I was happily surprised to see the editorial in the SB on the subject of drama and the inherent sinfulness of it. This has long been the stance of the PRC, and though there are those within the churches who are not in agreement with this position, it nevertheless is easily proven to be correct. I would like to commend the editor for an excellent series of articles on this vital and much forgotten aspect of the antithesis. I would like to add something with regard to what I believe is the fundamental sin of drama, namely impersonation. I fully agree that the issue of performing acts of sin or of performing sacred acts is a serious matter and indisputably places drama outside of Christian liberty. Nevertheless, the matter of impersonation presents no less serious a matter for the conscientious child of God.
All drama is an attempt at impersonation, that is, the subverting of one’s own God-given person, nature, personality, etc., in order to take upon oneself that of another, fictional or real. This is what acting is all about. This is why during the years I spent as an actor in city productions I would often hear other cast members say things like “You know, I just wasn’t in character tonight.” It is simply a fact that one’s proficiency as an actor or actress is dependent upon how well he is able to subvert his ownGod-given personality and take on the character of the one he is portraying.
To see the sin in this, one need go no further than our covenant God Himself. I refer specifically to the fact that God is a covenant God by virtue of His subsistence in three distinct persons, in which and as which He lives that divine, Trinitarian love life of the covenant. The personal properties of these three persons are that the Father begets the Son, the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds or is breathed forth from the Father and the Son. Ever and always do these persons of the Godhead remain distinct. To put it in confessional language: “…the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost have each His personality, distinguished by their properties; but in such wise that these three persons are but one only God. Hence then, it is evident that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, and likewise the Holy Ghost is neither the Father nor the Son” (Belgic Confession, Article 8). God’s glory consists in this reality.
With a view to the reflection of Himself in His works internal and external, God has created all things. Also, we are called to be imitators of God. In fact, all men have this calling. In everything, wicked man attempts to deny this calling and to fashion the most ugly and perverted “image” of God that he can. But this doesn’t change thefact that it is his calling. Such a denial of this calling must not be so for the child of God. Thus we find in Ephesians 5 the calling to be followers (imitators) of God. And so it is with regard to the covenant of marriage, which is to imitate the covenant of God in His Trinitarian life, as well as to reflect the covenant as it is manifest in its highest revelation in Christ and the church. Our family life, our work life, our begetting of children—all these are to be guided by that one principle that we must be imitators of God Himself. Or, to put it differently, our calling is to do all that we do for the glory of God. And we do this when, in our whole conversation of life, we imitate God not just in His works externally but in His life internally.
Impersonation is a blatant refusal to do so. We are to remain distinct in our persons as God created them, as imitators of the God who is distinct in His persons. Is it really any wonder that sodomy is Hollywood’s sin, since sodomy partakes of the same sin-principle as drama? A sodomite has the calling to be, sexually, who God has created him to be, namely, strait. Instead he becomes, or at least attempts to become, someone that he is not created to be. Though he may, because of his depravity, have this propensity, man was originally created good and upright in covenant with his God. He, by his refusal to walk sexually pure, defiles the reflection (not image) of God that he ought to manifest in his sexual orientation. He in sin subverts his true sexuality and seeks to take upon himself another in blatant rebellion. The subverting of that sexuality involves the character as well. He changes his voice, his body movements, his likes and dislikes. It is for this reason that drama, a subverting of one’s true character, is so appealing to the homosexual. It is really an extension of his whole life of sinful subversion.
This principle of imitation also sheds light on the often-brought objection that, logically, novels must also be condemned if drama is to be condemned. The simple answer to this is that God is the great writer of history. Writing or telling a story as such, therefore, is not wrong, because we cannot actually make history. It is in this light that all legitimate art forms find their place in the life of the Christian. One may paint or write or compose as an imitator of God, but one cannot deny and subvert his God-given person as an imitator of God to His glory. Of course, being an imitator of God is much broader than this, but it definitely includes this aspect. Drama is the devil’s art. Those who practice it sin grievously against the third commandment. We must remember that God will not hold such a one guiltless. Nor may one partake of this sin by watching it, since our catechism includes in the third commandment partaking of this sin in others by “silence or connivance.” As Prof. Dykstra has made clear, what the Devil cannot accomplish by the introduction of false doctrine like common grace into the pulpit in order to destroy the Protestant Reformed Churches’ distinctive witness to the gospel of grace and the antithetical life that flows necessarily out of it, he will accomplish by another means. By leading the congregation into sin he can silence the voice of the doctrine and the antithetical preaching. In this hour we need to pray for our ministers and elders that they be found faithful in season and out of season, calling God’s people to repentance, regardless of the consequences numerically. In the past several years we have seen the power of the devil to tempt and to bring the watchmen of Zion down. And we have grieved. I thank the editor for giving the call once again to strong and specific antithetical preaching and for not being content with Rev. Boonstra’s solution to the “question of drama.” God bless him and God preserve the Protestant Reformed Churches.