h1

Thou Shall Not Watch Rated-R Movies

January 21, 2008

by the narrator

I grew up believing that all rated-R movies were pornographic. I don’t recall ever actually being taught this, but the rhetoric and taboo from my family and through church implied and ingrained this into my mind. It wasn’t until I was twelve or thirteen that I saw my first R movie. I remember it well. I was at my best friend JR’s house for a sleepover where we stayed up late and watched Terminator 2.

Now it has been a long time since I had last seen that movie, but from what I remember, the movie was awesome (at least from the perspective of an adolescent) and there wasn’t anything offensive. I don’t recall any gratuitous violence, sex, nudity, or vulgarity. What exactly was it that I had been sheltered from for all this time? It was certainly not pornographic (as a teenage boy, I would have certainly remembered that). There wasn’t any gore. This wasn’t snuff. I’ll admit that it wasn’t necessarily the most morally uplifting film, but on the other hand, it wasn’t the opposite either. The movie didn’t preach or support immorality (unless helping a bio-cast cyborg from the future to protect the future leader and savior of mankind from a mimetic polyally android is immoral).

Since this introduction to the world of rated-R movies, I would not be surprised if I have seen more R movies than any other rating. In fact my current DVD collection probably has a 2:1 ratio of R to non-R movies. While some rated R movies certainly could be called pornographic, so are many PG-13 movies. In fact, I would say I have probably seen more PG-13 movies that I have found offensive or immoral than R movies.

So with that brief introduction to my relationship to the R. Here are some thoughts on Mormonism and R-rated media.

1. There is no Mormon commandment or standard against rated-R movies. A few days ago, two of my aunts left comments on my family’s website celebrating a recent Mormon American Idol contestant who apparently boasted that she had never seen an rated-R movies. “She told them that she was raised differently–had never seen an r-rated movie, etc. She told them that they couldn’t bring her over to the “dark side.” Bet you couldn’t guess what religion she is!” “The judges thought it was pretty weird for a married young couple not to have seen R-rated movies. Well, there are many of us in this country who have the same standards.” It seems wherever I go in Mormondom, there is the omnipresent appeal to this Mormon prohibition of the R. Where did this come from?

In an April 1986 general conference address, President Ezra Taft Benson speaking directly to the youth of the church encouraged them to avoid lewd media. Rated-R movies were among the list of things he encouraged the youth to refrain from. Since that address, any sort of call to avoid the R has been limited to 2 or 3 lines from seventies who usually just quote President Benson – the last of these occurring in 1993. The general membership of the church has never been instructed to avoid the R, and contrary to most myths, the Church’s Strength of the Youth pamphlet/booklet has never contained instructions prohibiting the youth from watching rated-R movies.

But President Benson said so! First of all, this talk was directly given to the Aaronic priesthood youth, so to turn it into a general claim is going beyond the scope of his talk. Furthermore (and this is part of a much bigger issue which I’ll leave out), the statements made by a President of the Church – even in general conference – are hardly grounds for determining LDS doctrine or commandment. There is a long list of statements made by Church Presidents in general conferences that have never become become Church commandment or doctrine. For example, Brigham Young’s Adam-God Doctrine or Spencer W. Kimball’s October 1978 conference talk against hunting.

2. The myth of the prohibition of the R prevents Mormons from seeing some very good movies. In his unsatisfactory book, What Is Mormonism All About?: Answers to the 150 Most Commonly Asked Questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, author W. F. Walker. Johanson begins his answer to the question of why Mormons don’t watch rated-R movies with the rhetorical question “Why would anybody even want to watch a rated-R movie?” He then continues to provide a caricature of the R nothing more than violent and pornographic trash. It became quickly clear that he was simply an ignoramus who has never seen a rated-R movie, nor is willing to recognize that an R movie can have some value.

Not only are all R movies not simply trash, but some of the movies that have most impacted my life in a positive way have been rated R. One of the first movies I saw after my mission was the beautiful and powerful theatrical translation of Stephen King’ The Green Mile which deeply moved me and gave me a whole new perspective of the immorality of the death penalty and our prison system (King’s The Shawshank Redemption did much of the same). War movies such as Saving Private Ryan, Glory, and the recent and amazing Letters from Iwo Jima are must-sees in this age of wars and rumors of wars. Historical depictions such as Schindler’s List or Munich help us learn from the mistakes from our past so as not to repeat them. Not only are many R-movies morally uplifting, but many (though perhaps not having a moral message) are just powerful works of art. Children of Men, Sweeney Todd, No Country for Old Men, Gone Baby Gone, Kill Bill, and The Passion are just a few recent R’s off the top of my head that excel in their artistic story-telling – whether or not the R rating was warranted.

3. The myth of a Mormon prohibition of the R leads too often to self-righteous holier-than-thou judging. Back to W.F. Walker Johanson’s lacking book. “Why would anybody even want to watch a rated-R movie?” When you create a false commandment, you create a false sense of righteousness resulting in false and ignorant judgments of others. Growing up, I thought people who watched rated R movies were sinning.

4. The R prohibition is no standard to judge the contents of a movie. While growing, the R was strictly prohibited in our home. If we were watching a PG-13 movie, my dad would have the vcr in hand, ever ready to depress the fast-forward button in case something were to show up on the television screen. It was embarrassing in front of friends.

The prohibition of the R is very much akin to the modern revision of the Word of Wisdom, the biggest difference being that the latter has an actual official position. With the modern Word of Wisdom we find all too many Mormons who won’t touch a Coke because of the unhealthiness of caffeine, but continue to stuff already obese bodies with fats, sugars, and cholesterol. They spare on meats about as much as Mitt Romney spares on lacking integrity. Similarly, I see many Mormons who frown on any rated-R movie (while even recognizing that there may be nothing wrong with the movie besides its rating), but have an an anything-goes policy with offensive hyper-sexualized PG-13 movies simply because it does not have the scarlet R. Like the Pharisees of old, they have placed a false fence as a standard of righteousness and have failed to recognize what was that that fence surrounded.

Now I don’t think that all R movies are for everybody. I don’t think any movie is for everybody. (I also think that most LDS-films are for nobody. Nor do I believe that ratings should be simply ignored. More than not, the MPAA ratings (which are very problematic) give a somewhat appropriate guide to helping us make a decision. However, that rating should not be the sole guide, but rather a sign by which we should then proceed to make further inquiries. If we see a PG-13 or R rating, we should find out why such is the case, and then determine if those things can appropriately fit within our own personal guidelines, sensibilities, and gospel understanding.

* On a side note, Richard Dutcher’s new movie Falling, billboarded as the first rated-R Mormon-film is crap. Seriously. Don’t see it.

Advertisements

95 comments

  1. You lost me at Kill Bill, Puhlease. 😉


  2. The argument about that talk being directed toward the youth has always struck me as a weak tactic.

    You decry people who are critical of R movies and label them pharisees (a group renowned for their ludicrous rules and technicalities) meanwhile you exploit a technicality to support your position.

    Let’s be honest here, the prophet labeled R movies as lewd media. You think that, had time permitted, he would have added that lewd media is perfectly acceptable for adults, just not for youth.


  3. I fail to see how your smug superiority in judging those who believe that it is right to avoid all R-rated movies as pharisees and ignoramuses is any less charitable than those of them who might label you a sinner for watching them. You are just like them and you deserve each other.

    You cherry-pick a handful of “good” R-rated films and pretend that it is a representative sample, when you know as well as I do that the vast majority of the R rated moves available do contain significant material that is undeniably offensive to the Spirit of God and the principles of the Gospel. You justify partaking of this filth by pointing to the offensive material in PG-13 movies, as if that somehow makes it acceptable to wade through all of that known filth in R rated movies supposedly looking for a few potential gems.

    My friends and family members, who are former R-Rated film watchers, all affirm that there is a discernible difference between PG-13 and R movies that becomes blurred by extensive R rated viewing, but becomes very clear after a period of R rated abstinence.

    There is a great deal of value in the efficiency provided by bright-line rules, even if they are not perfect.

    More often than not, this same, tired, old argument that you make here is used simply to justify watching any and all R rated films that one might desire rather than a careful selection of the handful of films that might in fact be justifiable. Perhaps you are the exception. But don’t deny that it is so for most.


    • You’re an idiot


  4. I’m curious to hear more about “Falling.” Given how excessively violent it is, I probably won’t see it. As much as I’d like to, I just don’t think I could stomach it. Can you expound on why Dutcher’s new film is “crap”? I’ve always been a fan of his work…


  5. The problem with the MPAA is that many R-rated movies are rated for marketing purposes only. Go watch There Will be Blood, and compare it to, say, Rush Hour 1, 2, or 3. The latter three have terrible language, lewd commentary, innuendo, scantily-clad women, etc… but many a Mormon would see it and not think anything of it. Whereas “There Will be Blood” deals with complex themes/morality, has little to no foul language, no nudity, no sex, and the violence is never really on screen. Why is the one “OK” while the other is forbidden?

    And, as a side note, the post does highlight an interesting point about the Scarlett R, and how its absence is freedom to watch any PG-13 regardless of its content.

    There are websites out there that are pretty good about itemizing why certain movies are rated the way they are. I stay away from movies with nudity and gratuitous sex; R and PG-13 alike…those are vices that I won’t subject myself to. but, I do not let the MPAA determine which movies I will see and which ones I will not. I use my common sense to weed those out…


  6. I think your comparison of the R-rated film prohibition to a Pharasaical “false fence” is spot on. For years I felt very self-righteous that I never watched R-rated movies, yet I admit that I wasn’t very discerning in my PG-13 movie habits! And what is worse, as parents we often feel quite safe in letting our children attend any movie as long as it is not rated R. This attitude is widespread in the Church, because it is so much easier to enforce this arbitrary standard instead of making ourselves informed on each individual movie, one by one.

    (btw, there are several sites that review movies and are helpful for determining the amount of sex, violence, profanity, objectionable themes, etc. One is Kids in Mind. This one is great. It tells you in detail what might be objectionable so you can decide if it would be acceptable to your family. For example, part of a review of 27 Dresses states: “A woman makes a comment about a man ripping her dress to shreds with his teeth. A bride is said to have slept with the groom’s father, brother, and sister. A young boy comments on how ‘hot’ an older woman looks. A woman was teased when she was child and told she was the president of the ‘Itty Bitty Titty Committee.’ A man sees a woman changing clothes in a cab and he later comments that he liked her thong and that he saw her changing.”
    Another site for reviews based on [evangelical Christian] moral acceptability is Ted Baehr’s Movie Guide.)


  7. Ryan,

    The burden of proof is upon those who want to claim that a general prohibition of the R was meant by President Benson, not the other way around. The appeal to President Benson’s talk is problematic for three reasons. It was specifically pointed to the Aaronic priesthood. A mere mention in general conference is no basis for official status. Finally, the assertion that a rated R movie by definition is lewd is just plain false. If Benson believed that all R movies were lewd, he is simply wrong from perhaps never having actually seen a rated R movie.

    Meph,

    when did you return to your old pen-name? I have in no way implied that all R movies are ok. In fact I said, “More than not, the MPAA ratings . . . give a somewhat appropriate guide to helping us make a decision. However, that rating should not be the sole guide, but rather a sign by which we should then proceed to make further inquiries.” Perhaps I should have been a little more clear. There are many R movies that are trash – I would say in the same proportion in PG13 movies. I don’t think we should ignore the ratings, but should use them as guides to further inquiry. I only say that we shouldn’t create a false fence, especially when it is imposed on others.

