For with what judgement you judge, you shall be judged.  and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again."  Matthew 7: 1-2.        So Jesus clearly tells us to not judge others unless we are willing to be judged by the same means.  

That being said, the Bible also says in 1 Corinthians 5: 11.   "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or and idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat."    

So after reading these verses I have to ask myself the question, "can i condone the swearing Denzel Washington uses in some of his movies, or Mark Wahlberg for using foul language in his movies and joining the "Ted" franchise, or Chris Pratt who has a sex scene in one of his movies just because they profess Christianity?   I have wrestled with this question and similar questions and have come to this conclusion.  We are all on our own spiritual journey and none of us are perfect.  I will be the first to say I am not.  But when we see people who profess the name of Jesus and willingly choose to do movies that contain elements that clearly go against God's word,  we should not endorse or encourage that type of behavior.  

It's rough being a Christian today.  The world and it's enticements pull at you from every side.  That is when we need to call on the strength of Jesus and resist the world, even if it means becoming the odd one out.  This world changes, but God's word and his standards stand forever.  I pray for these actors and there fellow actors & actresses that they may all see the truth of God and accept the wonderful life giving gift that his son Jesus gave us.

God Bless all your work at Plugged In.

Ken Reynolds More than 1 year ago
Absolutely great comment, brother. Thank you. The world will go on without Hollywood and/or television. It's nice to have entertainment, and i enjoy movies, but the Lord has taught me to be very selective. If we must starve our flesh and feed our spirit (we must) to remain pure, then we pray to Jesus to give us the strength we do not possess to refrain from those songs, shows, movies, habits which stain us and corrupt us. I am far from perfect, but am called to be holy. We cannot attain that command if we continue to blemish ourselves. Further, the Lord lovingly but strongly convicted me that if He died and shed His blood in order to call us out (consecrate and sanctify us), how dare we go against that precious gift and propitiation (taking upon Himself the wrath of God for OUR sin) by willingly mixing ourselves with the idols of the Jebusites, Amorites, etc. He is coming back for a spotless, not a spotted, bride. God bless you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I totally agree. And if u r a Christian u don't blaspheme the Lord's name either . Many use the name Jesus Christ as a swearing word. But we desensitize the Lords name that Name we call on in our prayers by using it has a curse word. Making a movie is no excuse !! I never get the impression that these stars really know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Dan Ferris More than 1 year ago
Good thoughts for sure!  I certainly agree it is not our place to judge. We should be judicious about what movies we watch. It makes me think these actors need our prayer support and also challenges me in how vocal I am about my faith.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But if one truly knows Jesus one should know Not to blaspheme His Name in every movie one makes !!
Wayne Wilson More than 1 year ago
Another fine essay that omits using the Bible as a guide. Does it not say anything about these matters? 
AsayPaul More than 1 year ago
Loving this thoughtful thread of conversation. Y'all are awesome.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When one blasphemes the Name of Jesus or God the Father and one calls himself a Christian ....then for me its just words unless that person repents and chooses not to do it again . Making a movie "real" is not an excuse for Christians. His Name is Holy and powerful in our prayers. Using it as a curse word is not a witness.
Stephen Bene More than 1 year ago
I have to admit I struggle with the same problem of being critical of Christian actors who play parts that are definitely "un-Christian". Take Wahlberg in Ted 2. I saw the trailer and knew it was not something I wanted to see because of all the sexual innuendo and outright filth in those 90 seconds. Having read the reviews of Ted and Ted 2 I don't know how a Christian would purposely and willfully be in such a blatantly vulgar movie. But Jesus said that we are not to judge and that we would be judged by the same measure we judge others. I have to look at my own life and my willful and deliberate sins and say, "How can I judge Mark Wahlberg when I do the same thing?" 

It's disappointing to see Christian actors playing parts in films that spew profanity every other line, or who have sex, who kill people, or who are just down right nasty, no good people. It's also disappointing to see real life Christians who spew profanity, commit adultery or have premarital sex, who kill people, or who are just down right nasty, no people. Should I be more disappointed in Denzel, Chris and Mark for deliberately choosing to play characters who do bad things more than I am disappointed in myself for choosing to do similar bad things? God calls us to live out our faith and to give grace and mercy to those who don't deserve it because Christ gave them to us when we didn't deserve it. 

