Saturday, May 2, 2015

Why I don't watch R rated movies

There is a particular movie out that I really would have enjoyed seeing.   The Water Diviner, starred in and directed by Russel Crowe, looks like it would be a very entertaining film.  However, it is rated "R" for mature audiences.   Based on that designation, I will not go see it.   Here is why:

The leaders of my church have set a standard for us not to view R rated movies.  That's really all the reason I need.  However, I have also gained a personal conviction that when I watch material that has profanity, violence, and immorality depicted for the sake of entertainment, I become less sensitive to spiritual feelings.  That is something I do not want to sacrifice, no matter what movies I have to give up.

"As each of us uses our free agency to choose the material that enters our lives, we ought
to recognize that the battle between “Rated A” and “Rated X” is part of the war that began in heaven and is still being fought today. The enemy seeks any strategic or tactical foothold he can gain, and any bridgehead he attains becomes the launching point for the next encounter. The number of victories we allow him can seriously affect the final outcome of the struggle."

Later in that same talk Ashton said: 

 "...you would never eat a meal of spoiled or contaminated food if you could help it, would you? Select your reading and your viewing carefully and in good taste."

That is a succinct way of expressing what I call "the Dog Turd Rule".   Many otherwise fine movies get their "R" rating based on a smattering of profanity or one or two scenes of nudity or graphic violence.  I've been told by some that they can "just ignore" those few "bad" parts in order to enjoy the rest of the film.  To me, that is like showing up for a fancy banquet where a beautiful meal has been served.   The table is set with fine china and exquisite crystal.  The food on the plates is gourmet fare presented with taste and artistry.  However, on the left side of each plate there is one small dog turd. If you showed up at such a meal, could you "just ignore" the feces there on your plate in order to enjoy the rest of the obviously wonderful meal?   Personally, I would not.   For me, if MOST of the plate had beautiful food and just one tiny corner had a piece of dog poop, I would not eat from that plate.

Likewise, I choose not to purposefully go see movies that I know in advance from their rating that they will be desensitizing to the spirit.   I need all the promptings from the Holy Ghost I can possibly invite into my life in order to help me make good decisions.  I do not want to do anything that will drive that spirit away.

When I used to make rules against certain films in our home when my boys were growing up they would sometimes argue:  "Oh Mom, we hear that sort of stuff every day at school.  What's the big deal?" Without question, profanity and obscenity has become an all too frequent part of daily life in many cultures, and that is very true for the United States.  However, I cannot allow the unavoidable exposure to vulgarity that I will see or hear erode the standards I set for my deliberate uses of agency.   What I choose matters.   When the choice is up to me, I want to choose books or movies with a higher standard.  In the 13th Article of Faith, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote that as Latter-Day Saint we would seek for things that are "virtuous, lovely or of good report, or praiseworthy" (A of F 1:13),

No matter what may be said about the degree to which watching movies with scenes of violence, immorality or other qualities that qualify it for an R rating do or don't effect a person's overall well being,  this I know for sure - the leaders of my faith have repeatedly said we should not watch R rated movies.   That is reason enough for me.   I want to follow the prophets.   I want to obey.

In his 1993 talk "Raising Children in a Polluted Environment"  Joel J. Christensen relayed the following:

President Harold B. Lee said: “We must learn to give heed to the words and

commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet … [and quoting from the Doctrine and Covenants] ‘as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith’ (D&C 21:4–5).” He continued: “There will be some things that take patience and faith You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. … Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow the ones whom the Lord has placed to preside over his church” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, pp. 152–53).

For many people, going along with whatever my church leaders say whether I personally agree with it or not would be considered foolish "blind obedience".   But I see it very differently.  The worlds standards are ever changing.   It is all too easy to get caught up in the current of those shifting standards, to the point that I would, left to my own judgements, choose things that are not in my best interest.  What today seems "normal" and perfectly acceptable would have been considered grossly deviant just a few years ago.   By striving to stand strong with absolute obedience to the standards prophets, seers and revelators have outlined for us, I can be safer, happier, and closer to the spirit.

In a 2013 Talk titled "Obedience to the Law Brings Liberty",  Elder L. Tom Perry of the 
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
God reveals to His prophets that there are moral absolutes. Sin will always be sin. Disobedience to the Lord’s commandments will always deprive us of His blessings. The world changes constantly and dramatically, but God, His commandments, and promised blessings do not change. They are immutable and unchanging. Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty and, in turn, their eternal happiness come from obedience to His laws. As Alma counseled his errant son Corianton, “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).

I am well aware that there are some Rated R movies that are indeed quality films.  I also know there are some PG-13 movies that are absolute garbage.  So I can't just rely on the motion picture industry's rating system to determine what I will or won't watch.   I need to take care in considering what media I take in - including books, magazines and music that have no rating system.

I have not always made great choices in that regard.  Some of the murder mysteries I have so enjoyed reading have characters with foul mouths.   Some of the TV shows I have watched have far too much violence and scenes that glorify lust, even if they don't actually show the outcome.   So I'm working on improving in the choices I make for all media.   But this is one I can for sure stick firmly to - I will not watch any R rated movies, no matter how much potentially great entertainment that means I miss out on.  The blessings of obedience will ALWAYS outweigh any pleasure viewing some film might bring.

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