    David,

    Here’s what I wrote about Falling elsewhere in response to his billboard:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Here’s the motive for the billboard. That’s all the movie is. I saw a screening of it at Sunstone, and well, to put it simply, the movie was crap. Acting? Weak. Direction? Lacking. Character development? None. Plot? Predictable. Instead of Falling, this movie should have been called Already Fallen, Now Just Wallowing in His Own Misery. Perhaps this movie could have been something better, but instead Dutcher utilizes violence and gore in a sad attempt to break out of his lds-film genre (which he ironically is trying to still cast himself in) and pretend he is some kind of Tarentino or Scorsese. Instead he brings himself closer to the ranks of Eli Roth and his Hostel in his attempts to appeal to extreme violence as a measure to bring in an audience (which seems clear to me with this billboard).

    Without revealing to much, in this film the main character is depicted as selling out and writing a hyper-violent movie script in order to get approval. While Dutcher told me that it was in no way auto-biographical, I have to disagree.

    While I was once a fan of Dutcher (I love States of Grace and even Brigham City), he has never been anything more than a mediocre film maker at best.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hayes,

    I just got back from seeing There Will Be Blood. Loved it. And you’re right, I have seen Disney cartoons with more violence, language, sexuality, and nudity (and I say this in all seriousness). If you want a beautiful portrayal of someone falling, go see this movie.

    You appeal to common sense. That doesn’t work in Mormondom. God didn’t give us reason and rationality to use. He gave it to us so that we could set it aside and allow others to tell us what to do.


  8. I agree that President Benson was speaking to the youth when he counseled against watching R-rated movies. I think that was wise, inspired counsel. I also think that there are few R-rated movies that LDS adults should watch, mostly because the vast majority are filled with raunchy sexual innuendo and degrading language. Violence is not a big deal with me. We live in a world that has been filled with violence and will be filled with violence. However, gratuitous violence such as that in the slash & gore genre is always out of bounds since there is no redeeming quality in those kinds of movies. One of the best movies I’ve ever watched is the R-rated “To End All Wars”. There have been other R-rated movies that I’ve wanted to see, but after investigating have decided not to. A great tool to help you make decisions, not only for parents with kids, but also for LDS adults looking to make reasoned judgements about the movies they see, is Screenit.com. I highly recommend it. You don’t have to be a member. Scroll to the very bottom of the home page to get the free version. One thing that we should never do, either as parents watching out for our kids, or as adults striving to be more Christlike, is rely on the MPAA ratings. They are almost worthless. Many LDS have decided that it’s okay to see incredibly filthy and degrading PG-13 movies while refusing to even consider thoughtful, positive R-rated movies. Where you draw the line, of course, is an individual decision. I wanted to see Children of Men, for instance, because I liked the book and it was getting great reviews. However, after reading about the non-stop profanity, I decided not to go. Your mileage will very. Bottom line is that we should use our heads and our spirit to make decisions. Do not rely on the elitist Hollywood movie rating clique to be your moral compass!


  9. Re: Meph

    You cherry-pick a handful of “good” R-rated films and pretend that it is a representative sample, when you know as well as I do that the vast majority of the R rated moves available do contain significant material that is undeniably offensive to the Spirit of God and the principles of the Gospel.

    I’ll probably address this on Friday (assuming I get around to writing a post this week), but I think that a common fallacy in Mormondom is the view of such elements as profanity, violence, nudity, or sexuality as pornography or obscenity per se (i.e., “material that is undeniably offensive to the Spirit of God and the principles of the Gospel”). Of course, by this standard, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the children’s Book of Mormon Stories book, the “Armor of God” seminary video, and countless works of art and literature that are widely viewed as acceptable (e.g., Michelangelo’s David) should all be considered indecent.

    As these works indicate, the mere presence of violence, sexuality, etc., is insufficient to make something obscene. Rather, obscenity (which is an admittedly subjective notion) depends on a number of other factors–context, manner of presentation, purpose, etc. Works that exploit mature themes, contain a gratuitous amount of explicit material, or promote immorality are one thing. But those that tactfully but truthfully depict the human condition or advance moral lessons through the use of mature material are another. Herein lies the distinction between Schindler’s List and your average horror flick.

    Ultimately, it’s everyone’s prerogative to decide their own standards with respect to media. It’s a subjective judgment. I think it’s important to recognize that person A’s definition of “obscene” may be different from person B’s. And I believe the Church’s more recent statements and publications support this approach. They emphasize avoiding “pornographic” and “immoral” media; Benson’s black-and-white “no R-rated movies” counsel has not been perpetuated.


  10. Steve, you throw out Schindler’s List, but even it has some gratuitous sex and nudity; I refer specifically to Schindler’s philandering….it was possible to depict those scenes without relying on the overt. Munich suffers from the same fate as well. Perhaps that is Speilberg’s schtick. Granted, SL would have been rated R even without those scenes (and the other scenes with nudity were utterly NECESSARY for the story).

    But, you’re absolutely right about the subjectivity of the choice. I have no problem with foul language; it doesn’t affect me like it does my wife (perhaps my time in the military calloused me to overuse of profanity).


  11. “More often than not, this same, tired, old argument that you make here is used simply to justify watching any and all R rated films that one might desire rather than a careful selection of the handful of films that might in fact be justifiable. Perhaps you are the exception. But don’t deny that it is so for most.”

    I am impressed that you know the justification habits of “most” Mormons. No small feat considering membership numbers in the millions.

    Seriously though, if you study the OT, you have read far more R rated material than someone who enjoys the Terminator flicks. Was it for a good cause? Of course! The same judgments (I think) should be employed in determining which movies to watch: does the importance of the message support whatever “objectionable” material it might contain?


  12. Hayes wrote: “Steve, you throw out Schindler’s List, but even it has some gratuitous sex and nudity;”

    I don’t remember any sex scenes in Schindler’s list. Only nudity I remember you already covered in your caviet of “NECESSARY for the story”. Maybe it’s because I don’t dwell on the little things and remember the big picture, and the big picture didn’t include a sex scene.

    Schindler’s imo list ranks near or at the top of movies all adults should see, in its entirety and uncut. Any sex or nudity scenes weren’t put in to for the purpose of selling tickets unlike many other movies. Yes it probably could have been left out, but lets be honest, at the end of Schindler’s list what was in your head? “Never again” or “I wish they wouldn’t have put that vulgar sex scene in there”. You should have been thinking “how did the world come to that” or something along those lines. Dwelling on a small and really insignificant sex scene really diminishes from the big picture.

    Lets look at Swordfish (completely different genre). Off hand I really can’t think of anything about the movie. I can’t remember if there was violence or swearing. I can’t remember if the movie was any good at all. All I can remember is that Haley Barry appeared topless in it and that actually got more press then the movie did. That was completely and totally unnecessary and was only put into the movie to sell tickets. Without that scene I *think* it probably would have gotten a PG-13, I can’t remember though because I think “Swordfish, movie that Halley Barry appears topless”.

    (Sidebar: For some reason Hollywood thinks you have to have an R to sell tickets which is statistically incorrect).


  13. I didn’t know you had switched blog locations (I guess I haven’t looked in quite a while). I also grew up with the understanding that watching rated “R” movies was a sin. I was actually shown my first rated R movie while serving a mission in Mexico. My mission president found the movie “Men of Honor” to be particularly inspirational and wanted to share that message with us. I didn’t know it was rated R at the time and guess what in Mexico it isn’t. We often forget that this is an international church and that US movie ratings are not the world standard. The arbitrary ratings given to a movie in one country do not necessarily agree with the ratings given outside of it. All I’m really saying is be your own filter don’t rely on others to tell you what you should or shouldn’t watch.


  14. Steve, the sex was not on my mind after watching Schindler’s List: I know Jerry and his date could laugh and make out during SL, but I did not find the sex titilating; which made it all the more bizarre that it was in there in the first place. I don’t doubt Speilberg’s artistic vision, perhaps he was trying to show what an utter scumbug Schindler was at the onset…dunno.

    I did not see Swordfish for the reason you mention: I knew I would be going to see Halle’s berries. I have seen it since on TNT, and was not impressed.


  15. Hayes,

    Dom asked the question about what was on your mind at the end of SL, not me.

    In any case, I think the judgment as to what constitutes “gratuitous” nudity, violence, etc., is necessarily subjective as well. For some, any nudity or sex is gratuitous. For others, provocative dancing is “pornographic.” Others may feel that sex or nudity can serve a legitimate purpose, if tactfully portrayed.

    The “no R-rated movies whatsoever” rule is helpful as it avoids these ambiguities, but this may be one of those areas where the “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves” approach is better. Individual members should shoulder the responsibility of making informed media choices for themselves and their families.

    And I haven’t seen SL in some time (I’m not even sure that I’ve seen it in its entirety), so I can’t comment on the sex in that particular film. It may be that the sex was gratuitous. For what it’s worth, I was thinking of its graphic violence when I compared it to horror flicks.


  16. and my memories of SL are clouded as well. I saw Schindler’s List as a pre-mission Freshman in college on the advice of an LDS professor…and, I don’t think it was until a repeated viewing where I asked the question, “why the hell was that in there?”

    I don’t know how the blanket “Thou shalt not watch R-rated movies” would be helpful. In fact, I think it creates more ambiguities than it solves, creating those bright-line rules that many a mormon lust after, justifying other shows/venues and missing the mark completely.
    “Hey, Dad, it says that it is the ‘UNRATED DIRECTOR’S CUT’ so it’s not TECHNICALLY rated R.”


  17. Hayes,

    To clarify, I’m totally with you on this one. I think the bright-line “Thou shalt not watch R-rated movies” rule is problematic.

    When I said that it was “helpful,” I merely meant that I understand its appeal to Latter-day Saints. Most LDS would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to movies, and let’s face it, it’s easier to just avoid R-rated movies altogether than attempt to discern the “acceptable” ones from the “unacceptable” ones. I can see why that would be appealing, especially if one wishes to avoid any and all F-words and bare breasts, without regard to context. If that’s their preference, then that approach probably works for them.

    And to be fair, many (but not all) advocates of the “no R-rated movies” approach don’t just assume that a non-R-rated film is automatically okay, but genuinely try to make informed choices when it comes to PG-13 movies.

    Personally, I prefer to take a more nuanced approach. I’d rather be guided by general principles than MPAA ratings. But that’s just me.


  18. I remember seeing “King David” (with Richard Gere), and afterward discovering my Stake Pres. sitting behind me. His comment — “Only problem with this movie was, they were too true to the script!” :^)


  19. The Narrator,

    That earlier comment was someone else (notice the subtle difference in spelling). I have accrued a variety of aliases over the years, and if autocomplete doesn’t take care of it for me, I just put whatever comes to mind first. I should probably make an effort to be more consistent.

    For the record, I’ve seen every movie you mention in this post except The Passion of the Christ (never got around to it), and judging by these titles let me just say you can recommend a movie to me anytime.

    Sincerely,

    Mephibosheth aka The Silent Observer aka The Last Boy Scout etc. etc.


  20. The end of the 13th Article of Faith says “anything virtuous lovely or of good report or praiseworthy we seek after these things.” When President Benson gave his talk a lot of things were different, including how movings were rated. I’m sure that had the same talk been giving today he would have even warned about PG-13 movies. I love the distortion of later day talks. Yes, the GA’s have moved from the specifics (lesser law) to generals (higher law). I guess God expects us to figure it out for ourselves, not need such direct supervision, and not to find stupid loopholes to justify sinning. Yes, I said sinning. This whole argument is based off justification. You claim that you “don’t remember” the sex / violence, for a man that has devoted so much of his time to the study of (il)logic you should readily know that the human mind recalls EVERYTHING. If you’ve seen it, it’s there waiting to be recalled years down the road. Can you look anyone in the eye and say that when you are with your wife in an intimate moment that those images won’t come back at that time? Can you honestly say that there is anything virtuous lovely or of good report or praiseworth about Kill Bill? Your argument is full of symantics and justification. And as we all know justification is like masterbation, in the end your only screwing yourself.