Are Christians called to a higher standard? Yes. Are Christians supposed to look, act, talk and think different than the world? Most definitely. I believe if Christians would stop going to see these illicit movies then Hollywood would stop making them. If Christians would stop paying to see these horrendous films they'd stop producing them because they're not making any money. That, in turn, would mean that Christian actors wouldn't be put in such a precarious position of having to play such deplorable people. 
Ken Reynolds More than 1 year ago
I think we need to be more aware- myself included- of what is translated as "judge." 
Ken Reynolds More than 1 year ago
We are not being told not to judge at all, we are being exhorted not to judge wrongly and that is why our Lord tells us we will be judged in the same way and to the same degree. I did a study on this a while back and Jesus uses the word "hypocrite' many times, especially when addressing the Pharisees. The parts that make up that word, "hypo" and "crite" make for a very interesting word study and a much more accurate understanding of the passage. "Hypo" means low, under, sub. "Crit" means to judge or form an opinion based on objectivity, not subjectivity. So what Jesus our Lord is saying and has a problem with is our judging by standards which are lower or sub-par or below God's standards. We are hypocrites because we judge wrongly. Elsewhere in scripture, the apostle  makes it clear that "in love" we are absolutely supposed to correct, exhort, train one another in righteousness; even to rebuke when dealing with rebellious hearts. The culture of the world around us today is cold, harsh, yet politically correct and offended so easily (a tool of our enemy) that we are fooled into thinking that we can't correct someone- even a brother or sister in the Lord- for fear of hurting them, offending them, or making them leave the church. With this attitude, we either have shallow Christians, ones that don't evangelize or ones who aren't truly Christians (because they haven't felt conviction or the need to repent) and will sadly be surprised when the Lord tells them He never knew them- meaning they never had a saving relationship with them. Something to ruminate on and pray about. God bless you.
BBrown More than 1 year ago
I try not to be judgmental, either, as you brought out - but I have to admit that I am very disappointed particularly in Denzel Washington's acceptance in several of the movies that he has been in. I rarely go to movies anyway because so few of them are clean, but as you also mentioned, he could indeed have such an influence for good to offset these previous roles in movies with very questionable content. 

The movie may be campy, but I really enjoy watching his character in "The Preacher's Wife." Yes, that movie is silly and far from believable, but it is very clean. Too bad Hollywood can't make more movies that are that clean anymore.
Elizabeth Anderson More than 1 year ago
There was a devotional I read through, I believe was Girlfriends in God, about sin as entertainment. I think we all have different levels of conviction. After reading that I found myself never watching a movie with GD in it again. I do not use this phrase and I will not pay money for someone else to. It's dissapointing if there are two Christians in this movie, how they could allow GD five times. 
John Peterson More than 1 year ago
WOW! There's a lot of comments here. I feel left out. 
J_D More than 1 year ago
Washington, Pratt, and Whalberg...I can't judge their sincerity or guess the eternal destination of their souls, but I do have a responsibility to consider their Christian witness, to judge their example. Should I imitate their example or not? I say 'not.' Other than paying lip service to faith, have any of these fine actors undertaken a film that stands as a bold witness to Christ or even to their professed adherence to Catholicism? If not, why not? Imagine the influence these guys could have if they wanted to exercise it. There are so many stories waiting to be told that only men and women of faith could fully embrace and craft for the silver screen...real-life stories, true and inspiring, redemptive, and life-changing.
Diana Sun More than 1 year ago
I love your approach in this controversial topic! Well done- you're certainly using your talents to benefit others. The one struggle I have, however, is how to answer my teenage kids' questions about this issue. How do I explain the discrepancy between these actors' proclamation of their faith while participating in R-rated films...  Any advice, Paul? 
AsayPaul More than 1 year ago
Tricky question. My advice, for what it's worth, would be to handle it much as you would when your kids see their own real-world friends doing something that they (or you) might not approve of. If they're teens, they've probably already experienced a bit of the breadth of the body of Christ ... how people of sincere belief can sometimes differ on even important issues. We don't have to condemn those friends (or, by extension, the celebrities we watch) for their choices, but neither do we have to join them ... not if we believe those choices are unhealthy or wrong for us.

