For Latter-day Saints, the letter R can be one of your best friends.
It simplifies your decisions at the video store as well as the ballot box:
- A movie with an R printed on it is bad. Even if you don’t know anything else about the movie, don’t watch it. A movie with any other rating — even if you don’t know anything about it — is good, as far as the appropriateness of its content.
- A political candidate with an R printed by their name is good. Even if you don’t know anything else about the candidate, vote for him/her. A candidate with any other letter — even if you don’t know anything about her or him — is bad.
Piece of cake.
And one of the great things about this simple philosophy is that many of your Latter-day Saint friends will act the same way. You will be in good company. In fact, you can probably just assume, in all of your conversations, that all (good) Mormons act the same way. For example, if you are having a group of people from your ward over to watch a movie, you can assume that the movie will be appropriate as long as it is not rated R. Or when you start talking politics with your home teachers, you can simply assume that R is good and the other letters are bad.
Every now and then you will run into a Latter-day Saint, though, who will challenge your philosophy. Do not be alarmed. Here is what you can do:
Regarding movies, you might have people (like Orson Scott Card) tell you that certain R-rated movies (e.g., The Passion of Christ, Schindler’s List, Atonement, The Last of the Mohicans) might be OK for some adult Latter-day Saints to watch. These people are clearly deceived. Obviously, they are not following the counsel of the prophets, who have commanded us not to watch R-rated movies — ever! Go ahead and tell them that and they will probably leave you alone.
A few, however, might press you further. Someone might ask you what specific counsel you are referring to. This type of person is clearly a contentious person — every Latter-day Saint knows that it is a commandment not to watch R-rated movies. However, let them know that you are not guided by rumor. Tell them that in a May 1986 Ensign article, President Benson said not to watch R-rated movies (p. 43). This will be good enough for most members. However, a few dangerous Latter-day Saints will pressure you further. They might want to quibble about “context” — if they’re really contentious, then they already know about the statement and will make the audacious claim that it needs to be understood in proper context (a common appeal by those who wish to equivocate on the words of the prophets). They will make the ridiculous claim that President Benson’s words are good practical counsel, not a strict commandment, and that the important thing, quoting Benson, is to not “participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic.” Clearly, however, they are simply looking for a way to justify watching R-rated movies. We are unable to decide what is appropriate — that’s why we have living prophets, and they have spoken. The thinking has been done. Also, consider: If you give in and watch an R-rated movie, you’ll never be able to say, like Mormon American Idol contestant Brooke White, that you’ve never watched one.
The person who you really need to look out for is the person who says that the values that undergird movie ratings are not always the same as gospel values. They might even make the ridiculous claim that the Church has moved away from making recommendations on specific ratings for this very reason. They might say that the “spirit of the law” is more important than the letter, which is why this counsel has not been repeated much in the past 20 years. Or they might unnecessarily complicate things by talking about how the Church is an international Church and that different countries have different rating systems. If you encounter this person, run. Simply run away, just like Joseph ran away from Potiphar’s wife. You can’t reason with the devil.
Because most people don’t talk about politics, you might have an easier time avoiding Latter-day Saints who challenge your R-rated preference, especially if you live in Utah. However, even if you’re a Utahn, you’ll likely run into someone who will disagree with you. In fact, we know that the end must be near, because there was an article this week in the Deseret Morning News (a Church-owned newspaper!) by Doug Robinson that challenges your whole philosophy!
Robinson tries to rationalize not voting for the “R-rated” candidates in Utah by talking about how the Utah legislature does not have to worry about their constituents because they know they will be re-elected. Others will complicate this point further by saying that the Church does not officially endorse a certain political party. These people, once again, are clearly deceived. Everyone knows that the R-rated party is the party that (good) Mormons are a part of. It stands for religious values and the D-rated party stands for atrocious things such as abortion and same-sex marriage. Of course, the Church has to play their little PR game, but we all know that that’s all it is.
Some Latter-day Saints will challenge your view on this. They will say that it is not necessarily true that the Church’s values match the R-rated party. They will say that it is arguable that the Church’s values match other parties just as well or better, but that each individual needs to decide for him/herself. They might even make the incredible claim that Latter-day Saints should vote for the best person, regardless of party. Or — if they’re really dangerous — they might even suggest that the moderate values of many Latter-day Saints in Utah probably better match with the D-rated party! They might unnecessarily complicate things by saying that most D-rated political candidates in Utah are socially conservative and pro-life. These, however, are pernicious and seductive claims that will in time erode Utah’s values. Utah is one of the best states in the nation because we are the closest to believing the same things, in terms of religion and politics. If we suddenly have a bunch of D-rated politicians, it could ruin everything. Suddenly we would actually have political competitions in Utah. We would have to actually learn about the candidates, which would take away from our time in the scriptures. There would also probably be a lot of contention. And we all know who the author of contention is. Run away!
Filed under: Film, Mormon Culture, Politics | Tagged: abortion, Brooke White, Democrats, Doug Robinson, elections, Ezra Taft Benson, Film, Mormon Culture, Mormons, Orson Scott Card, political parties, politicians, Politics, R-rated movies, Republicans, same-sex marriage, Utah legislature, Utah politics |