  21. Just a thinker,

    I don’t know who you’re addressing, but I’d like to say a couple things in response.

    for a man that has devoted so much of his time to the study of (il)logic you should readily know that the human mind recalls EVERYTHING.

    Um, are you confusing the study of logic and neuroscience? I don’t think logic tells us much about the brain’s ability to recall. And can you please provide some authority for your claim that the “human mind recalls EVERYTHING”? I’m not a scientist, but I’m skeptical of that claim.

    Can you honestly say that there is anything virtuous lovely or of good report or praiseworth about Kill Bill?

    I haven’t seen Kill Bill, so I can’t comment on that movie. But I think you’re committing a common fallacy–assuming that the mere portrayal of violence or immoral behavior makes a film violent or immoral. Read the Bible. It’s full of immorality. But is it immoral? Does it promote immorality? No. Rather, by depicting immorality and its consequences, it makes a strong argument in favor of morality. The moral nature of a work has more to do with its message (which may be conveyed through mature themes and subject matter) than with the mere presence or absence of depictions of immoral behavior.

    And as we all know justification is like masterbation, in the end your only screwing yourself.

    First of all, it’s “masturbation” and “you‘re.”

    And your conception of justification reveals another fallacy. For some reason, “justification” has an almost universally negative connotation in Mormondom. Yet we have the following statement in our scriptures: “And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true” (D&C 20:30). Clearly, justification is not an inherently bad thing.

    I believe you are confusing “justification” with “excuse.” If someone is “justified” in a particular action, she is blameless. In justifying her actions, she shows that she acted in a just and defensible manner. If you are accused of sinning, but believe that you have not committed a wrong, I expect that you would try to “justify” your actions.


  22. To add to my last point–

    Your criticism that the person you’re addressing (whoever that is) relies on “justification” is circular. It assumes what it concludes–that watching R-rated movies is sinful. It overlooks the whole point of the post, which to show that watching R-rated movies is not inherently sinful (i.e., it may be “justified”).


  23. This is an intersting discussion. There seem to be two different camps here. My opinion will be brief:

    If it has historical significance (Private Ryan…maybe even Syriana) then who is going to care one way or the other? It’s history or current event!

    But to justify R for any other reason, is just a series of lame excuses. We are called a “Peculiar People” for a reason. To justify the media’s constant need to push the limits of acceptability, is really just holding one foot in Zion and the other in Babylon.

    Nothing irritated me more than when “Brokeback Mountain” came out and all sorts of LDS folks were seeing it and saying things like “It’s about time we see men sharing deep feelings on the Silver Screen.” What?! Look, I am as sympathetic to the plight of homosexuals as anyone else, but this does not mean that you have to support the “Hollywood Agenda.” Besides, any homosexual who saw a Mormon at that movie was far more apt to view that person as a hypocrite, rather than a perculiar ally.

    Finally, the term “amused to death” applies here. And in the spirit of that, I guess we could also justify violent video games because the Church has yet to make a stand on every specific game out there, right? We can claim, I guess, that the Spirit will “protect us” from the harm of the violent game we are playing” because we go to Church on Sunday.

    Here are the facts, if you support filth, than you support filth. Fine. Do it. Beleive me, no one in the Church really cares THAT MUCH what someone else does on their own time. But please don’t expect the rest of the Church to be the parade that rolls over your would-be conscience. Don’t resent the Church for not taking that supportive roll in defense of your pet allowances. It’s your problem, not the Church’s.

    It’s the Last Days. These kinds of temptations are bound to exist. Somewhere in the scriptures, I believe Revalations or Isaiah, that people will care more for fables than real things. If for no other reason, this should be enought for us to not only curtail our need for R, but to kill our telivision as well.

    (And spare us the “free agency” rhetoric.)


    • Whose on the Lord Side who now is the time to show. Thanks for taking a stand for righteousness and may we all choose what’s right.


  24. I used to watch R-rated movies, and I would watch anything and everything. I saw a lot of the “worthy” R-rated films like Schindler’s List, but Schindler’s List was by no means the standard. Anyway, I vividly recall the last R-rated movie I watched–it was Seven. I saw it with my younger brother, who was a teenager at the time. When the credits rolled, my brother said, “That was cool.” And I thought, Yes, it was cool. And that was very disturbing to me. The film itself was disturbing, but at the same time it had entertained me, and *that* was what disturbed me. I decided I would stop watching R-rated movies, and it was hard at first because let’s face it–they don’t make a lot of PG or PG-13 movies for grown-ups. But I did notice a change in my sensitivity. When I saw sex scenes on television, I felt uncomfortable. (And I’d watched Fatal Attraction without blinking an eye.) So for me the “R” prohibition was useful in that it was a definite line that I could uncross, so to speak, and as a result I learned to be more discerning about the media I watched, and I appreciated that I became less desensitized–or that I was re-sensitized, if that’s a word–as a result.

    However, I do think that the MPAA system is messed-up, and I am frustrated by the “R” prohibition because now that I’ve developed the habit of more-discerning viewing practices–and there are so many more resources (readily available with the internet) to inform our decisions–I would rather be free to judge for myself what’s appropriate, according to the movie’s content, not its letter-rating. The fact that some PG-13 movies are worse than some R movies is not a justification for seeing R movies; it just demonstrates that the MPAA ratings do not reflect moral values so much as an arbitrary standard of what’s appropriate for children of various ages. Just because something’s inappropriate for children doesn’t make it inappropriate for adults. I have only non-R-rated movies in my collection, and very few of them would I show my children (at least at this stage, since the oldest is only 9). But they’re not “inappropriate”–they’re just more than my kids at their maturity level can handle. It’s the same with books.

    Frankly, I don’t think much about R-rated movies anymore because I’m so used to not seeing them (and therefore not seeing many movies at all)–and my perspective on the relative importance of movies has changed drastically. If I don’t see the Best Picture of the Year, I don’t feel especially deprived. Every so often, though, there’s a movie that I really want to see–it’s rare, actually, but when it happens I just feel very frustrated by this pseudo-rule that is so deeply ingrained in church culture. My husband feels very strongly about the no-R-rated-movies rule, even though he acknowledges that the rating system is lame and the rule is kind of arbitrary (all the points I’ve made). To him it’s mostly a symbolic thing, and with so many members (in the U.S.) accepting it as doctrine, I don’t feel free to just ignore it–mostly because I don’t want to confuse my kids. (I don’t worry about impressing other Mormons because I don’t particularly share my entertainment choices with other Mormons.) I agree that the church is using more generalized guidelines now(no specific reference to the MPAA system), so perhaps eventually this “rule” will slowly fade away, but I’m betting not in my lifetime.


  25. In some ways, television is actually worse than movies–not only because there’s so much degrading crap there, but it’s just this constant stream of (mostly) mindless amusement. It’s so easy to just leave it on. That’s how I grew up. I’m grateful that once I became an adult, I couldn’t get any reception in the places I lived, so I got out of the habit of watching television. (At least until they started putting TV shows on DVD.) I find “reality TV” particularly offensive and the opposite of uplifting. Maybe the prophet should tell us all to forget movies and TV and just read more books.


  26. thinker,

    there are plenty of things I can’t recall. I lose my keys on a daily basis. I forget names and faces in the most embarrassing ways. Your claim that we remember everything is just plain false.

    And to answer your questions:

    Can you look anyone in the eye and say that when you are with your wife in an intimate moment that those images won’t come back at that time?

    I’m pretty sure that I won’t be thinking about Arnold Schwarzenegger fighting Robert Patrick when I’m having sex with my wife.

    Can you honestly say that there is anything virtuous lovely or of good report or praiseworth about Kill Bill?

    Oh yeah. It’s a beautiful film with amazing genre storytelling. I grew up with Asian ninja flicks and found it very aesthetically and emotionally fulfilling.

    Zane,

    your response is flawed for two reasons. You imply that Rated-R = filth. That’s just plain wrong. I would hardly call The Matrix or There Will Be Blood filth. I could almost guarantee you that if you saw these (especially the latter), that you would not consider them filthy in any way. You also imply that the Church has at some time made a prohibition of the R. That is just plain false. I’m not resenting the Church at all. I’m pointing out a perpetuated myth within the culture.

    I haven’t seen Brokeback Mountain, so I can’t say much about it. (My gay friend who happens to share my same movie tastes said it wasn’t worth it). For a great Hollywood gay agenda flick, see Angels in America.


  27. Zane,

    I take it you haven’t seen Brokeback Mountain.

    I feel that the film is actually very neutral with respect to homosexuality; it neither condemns nor condones the men’s relationship, but merely portrays it for what it is. While the film explores the deepness of their connection, it also doesn’t shy away from depicting the difficulties that it causes in their respective families (both men are in heterosexual marriages). I believe that Ang Lee sidestepped the issue of deciding on the morality of homosexual relations.

    Many Mormons have condemned this film as “filth” without actually seeing it. Were they to watch it, they might be surprised to find that, thematically, it is not as much of an assault on their values as they imagined. If you’re looking for a gay advocacy film, this probably isn’t it.

    For what it’s worth, I think that Ang Lee’s first film featuring a homosexual protagonist, The Wedding Banquet, was better.


  28. Madhousewife,
    I wasn’t using the “PG-13 movies can be worse than R movies” rhetoric to justify the watching of R-rated movies. My whole point was to highlight what you already note: the MPAA should not be the judge and jury on what I watch, because it is highly flawed.

    Is it easier to just say, “i won’t watch rated-R movies?” Sure…but, what’s the point if what I am watching is not offensive, and if I actually feel somewhat, dare I say, edified by it? Now, this could be a slippery slope, justifying the watching of any movie, but that’s why we have a conscience.


  29. Narrator,

    I walked out of Matrix II….but you didn’t mention that one.

    And, you make a great point. Not all R is “filth,” but you have to SEE the movie before you know one way or the other. So, invariably, there will be filth to be had, if you are a regular R patron.

    I am not trying to be “flawed” or “unflawed” here, because what we are talking about is relative to personal opinion…and that only. And taking a fine-tooth comb to past Conference addresses does not quality someone to be more right than another.

    Just like the Word of Wisdom, the R thing should be taking with a dose of the Spirit, and the intent of the admonitions themselves…not making bold counter-claims about who said what in 1985, or whatever.

    The fact is, there will always be R movies worth seeing (and that are not offensive), but the percentage of these versus the rest of them IS WAY TOO SMALL to justify calling R movies as accepable on the whole. And the reason we even know about these “ok” R movies is because they ARE the exception.

    I will be the first to tell you that I have a few R movies that I love…and that are completely unacceptable for Mormon viewing. For example, “High Fidelity.” Great movie, halarious, true to life, and totally raunchy. I’ve seen it over five times. However, I consider seeing the movie a sin. And, having seen it so many times, I really have no need to see it again. And in no way does the movie justify me going out and seeing R movies as a habit.

    I agree with you in that there will always be R movies that are worth seeing. Yet how do you know they are worth seeing without seeing them? Popular opinion? Maybe. But we have all been bit by that one before.