That might naturally open up new threads of conversation. "So why, Mom, do you make the choices YOU do?" Those conversations, I think, can be super-healthy and helpful. It's an opportunity to talk about faith in a pretty open, relevant way. And even though it can sometimes feel like teens aren't listening all that well, they are. Best of luck, Diana.
Kal El More than 1 year ago
Wow! Great post, Paul! You stuck to your convictions, asked good questions, and stayed humble and didn't stand in judgment. Very impressive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By CbinJ

I think the biggest problem here is a faithless secularism that pervades our culture and attitudes. It effects Christians and non-Christians alike. I think there are three points that are particularly important to make.

First, we have to decide if God calls us to do Good and rewards us for that Good and if being a Christian makes you different. If the answer is yes on both counts, then there is no reason to excuse these guys' behavior and to compare/disparage other imperfect believers, respectively.* By the way, if the answer is "no", then I personally don't understand what the point is in being a Christian. And speak for yourself when you say you don't get mad or have expectations for non-Christians. I, personally, don't see sin as acceptable no matter the source. 

*Speaking specifically on the "I can't judge" implication--everyone needs to give the constant caveats and fears of being called a hyprocrite a rest. In philosophical debate and logical reasoning, cries of hypocrisy regarding a person's actions are a losing argument, a fallacy; hypocrisy doesn't disprove Truth--it actaully proves it in some ways. 

Second, once we have decided what a Christian is and does, we need to completely throw out this notion that it's cool to be bad and promote Evil things. Is it wrong to play the villain? No. Is it wrong to express ideas regarding corruption and evil? No. But we are swimming in the current of a culture that glorifies evil and corruption. If we aren't shining a light in the darkness, we are just being used by the World instead of by God. Chris Pratt, Mark Walhberg, and Denzel Washington are all wealthy, famous, and talented actors that continue to work in Hollywood and promote a "live and let live" unbiblical approach to faith. They don't speak out; they barely behave differently than their secular counterparts; they support all the same power structures/ organizations/ political causes that fight against the faith they claim to hold dear. Imagine if it wasn't cool (at least amongst the Church) to be bad. Imagine if people could just be Christians and not go after street-cred from the world and, on the other hand, not be put on the pedestal by Christians because you are a Christian artist.

Third, as someone who is drawn to the arts but grew up in a family of poor working class laborers, I have this constant battle raging in my mind about whether my pursuits as a writer are actually worthy. Our culture is saturated with entertainment to a point that I think we don't absorb/ think about stories (and, no, God doesn't say stories are some powerful source). We know all the manipulations and marketing techniques by heart. For example, I will find myself watching something and thinking, "Well, that was an effective emotional appeal. Good job show, movie, advertiser, etc.! Maybe I'll buy your product, praise your movie, indulge in your show because your politics (by politics I don't mean conservative/ liberal) are smooth." Maybe it's just me that gets meta about marketing techniques? My point is that maybe in our call to be unlike the world, we actually should be fighting the arts rather than trying to push Christians into them. Maybe if Pratt, Walhberg, and Washington wanted to live out their faith, it would be best done as a preacher, a doctor, and a bisuness owner. Maybe God doesn't want artists or movies, maybe he just wants faithful servants. 
charitysplace More than 1 year ago
We are made in God's image. God is a Creator. Therefore, we are Creators. Stifling our artistic or creative talent is unnecessary. Hollywood NEEDS Christian writers, directors, and actors. We have the problem we do, because for many years, Christians refused to participate in entertainment. :P

Does God reward us for 'doing good'? I haven't seen it. That's not why I follow Him -- to get rewards. I follow Him, because I believe in His existence and also believe that the life He calls me to lead is one worth sacrificing for.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
By CbinJ

"...also believe that the life He calls me to is one worth sacrificing for."  I would ask "Why?" but I think you would realize that would prove my point regarding rewards (whether intrinsic or extrinsic) :) 

I thought the way you did--Hollywood NEEDS Christians--but Christians are barred (at least the conservative ones are.) Real stories of value simply don't get made by the big wigs. I also think there is a discussion to be had that this Christian idolatry of story is not only a misinterpretation, but too late. The media culture is both saturated and compartmentalized. 

With all that being said, I'm not advocating Christians need to get out of the arts, but I think we have to approach it differently. One way of doing that is with authenticity and conviction. Going back to the article, it's fine that Pratt, Wahlberg, and Washington are men of personal faith, but more "live and let live" equals no value added. 
Micaiah Davis More than 1 year ago
We are "creators"... not "Creators." We're sons (and daughters) of God, not gods ourselves.

