Sure, Drag Is Theatre

The Ferndale Fortitude (Vol. 3 No. 1, February 6, 2023)

Proponents of drag shows make the argument that they are performance art. The defense, as I have heard it in recent weeks, often includes an appeal to popular movies and, ultimately, Shakespearian plays, where men played the role of women on stage.

With a little more knowledge of history, the advocates of drag shows could extend their examples well beyond Elizabethan England to the Romans and Greeks and the beginning of Western civilization. And there is no need to stop there either. Cross-dressing was prevalent in 1406 BC, for instance, when Moses penned Deuteronomy. “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God,” (Deut. 22:5).

Far from a ridiculous prohibition against women wearing jeans—or whatever dismissive straw man the professors at Cal Poly Humboldt present to their students—in this verse, God tells His people not to behave like the Canaanites, whose fertility worship was directed toward Asarte (Baal’s twin sister) and often featured men masquerading as women and vice versa and with links to homosexual behavior associated with Baal worship.

Though drag is clearly not something the Triune God approves of, let us be gracious to our LGBTQ neighbors and concede the point that drag shows are theatre. Does this please you, neighbor? Wonderful.

Now, regarding theatre, Plato, Aristotle, and Seneca were brilliant thinkers, and they had nothing but disdain for it. Plato said, “Plays excite the passions, turn them into a wrong channel, and are, for this reason, hurtful to good morals.” Aristotle wrote, “Attendance of plays ought to be forbidden the young folks. The permission of attending them is dangerous until maturity of age and education have established them in soberness, and until they have been rendered strong in virtue and shot-proof against temptation and debaucheries.” It seems Aristotle was opposed to transing the children. He adds, “Moral corruption was generally peculiar to the profession of actors.” Hollywood confirms his claim. Seneca said, “One will seldom leave the theatre without having grown more ambitious and voluptuous.” The latter adjective speaks to sensual pleasure, while the former’s negative use conveys selfishness.

These men, not one of them Christian—lest I am accused of appealing to my biases—employed common sense alone to conclude that theatre, which we grant includes drag shows, harms a healthy society, not to mention the children. 600 years before Christ and 200 hundred years before Plato, the Athenian legislator, Solon, knew that the theatre’s particular threat to society was that the plays represented, in an interesting and entertaining way, the deceptions of man, thereby encouraging audiences to practice the immoral behavior portrayed on stage. He asked Thespis, who introduced theatre to Athens, if he was not ashamed of the lying in the plays. The father of all thespians, drag queens included—we readily acknowledge—replied, “I am merely lying for fun.”

Solon answered, “If we love such jest, the jest will turn into earnest!” And this is exactly what has happened, isn’t it? What once was tolerated, even celebrated, as pretend is now declared to be true. Where once a man in costume pretended to be a woman—in thespian language—for fun, now all of society is supposed to take seriously men who act like women. Anything less than earnest acceptance and approval of immoral behavior is today referred to as hate.

So it is that theatre corrupts nature. And as we acknowledge this, though not limited to local LGBTQ efforts to corrode Ferndale’s morals through drag shows, it certainly includes it.

But again, we are talking about theatre in general, not one particular aspect of its debauchery. Sadly, the reasoning of the ancient sages was on full display at The Ferndale Repertory Theater’s recent performance of The Elephant Man. I, to my shame, attended this performance at the first publicized showing. I encountered a “gender outlaw” when buying my ticket, a noteworthy example that the jest of the stage is now taken seriously in the world. The only time during the evening when I wasn’t exposed to a lie was when an actress forgot to act and exposed her breasts to the audience, thereby proving that the theatre is no place for children or Christians.

So, yes, we may readily acknowledge that drag shows have their place in theatre, but that appeal does nothing to mask the odor of its immorality. If anything, it adds stink to the stench. The question is whether we’re honest enough to confront this threat to Ferndale’s morals or not? My words are, no doubt, ridiculed by non-Christian residents of our city.

What about you, Christian? Will you dismiss them?

To quote the 3rd-century African martyr, Cyprian, “To me it seems wholly incompatible with the majesty of God and the precepts of the gospel to permit the church to be defiled with anything like this. The Law forbids men to wear women’s garments. Deuteronomy 22:5. But how much worse is it not to put on women’s garments only, but also to give expression to unseemly manners, and so instruct others therein? Thereby the young… learn nothing good, moreover, they are thoroughly spoiled.”

If you want to learn more about why Christ’s Church opposes drag shows and the corruption of good morals, I can be reached via the contact page.

I am your servant in Christ,

Rev. Tyrel Bramwell

2 Corinthians 12:10