    Never will the Prophet come to the podium and recite a list of acceptable R movies. Short of that, we have to choices !)debate this one ad nauseum, or 2)trim our indugences…and strive for better.


  30. Steve,

    I did not see Brokeback Mountain. But I did hear about the “tent scene” and was offended. Does this make me a homophobe? Hardly.

    All I can say is that we vote for things with our pocketbook, and I didn’t contribute to it. Maybe the movie was the best thing that ever happened to Hollywood, maybe not. It is even possible that, per capita, homosexual men were treated better then ever before. Still, I don’t feel that I need to support gay rights (which I do to a large degree…because I am an American who believes in freedom, and a Christian who believes in charity) by seeing movies that strive make homosexuality what it is not: something worth gleefully perpetuating.

    I think that Christians can go to their scriptures to learn how to love others. Kindess, patience, forgiveness, longsuffering, charity. It’s sad when people have to go to the movies to find their “better angels.” As Latter-day Saints, we should know better. Besides, “Hollywood virtue” is like “Jumbo Shrimp.”


  31. zane, the same could be said about pg13 movies. furthermore, you don’t have to see any of these movies to find out about them. as a few have pointed out in the comments, there are plenty of sites which provide ample information about contents of movies.


  32. Narrator,

    I agree with you; we are all hopelessly bound to the information we receive via the media. All I can say is that usually, when it is R, there is a reason for it.

    But, just to keep us guessing, there will always be R films that should have been PG…and vise versa. R movies get the turnout at the box-office. And so it is.

    All I can say is purity ain’t what it used to be…and I have yet to be 40.


  33. Zane,

    Did you even read my last comment? If so, you have failed to address any of my points.

    As I said, Brokeback Mountain does not celebrate homosexuality as “something worth gleefully perpetuating.” In fact, the protagonists’ relationship tortures both of them, strains their marriages and family relationships, and ultimately ends in tragedy. The film does not send an unambiguous “gay rights” message, despite all the controversy that surrounded its release.

    But I don’t want to be drawn into an extensive discussion of a specific movie (particularly one that we have not both seen). If you were “offended” by what you “heard” about it, then that’s fine. But recognize that your judgment is subjective.

    I think that Christians can go to their scriptures to learn how to love others. . . . It’s sad when people have to go to the movies to find their “better angels.”

    Yes, Christians can go to their scriptures to learn to love. But by your flawed logic, any patronizing of the arts is unjustified. Being able to find some of our “better angels” in art is not the same as exclusively finding them there, or having to find them there. One can be inspired by the arts in addition to the scriptures. In fact, the arts may be able to touch us in ways that holy writ cannot. As Boyd K. Packer has suggested, “We are able to feel and learn very quickly through music, through art, through poetry some spiritual things that we would otherwise learn very slowly” (1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year (1977), 267).


  34. I’m pretty sure that I won’t be thinking about Arnold Schwarzenegger fighting Robert Patrick when I’m having sex with my wife.

    Well, maybe you will now that you’ve thought about not thinking about it.

    Oooh, just a thinker, your twisted machinations are subtle indeed.


  35. I wasn’t using the “PG-13 movies can be worse than R movies” rhetoric to justify the watching of R-rated movies

    I didn’t think you were. I was responding to someone else’s comment. Didn’t we say essentially the same thing vis a vis the MPAA ratings? Perhaps your repeated viewing of R-rated movies has made you oversensitive to certain comments.

    That was a joke, incidentally.


  36. I am going stand in defense of “Narrator”. I don’t watch R-rated movies, or many movies for that matter, because i prefer to reading as opposed to sitting in a movie theater. The R rated standard is rather superficial. When I was BYU-Idaho, my roommates would never bring home an R-rated movie, but would not flinch at anything that bore the PG-13 rating. This is rather hypocritical because most of the movies that they brought home were full of swearing, nudity, and violence, innuendo, but were somehow okay because of the letter on the box.

    I took a film class and learned about the MPAA. After learning about how movies are rated I have since decided that I am not going to turn over my agency to group of people that do not reflect my values. Instead of deciding what to watch based on the rating I have decided to determine what I watch based on the content and message as opposed to whatever someone I don’t know has slapped on a box or poster.

    The narrator does make a good point about R ratings mentioned in talks. A couple of years ago I did a search on LDS.org among General Conference talks specifically looking for what had been said in recent years about R-rated movies. My experience was much like “The Narrator’s”. There was that statement by President Benson some stuff from the Seventies, but other then that there was not much.

    I find the R-rated standard problematic. It only works for members that live in the US. It does not meet the needs of an international church. It has little application for people live in countries that do not use the MPAA standards not only for their own movies but for what they get from America.

    Maybe we should reconsider what we need to do to change Mormon culture and encourage others to take the high road and evaluate all media based on the standard set forth in the 13th Article of Faith.


  37. I found this statement by El Mad Dog very profound “We often forget that this is an international church and that US movie ratings are not the world standard.”

    avoiding rated “r” movies became so easy…just purchase it in a different country. oh wait! but in the U.S its still rated “r”, so stop rationalizing your addiction to bad movies.

    So whats the deal? when is a movie really REALLY rated “r”? hmmmmmmm

    I do think that for any country, giving the youth straight forward, clear lines to not cross is wise, which we know is where the no rated r counsel originated. I don’t know about others, but as a teenager i wasn’t exactly searching for movies with artistic values or deep meanings. i liked the movies that… lets be honest…made me a little randy.

    So maybe, just maybe this whole rated R thing was meant for those headstrong impressionable teenagers that specifically look for movies that tickle those urges. Maybe? i mean it really might have been very pointed advice for them.

    some of the posts that squeak a bit of “all rated R movies are filth” vaguely remind me of those unmarrieds that really believe sex is evil and bad. No no, there is a place and a time. (and everybody knows people like that or that were like that before they had sex) oh…i’ve drifted….my bad.

    admitting there are rated r movies that might possibly be…not filth, not lewd, nor any of the adjectives given by our church leaders, does not mean you are rationalizing watching any and all rated r movies just to find that one that was mis-represented by the rating system.

    No, it means that you realize that from country to country a movie’s rating will change, and from year to year the rating system changes. so whats missing from the good hearted individuals that really want to obey their prophet? maybe, just maybe, president benson really was counseling the YOUTH because they are what they are….kids. and maybe, just maybe by relying so fiercely on this rated “r” thing, you end up leaning on the arm of man to guide your decisions. Because, isn’t that where the rating system comes from?

    If someone allows the arm of man to be their guide in a matter so small then what else are you allowing man to guide you?

    So, i guess there could be a possibility that our leaders realize it isn’t about ratings but its about content, and how that content affects your connection to the spirit.

    Or maybe it boils down to simply not watching R rated movies because it was counsel from the prophet. And by following that counsel, you are showing your faith for the leaders of your church. thats a good reason too.


  38. latter day guy, i think it’s inevitable now. my sex life has been ruined by thinker… or maybe by arnold.

    whatsmissing, i’ll admit that as a young horny teenager that i’d often see a rated r movie because of the potential for lewd material (and would be disappointed when the movie didn’t live up to the R). however, i dunno if the r restriction would really change anything for a teenager. if they want to see nasty in film, they won’t really care about an rating guide.


  39. Whatsmissing,

    Happy to remind you of those singles who believe sex is bad. What, is that around 3.5 people in the Church? Maybe you are just confusing them with those singles who just trying to remain temple worthy while at war with their poor sexless bodies…and so, therefore, refrain from seeing movies that remind them of what they cannot have.

    You’d think that if 1/3 of the Church is expected to pull that off, then it would not be too much to ask for the members of the same Church to forego certain forms of entertainment.

    Do you really think I was calling everything in an R movie filth? Let me illustrate: American Beauty…very entertaining, great acting, and very disturbing in parts. How many minutes of graphic murder, or 45 year old men lusting after 14 year old girls would deem that movie “filthy?” 1 minute, 10, 20? Or is an hour ok…seeing that the movie is there and gone in one evening of your life, and you can forget you saw what you saw, and paid for what you paid for?

    Oh, what is “filth” in your opinion?


  40. zane i applaud all those that are honest with themselves about their weaknesses, or could be weaknesses and their steadfastness at keeping themselves clear of any and all things that would place them in precarious situations or in situations that muddle their connection to the spirit. i think everyone (including you)that has posted thus far would join in my applause. and i am more than happy to help anyone stay clear of the things that bring them down. how ever i can help, you just let me know.

    this is so off topic but…..i am confused…if you think sex is bad then why are you bothered by being reminded that you aren’t doing it? to me, adultery is bad bad bad. and i can tell you i won’t be doing that any time soon nor am i bothered that i will never become an adulterer (nor do i like movies that portray those actions regardless of the ratings). but…thats just me.

    Regardless of if you are married or single, one should avoid temptation and things that stray their mind toward temptation…right? but deceiving yourself into believing sex is inherently bad is…well…sad. Are you meaning lust? i can wrap my mind around that…but even then…i most definitely want my spouse to lust after me…like hardcore!

    You asked: Do you really think I was calling everything in an R movie filth? i’m not sure i understand what you are asking or what you are trying to explain with the American Beauty reference.

    Are asking if “filth” is relative, or that there is a cut off point where actions become filth…is that what you are asking me? I’m confused.

    But, i am not one to say when something is ok and when it is not for other people. I do believe that we are all on different levels of our progression towards our perfection. i myself can not stomach gore and avoid those movies at all costs. My sister can not stomach movies that show suffering, abuse, regardless if it was a hollywood production or real footage happening in real time. Regardless of the rating i won’t watch gore, she won’t watch human suffering.

    All i know, is a rating means nothing. But if it helps you put limits on where you can and can’t go then i suppose it is doing its job.


  41. whatsmissing,

    You said, “[s]ome of the posts that squeak a bit of “all rated R movies are filth” vaguely remind me of those unmarrieds that really believe sex is evil and bad.”

    You also said, “[i] liked the movies that… lets be honest…made me a little randy.”

    I responded by implying that there were some “3.5 people in the Church” who fit that catagory. I was also suggesting that maybe your comment was a little offensive and off base; and that, if any singles you knew who were giving off that vibe (particularly if they were using words like “filth” to describe certain movies they had seen or not seen), then it was probably an effort on their part to just keep control of their volatile, starved sex drive.

    After saying that, I then realized what an irony it is that 1/3 of our Church must do this daily to stay temple worthy…while others have the luxury to complain about flaws in twenty year old remarks about R rated movies by President Benson (or the Church’s myth-making interpretation of these words):

    “Furthermore (and this is part of a much bigger issue which I’ll leave out), the statements made by a President of the Church – even in general conference – are hardly grounds for determining LDS doctrine or commandment.”

    I guess I am just a little tired of people playing victim to a Church that is “out of touch,” so they justify in disregarding an R rating. I say, watch what you want, whenever you want, and however many times you want. But, PLEASE! shelve comments like:

    “But President Benson said so! First of all, this talk was directly given to the Aaronic priesthood youth, so to turn it into a general claim is going beyond the scope of his talk. Furthermore (and this is part of a much bigger issue which I’ll leave out), the statements made by a President of the Church – even in general conference – are hardly grounds for determining LDS doctrine or commandment. There is a long list of statements made by Church Presidents in general.”

    Today we read the words of Nephi, Mosiah, Alma,and others who were in none other than an Old World setting of…conference. Also, are we not told that what goes into the Ensign’s First Presidency Message can be likened to scripture? (Or is that another “myth” perpetuated by the ignorant, huddled masses of the Church body?)