Also, we don't REALLY create; we just pull from available resources to craft something. ^_^
Anonymous More than 1 year ago

God will hold Christian actors accountable for what they do; they'll have to answer to Him one day. I'm also accountable for what I do... and what I don't do (James 4:17).

Just the same, these actors better be careful about their movies; the films will testify against them someday.

BTW, just watched the original "Magnificent 7" with Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen.  Gotta love those old Westerns! :)

BBrown More than 1 year ago
I have to admit I'd much rather watch the original "Magnificent 7" than a LOT of movies out there today! Thanks for the reminder of that classic.
Charles Penchant More than 1 year ago
Thank you for the article.
Should Christian actors not take on roles that demand them to put on haughty eyes (Proverbs 6:16-17, 21:4), or other smug behavior condemned in scripture? Would those acting styles become imitated (and even globalized)? Even though an artist portraying something doesn't necessarily mean that he/she is condoning that thing, visual storytellers (even secular ones) have the responsibility to anticipate anything that might become popular onscreen, on stage, or on page. Being both very intentional and very careful can be tricky, so Christian artists should sincerely discuss these things in depth and very often.

Having said that, how much better would we grasp the ugliness of sin if God hadn't revealed its consequences to us? God allowed humanity to witness the repercussions of sin--various illnesses, wars, slavery, destruction of families, distortion of reality, the deceitfulness of sinful pleasures--for a reason.

Likewise, if crude remarks are coming from villains, do they not add to the story (since they're supposed to be bad)? Extreme evil contrasts with good, and creates opportunity for good to shine. Where sin increases, grace increases all the more, right?
Would the cruelty of the White Witch stand out more if she wasn't contrasted with Aslan?

Survival stories come alive because they have gritty details, right? Real pain, real hurts, and real struggles can be dark, but if the violence and the carnality aren't gratuitous, they might just prove to be essential, in certain cases.

Christ's parables were very minimal in their details about their antagonists' evil, but the torture and the crucifixion that He lived out was not for the faint of heart. Literature such as the Song of Songs also contains heavy stimuli, which can cause the reader to stumble, but they are necessary to serve the narrative. (Hence the target audience and people's accessibility to the story are additional elements to consider.)

Above all, Christian storytellers should be prayerfully discerning of the content they create. C.S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters, and enriched Christ in our imagination, at the cost of Lewis having to vividly and regularly walk into demons' shoes. For such reasons, I believe that different artists are suited to handle different types of stories. I find that implication is a very useful tool for many, since it allows for rich storytelling without having to get lurid.
Denise Roche More than 1 year ago
I agree completely. We do not have the right to judge what others do in general. Only people who are clearly in sin and members of the church can be addressed-- and then only by the church. Playing a sinner and being one are two different things. I would personally not be involved in any movie I have a moral objection to, but then I'm not an actress and I don't have to face the pressures that they have to face. I don't think most people realize what actors and actresses do.
Richard Addison More than 1 year ago
I"m sure that every Christian has areas where they wouldn't like others to judge them on.  For actors and storytellers sometimes those areas are public based on the story they are telling.  I for one hate sanitized stories that reduce evil to censored bad guys and good guys who have it all together.  Life is messy.  So are the stories about life.  

I like this article because it condemns the sin, but the sinner has hope.  I am a youth pastor and recently had a new convert use the f-bomb in a prayer, which a parent heard.  This student didn't know better at this point.  The parent was appalled, because i didn't publicly humiliate the the student.  I talked to him, but i have to understand that he is a baby Christian and the fact that he was willing to pray publicly was great.  

We don't want to condone sin, but we do want to celebrate when Hollywood makes good decisions.

The Bible itself is incredibly violent and full of things I wouldn't let my kids see on screen.  So should we censor the Bible?

I think we should pray for actors who are trying to be faithful in Hollywood. 

Kal El More than 1 year ago
Awesome comment. :-)

I love how you approached things and are approaching things here.

Granted, for me personally I am not offended by f-bombs because it's a cultural, made up word, and I don't feel led against it or that it is what Scripture is referring to when it talks about 'profane speech' or 'unwholesome talk', but not everyone sees that or feels that same, and I feel a mutually respectful, 'agree to disagree' can be totally healthy, and I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't respect someone else's stage of life or convictions while simultaneously wishing for them to respect mine. ;-)

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for a right on the money post.
Alex Clark More than 1 year ago

Cool Blog post.  I’m always interested to hear that well-known actors are professing Christians.  I would hope that their faith does influence them in what roles they pursue and how they conduct themselves in their work, but in the end we can’t read their minds or know their thought processes and it will be between them and God in the end. 


