A Question I Was Asked:

Aren't Plays and Dramatics Just Sinful? Surely Make-Believe Does Not Meet with God's Approval?

The Question:

Aren't Plays and Dramatics Just Sinful? Surely Make-Believe Does Not Meet with God's Approval?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Why on earth would you say this?

Would you chasten Jesus for using parables which, after all, were only intended as teaching vehicles? While just one or two of the parables could be based on actual occurrences, most are obviously constructed purely for teaching. They use and explain true spiritual principles - now that is the important thing!

A good drama, play, poetry or novel can teach one many things - look at the genius of Charles Dickens and his amazing - and very truthful - studies in human nature with all of its greed and avarice and, yes, true Christian charity too (Dickens was a believer).

Now it is true that some plays and films are just exercises in evil; they sometimes play to the voyeuristic spirit in people with immoral 'bedroom scenes' and swearing - there is no excuse for such things and the discerning Christian will always avoid all such wrong influences. Yet drama is not necessarily bad, we simply need to be wise and discerning.

I always remember watching Eugene O'Neill's play, 'A Long Day's Journey Into Night,' I would not have agreed with O'Neill politically, but that marvellous play - somewhat depressing though it is - perfectly illustrates the futility of a human existence without God! It's a masterpiece! I saw this play on TV back in the days when the BBC felt a moral duty to provide quality drama, rather than trashy, modern and third-rate populist crime fiction (as is now the case).

The question reminds me of a response to a sermon I was giving around seven years ago. The introduction involved a man marooned on a proverbial desert island. I used this scenario as a Christian teaching vehicle. I may say that the sermon always went down very well wherever I gave it (I gave it several times in various places). But just one man challenged it. He said, "Have you established that the story of the man on the island is true?" I said, "No, but it was widely used by Victorian preachers and I see no reason to question it, indeed, even if the story was not an actual event in all points, it certainly could have been. Look upon it as a parable." The man was dissatisfied with this and felt that any example, analogy, anecdote, or symbolic picture which might be used in order to teach others must be based upon a real occurrence in all points. So presumably this man would challenge Jesus about His parables. Presumably he would say, "if the story of the man who built his house upon a rock is not an actual verifiable happening, then you should not use it!"

So I have absolutely no problem with good quality drama, but I don't like rubbishy fiction and soap operas. I see no biblical reason why Christians should not enjoy good plays and quality drama, but there is a need to be discerning.
Robin A. Brace. December 30th, 2011.