    Oh, and I am quite sure that President’s Benson’s message to the Aaronic Preisthood is not the only such admonition given in conferences by apostles and prophets. But I guess that’s just what some people choose to do with such information: find a convienent talk from the Church archives and pick it apart so as to justify one’s own version of the Gospel.

    By the way, the results of what such images like “gore and sex” do to the human brain or society in general are still out there to be tallied. The advent and career of the motion picture, like World War II, is not history, but rather, CURRENT EVENT (just like violent video games.) The complete results are not yet in. What we do know is what we are told by our prophet and his apostles (whom we claim to support. We also know that, before the motion piture, as good or bad as anyone was…they were living in a world that (although limiting in some respects) they were free to have thier own thoughts without mindbending images. No, I am not just talking about R movies, I am talking about the television. Anyone want to take me on with that one? I dare you to tell me that the telivision is more good that bad….

    Wasn’t it President Hinkley who once said something to the effect that “…the good news is that the Church is staying above the standards of the world. The bad news is that those same world standards are plummetting?” (Circa 1995.)

    I not TRYING to sound like a Puritan, but I do have eyes to see. And if it sounds disturbing to anyone, I wonder why that is?…..


  42. whatsmissing,

    I guess I was also saying about your comment on certain singles: Don’t knock it ’till you try it.


  43. Whatsmissing,

    Other than that, I think I have been rather nasty to do in the last few blogs. I’m sorry for that. I suppose you hit a vein without knowing it. I, as you can guess, am currently single, and quite frustrated with the current situation as it exists for singles in the Church, over age 30.

    You seem like a cool person…and from what I have seen of your comments on other sections of this site, we have several identical opinions.

    Please forgive my venem, whatsmissing. And I do wish you a lovely weekend with less drama than our last little tango :I

    Cheers


  44. Whatsmissing was the word “you” in my first sentence, rather than the word “do.”

    Oh, the liabilities of not proofreeding!


  45. zane,

    you seem to just not get it. The Church simply does not have a teaching about rated-R movies. To claim that it does is just not true. It is simply a cultural tradition without official endorsement. It is not in any Church manual or official publication. I’m sorry, but a mere statement in general conference does not make Church doctrine or policy.

    Today we read the words of Nephi, Mosiah, Alma,and others who were in none other than an Old World setting of…conference.

    One major difference is that the scriptures have been canonized by a vote of the Church body as binding scripture and doctrine. Such is not the case for general conference talks. By your flawed logic, the Church teaches that Adam and Eve were God the Father and one of his polygamous God-wives who took on mortality in the Garden of Eden. The Church teaches that hunting is a sin. The Church teaches that blacks were inferior spirits who would never get the priesthood. The Church teaches that birth control is sinful. The list can go on and on and on. There are hundreds of statements by Church leaders in general conference that are not Church doctrine or policy.

    Oh, and I am quite sure that President’s Benson’s message to the Aaronic Preisthood is not the only such admonition given in conferences by apostles and prophets.

    Actually, President Benson’s talk is the ONLY instance of an apostle or president mentioning rated-R movies.


  46. i most definitely want my spouse to lust after me…like hardcore!

    haha… hardcore… that was just too awesome.


  47. narrator,

    Tell you what: You keep organizing your feelings about the Church and it’s movie policies. I’ll go ahead and assume President Benson was speaking to more than just twelve-year-old boys.

    And you’re right, I don’t get it. And that somehow gives me joy.


  48. zane,

    THE CHURCH DOESN’T HAVE A RATING BASED MOVIE POLICY. None. Zip. Zero. Nada. I’m not saying anything about the Church’s movie policy, because no such policy exists. It’s a chimera of our culture.

    And you should be glad that the Church does not have a ratings-based policy, because (as whatsmissing has pointed out) the lack of a ratings-based policy is a sign that the Church is actually becoming a global religion. A policy based on the (very flawed) American MPAA system would alienate members outside of the US and places the Church in an American setting with American ‘values’ and American consumer-based moral lines – even though the greater membership of the Church lives outside the borders of the US. The continued appeal to a mythic official policy on rated R movies by our culture is a sign that Mormons within the US (and especially within Utah) have not quite yet grasped that the Church is [becoming] a global Church, but instead still see the Church as an American institution made up of American citizens and Americanized persons outside the country.

    And you’re right, I don’t get it. And that somehow gives me joy.

    ignorance is bliss, ain’t it?


  49. Narrator,

    I found six pages of article listiings on lds.org when I put “Rated R Movies” in the search engine.
    I wonder if you will tell me that none of these are admonitions from the Prophet, so they don’t matter.

    Consider your line above:

    “In an April 1986 general conference address, President Ezra Taft Benson speaking directly to the youth of the church encouraged them to avoid lewd media. Rated-R movies were among the list of things he encouraged the youth to refrain from. Since that address, any sort of call to avoid the R has been limited to 2 or 3 lines from seventies who usually just quote President Benson – the last of these occurring in 1993.”

    Let’s see. If those boys were 12 then, making them 34 today. Some of these same brethren have children now who they either 1) allow them to watch R movies 2) watch R movies themselves, while prohibiting their children to watch them, or 3)they follow what President Benson told them in 1986, and expect the same of their children. In any case, I wonder how many articles can be found from the Brethren about “being an example to your children,” and how “they may not learn from what you say, but they will always learn from what you do.”

    But as for us, I am done arguing. And you, fellow priesthood holder and member missionary, are free to continue. As I have come to suspect, it currently apprears to be a notable element of your ego:

    “last night a friend told me that i was a smart ass jerk. that hurt – mostly because its a harsh truth that i have yet to remedy. you see, i don’t want to be a jerk. i just want to be a smart ass.”

    Just a thought, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” I’ve enjoyed your blog, but I must admit, it is a bit contentious for me. May you find what you are after.


  50. I found six pages of article listiings on lds.org when I put “Rated R Movies” in the search engine.

    I just googled ‘the narrator’ and came up with 3.5 million hits. I’m pretty sure most of those had nothing to do with me.

    I also searched lds.org for rated r movies and came up with a similar result. I also looked through most of those results. Most of the results are general comments about rated r and x (now nc17) movies and do not include any prohibitions. Nearly half seem to be non-ecclesiastical narratives from youth who are worried about rated r movies. Of the first 40 results that I browsed, none prohibited rated R movies. Interestingly, the second result is an Ensign article by LDS filmmaker Keith Merrill (Legacy & Testaments) who argues that the MPAA ratings are unreliable guides. (As a former member of the MPAA, he has strongly argued this point elsewhere). There are at least a dozen or so other results that make this same argument.

    I wonder if you will tell me that none of these are admonitions from the Prophet, so they don’t matter.

    As far as trying to claim some official ratings-based policy goes, you’re right it doesn’t matter. And as I have said over and over again, even a mere statement by a Church President does not make Church doctrine or policy. You seem to not be able to grasp this concept.

    Let’s see. If those boys were 12 then, making them 34 today. Some of these same brethren have children now who they either 1) allow them to watch R movies 2) watch R movies themselves, while prohibiting their children to watch them, or 3)they follow what President Benson told them in 1986, and expect the same of their children. In any case, I wonder how many articles can be found from the Brethren about “being an example to your children,” and how “they may not learn from what you say, but they will always learn from what you do.”

    Or maybe President Benson’s blanket prohibition was just wrong. Church leaders can be wrong you know. It happens all the time. They’re humans, not puppets. Furthermore, some things that are not appropriate for children may be just fine for adults. The Church has a warning in place for it’s new movie about Joseph Smith, claiming that it may be too intense for children. Is the Church promoting its adult members to be bad examples for their children? No. It’s simply acknowledging that certain things may be inappropriate for children, but may be just fine for adults. My little nephew used to be scared to death by Monsters Inc. It would have been inappropriate for me to show it to him. That doesn’t say that I shouldn’t watch it.

    Just a thought, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.”

    We fought a war in heaven over free agency. This would have been the most intense of battles in the history of ever. And then as soon as we come to earth, we want to toss that agency aside and have others make all our choices for us. Maybe Satan is winning that war today.

    Thanks for the compliment about my blog. You have a good weekend.


  51. Zane,

    I think you fail to appreciate the implications of your position. If we must accept a single isolated statement of a church president (made over two decades ago) as an absolute gauge of current policy, then I don’t know how we can justify not accepting other doctrines and practices once advocated by church leaders but not currently followed in the Church.

    Brigham Young made far more statements regarding the Adam-God doctrine than President Benson made about R-rated movies. Generations of leaders taught that blacks are cursed for pre-existence fence-sitting. President McKay made multiple pronouncements about the evils of birth control. The authority behind these positions is far greater than that supporting the R-rated movies ban. As the Narrator pointed out, your logic compels an acceptance of these beliefs.

    Although the Narrator has already made this point, the purpose of this comment is to bring it back to the forefront of the discussion. My question for you, Zane, is this–how do you reconcile the reasoning for your acceptance of Benson’s R-rated movies ban with your (presumed) non-acceptance of the other doctrines enumerated above?


  52. I ran out of time to read the rest of these comments, so I apologize if this has been covered (as I’m sure it has)–there appears to be generalization on both sides of this argument. On the one side, I can sense that those who watch R-rated movies are sometimes seen as “sinners” (whatever that really means).

    I get the feeling, as depicted in this post, that those who choose to abstain from R-rated movies have no qualms with watching any and all PG-13 movies. I disagree. I know of another group of LDS faithful who, in addition to avoiding R-rated movies, choose to avoid any other type of film (PG-13 or otherwise) which has content offensive to the spirit. What of these? Are they hypocrites for following a prophet’s counsel AND their own discerning judgement?


  53. …and I can’t think of a reversal to the belief that birth control isn’t evil….it seems to go contrary to covenants that many have made when marrying…


  54. Of course not, Adam. Those LDS faithful who avoid R and PG-13 movies discerningly are surely living the higher law.

    I wasn’t sure what you were trying to say about birth control, but perhaps that discussion deserves its own thread.


  55. What would Jesus do?


  56. I’ve read most of the comments and mostly agree with the original post. R rated films are usually more artistic, more authentic, and frankly, juts more interesting. I’m an adult and I like to be challenged and I like to think and I like to learn. Most PG or PG-13 movies can’t provide the thoughtful entertainment that I am seeking.

    And lets be honest. The R rating thing just doesn’t really matter that much. There are more important issues at stake in the world. I respect those who seek good art, regardless of the arbitrary MPAA rating, but I also respect those who avoid R rated films for whatever reason. I choose to watch R rated films and it hasn’t affected my spirit. If anything, I have learned to be more compassionate. Seeing someone else’s plight in a film can be extremely powerful. We can learn from art, just as we can learn from the Book of Mormon. Not everything we consume here on the earth will be perfect. I think it prudent and wise to learn in many diverse ways. I read a lot, I watch lots of films, and I also attend church and read the scriptures.

    Approaching art in this way can enhance your spiritual understanding. How often do we have the opportunity to travel to the third world, or Iraq? Not very often. But film can help us achieve that in a way. What is lacking from this entire conversation, is why we are watching movies in the first place. If we treat film as an art, and seek out artistic films that have been created to inspire, or teach, then I think a lot of us would stop watching movies like Seven or the Matrix.

    Many extremely important documentaries are rated R because of the harsh realities they portray. Why avoid these films because it offends your spirit? That is the point. If you see genocide or poverty and disease, then you might be moved into action. There’s something much more powerful about actually seeing something, rather than just reading about it.

    Filmmakers working with narrative forms, rather than documentary, often try to mimic the authenticity of real-life and sometimes their films are meant to be offensive to make a point. For those of you who quickly reject films as trash, try to re-evaluate why you watch films and chose films that move beyond typical Hollywood studio fare.