But a few things I think to keep in mind about being a Christian actor in Hollywood, just in general…


1). Not every actor may have the luxury of being super picky and choosy about the roles they take, especially starting out.  We probably have the idea that every A-list celebrity just has dozens of roles being thrown at them constantly, such that they have a great freedom and variety in what they choose to appear in, or in how they perform the role when they have it, but that is probably not the case for EVERY actor.  Even famous actors still have to audition for roles sometimes, instead of just being handed them.  Though of course you could argue that most actors, after a certain point, probably have enough money that they would no longer *need* to work, and can thus become much more choosy about their roles, but even if you have a lot of money most people will still want to work, to be engaged and everything.


2). An actor may not always know the full extent of the content of a movie before actually filming it.  They may get to read a script ahead of time, but it might not be the finished script, or there could be rewrites during shooting that change things one way or the other.  And if they audition for a role, they may only see the part of the script that they read from during the audition, which is not going to be the entire film.


3). Once an actor signs onto a film, they are under contract, and could face stiff monetary and even legal penalties if they later decided to back out, not to mention how it would affect their reputation and hire-ability later.  Even if a Christian actor has ended up in a movie that contains content that is bothersome to them, it may not be such a simple and easy decision to say “I don’t approve of this movie, I want out”.  Of course, if a film is truly in conflict with an actor’s moral convictions and beliefs, those should definitely win out,  but that definitely wouldn’t always be the easiest decision.


And I do find some responses to this issue a little bit odd.  Are we saying that a Christian actor is morally responsible, on a personal level, for the actions and words of characters they play?  I mean, if Kirk Cameron is uncomfortable with kissing a woman other than his wife, even as part of an acting job, we should respect his feelings, but that is also going to limit the available jobs he can accept, and it is honestly a rather odd viewpoint for an actor to take, I think.  I know very few people who would say that “a married actor who kisses another actress during a scene has committed adultery” simply because…the actor is not his character!  Technically speaking, it’s not “Kirk Cameron” kissing another woman, it’s a character in a story that Cameron is simply bringing to life, and any actor who can’t make that disconnect for himself I’d guess probably won’t have a very big career.    Are we saying that actors are the same as the characters they play?  In the movie “Django Unchained” Leo DeCaprio plays a plantation owner who is very onerous and blatantly racist, but no one is going to say that DeCaprio *himself* is racist because he played a racist character.   The sins DeCaprio’s character commits in the course of the story are not the actor’s own sins.  Because its acting.


Imagine if you were an actor in a Christian movie about an unbeliever who eventually finds God and becomes a Christian at the end.  That could be a good story, but imagine that in the story, before he finds God, the character swears and uses drugs and takes the Lord’s name in vain and is very hostile and blasphemous towards religion and Christianity.  If you were a Christian actor would you be uncomfortable playing such a character, or would you feel “personally guilty” for acting out vices like drug use, or for using the Lord’s name in vain while “in character”?  Do you think that a Christian who played such a character would have sinned?  Or are the characters that actors play separate from the actual actors themselves?  I’ve always believed it is the second one; but maybe I’m wrong.  But if that is the case, then it would completely change how we could look at acting all together, and implies some pretty strict issues.  (for instance, it seems like that would mean it would be wrong for a Christian actor to play a villain in any acting role.)

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by Peggy Carter

So, basically, you think that it's okay for a believer to act in any movie just because they're "in character" and not really doing it? Kirk Cameron kissing an actress wouldn't REALLY be a kiss, just because it's in a movie? Our actions - no matter what we do - must reflect our beliefs. How many times are we told to 'take our faith' to our workplaces, schools etc.? Acting is no different - it is a vocation. Just like a business man wouldn't 'stop being a Christian' when he goes to his business, an actor shouldn't 'stop being a Christian' while on set. I understand that sometimes their roles will cause them to play non believers, but I don't think that justifies acting in movies with anti-God messages, immorality, cursing etc.
Alex Clark More than 1 year ago
I'm not saying it's ok for a believer to act in *any* movie.  I would definitely be concerned if a professed believer was participating in something X-rated, or a movie that carried a blatantly anti-christian message.  But at the same time, I just think its common sense that typically the actions that a character in a movie takes or says aren't actually the same as if the actor himself was doing it.  Like I said before; Leo Decaprio isn't considered racist because he played a racist character in a movie.  If a church was putting on a play about the Gospel and you needed an actor to play Judas, you wouldn;t afterwards accuse the actor of betraying Jesus for real, would you?  Because it was a play.  It's similar with acting in movies/TV shows/whatever.  If Kirk Cameron was in a movie playing the role of a husband character, it would be natural that the character would kiss his wife.  Showing the character in the movie kiss his wife wouldn't be promoting an anti-christian message, or immorality or such, and I don't think it would be a sin for Kirk Cameron to kiss the actress playing his wife for the purpose of the scene.  If he personally doesn;t feel comfortable doing it, and they can accommodate him, there is nothing wrong with that, but I don't think it should be considered a concrete rule for all acting in general.

In the end it's about the overall message of the movie I think, not the individual lines and actions of the character an actor is playing specifically.  If I was a christian actor I would not want to participate in a movie like Sausage Party or 50 Shades of Gray, for instance, but I wouldn't have any problem playing Judas in a movie about the Gospel, or playing a villain in a film where ultimately the villain is defeated and good prevails, even if the villain had to swear or did various evil despicable things during the movie.  I would have a problem being in a movie that promoted recreational sex and promiscuity, but I would not have a problem playing a character who is married or has a love interest, and is shown kissing their love interest.  I'd have a problem playing a character who goes out and gets revenge on people who have wronged him, but I wouldn;t have a problem playing an angry vengeful character who eventually learns the error of his ways and gives up on seeking revenge by the end.   etc. etc.   It's the overall message that is most important.
Stephanie Yates More than 1 year ago
Honestly, I am so disappointed that this blog post is actually coming from focus on the family.  I have been a faithful Focus on the Family listener since I've become a Christian 5 years ago. I would have to say that Focus on the Family has influenced my walk with Jesus and learning how to seek and live a life following Gods word and not the world.  So to read this "lukewarm" post that's cherry picking scripture is very concerning to me.  
Yes we all sin and fall short of the glory of God but that does not mean we can do whatever we want.  We Christian's are to be set apart from the world and be examples of what true followers of Jesus are. Not just professing to be Christian's and than doing what we want. We are to put Christ first in all we do and do all for Him.  The majority of these movies we as Christian a should not be watching, not even unbelievers because they are not good for us and it goes against what the Lords word says. But to turn around and say it's ok for Christian actors who have such a large platform to make them. No that's not right. When you say your a Christian your stamping the name of Jesus Christ on all that you do. 
Denise Roche More than 1 year ago
Romans 14:4 The point is that we do not have the right to stand in judgement on those who do things that we would not do. This is not the black and white issue you make it out to be. If a person was sleeping with his or her sibling, for example, we can call that a black and white issue. If a person steals something, we can call that a black and white issue. God deals with and leads us all as individuals. You cannot dictate what a person should do when the issue is clearly not addressed in scripture, and this one is not. Period. One of the reasons that Christian actors need to spend more time with God than the average person does is because they are in a subculture that celebrates sin. Do we say that all Christian actors must quit acting? That is why the subculture got as bad as it is in the first place. Leave them alone and let them follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. If they do not, then only they and God will know that. It isn't our business.
Joshua Hawkins More than 1 year ago
We don't have a right to judge someone's salvation, but we are called to address it when a Christian's actions don't line up with the Christian faith.
Kal El More than 1 year ago
*Standing ovation*.

Thank you for being a true light and showing a sense of both justice and mercy, not just self righteous wrathfulness.
I'm so frequently disheartened by the overboard and condemning attitude many people claiming to follow Jesus have (even though Jesus himself didn't exhibit this attitude), and I really appreciate you taking the time to set a positive example, especially for any non-believers who may read this blog. :/)
Joshua Kroeger More than 1 year ago
Yeah, I gotta admit that being a Hollywood actor AND a Christian could be a pretty difficult balancing act...for some.  For myself, I am simply glad to read about these sincere Christians (Pratt in particular, since he's a personal favorite), but I can only wonder how often (or if at all) their faiths clash with their careers.  However, as a Christian, I also decide that it's best to acknowledge our Lord's word's "Do not judge...".
Toniko More than 1 year ago
We are called to guide other Christians back on track if they are sinning and that is what should be done here. Not calling them "unchristian" or that they are going to hell-now that is the definition of judging. I truly hope you can see the difference because a big part of being a Christian is being willing to accept correction and to offer correction to brothers and sisters in Christ.
Micaiah Davis More than 1 year ago
After skimming a few comments, I have a couple thoughts I'd like to share.

1) The fact that we all sin doesn't excuse others' sin. If my spiritual brother is sleeping around, and I'm lusting and committing adultery in my heart, that doesn't excuse his sin. Yes, I should repent and turn from my sin, but I should also confront my brother and exhort him to stop sinning as well.

2) SIN IS NOT A BELIEVER'S NATURAL STATE. We have died to sin and been raised with Christ. HE is the standard and we are SAINTS now. That's a fact. Stay humble though. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). Stay humble, but walk in newness of life. Stay humble, but don't put yourself on the same level as the world. STAY HUMBLE.

3) "Don't judge." I believe that's the most misused, misinterpreted phrase in all of modern Christendom. Matthew 7:1-6 shows us how we are to judge. The writer tells us that we'll be judged the same way we judge others. He then says that we should, in essence, make sure we're walking in holiness so we can see clearly to rebuke/correct/instruct our brother.

4) In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul rebukes the Corinthians for allowing sexual immorality to remain unopposed in the church. He reminds them that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" i.e. a single person can affect the rest of the Body. He tells them to cleanse out the old leaven and to celebrate the festival (rejoice in our salvation) with sincerity and truth.

THEN, Paul makes a clear distinction between the church and the world. He says, "I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (and here's the kicker) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? IS IT NOT THOSE INSIDE THE CHURCH WHOM YOU ARE TO JUDGE? God judges those outside. 'Purge the evil person from among you'" (1 Corinthians 5:12-13).

All that being said, God uses different people in different places in different ways to bring Him glory. For some of these people professing to be Christians, I feel some of them do things that are sin, while others just aren't loving their brothers because they're causing brothers to stumble (#1Corinthians8). But there is grace. "
if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

God is good, and His plan will be accomplished through His people. I pray His followers continue to grow in their knowledge of Him through study of the Word and prayer. God bless you all.
Denise Roche More than 1 year ago
The problem with your argument is that you are calling something sin that the Bible does not call sin. You cannot say that playing a role is sinning. If my brother or sister is committing fornication, then it is my responsibility to point out to them that the Word of God clearly states that this is wrong. However, if you have to make up a reason why something is wrong, then you must acknowledge that you may be wrong yourself. 

Kal El More than 1 year ago
EXACTLY. He hits some good points, but misses the one that is most central to this particular discussion: an actor playing a role is not the actor being himself. If it is, Hugo Weaving is a Nazi because he played Red Skull (Captain America), Gweneth Paltrow got her head severed and put in a box (Seven), and Hayden Christiansen gave into darkness and got badly burned and put into a robotic containment suit (Star Wars). Or maybe I should seek spiritual guidance from Tom Wilkinson because he played a priest in "Little Boy"? Or should call Alex Kendrick if someone is breaking into my house because he played a police officer in "Courageous"?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Posted by Peggy Carter

It would be awesome if these guys were truly Christians...what a platform they have to spread the gospel! However, in my opinion, I think that true believers should feel convicted by the kinds of things that are in those movies. If they read their Bibles at all, they should know verses like Ephesians 5:3-4, Philippians 4:8, etc. As Christians, we, as Paul said, should hold ourselves (and them) to a higher standard. 

I am not judging them, just putting in my two cents' worth. After all, only God can see their hearts, and I am certainly not one to point fingers as I am far from blameless myself!
Stephanie Yates More than 1 year ago
So true. As believers are we suppose to be watching these questionable movies? No!  So why would we think it's right for them to be made by proffesing Christian's.  They represent Jesus, their testimony and ours is very important and this stuff taints their testimony and it gives people a false understand and view of God and His people. 

Toniko More than 1 year ago
We are called to guide other Christians back on track if they are sinning and that is what should be done here. Not calling them "unchristian" or that they are going to hell-now that is the definition of judging. I truly hope you can see the difference because a big part of being a Christian is being willing to accept correction and to offer correction to brothers and sisters in Christ.