    But going back to my original point: the R rating just doesn’t really matter. It is a subjective decision that each of us has to make. We can agree to disagree as long as we continue to respect each other and strive to live the gospel. In thee big picture, being kind to one another is highly more important than whether or not we watched R rated films.


  57. Quite late to the game here, but I wanted to throw another very similar piece of kindling on the fire, if for nothing else but future discussions.

    Before there were R-rated movies, there were playing cards. This is interesting because it’s very similar, except it was a clear admonition intended for the whole church.

    See Pres. Kimball’s October 1974 conference address, for example, and this question in the Q&A section of a 1984 New Era that gives a 1943 John Widtsoe quote saying, basically, Uno is okay, but there’s something distinctly dangerous about the real ‘playing cards’, even if you’re not using them to gamble–a position that seems silly today.

    I think by now most Mormons are pragmatists about this. Playing cards aren’t a big deal if you’re not gambling. Eventually I think we’ll get to the same point with movies. It may take a while, though.

    Anyway, it makes for a good comparison. There’s more to be read if you search “playing cards” on lds.org.


  58. Rikker,

    Playing cards and movies hardly a valid comparison, although interesting.
    My only question is, what is the definition of “being valiant” in the Gospel, if we are not willing to make certain sacrifices. Can you be a valiant Latter-day Saint and watch frequent R moveies?

    I can almost assure that no one would want to watch certain R movies with the Prophet or the Savior present. To me, since we are supposedly striving to be an example to the world, why are we striving so hard to be just like everyone else?


  59. Zane,

    perhaps card-playing is not analogous, but that would be because the prohibition of card-playing had an official status – whereas the prohibition of rated r movies has not.

    My only question is, what is the definition of “being valiant” in the Gospel, if we are not willing to make certain sacrifices.

    By living ACTUAL principles of the gospel. Zane, you still don’t get it. The rated R prohibition is not part of the Gospel. It is not a Church doctrine. It is not a Church policy. It is not a gospel principle. It is an mythic creation of our culture. Living the gospel has NOTHING to do with an absolutist prohibition of rated R movies. We might as well sacrifice by not using red Legos.

    I can almost assure that no one would want to watch certain R movies with the Prophet or the Savior present.

    I can almost assure that no one would want to watch certain PG movies with the Prophet or the Savior present. So what’s your point?

    To me, since we are supposedly striving to be an example to the world, why are we striving so hard to be just like everyone else?

    We’re not. We’re just striving to not be Pharisees who create their own false commandments to give them an imaginary sense of holiness. Why don’t we be examples to the world by all becoming vegetarians (which is much more scripturally advocated than your mythic rated R commandment). Why don’t we be examples by not reading newspapers. Why don’t we be examples by throwing out our televisions. Why don’t we be examples by refusing to drive on the freeway. Why don’t we be examples by rejected Darwin. Why don’t we be examples by asserting that man has never been on the moon (Joseph Fielding Smith said we would never go there). Why don’t we be examples by fighting to legalize polygamy. Why don’t we be examples by not using cough syrup which contains alcohol. Why don’t we be examples by abstaining from chocolate. Why don’t we be examples…


  60. Didn’t Brigham Young once teach that ‘zane’ means ‘troll’ in Reformed Egyptian? Sorry, couldn’t resist…


  61. And we are to take from that last comment that Rikker means idiot? WOW.

    Narrator: Argue for your limitations and they will surely be yours. It appears that you are well on your way: Your logic is as sound as the late Johnny Cochran’s O.J defense; your views of free agency are twisted ; and although carefully couched in lawyerspeak, it is painfully obvious that all you are offering is cynicism.

    Have a fabulous day!


  62. Wow, this is still going?

    Your logic is as sound as the late Johnny Cochran’s O.J defense; your views of free agency are twisted ; and although carefully couched in lawyerspeak, it is painfully obvious that all you are offering is cynicism.

    Zane, how about giving an actual response rather than making empty accusations? Alleging unsound logic and “twisted” views is meaningless if you’re unwilling (or unable) to substantiate those criticisms.

    My only question is, what is the definition of “being valiant” in the Gospel, if we are not willing to make certain sacrifices.

    You imply that any sacrifice is a good sacrifice. However, some sacrifices are altogether pointless. As the Narrator said, by your logic we might as well sacrifice using red Legos. Or, how about I sacrifice reading the Bible? Surely not all sacrifices are of equal worth.

    I can almost assure that no one would want to watch certain R movies with the Prophet or the Savior present.

    Well of course I wouldn’t want to watch “certain” R-rated movies with Jesus. If Jesus were coming over for pizza and a movie tonight, I probably wouldn’t rent Superbad. However, there are a slew of R-rated movies that I would rent, and a slew of PG and PG-13 movies that I wouldn’t rent. But even then, I suspect that Jesus wouldn’t care much about what movie I was watching; he’d probably wonder why I was indulging in largely purposeless entertainment rather than developing my talents or serving my brothers and sisters.

    And Zane, you still haven’t responded to the question I raised earlier: How can you justify holding to Benson’s R-rated movies rule while rejecting other doctrines and practices advocated by earlier prophets (racist doctrines, Adam-God, no birth control, etc.)? Brigham Young taught the Adam-God doctrine far more often and far more extensively than subsequent prophets advocated not watching R-rated movies, yet we no longer believe that Adam was our Heavenly Father. Brigham even suggested that Latter-day Saints’ salvation would hinge on their acceptance of Adam-God, and incorporated the teaching into the temple ceremony (the lecture at the veil used to touch upon it). If we’re obligated to accept an isolated statement about R-rated movies as binding then surely we must accept Adam-God.


  63. Let’s face it: You guys are having a “Big boy go potty” moment, where you get to feel heroic about driving spiritual relativity to its outer edges…so all of us pragmatic sheep can feel free to have our cake and eating it too, so to speak. I suppose you feel as though you should be thanked….:

    THAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNKS! Thanks for doing the hard, spiritual and mental acrobatics for us all. It’s just what the Church needs, don’t you know? (Calling white black and black white always comes in handy in the Last Days.)Good work boys, good work!

    But, here’s a thought: Maybe the entire point is to try to actually follow the commandments as closely as we can, instead of seeing how far we can skirt them and still be able to feel good about ourselves on Sunday. (Spare us the “free agency” speech…it has always been a means to an end. And eventually, the rubber must hit the road. ) This “getting away with it on philosophical terms” must surely be a fun little adventure for you all. But maybe one day, when you are all sick of smelling eachother’s farts, you might consider that virtue is it’s own reward, and that there are better ways to spend you time than placing prophets under all the scrutiny of microscope, all under the umbrella of “truth-finding.
    Just thank God that there are others holding the fort down (and holding to the iron rod) in a world that is nose-diving into Babylon. Don’t worry. We’ll leave the light on for you.


  64. Zane,

    you’re quite the Pharisee. Jesus would have loved you (well he has to… he’s Jesus).

    You have pretty much ignored every argument we have made and have simply shown your conscious ignorance as you have spouted off your repetitive rhetoric.

    Instead of being so holier-than-thou and pretending you are God as you spit out your judgments, please take some time and respond to the arguments that have been laid out in the initial post and ensuing comments. If you aren’t trying to be a productive part of the discussion, go home.


  65. Narrator accuses Zane of “repetitive rhetoric?”
    If that line weren’t so LAMELY impostrous(or pharisaical, as it were) I might go as far as to say it was Orwellian…..

    So let me see here. As long as it is you speaking (or others who agree with you completely,) then it’s good discussion. Anyone who goes as far as to say you are wrong in your methods gets accused of “pretending they are God?”

    I’ll tell you, Narrator, I think you are good enough for talk radio (complete with the little red bleep button, silencing anyone who does not serve as your echo.)


  66. Oh Zane,

    I accuse you of repetitive rhetoric because you consistently spout of the same self-righteous judgments without responding to the arguments given. Even after several of us have practically begged you to respond to the arguments, you have failed to and still maintain this same fruitless tactic.

    Your accusation that my line was Orwellian makes me wonder if you have even read 1981. Are you implying that I am participating in doublethink or some other type of Oceanic mind control? Please elaborate further and educate us all.

    Furthermore, I don’t accuse people who disagree with my arguments or methods as pretending that they are God. As you have NEVER responded to any of the arguments given, I don’t even know if you disagree with them. Mostly I just think you’re consciously ignorant.

    If you had even attempted to read what I wrote, you would have seen that I actually said “pretending you are God as you spit out your judgments.” It’s not your disagreement with me that makes you a false God, it’s your ungodly assumption that you are capable of making divine judgments.

    Talk radio is hardly a place where good back and forth argumentation can occur. Rather it’s more fitting for those who choose to selective ignore arguments that they are incapable of responding to. Hmmm… Who would that be befitting?

    Seriously Zane, are you going to respond to any of the arguments given, or are you just going to continue to troll out your judgments from the land of make-believe.

    Say hi to King Friday and Prince Tuesday for me.


  67. Narrator,

    You’re right. I’ve never read Orwell’s novel “1981.”


  68. Narrator,

    Have you ever read the Book of Mormon? Doctrine in Covenants? Heard of them?


  69. At least a dozen times each Zane.

    Look, if you’re not going to respond to the arguments given, this is my last reply to you.


  70. Yay!!!!!


  71. Zane,

    I won’t waste any time debating you until you are willing to address at least one of the points we’ve raised. Just answer this one question, which we have brought up at least three times but which you have not answered (I’ll just cut-and-paste from my last comment):

    How can you justify holding to Benson’s R-rated movies rule while rejecting other doctrines and practices advocated by earlier prophets (racist doctrines, Adam-God, no birth control, etc.)? Brigham Young taught the Adam-God doctrine far more often and far more extensively than subsequent prophets advocated not watching R-rated movies, yet we no longer believe that Adam was our Heavenly Father. Brigham even suggested that Latter-day Saints’ salvation would hinge on their acceptance of Adam-God, and incorporated the teaching into the temple ceremony (the lecture at the veil used to touch upon it). If we’re obligated to accept an isolated statement about R-rated movies as binding then surely we must accept Adam-God.

    Your inability to answer this question demonstrates the fatal flaw in your position. Resorting to ad hominem attacks and empty rhetoric in now way compensates for this weakness.


  72. Steve M,

    The Church went so far, so fast…and I cannot be sure of whether there were truths manifested to JS or Brigham Young that run deeper or more obscure than we know of. It may be that his Adam-God thing bore certain truths under certain contexts. I mean, we know that Adam was part of creation…which could in some respect make sense of Brigham’s comments.
    There is much more truth out there than we can even imagine. And whether certain truths make sense or not is often relative to the knowledge of other truths.

    It almost seems that certain “hight minded” truths were given at the beginning of the Restoration, that (in retrospect)are inconvenient in our modern world. Let’s face it: Polygamy it an inconvenient eternal truth. Still, the modern worthy LDS person does not participate in it at this time.

    But as far as the rated R movie debate, I think of President Kimball’s book, “The Miracle of Forgiveness.” It is a very hard book in our day to swallow. He makes it fairly clear that anything other than holding hands and quick kisses on the doorstep while single and dating is considered “petting.” The book was written in the 70s (40 years ago.) Now, condidering President Kimball’s admonitions, those of us who are single today can follow his words to a ‘T’, or break those rules according to our comfort and will to do so. Having said that though, it stands to reason that if a prophet who many of us remember in our lifetime is so strict with morality, then many contemporary rated R movies would be considered unacceptable to LDS people.

    I am in no way saying that I have not seen particular R movies, or that I won’t in the future. I am only saying that, until a prophet gives us a list of R moves that are acceptable, we must use our own judgement. But if using our own judgement means putting everything that has ever been said under the microscope…while simultaniously ignoring other truths that (while not speaking of R movies specificly) speak of a lifestyle and an attitude that IS expected of a saint, then we are missing the boat. For example: It says in the D & C that we should be anxiously enganged in a good cause…and if all we do is sit around and wait for specifics then we are in the gall of bitterness.” It also says that we should read from the “best books.” If there were movies then, do you think that it is probable that JS would have added to that admonishment “the best movies?” I would guess yes.

    The other problem I have with some of the arguments on this subject is that, to me, there seems to be an attitude of superiority over the prophets. I could be right or wrong about that, but that’s my perception. It’s like we are speaking of so many politicians or sports celebrities…and we can therefore debate the validity, necessity, and even character of these great men. It just feels irreverant to me. I don’t recieve that little emotional validation that I look for when such deep discussion is enganged.

    Of course, no one here would ever see themselves as doing anything other than “rightiously questioning doctrine, so as to learn how to live better the laws we have.” Rather, I think that the majority of us in this particular discussion is privately interested in justifying thier own behaviour relative to R movies, which might not be universally acceptable to other saints in their immediate proximity. (I certainly do not expect anyone to admit this. Rather, I absolutley expect them to vehemently deny such motivation.) That’s all good and well. It’s not my problem, nor my concern. But it just seems painfully obvious that “even the elect are decieved” in this case.
    Finally, I fully expect those same folks to defend themselves by donning an attitude of “I was just making a point,” or “Isn’t this interesting”, or some such stance. Fine. But IT FEELS like they (we) are putting prophets and their ability to communicate a particular message on the aution block, and for purposes that seem a bit cynical if not shady.


  73. “Doctrine is defined by the culture. If a doctrine isn’t accepted by the culture, it fades on the wayside. (See Adam-God, ancestry of Native Americsns, priesthood ban doctrines, immorality of birth control, etc etc etc). On the other hand, when a culture largely embraces a teaching it becomes ‘doctrine.’”

    On the other hand, Narrator lists some good examples of what keeps us asking “Wha?!” in The Church. These subjects do get in the way of getting a clear answer on things. Sometimes I think that the Lord gave certaiin truths to these early prophets of the Restoration…and the information was desiminated accordingly, but the culture DID affect what it meant. Furthermore, here we are in 2008 having split the genome and the atom, and there is simply more information to bump against these prophesies.

    Consider some of the Old Testament prophets. There are some strange prophesies to be had. Some are in the form of metaphors, others are straight talk. In any case, what they are often talking about (although correct in thier prediction, looks very different on the cover of the newspaper or CNN. In other words, there is very little need to question whether Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John or the others. I think that, at some point, we have to put these obscure and interesting doctrines in the perverbial archives, and “walk on down the road.”
    The Church is either true or is isn’t. And if it isn’t true, then good luck proving Christianity from any other religion. There was much to be done during the Restoration, and I believe that the prophets were, themselves, learning how to be prophets (what should or should not be said in a crowd of believers, etc….) There is really no need to hang the general truth of the Gospel on the Adam-God thing. But, the more we talk about it, the more anti-Mormons will, that is for sure. This, without a doubt, affects missionary work. And yet we have to continue to mull over “space-doctrine” as if what happened in the Sacred Grove was not the fulcrum of the Gospel, but instead, whether or not all Native Americans come from
    the Tribe of Joseph or not…or because the verdict on birth-control was amended somewhere along the line. For heaven’s sake, the True and Eternal Gospel itself has changed on the past five thousand years, right? The very Ten Commandments and the punishment for breaking them changed on a dime with the Saviour’s atonement.


  74. Zane,

    Way to dodge the question.

    It may be that his Adam-God thing bore certain truths under certain contexts. I mean, we know that Adam was part of creation…which could in some respect make sense of Brigham’s comments.

    Rather than acknowledge the contradiction between current and 19th-century teachings on Adam-God, you try to reconcile the them, in an attempt to avoid the unhappy implications of such a contradiction. As I have demonstrated, that contradiction fatally undermines your position. Unfortunately for you, Brigham’s Adam-God doctrine is not so easily reconciled with current Church teachings. And even if it were, there are several major doctrinal changes that have taken place, and probably hundreds of contradictions in the teachings of the general authorities. For instance, BiV just wrote an amazing post demonstrating how LDS views of birth control have shifted. The point remains the same: In order for Benson’s “no R-rated movies” rule to stand, you must adopt the premise that a single isolated statement by a president of the Church (20+ years ago!) is absolutely binding on members of the Church. The problem is that that position would require us to accept a host of other ideas that we don’t like, many of them contradictory.

    Although, as just demonstrated, my argument does not hinge on this point, I will briefly show why your Adam-God reconciliation doesn’t work.

    Brigham was quite explicit in stating not just that Adam was involved in creation, but that he was “our FATHER and our GOD,” that he came to earth with a celestial body, that Eve was one of his celestial wives, that by partaking of “earthly” fruit they were able to give birth to mortal children, and that Christ was literally conceived by him. Bruce R. McConkie articulated the Church’s current position on the doctrine thus: “There are those who believe or say they believe that Adam is our father and our god, that he is the father of our spirits and our bodies…. The devil keeps this heresy alive as a means of obtaining converts to cultism.”

    That Brigham’s Adam-God doctrine, as he taught it, is not reconcilable with the traditional view of Adam is further evidenced by the fact that Orson Pratt sharply disagreed with Brigham on the issue. Pratt held to the traditional view, while Brigham advocated his radical new doctrine. The divide almost put Pratt’s membership in the Church in jeopardy. Were Brigham’s doctrine merely a “deeper” teaching that was not inherently at odds with the traditional (and current) view of Adam, then this disagreement would have been unlikely.

    The contradiction between Brigham’s view and the current Church view is inevitable. Your attempted reconciliation doesn’t hold water, and in any case, other examples (such as shifts in teachings on birth control) equally demonstrate that your position is untenable.

    (For more info on the Adam-God doctrine, the Wikipedia article is a good primer, but you’ll also want to read this Dialogue article.)

    Having said that though, it stands to reason that if a prophet who many of us remember in our lifetime is so strict with morality, then many contemporary rated R movies would be considered unacceptable to LDS people.

    This argument is circular. Relying on President Kimball’s view of morality is untenable for the same reasons that your stance on Benson’s R-rated movies rule is. Kimball’s strict Miracle of Forgiveness philosophy has largely been moderated by successive leaders, as has Benson’s movie rule. You can’t justify the applicability of isolated teachings of one president of the Church by appealing to those of another.

    I am only saying that, until a prophet gives us a list of R moves that are acceptable, we must use our own judgement.

    I’m all for using individual judgment; that’s what the Narrator and I have been saying all along.

    But if using our own judgement means putting everything that has ever been said under the microscope…while simultaniously ignoring other truths that (while not speaking of R movies specificly) speak of a lifestyle and an attitude that IS expected of a saint, then we are missing the boat.

    It’s no small irony that one of the Narrator’s main points has been that people “miss the boat” when they adhere to arbitrary rules such as the R-rated movies prohibition while neglecting to live the “lifestyle…expected of a saint.”

    If there were movies then, do you think that it is probable that JS would have added to that admonishment “the best movies?” I would guess yes.

    You presuppose that R-rated movies would not be among “the best movies.” As has already been addressed, that is not necessarily true. In any case, 95% of the movies out there probably wouldn’t qualify as “the best,” regardless of rating.

    and we can therefore debate the validity, necessity, and even character of these great men.

    Nobody has called into question the “validity, necessity, [or] character” of the prophets. Rather, some of us have recognized the dilemma created if we assume that anything and everything that the general authorities say represents the word of God. Clearly each of us has a responsibility to figure out whether and how the teachings of past and current prophets apply to us.

    Zane, I’ve wasted too much time already on this thread. You can feel free to post something else so that you can get the last word in, but I am confident that your arguments have already been thoroughly refuted (over and over). I see no need for my continued participation in this discussion.


  75. You win, SteveM. But WHAT, exactly, have you won?


  76. I guess SteveM, in the scheme of things we have to consider the source. Not to pick on Narrator or anything, but this is how this whole blog began. And not two months after he quoted in a similar blog:

    “i don’t want to help old people. you see… old people scare me. not only do they go all willy and day dream all the time, they have stuff growing on them, say weird things, get mad for no reason, smell funny, have memory trouble, call me names of former lovers, wear diapers, and a plethora of other things that i just don’t handle well.”

    Personally, I don’t care about his, your, or anyone else’s opinion on such things. But, as for the quotation above, isn’t it probable that similar rhetoric fell from the mouths of certain Germans… aimed at another disenfranchaised group of folks in 1930s Europe?
    The point? Be careful of the things you say on a blog (or anywhwere else)that supposedly sits under the umbrella of Mormondom and Christianity.
    Furthermore, the words we use, occasionally count.
    This sort of behaviour has been my biggest issue with the rated R subject all along. If you don’t get that, then go ahead and give me more of your paltry condescending lawyerspeak.
    Happy to be there for you…. :I


  77. Let me also state that I was nothing less than shocked at Narrator’s comment on senior citizens. Does he have grandparents? This deserves discussion, but will be likely shelved. Any takers?
    By the way, Narrator could have also been describing the typical three-year old. So, I guess no one is safe on this blog.

    Let me just state for the press, that some of you on this site are truly worth reading and cooresponging with. It’s unfortulate that the clowns around you tarnish your good intentions.


  78. As a final word on what you accused me of in your last note: “Way to dodge the question,” I find that comment cute and well, the ‘Johnny one-note” that you and Narrator play upon with whatever you disagree with. First of all, there was no dodging of anything, as far as I am concerned. Rather, when someone makes what can be assumed a valid comment that does not fit your one inch square perameters (which I have absolutely no desire to achieve…nor ever will in this discussion, as you both have made quite obvious) then that person is pounced upon by attorney talk, and lots of it. It is clear that if I say ‘black,’ you will say ‘white’ on impulse. That is not arguing. It is an exercise in idiocy.
    If you are so concerned about matters like the Adam-God thing, send a letter to the prophet and the apostles. Otherwise, all you are really doing is stirring up a pot of non-issues that will only serve to hurt what the Church is trying to do by commandment: Share the true and living gospel.

    As far as my comment:
    “It may be that his Adam-God thing bore certain truths under certain contexts. I mean, we know that Adam was part of creation…which could in some respect make sense of Brigham’s comments,”

    how is that not valid when Joseph Smith has been called “a Saviour?” Even we are supposed to strive for the same thing, as have heard. I propose that the Adam-God thing is NOT hard to understand if you want to understand it. Adam did work with God, and was the father of all men, and will be present at Adam-ondi-amen. But maybe Brigham Young was speaking to contemporaries who understood what he was trying to say…so there was really no problem until generations later when people who knew very little of his context started wondering what he meant.
    Again, so what?

    This is like filming two hair-raising seconds of a news clip that appears to be a man hitting a woman with a baseball bat…but if you saw the rest of the footage, you would realize that they are both in the sports store, and he is just showing her a better swing.

    Prediction: One or the two of you will 1) accuse me of dodging the point; or 2) give me the shut out. Either way, have fun. I couldn’t care less.


  79. Zane, I’m sure you can ramble indefinitely, but I thought I’d at least clear up that ‘troll’ does not mean ‘idiot’.

    To quote Wikipedia:

    An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

    It appeared then and continues to appear to me that the majority of your comments are not in the genuine spirit of discussion, but are meant to bait and goad.

    That makes you a troll, not an idiot. Perhaps your interpretation of the term was Freudian. Shrug.


  80. You guys are wasting your time. I’m afraid Zane truly is an idiot. I hate to resort to name-calling, which is the only thing of note Zane does in his posts, but there is no getting around it. He never answered a single one of the questions you calmly and politely posed, and never acknowledges that Church leaders have said things unequivocally that were never doctrine, or that were doctrine and then were changed. The closest Zane comes to an argument that makes any sense is when he notes that face card playing cannot be equated with seeing R-rated movies (true), but he never acknowledges all the issues of real seriousness and consequence that you do raise. Joseph Smith believed strongly that truth is something we struggle constantly to grasp, and that we have to keep amending our understanding to get to it. In that light, it doesn’t offend me that Joseph Smith was inconsistent, that Brigham Young contradicted himself, that the Church has abandoned things that they and others taught, and that Church doctrine evolves. It does; that’s all there is to it. Zane is either dumb, or he’s afraid of what that means. But I submit that it’s nothing to be afraid of. The Church remains an institution of great integrity, led by inspired men, who from time to time make mistakes, and also from time to time gain greater light and correct or update themselves. Zane needs to update himself. If any of you are still paying attention to this thread, I wanted to say I enjoyed it the thoughtfulness, did not enjoy the Zane part, and hope you will ignore him if he reappears.


  81. A good point is made here, that it’s not Christ-like to look down on someone who watches R rated movies, especially if it’s done by someone who relishes offensive material present in PG-13 movies.

    However, I think it’s a very dangerous mistake we make when we disregard or trivialize the words of the Prophets and Apostles. Given the sheer number of posts I have seen by alleged LDS expressing an interest in seeing Richard Dutcher’s new movie “Falling”, I expect we’ll probably hear some reiteration or perhaps clarification of the admonishment on avoiding R rated movies or at least any movies, music, or literature that offends the spirit.

    As things currently stand, I see the counsel on avoiding R rated movies kind of the way the word of wisdom was viewed back in the 1830s. Good advice that is very worthy of consideration, but not binding in a Temple recommend interview. This may change, and if it does, I will comply with the counsel of the Brethren. But until that day comes, I prefer to live by the spirit of the law, which is what Heavenly Father prefers, in my opinion.

    The spirit of the law tells me that I am in error if I, as a Latter Day Saint, put my faith in a group of non LDS people who are so thoroughly immersed in Hollywood that they cannot accurately relate to my sensibilities, that these people will sensibly rate the movies they see in a manner that will allow me to see worthy ones like “The Matrix”, and protect me from seeing works of profound ugliness like “Pulp Fiction”. The spirit of the law tells me that if I trim out the nudity and some of the more extreme violence in “Braveheart”, that what remains is an inspiring movie worthy of my attention. The spirit of the law tells me that if I am watching a PG-13 movie that contains nudity, sexual humor, depictions of drugs or drug use, or offensive language to whatever extent is necessary to make me uncomfortable, that I should at least turn my head, plug my ears, think about something else, or maybe just not watch it.

    I have edited my own movies, which I have on VHS, by taping TV over words and images in them that I find offensive or troubling in any way. I am exploring technology that will allow me to edit DVDs. Personally, I would like to have copies of some of the R rated movies I have seen that don’t contain offensive material.

    This said, I find the obsession some people have with art to be just a bit troubling. Where is the honor in sitting around, wearing a black beret backwards, stroking your goatee, and discussing the deeper meaning of a movie, song, book, or poem until you’re not making sense to anybody but other people like you? Why aren’t engineers, architects, and scientists honored this fervently? Can you put a satellite in a geosynchronous orbit with a poem? How many people do you see riding a movie to work in the morning? Can a book shelter you from the weather as well as a house? Why do people like Richard Dutcher and Neil LaBute leave the Church over this silliness? At the end of the day, it’s not worth it. We, as Latter Day Saints, ought to instinctively know that. Art is entertainment. The superior importance of the Gospel is beyond words. Dutcher and LaBute are proof that a thorough enough immersion in offensive material will drive you away from God. Since everyone’s threshold may not be at the same place, I say pay attention to the Holy Spirit. If what you’re watching causes Him to leave, leave it behind or at least get it edited, regardless of how Hollywood or the MPAA feels about it.


  82. 1) Simply put, the MPAA rating system sucks. As has already been said on this page numerous times, there are many R-rated movies with much less offensive content than many PG13-rated movies.

    2) Different people are affected by different content. For some, a nude/sex scene is incredibly offensive. For others, profanity is upsetting. For others still, graphic violence tops the list of objectionable material.

    One simple answer that has helped me: I bought a ClearPlay DVD player. The player lets me choose which types of content to filter out of my DVD’s. For example I can watch Saving Private Ryan(R)with ALL of the violence, but with the profanity filtered. I can pop in the director’s signature version of Gladiator(also R), and if my wife comes into the room I tell the player to play everything but the most graphic of the violent images.

    I don’t trust ratings. Different things offend me than might offend you. This way I can follow the counsel that has been given, which is to avoid offensive entertainment that drives away the Spirit.


  83. I agree with the narrator. I mean everyone has different opinions about rated R movies. My mom and I are going to talk to the bishop today (thursday) about what I should do with my opinion,but you see not all rated r movies are trash. So people out there…hear me out on this. I go with why it is rated that way. If it has gore, I would watch it. Bad language fine, drug content, that is okay with me. But if there is anything else I won’t watch it like sex and porn. You get what I mean? This subject should be continued. I went onto about.com to look at the mormon debate on rated R movies. I was lead here. Now please see my point of view. If you think for one moment that everything R is trash, your wrong. What I have read in some reviews that some of the stuff that is R rated is moving and great. Like Tim Burtons Sleepy Hollow, it is amazing and only rated R for it’s bloody content. I think that there is a reason why stuff is rated R. So we are on this earth to chosse. I chosse not to judge things by the R at the top corner alone. Read the box below.


  84. Oh yeah Zane…you know you are being very rude to the narrator..as I have said…everyone has an opinion.

    Narrator,
    The talk with the bishop went smoothly, he said (and this can also apply to zane) but we have a choice. He said I can choose if I want to. We are on this earth to choose.

    So zane this is his choice and he is trying to make a statment to the world that there isn’t anything in the bible that is against rated r movies. to me it is a suggestion, not a commandment. Because if it was, I wouldn’t be in this debate with my mom I would be following that commandment. So HAHA!!! I make a point big time!


  85. I happen to know at least one member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles who recommends R-rated movies regularly to his colleagues. Hey, I’m just following the prophet.

    The fact is there is no Mormon doctrine related to film ratings. You could go back and forth offering quotes from prophets and general authorities past and present that might advocate your personal stance on the matter, but, like so many other things, it’s not a point of doctrine. We should follow the Spirit and do what we feel is right for us. I feel I’m a better person for choosing to view R-rated films. There are a number of films both R-rated and otherwise that I regret I’ve seen. There are even more that I feel have strengthened my moral and spiritual character. I think many of them would have the same effect on certain other people. I think many of them could also be dangerous for certain other people. I don’t condemn those who choose not to see R-rated films. I feel pretty assured in my belief that Christ does not condemn me for choosing to see some R-rated films. We are commanded to seek out art that is uplifting and enriching. Many members of the Church don’t do that. I try to and I think we all should. That will include R-rated movies for some of us and exclude them for others.


  86. You people are so strange. Focusing on R rated movies as something bad or evil is retarded. They are forms of entertainment, which are for people of a certain age group. Everyone is different. If something offends you turn it off. If you cannot accept what you see on the screen as someone else portraying their view of the world (director writer) or maybe just someone making a gut churning story for the effect then stop watching. Also, if you think that a little swearing and sex is going to negatively affect your life then you have problems much grander than what movies to watch or not to watch. Mormons in general are very strange when it comes to the arts. We would not have great horror flicks of old if Mormons were in charge, nor would we have many of the classics. Braveheart comes to mind.

    Man up and grow up folks, movies don’t damage you no matter what they contain. It’s how you perceive their content and what you do with the information. Mormons are more likely to allow films to turn them into swearing rapists than other people I would think, due to the rigid lifestyle they live.


  87. As a reporter, I called the LDS church about a year ago to get an official statement on R ratings. This was their response (not a direct quote, but a section from the resulting article):

    The church no longer has an official statement about which movie ratings are or are not appropriate. The church is a worldwide organization and the term “R rating” is not applicable in many parts of the world. And while the church standards are the same throughout the world, the social standards — which are what translate into ratings — are not the same.

    According to resources on lds.org, “Many movies and television programs can be spiritually damaging as inappropriate behaviors and viewpoints are depicted as normal and even desirable. Church leaders have warned families of the potential dangers in this type of entertainment, counseling them to avoid such, and have encouraged members to join others in speaking out against offensive programming.”

    There is, intentionally, no official mention of ratings.


  88. I am absolved of my R-rated guilt! I just looked this up today, curious as to the origins of the whole avoid-R-movies phenomenon.

    I know what offends my spirit, and for years have lived by a personal rule that I won’t see a movie if it is rated higher for sexual/sensual content and language. That’s included many PG-13 movies that I won’t see.

    I love Kung Fu Hustle. Last Samurai. Man on Fire. Great movies. If it’s R for action sequence violence, I’m in for the ride. Even gore, if it is not twisted into something unjustified, glorified or sick.

    And now I know it’s okay. 🙂 Throughout the years, people kept leaving off the last half of that sentence of Benson’s, “Don’t see R-rated moves…OR vulgar videos, OR participate in any entertainment THAT IS immoral, suggestive or pornographic.” It was all part of a speech that was intended to counsel them away from things that created lust.

    And that reporter comment is nice to know.


    • Immoral: Not conforming to accepted standards of morality. Morality: Principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. It wasn’t just about lust. It’s about right and wrong. Read the whole talk. It’s any media that degrades and causes the spirit to leave you. Which I would submit would be any R-rated movie, for vulgar speech, sexuality or violence.


  89. President Hinckley said: “Some people argue over whether [certain counsel] is a commandment. I do not need to argue. As far as I am concerned, whether it is a commandment or counsel, that which the Lord counsels becomes a commandment to Gordon B. Hinckley. I hope it does to you.”

    I think that about sums up the NO rated-R movies. If President Hinckley says to treat counsel as commandment, we should.


  90. After reading this article about 3 months ago, I decided to start watching R rated movies. I started with Sweeney Todd, then branched out trying to pick movies that have important messages or are highly regarded. Ive kept track of the movies I’ve seen, which just hit 19 last week.

    I still don’t know if it’s sinful, and some are definitely better movies (and some more immoral) than others. The one thing I do know is that I will never apologize for watching some of these movies. The Shawshank Redemption is one of them- no movie has had a bigger effect on how I view criminals and the American justice system. There Will Be Blood is another, which has me questioning capitalism as a system.

    Just a few hours ago one of my priesthood leaders told our quorum that watching an r rated movie is a sin. I held my tongue, but I may show him this excellent article.

    Thank you so much- without this article, I wouldn’t be the (now better) person that I am.


  91. I think it is hillarious that my sisters two year old daughter can watch a movie that is Rated “G” in Sweden but that I, living in the US, can not watch the same movie – because it is Rated “R” here.


  92. It’ll also save a lot of cash and time for those on efdbgbdecefe



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: