“I watched an R-rated movie,” I blurted out at the dinner table. My father took in a deep breath that indicated profound disappointment in my actions. We were all quiet for a few minutes. My mom passed the salad.

“It was Rain Man,” I couldn’t help the words as they tumbled out of my mouth. My brother and sisters looked at each other with a little shock. We were not an R-rated movie watching family. Sure, my parents took us to the International Cinema to see all kinds of films; I learned to read subtitles around the same time I learned to read. However an American movie that was rated R? Not ever.

Not until I graduated high school, moved out of the house, and determined to give myself a film education. I rented every best picture I could get a hold of (I skipped Rain Man) and watched every other notable movie: Goodfellas, Mean Streets, and the back catalogue of every other important director. I fancied myself a film critic, writing for an outlet and screening a lot of movies on weekends. I learned what makes some movies soar and some movies tank. I fell in love with the silver screen and the tales that transported me to another world. But in the back of my head, always, was the counsel I first heard from Ezra Taft Benson: “Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic.”

Over the years I have met plenty of people who love movies and who have never seen an R-rated movie, and other people who have stopped watching R movies after careful consideration. Then there are people like me, who give it some thought, but think more about the movie before the rating. Others still for whom the “R” is one of the last things they look at, perhaps even the last frame of the movie when the credits have rolled and the final rating is displayed.

You’ll find justifications at every step: the rating system is capricious; the Motion Picture Association of America* is harder on no-budget independents and doesn’t dare offend the giant studios, like Disney, by giving their movies more adult ratings. I’ve seen sweet movies, like Whale Rider, rated PG-13, that didn’t deserve such a stringent rating. I’ve seen movies like Prince Caspian which was PG and should have been PG-13. I’ve seen R-rated movies that I’ve truly regretted. Mostly, I’ve learned that ratings are a really terrible way to judge a movie, more of a framework than actual analysis of the content. But the apostolic counsel is there, and it is wise.

When the prophet asked me to take out my second pair of earrings, I did. However giving up R-rated movies has proven more difficult. I love movies. I hate to see them edited or cut to make the movie into something that isn’t what the director intended, so one of those DVD players that remove “content” from movies isn’t something I’m interested in watching.

These days I don’t see many movies, let alone R-rated movies. I am more careful about what I consume. My children are growing up. Soon they’ll ask which movie dad and I saw when we return from a date. Will I own up to seeing the newest R-rated Coen Brothers? How can I possibly explain that I can watch R-rated movies but they can’t? That doesn’t really hold water. Am I ready to give them up entirely?

Do you watch R-rated movies?

*MPAA is responsible for giving movies their ratings and is bankrolled by the major studios.

October 27, 2009


  1. Em-Cat

    October 26, 2009

    I didn’t see my first Rated R movie until after I had turned 30. Yes – this is when most people decide they want to stop watching R Raters…but not me…I had turned over a new leaf. I was in a new phase of my life. You should have seen the look my mother gave her grown-adult-hadn’t-lived-under-her-roof-for-ages-daughter. It could have put me in a mental hospital had I looked directly into her eyes at the time.

    Since then, I decided to try to stay away from R-Rated movies. But, alas, my husband is one who has always watched them and doesn’t realize they’re R-Rated until the closing credits. I honestly try to avoid them as much as possible, but I don’t think I really put my heart and soul into it. I really need to start doing it because I want to be the kind of family I grew up in. We were never allowed to watch R-Rated movies and I’m proud I got to 30 without watching a single one.

    Once I started watching them I did realize that they were just movies and it isn’t worth the feeling of guilt every time I watch one. There are a lot more fun wholesome things I can be doing with my time.

  2. TOWR

    October 26, 2009

    I think care should be taken when choosing to watch any movie, regardless of rating. Just because it’s PG-13 doesn’t mean it might not have elements that could be disturbing or damaging. Likewise, there are some movies that are rated R that have a brilliant message but are marred by a bit of foul language or one unfortunate scene. Movies aren’t a black and white subject, in my opinion. Use your good judgment and do your research before you watch. Also, just because a person watches rated R movies doesn’t mean they run out to gorge in every evil R movie that comes out. I say I watch rated R movies, but what I really mean is I watch about one or two rated R movies a year after careful consideration and research.

  3. ~j.

    October 26, 2009

    I pray about it.

    (when my kids are older, I’m going to have them watch the TBS version of ‘Shawshank Redemption’ — it’s on right after ‘Overboard’).

  4. Morgan Lee

    October 26, 2009

    “How can I possibly explain that I can watch R-rated movies but they can’t?”

    For starters, how about explaining that you’re an adult, capable of making wise and informed judgments for yourself; and that when your children are grown-ups, you will trust them to be able to do likewise. This business of treating adults and children the same… of pretending that it is in any way reasonable to apply the same guidelines for appropriateness to a five-year-old and a 30-year-old, is puzzling to me. I was not allowed to watch R rated movies growing up, and I didn’t agonize over it, challenge it, or wonder why I wasn’t allowed. It was just one of innumerable things that adults were allowed to do, and I wasn’t. No drama, just life.

  5. anonymous

    October 26, 2009

    These conversations appall me. Why don’t we talk about how many of us have sipped some alcohol or who has a tattoo or how many times we went ‘too far’ with our high school boyfriend? Conversations like this have absolutely no merit. I said it, and now the next 50 comments are going to disagree with that. Whatever.

    I really dislike how Mormons (women especially) sometimes use their past or current indisgressions as a badge of on honor once they’ve justified and rationalized it loudly and adamantly. I completely and one hundred percent agree that the rating system is “capricious” and that the MPAA is harder on low budget, independent movies. But I personally think there are very few PG 13 movies that Pres Benson would think appropriate for his viewing. And I’m guessing that means we probably don’t need to be watching it either, since we are ‘trying to be like Jesus’ and a prophet would be much closer to that ideal than little old me.

    As you can probably tell, I’ve never seen a rated R movie. There have been MANY PG 13 movies that offended me and I turned off. I can’t imagine how I would feel watching something that was R rated. There are VERY few things in the gospel that I can do perfectly. I can pay tithing perfectly. I can not smoke perfectly. I can avoid alcohol and hot coffee perfectly. And I can follow Pres. Benson’s counsel perfectly and not see an R rated film. I can’t always be selfless. I can’t always be patient. I can’t always be charitable. I can’t always say the prayer that I should, or even remember to pray when I should. (I guess, potentially, I could do those things perfectly, but I personally find that VERY difficult) The counsel that I can follow 100%, I do, because those types of commandments are few and far between in the church. The latest Coen Brothers movie is most certainly not worth my salvation, and that is what we are putting on the line. Call me dramatic, but that’s just the way I see it.

    Have you ever served in the Young Women organization? They counsel leaders there not to discuss in lessons wrong choices they’ve made and how they repented and it all worked out okay in the end with a temple marriage. I love this counsel and feel like it applies to every gospel conversation that occurs in a large group setting. Inevitably there will be someone reading this that will use this post to justify a future indisgression, thinking that others do it or that they can repent later. You think our thoughts and thought processes are more elevated than that, but I’m not so sure. I don’t think an organization like Segullah should assume that, having the large audience and public forum that they do.

    In the mission statement, Segullah states that “[they] publish insightful writings which explore life’s richness and complexity while reflecting faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” This doesn’t explore life’s richness. It’s a Hollywood movie! I don’t care what the topic is and how many awards it’s won. Any individual could have an extremely rich life and NEVER watch any movie, ever. And it certainly doesn’t reflect faithfulness to the gospel to out our sins in a somewhat public forum.

  6. Carrie

    October 26, 2009

    Someone will inevitably complain that I said I was anonymous. I meant to put in my name, but hit post before I lost my nerve. So here is my actual name, for what its worth.

  7. Lisa

    October 26, 2009

    Thank you, TOWR, for your comment. Having a husband who is in the acting and directing profession seems to puts this hot topic in front of our face repeatedly. I agree with what TOWR has said, and as a result, that puts me in an often misunderstood group. (There will always be a few who wear “I’ve never seen an R rated movie” like it’s an exclusive club much like the “I’ve never kissed a boy until we were engaged” club I never understood) All I can say is that we should be careful not to judge each other harshly as much as we try to be vigilantly careful what we watch.

  8. Hannah C

    October 26, 2009

    I don’t watch rated R movies. I have seen 2 in my life. After working in the film department at BYU for many years, I know how people in the industry feel about “edited” movies and the ratings system. I heard the “ratings don’t mean anything” argument everyday. (BYU students justifying the movies they watched? ha. I got a kick out of them.) I agree with them, honestly. The ratings system is majorly flawed, but that makes me want to stay away from “R”‘s even more. Who knows what I might see. It also makes me wary of PG-13’s. I don’t want to risk seeing a movie that might be offensive. I don’t think there is a movie that I couldn’t live without seeing. I love movies…but I usually err on the side of cautious.

  9. Lindsey

    October 26, 2009

    My husband and I think of ourselves as connoissieurs of film–he has a film degree. We discuss movies quite a bit. Surprisingly, we don’t watch movies in the theater. We wait until we can get them on Netflix. We have watched R rated movies over the years, but we are very selective. If we feel like a certain movie will have too much sex or violence in it, we skip it for sure. We have made exceptions for foreign films and others that we know are rated R for other reasons. Last night we were discussing a film that has an R rating, but didn’t seem to be bad in any way other than it was a movie with heavy subject matter. I didn’t watch it, but my husband did. I asked him why it was rated R if the language wasn’t bad, there wasn’t any sex, etc. His theory about those movies? He thinks that some films want to be taken more seriously and if they had a PG-13 rating, they wouldn’t be taken seriously. Interesting.

    I’m sorry, but I can’t do without Amelie. It’s totally one of my favorite movies and I’m glad I broke the rules to watch it. Sometimes it’s worth it. 🙂

    (Oh, and I also cook with liquor and coffee. But I don’t drink Diet Coke. I have a few pet “gray areas.” They make for great conversations in Relief Society. Hah!)

  10. rookie cookie

    October 26, 2009

    What a hot topic. I like it.

    Everyone has their “thing”. While one might now watch an R-rated film, they enjoy the occasional garment-tucking. No one is perfect. We are given agency for a reason. We are told to pray about prophetic council for a reason. And just like it is human to err, it is human to judge others in their choices.

    Over the years, I have learned things about myself. While I know I shouldn’t, listening to and reading vulgar trash doesn’t effect me. But watching things effects me. I think about it for days afterward. I have dreams about it. It consumes me. I was so relieved when I realized this. The better we can internalize the prophet’s council and not just follow blindly, the easier it is to make decisions.

    p.s. Anonymous needs to cool her heels.

  11. Kim

    October 26, 2009

    As far as justifying to your kids, #4 said exactly what I was thinking. there are plenty of things that I do, and am willing to own up to, that I will not allow my kids to do because they just aren’t mature enough. I’ve heard the arguement that we shouldn’t watch anything we aren’t comfortable with our kids watching which I consider ridiculous–what age of kids are we talking about.? Mine happen to be 2 and 5–so I can’t watch anything except the couple of disney movies that aren’t terrifying to them and Curious George or Dinosaur Train?

    And while I’m sure that if I was more diligent, there are plenty of better uses for my time than many of the things I do watch, but I am at least willing to do my research–I definitely don’t trust the rating systme to pick for me. becuase the pp are right–there are some terrible, worthless PG-13. But I have personaly seen a couple incredibly inspiring rated R movies (one of which I have pretty much NO idea why it was even rated R) that I am really glad I watched. I think its a very personal decision on what you feel comfortable with. And we should recognize that everyone has different levels of sensitivity to various topics. Just because one person is ok with something doesn’t mean I will be, and vis versa, and I respect that–I’m usually very hesitant to recommend movies to others unless I have a pretty good idea about what type of stuff they do like and watch normally.

    And I’d like to point out the following article http://www.nauvoo.com/library/card-r-rated-movie.html

    President Benson is the only prophet who has made this specific request, and all three times it was to the youth. Just something to remember. the rest of us have been told to be mindful of what we watch and to try to only put things in that inspire and uplift. Not quite the same easy rule of “No Rated R”.

  12. Jacob J

    October 26, 2009

    How can I possibly explain that I can watch R-rated movies but they can’t?

    I don’t know how old your kids are, but how do you explain that you can drive a car and they can’t, or that you can use the stove and they can’t? I assume that as adults you want them to use their judgment, which is what you are doing as an adult, so I don’t see the problem.

  13. Mrs. M

    October 26, 2009

    I don’t watch many movies. My sibs and parents watch movies. I will occasionally watch something that is G or PG, but I don’t watch R movies or even PG-13 movies. I remember in college that I had a roommate who wouldn’t watch PG13s and I thought that was extreme. Now I’m just not interested.

  14. Michelle L.

    October 26, 2009

    this is hard for me too. I don’t watch R-rated movies but I’d really like too. I’ve heard such good things about “Slum Dog Miillionaire”…

    I also heard great things about “500 Days of Summmer” (PG13) but it was so crude that I walked out of the theater. Somehow, I think that “Slum Dog” would have been more worthwhile.

    I do have one of those editing VCRs, Clear Play to be specific. I bought it specifically for “Saving Private Ryan” and
    “Schindler’s List” two movies I feel that my teenage boys should see. But Clear Play doesn’t work well with Mac computers so we haven’t used it much.

    How’s that for rambling? My answer, I don’t watch rated R movies but I completely understand why others do.

  15. Melissa Y.

    October 26, 2009

    Carrie, I will disagree with you a little. I think that thoughtful conversations, even those about sipping alcohol or tattoos, really DO contribute to a discussion about life’s complexities. So many times we’re trying to understand what drives our decisions, and reading about the experiences of others often gives us insight on ourselves. I don’t get the sense that Carina is brandishing the fact that she’s seen R-rated movies like a badge of honor–she’s simply trying to understand the many factors that go into deciding what to view and what is most relevant to her now.

    I agree with the counsel to YW leaders. But there is also a need for places where people can safely, honestly discuss their own experiences, questions, doubts, etc. without being labeled as faithless or being crippled with the idea that the discussion may be used by someone in the future to excuse their own indiscretions.

    As far as movies go, my particular Achilles heel is historical movies. Schindler’s List is one movie that I really wanted to see. I part of it on TV once, but haven’t seen the movie yet. Does it give any insight that you don’t get from reading Night, Man’s Search For Meaning, or other Holocaust literature? I’m curious what those who’ve seen it think.

  16. Emily

    October 26, 2009

    My family’s standard is from The Strength of Youth, “Do not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in anyway. Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable.” For us that has meant that we very rarely watch PG-13 movies, we selectively watch PG and we most likely will watch G, if there are any!
    Fortunately we have the internet which can give us a detailed look at what a movie has in it before we go to it. For example, my husband 100% refuses to see a movie that takes the Savior’s name in vain, no matter it’s rating. I appreciate this pre-screening because it’s much harder for me to leave or turn off a movie once I’ve started watching it.

  17. Lila Barn

    October 26, 2009

    One reason I love Primary is that the lessons taught there are for everyone. Within the context of obedience and teachings of the Church, I really don’t see how an adult can rationalize away their disobedience to their children because they are more “wise” or “mature.”

    As a convert, one of the most difficult things for me to give up was ice tea! I loved it! I also loved coffee and all the “international swiss blends”(still love the smell of coffee). However, I chose to give it up because of the principle of obedience. Will I go to outer darkness if I taste coffee? OK, that was sarcastic. The point is, that though seeing some rated R movies may not exactly hurt you, it doesn’t help you either, because of the violation of the principle of obedience. Certainly there are some excellent movies rated R, probably are meritorious to see, but those should be weighed against the principle (not the law) of very specific Church teachings against rated R movies. I’ve seen some in my youth, caught some on tv, etc. But in the final analysis, it’s not worth it to me to have others associate R movies with me (through movie attendance or rental places), especially those who know my standards, and most importantly, I know I”m blessed by this really minor sacrifice that I choose to do. Besides, I would wager my life savings that the incredible must-see movies are vastly outnumbered by the must-read books that everyone would love to say they’ve read but haven’t.

  18. Christy

    October 26, 2009

    I use kids-in-mind.com exclusively when making viewing decisions (and highly recommend it!). I have a low tolerance for profanity/vulgarity and almost no tolerance for sex (in movies), so I skip MANY PG-13s, and most Rs. When an R-rated movie interests me and fits my personal parameters of what I feel comfortable with, I watch it. Many movies, of all ratings, have impacted me deeply and positively influenced my life. And I’ve seen quite a few R-rated movies that were astronomically less offensive than the standard PG-13 fare.

    Anonymous (Carrie), it is your right to lead an R-free life, and I admire your decision. You’re free to disagree with my movie choices, and with Carina’s, but I think you’re going a little too far with your talk of public sins.

  19. Priscila

    October 26, 2009

    I am aware of what the brethren have outlined as guides for what sorts of entertainment we should seek. I DO watch rated R movies. For some reason putting those two sentences together makes me feel like a sinner. I will say in my defense that as soon as a movie makes me feel uncomfortable or something comes up that I personally don’t want to watch I do leave the room if others are watching or turn it off. Most of the time. I have left movie theaters and changed the channel. All in all I feel good about my movie choices. I might be wrong, but I don’t feel as if the movies I am watching are standing between me and my salvation.

  20. Em-Cat

    October 26, 2009

    Anonymous Carrie – you are entitled to your opinion, but so are the rest of us. My opinion is that this is a great topic of discussion and I’ve enjoyed reading what other women have to say regarding the issue. As long as we’re giving our opinions I think we really need be careful when we say things like, “I really dislike how Mormons (women especially)…” After reading your comments, I am assuming you are a woman and a Mormon. Generalizations, in my opinion, are things that we should try to avoid. You do have a point though. Maybe we should try to avoid airing our dirty laundry in a large, public forum such as this. But I think there is a huge difference between the questions “Do you watch rated-R movies?” and “Did you get pregnant in high school?”

  21. Kayla

    October 26, 2009

    I watch them. Unashamedly. But I do check the parental stuff on IMDB before deciding whether or not to watch something. Not all R films are created equal.

  22. courtney

    October 26, 2009

    The most important thing is to know yourself and to know how the Spirit talks to you. I do not rely on a man-made system that, as mentioned in the original post, is highly influenced by money and politics, to make my decisions for me. I have seen PG13 movies that have offended me, and I have seen many R movies that have changed my life and honestly made me a better person. Also, the rating system is not universal. Should British or European people base their decisions on an American rating system? That’s kind of ridiculous.
    People have every right to decide to not watch R-rated movies. It is easier to rule out an entire rating to avoid seeing anything offensive, even if you miss movies that could positively influence your life, but I think it highly ignorant to say all R movies are bad, but anything else goes.
    Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a firm list that decides what things in a movie result in a certain rating. It isn’t as clear cut as “so many F-words make it an R.” So you can’t be certain that, by making your decisions based on ratings, you are avoiding offensive material.
    Ratings also help warn the audience of mature elements. This is why it’s ok for adults to see R-rated movies and not kids. Exactly like others have said: I will tell my children that some things are ok for adults that aren’t ok for children. Just like President Benson was addressing the *youth* when he stated to not watch R-rated movies. Similarly, some movies would not be good for me to watch. I cannot watch horror movies, no matter the rating. I get scared very easily, and I already have vivid nightmares and a horribly active imagination– I don’t need any more ammo for my brain to freak me out. My husband, on the other hand, can watch a horror movie and then leave it behind. It is entertainment for him, and that’s ok. We’re different. Similarly, I can’t watch very violent films. And while neither my husband nor I watch overly sexual films, passionate moments in movies we do watch are less likely to affect us negatively than they would, say, an engaged couple who are trying to keep things cool. You have to know your own boundaries so you can make educated decisions. I think it’s a blessing to use my agency to make these decisions rather than to base my decisions on what a panel of people (who are NOT concerned about morals) thought of a movie.
    So, if it isn’t clear already, yes, I do watch rated-R movies.

  23. courtney

    October 26, 2009

    Also, http://kidsinmind.com/ is a great website that tells in a very matter-of-fact and unbiased way what is in a movie. I often use that to help me decide if I want to see a certain movie.

  24. Brenda

    October 26, 2009

    Interesting topic. I grew up knowing that rated-R movies were not something I should watch. My parents turned off anything that was even slightly questionable, even if it was rated PG. When I became an adult I did see an occassional rated-R movie. I guess it was part of me testing my adulthood and free agency. Now as an older, and hopefully wiser, wife and mother I choose not to watch simply because the prophet tells us not to. And because I don’t want my children to see my doing something the prophet has specifically asked us not to do. This is not a grey area; it is black and white. Other movies do pose grey areas, though. I’ve seen a few PG-13’s that should have been rated R and some PG’s that should have been rated PG-13. And in those cases you just have to use your best judgment.

  25. Kiki

    October 26, 2009

    I really like Courtney’s comment.

    I watch whatever I think I will enjoy.

  26. Kim

    October 26, 2009

    Since it was brought up, I will say that “Slumdog” is one of those R rated movies that I thought was absolutely fabulous and incredibly uplifting and really only seemed to fit its rating in the sense that it was intense and mature in subject matter, without being offensive–especially when you consider that it is reality for a large portion of the world.

  27. Tiffany W.

    October 26, 2009

    This probably isn’t really very relevant to the discussion, but the R-rating label is irrelevant in a lot of countries, for example, Sweden. For example, Sweden rates movies with violence very differently in movies that portray sex or nudity. So you could get a kid-friendly rating for a movie that contained explicit sex or graphic nakedness. A film, like Disney’s Prince Caspian received a very mature rating, based on the violence. In those countries, the members have to make different decisions about what movies to watch. You literally can’t trust the ratings because the standards are so dramatically different.

  28. Kevin Barney

    October 26, 2009

    I love movies, and generally see two new ones a week (Friday night and a Saturday matinee). I don’t pay any attention to ratings and therefore see lots of R-rated films, because really, many of the best films are rated R. I don’t really try to justify it, just as I don’t bother trying to justify watching football on Sundays; I just do it. Maybe it’s a man thing.

    But I’m fairly shocked that so many here would think that watching Rain Man would be a really bad thing to do. I have an autistic brother, and Dustin Hoffman was great, he really nailed the tics and mannerisms. I thought it was a terrific movie.

  29. Cork

    October 26, 2009

    You nailed it.

    It’s counsel from our church leaders. Period.

    You may have your reasons and your mitigating circumstances and your excuses and your must-sees but it’s counsel from our church leaders. Period.

    Accepting that and reasoning through it, even if you still watch them, is why this post is so very good.

  30. Moriah Jovan

    October 26, 2009

    This is why the rest of Christianity thinks we don’t believe in salvation by grace.

    Most days I don’t believe we do, either.

  31. Cork

    October 26, 2009

    @Moriah Jovan

    Um, no it’s NOT.

    And yes we DO.

    Sorry you feel that way.

  32. April

    October 26, 2009

    I joined the church when I was 19. I watched rated R movies as a teenager and as a new member. As I grew in testimony and age I became more aware of each decision I was making. Through time I would feel the spirit and be moved to change my life in many ways. I gave up caffinated sodas, I became more careful about the music I listened to and I made every effort to keep the sabbath day holy. I remember one general conference a woman was speaking and she said anything that isn’t good for children is rarely good for adults. Please excuse my paraphrasing I should really find that quote! I remember choosing at that point to stop watching Rated R movies. I have often seen advertisements for movies I really wanted to see, only later to find out they were rated R. I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything though. I made my choice and I am happy with it. I think you just never know if this is the scene in a Rated R movie that you can never take back seeing.
    My husband and I also don’t watch sports on Sundays. We both taught the discussions in spanish and in the discussions when we invited people to keep the sabbath day holy, we said that included not participating or watching sports on Sunday. So we felt that we also had to keep that promise.
    I can see how growing up in the church it could be harder to make decisions about movies, soda, sports on Sunday. Many things seem so harmless. They also aren’t mentioned in the word of wisdom or the law of chastity specifically. These grey areas I think are the places where you are personally able to make commitments to the gospel how you choose and through the spirit.
    Parents within the church can often be too strict in hopes to protect their children from the world. It’s important to give your children the tools to develop their own relationship with the Holy ghost. So they can start growing their testimonies early. I hope I am able to teach my children without taking away their agency. I worry about it.
    So I guess the answer to your question is no I do not watch rated R movies but it is a decision I made after personal revelation. I do however struggle with the length of my 10 year olds shorts and if I will enforce dresses with sleeves and skirts to the knee when she is a teenager.

  33. Moriah Jovan

    October 26, 2009

    Um, no it’s NOT.

    Um, yes, it is. When you live amongst evangelicals who still wish the extermination order was still in effect, you learn real quick what they think we believe, and these are the discussions they point to.

    And yes we DO.

    I didn’t actually say that we don’t, did I?

  34. Melissa M.

    October 26, 2009

    When I was younger I watched R-rated movies. But at a certain point both my husband and I decided not to watch them anymore. Our children were getting older, and they would ask us what movie we’d seen, and we felt hypocritical seeing R-rated movies.

    But we do have Clear Play, so we do rent R-rated movies that we really want to see and watch them filtered. Maybe that still makes us hypocritical.

    One exception I made was seeing “Slum Dog Millionaire” at the theater earlier this year. I’d heard so much about it, and decided to go, and it was a wonderful movie.

    And, Melissa Y.–“Does [“Schindler’s List] give any insight that you don’t get from reading Night, Man’s Search For Meaning, or other Holocaust literature?” my answer would be an unequivocal yes.

  35. lee

    October 26, 2009

    The best movie in the world is “The Pianist” and its rated R. And there is nothing bad in it. And I am a better person for having watched it (and read the book). So I’m going to go ahead and side with the sinners on this.

    I agree that what President Benson said 30 years ago to the youth is not the be-all-end-all of my decision. But I love the “strict no-R folks” as I love myself, since I too was over 30 before I saw an R.

  36. FoxyJ

    October 26, 2009

    I watch R-rated movies. I grew up watching them too; my parents took us all to see Schindler’s List in the theater when it came out (I was 16, my younger brother was 12). To be honest, I might not make the same decision with my kids. Like others have said, I make different decisions for myself than I would for my kids because I am an adult and they are not. Hopefully as they grow I will teach them how to make good decisions about their media choices. For me, especially with the stuff my kids watch, the general attitude and themes of a movie are just as important as violence, sexual content, or vulgarity. There are quite a few movies my kids haven’t had a chance to watch because I don’t like the message.

    I like film a lot; I actually specialized in film and literature in my graduate studies. We watch a lot of foreign films, some of which aren’t rated. Like others have said here I rarely watch anything without researching it first; I read reviews to get a good idea of subject matter and I look at stuff like kidsinmind or screen it to gauge content as well. I’m a lot picker than I used to be, and I watch fewer R-rated films and have fewer regrets. I just don’t watch as many movies anymore and would rather spend my time on good stuff.

  37. Elle

    October 26, 2009

    I just took my family to capitalism a love story. It’s an R due to 3 f-bombs. I didn’t hesitate a minute and I don’t regret seeing it. Dancing with the stars is far more R worthy!

  38. Rachel W

    October 26, 2009

    So this may be thread-jacking but what about TV shows?

    I have known many people who watch things on TV they would never watch in a movie. This is something I struggle with too.

    Personally with movies and TV I have learned to be selective. Mainly because things that I dont want to remember will come back to be at times I wish they wouldnt. I recognize not everyone has this problem.

  39. Lindsey

    October 26, 2009

    Fascinating discussion.

    I am thankful that Heavenly Father gave me the gift of free agency, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. I think the important thing is for us to individually make a decision that we feel is right, and stick to it. I think it’s equally important to respect others’ choices.

    Courtney (#22) and I might as well be long-lost twins.

  40. dalene

    October 26, 2009

    I’m with Lindsey. And I’m not going to say anymore because I’m pretty sure I’m starting to sound like a broken record. (Which means I am old, because nobody even knows what a record is anymore.)

  41. Christy

    October 26, 2009

    Have to add that the MPAA rating system is crap completely unreliable. That’s not a justification, it’s a fact. If you are placing your movie-viewing trust in the MPAA, you’ll get hosed.

  42. Th.

    October 26, 2009


    Regarding this:

    Dancing with the stars is far more R worthy!

    I agree. Particularly for boys of a certain age.
    Yet in my previous ward, a brother in Sunday School said that show was a shining example of worthy, Spirit-friendly television.
    The lesson I take from this is that we should be very careful trying to judge other people’s actions. The no-R-rated-movies rule’s existence is debatable. Judge-not-that-ye-be-not-judged is not.

  43. Marie Says Yes

    October 26, 2009

    What an inspiring discussion! This is what I LOVE about Segullah… I think it’s so important for us, as members of the church trying so hard to do our best, to have a safe, judgement-free place to work out our questions, concerns and feelings. If you are looking for perfection, you shouldn’t be looking here… but I don’t know where you should be looking as I don’t know too many perfect people. We’re all doing our best… right? That is why I love this post. I think, like most things, this issue is fairly open to personal interpretation, as I’ve read so many well said comments defending either point of view. It’s up to YOU to do what you think is right. Asking for help to better understand the principle is an awesome idea, but after that… it’s all up to you, buddy.

  44. J. Vorwaller

    October 26, 2009

    The solution: buy a clearplay DVD player. We love ours.

  45. emily f

    October 26, 2009

    I watched R movies in high school (and totally lied to my parents about it–they think I saw Dragonheart 17 times? no. It was the Rock all the way). Even some in college (at BYU! gasp!). My husband and I had our favorites, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, Band of Brothers to name a few. Then we had a kid. The thought of even having those movies in my home, with a sweet little baby, and the warning from the prophets…I couldn’t do it. We got rid of all of them two days after he was born and I haven’t seen one since. I feel really good about it too. There are very few R movies that are worth it–and even those few I’m not so sure about. I stay away from all R’s, and most PG-13s these days. So mostly, I consider the movie, not the rating, unless it’s R. Then it’s a definite no.

  46. ~j.

    October 26, 2009

    Hm? What was that? Sorry, I couldn’t participate further in this discussion. I was having Family Home Evening.

  47. Morgan

    October 26, 2009

    “President Benson is the only prophet who has made this specific request”

    I just thought this comment was kind of odd. Is this supposed to be justification for watching the R rated movies? I’m pretty sure that if a prophet says it, even if it is not restated by others, it is what we are supposed to do unless it is repealed by the Lord through another prophet.

  48. anonymous

    October 26, 2009

    Rihanna’s new album is called “Rated R”

    Does that mean I can’t listen to that?

  49. Heather O.

    October 26, 2009

    I’ve seen R rated movies along the way, and I have to say, with the exception of Schindler’s List, I’m always sorry I did.

    One thing i think it does is desensitive you to certain things. So while I don’t think a rated R movie alone is going to send you to outer darkness, I think a steady diet of stuff that isn’t suited to the Spirit can have a significant impact on our perceptions of good and evil.

    When I was on bedrest, my husband would check out piles of movies for me to watch. He brought home “Cold Mountain” because he knows I like Civil War stuff, and he knew somebody got an Oscar for it. Neither one of us noticed it was rated R, until I popped it in and started watching it. I was jarred by what I saw, completely floored, and turned it off. It made me realize that avoiding rated R movies has made me more sensitive to stuff like that, more so than when I was catching the occasional R flick.

    And so I stick with the rated R prohibition, just because I like the idea that I’m doing something easy that can keep my spirit healthy. And for me, somebody who isn’t super excited about film, it IS easy. Perhaps for others it is more of a sacrifice.

    Ah, but we haven’t gotten onto the subject of Netflix, and being able to have television shows at the ready. Now if I had to give up my Netflix, well, that’s another post altogether…

    I did like Schindler’s list. Powerful stuff. I can understand why somebody wouldn’t want to watch it, though. It’s a hard movie.

  50. rvs

    October 26, 2009

    I’ve seen a few movies that I didn’t know were R. “The Breakfast Club” – they showed that in health class. And a friend put in “An Officer and a Gentlemen” and I should have stopped it but I didn’t.

    Almost all PG-13 movies have a scene where you want to briefly look away – if there were a more widespread way and/or computer app to use to filter those, that would make me feel more comfortable about seeing some R movies. Because most of the R movies I want to see but haven’t, because I can’t get myself over the “Don’t see R” only have one scene that should be cut – like Schindler’s List, Slum Dog Millionaire, and many otherwise good PG-13 movies.

    Very interesting discussion, though.

  51. Heather O.

    October 26, 2009

    Sorry, I meant to write “desensitize”. Even now, as I write it, it looks weird. Is that the right word? Man, I think I need to go to bed.

  52. Faith.Not.Fear

    October 26, 2009

    “Dancing with the Stars” came to my mind, too.

    How can we better express our desire and need for the “virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy?!”

    Why doesn’t anyone get that we really don’t want to watch immodest, immoral, violent, crude things?!

    Maybe we need to do more “standing for something” and less sitting in the dark?

    No one will change if we say nothing, and do nothing.

    Guess that means I’ve got to go write my plea to “Dancing with the Stars!” Why CAN’T they do a show with stars learning to do hard things that whole families can watch without blushing or turning the channel?!!!

  53. Faith.Not.Fear

    October 26, 2009

    PS: To write to ABC, go to

  54. Melanie J

    October 26, 2009

    I quit watching R-rated movies by default when I got married. My husband didn’t watch them and so I didn’t really have a reason to. My rule is that I try to watch things that are uplifting. I saw both “Once” and “Slumdog Millionaire” this year after checking the kidsinmind.com website someone else already mentioned. I’m really glad I saw them. But I refuse to watch the TBS versions of “The Forty Year Old Version” and “Wedding Crashers” because I know I won’t be uplifted. I understand myself pretty well and I try to stay close to things that help me feel the Spirit. Ratings are arbitrary and I have to use my common sense to know that some PG-13 films won’t cut it and some rater R films will.

  55. Anne-Marie

    October 26, 2009

    I’m quite certain not everything I watch is “virtuous, lovely or of good report”. I watch DWTS, but if the lambada is on & my boys are in the room, it will quickly get turned off. I, myself can handle the lambada. It didn’t make me feel hot and steamy whatsoever. Now, watching Donny do a seductive Tango…that’s another story.

    Anyway, as for the R-ratings. To each his own. Yes, it was a Prophet’s counsel, but the main thing to remember (I was completely inactivate for 7 years of my life, re-activated for the past 6 ), is that we do all have our free agency and right to choose. No one, I repeat no one…lives the Gospel to perfection.

    I decided to stop watching R-rated movies when I went through the temple with my Husband in 2005. But, I still drink diet coke(!!). I am quite the movie buff & have a Brother who is an amazing & established Director & it is hard not to be able to have our conversations over Oscar time since I don’t see 85% of the nominated movies.

    But, it was a choice I (personally) made.
    Recently, after much coersion by several respected friends & family members, I decided to watch “Slumdog Millionaire”. I was reminded over and over that it was no worse than a PG-13. (i’ve heard that hundreds of times) It was an incredible movie. But, it didn’t change my life. And I wish I hadn’t broken my streak for it. It reminded me that even though there are alot of dicey PG-13’s out there, the R is almost always there for a reason. With few exceptions. (also loved the Piano, Schindler’s list etc.) This doesn’t mean I’m getting into Heaven any faster. I’ve got a whole slew of other issues that I have to work on, as we all do. But as for the movies, it is merely a personal decision.

    I won’t be watching R-rated movies.
    And I see nothing wrong with Carina’s discussion of this matter. That is precisely what blogs are for.

    Peace and Love Homies.

  56. Emily M.

    October 26, 2009

    I’ve seen edited R-rated movies–the old Varsity theater, and tv-edited, and Cleanflicks. The only one I really loved was Joy Luck Club, which I saw with a date, and I cried a lot, and didn’t have a tissue, and exited the theater with snot rolling down my face. Ewww.

    In the absence of a compelling reason to watch R-rated films, and in the presence of counsel to avoid them, I don’t watch R-rated films, and am careful about other movies as well. It’s possible we’ll get a Clearplay sometime.

    My spirit rests easier, like Heather said, when I keep it free from the kind of stuff that’s abundant in R-rated films. I’m grateful for guidelines that help me this way.

    Movies are not important enough to me to deal with this issue really; it’s books I struggle over. I would like to say that I put down all books with offensive R-rated material, but if I love the writing enough, I don’t always. And even so, I can tell the difference in my spirit.

  57. Jennifer

    October 26, 2009

    I’ve read alot of references here to the Diet Coke thing as though it’s a sin. I was raised in the Church and my family guzzles it by the gallon–I still do. Is it that bad? If I have to ask, I probably feel guilty about it, but I’ve quit for long periods of time before and didn’t necessarily feel any happier or closer to the Spirit, and it’s a small pleasure I enjoy, so I started drinking it again. I know there’s no “official” doctrine on this; just curious what the general vibe out there is.

  58. Blue

    October 26, 2009

    i just wrote the following last week on my twitter account, which i thought germane to this conversation:

    “apparently i blocked any recollection of profanity in my favorite movies from the 80s. For example: Was shocked that “Big” dropped F-bomb (PG, 1985) and had forgotten about that one scene with the woman and the kid. Nor did i recall that Back to the Future was RIDDLED with language. Same with Ferris Bueller. i’m afraid to show them karate kid now…it’s such a great memory that might be marred by seeing it again.”

    i don’t see many movies, and have never heard of clear play till this post (sounds intriguing though!). aside from NOVA Science and NATURE on PBS, we don’t just don’t watch tv at our house. but last week for the first time in a few years, i turned it on while i folded mount everest-high piles of laundry. that dance with stars show was on, and between the costumes and moves, i can see the point some here have made about tv not being rated.

    i can think of countless worse things than shindler’s list on Must See TV to be honest. i’m not hyper about ratings. the prophets have said a great number of things in the past that we have to make decisions about. that’s why we have the holy ghost to lead and guide us along our way. from modesty (do kids wear wear sleeveless shirts or only “garment-worthy” clothing?), to sabbath observance (is going to the park as a family acceptable? do we keep our sunday clothes on all day? how about taking a walk for exercise?), to curfews (does the spirit go to bed at midnight? even on prom night?), to “worthwhile activities” (is tv worthwhile? how about blogging? movies? crafts? scrapping? all things in moderation…what is “moderation?”), when our youth go to dances (must be 14 years old for church dances, but what about school dances?). there are so many chances to make decisions, and we all have to decide where our standards are and not judge others whose standards are different than ours.

    and i think we should just be nice to each other. remember one persons’ weakness is another person’s strength, and most of us are just trying to be “a little better”. how that manifests is different in each of us. ♥

  59. Bro. Jones

    October 26, 2009

    I try to watch movies that stimulate my mind and spirit. I try to avoid vulgarity and stupidity. These standards have led me to enjoy the occasional R-rated films and reject many, many G-rated films. In advance of watching a movie I try to determine if there’s objectionable, stupid content. If I find something in a movie that shocks my sensibilities purely for the sake of gratuity, or makes my mind dull, I stop watching it. So far these standards generally haven’t led me astray.

    On a side note, in the ward in which I received my endowments, a former member of the bishopric explained the temple ceremony in the context of the movie “The Matrix” (Rated R)–and I feel like it enriched my understanding and has continued to do so for years. I always loved that movie and loved it even more since that conversation. 🙂

  60. Michelle Glauser

    October 26, 2009

    I’ve found that I’m a lot more sensitive about movies than most people, which makes me very uncomfortable going to the theater or going to parties where the plan is to watch a movie, especially since I live in Germany where the ratings give even less of an idea than in America. That being said, I’m not afraid to leave the theater or the TV room when a movie makes me uncomfortable, but I’d rather not be there in the first place. I don’t like bad language, I don’t like sexual humor, I don’t like anti-feminist men who win over hearts and get everything they want, etc., etc.

  61. m&m

    October 26, 2009

    Nor did i recall that Back to the Future was RIDDLED with language.

    Whoa, doggy. Is it EVER! I loved that movie as a teen, brought it home to watch recently, and couldln’t even finish it.

    I’m like Michelle Glauser. As much as I do enjoy film, in the end, I end up sort of just saying, “It’s just a movie.” My hubby isn’t a movie guy, so that makes it all easier, too. If we are going to go on a date, a movie isn’t really on the menu.

    We also quit TV a few years ago, and since then, I think my sensitivity level is even higher. (That and I have kids who don’t miss a BEAT, so I am all the more cautious.)

  62. m&m

    October 26, 2009

    I know there’s no “official” doctrine on this; just curious what the general vibe out there is.

    I think it’s varied. The recent “I love Mormons” post included comments that ran the gamut. Might be worth a look, fwiw.

  63. Jennifer

    October 26, 2009

    Also wanted to point out that this counsel has, I believe, more to do with shunning worldliness than splitting hairs between ratings. I love literature and I love good movies, but about eight years ago I gave up R-rateds altogether. For me, this was a very hard thing to do–at first. But as the years go by, I care less and less. I used to bemoan every Oscar winner I had to miss, now I don’t even pay attention; most of them seem self-important and melodramatic (not all–don’t get mad.) The real growth for me came not from avoiding any vulgarity (lessening it is certainly a bonus, though), but more from sidestepping the media circus show altogether. Avoiding a large chunk of what’s out there has made me watch less movies altogether, and seek for more interesting, interactive, cerebral ways to feel my time. I still love a good flick, though–but now I just don’t live or die by one.

    I have no opinion on others who watch R-rated movies and agree with many of the comments that have been made in defense of worthwhile ones. And there is NOTHING more insufferable than self-righteous non-R-goers who will watch anything with a PG-13 label or any garbage on TV. I think this stuff is worse b/c it’s not only vulgar, it’s stupid. Stupidity is worldliness at its worst. At least a violent war pic has a point.

    Giving up R-rated movies has helped me put movies themselves in their proper perspective. Are there fabulous, well-written, beautifully acted films that I’m going to miss out in this life? Sure. Just like I’ll miss out on a lot of small pleasures the world has to offer, many of them innocent but still unattainable with what I’ve committed to as a Latter-Day Saint, like boating on Sunday or wearing a stunning, but sleeveless, evening dress. But call them what you will, movies are still just fleeting escapism that we can easily live without…even the good ones. Let’s not pseudo-intellectualize them into something that they’re not (lest we become Sean Penn.) Sorry…I love movies, but I just don’t lend them that much credence. I don’t think you “have” to see a single one of them. I think many people try to trump them up to the level of literature to justify the lull of being constantly entertained. And I think that’s what giving up R-rated films has helped me to do: place entertainment–of any variety–in it’s proper place, which I’ve learned is a very small one in the larger scheme of my life and time.

    My own experience

  64. Jennifer

    October 26, 2009

    Don’t know how that “My own experience” got tagged on at the end. Sorry!

  65. Jennifer B.

    October 26, 2009

    Like your post Carina–I appreciate your candor. Interesting discussion too. To answer your question, no I don’t watch R rated movies. I can understand why people do, and that ratings are inconsistent, but for me it was just something simple I could do to follow the prophet. However, film is not my passion and while this is not a struggle for me, I certainly have other areas that are.

    Good luck figuring it out!

  66. Jennifer B.

    October 27, 2009

    Jennifer, while I’m not aware of any specific doctrine on Diet Coke, there is a lot of counsel about avoiding substances that are habit-forming. I’m sure one reason there are varying opinions out there is because drinking Coke may not pose immediate or serious threats to your health, but the possibility of becoming addicted is real.

  67. Maya

    October 27, 2009

    In college, I decided I wanted to test out the counsel for myself, and watched 3 rated R movies. I chose them carefully: they could be movies with no nudity, little swearing, or gore. They were rated R for their heavy subject matter. I have to say they were masterpieces, very well done, terrific acting, beautiful scores.

    But here’s the thing. Let’s set aside the guidelines from President Benson. If we go to the 13th article of faith, we’re told to seek after things that are lovely and of good report. And somewhere else (maybe the For Strength of Youth pamphlet?) we are cautioned to choose what we watch, listen to, read, etc. based on how it makes us feel. We are supposed to surround ourselves with uplifting things.

    And, for me, no matter how masterful those movies were, none of them left me with a feeling of being uplifted. That’s why I decided to quit watching R rated movies. My husband, who is a convert, doesn’t have a problem with them, and that’s OK too. At the end of the day, I made the decision that is right for me, he made the decision that is right for them, and we are only accountable to our Heavenly Father. We don’t know how we’ll be judged, and we shouldn’t judge anyone else.

  68. Kim

    October 27, 2009

    Morgan–my comment about Pres. Benson being the only prophet to have specifically mentioned the R-rating, rather than the more recent, general suggestions to watch things that are “virtuous, lovely, and of good-report” is that the prophet/church have changes their official stance on subjects in the past, and that we are usually told to watch for things to come from the mouths of 2 or 3 disciples, etc. . . I’m not saying that our recent couple of prophets have supported us watching rated R movies–they’ve never specifically mentioned that, but they also haven’t made a point to continue that request.

    I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind. I don’t think anyone will ever be harmed by not watching a certain movie. Like someone else mentioned, there are plenty of good things in this life that we’ll all miss out on because there just isn’t time to experience it all anyway. But I personally feel very strongly about the right and duty to study things out for myself, and to make choices based on knowledge of the subject. We aren’t encouraged to blindly follow the prophets, but to then gain our own personal testimony of the truths we are presented with (or the opinions we might hear.) I guess I just don’t appreciate the people who take the “its a commandment, there is no other choice” approach. I don’t care what they choose for themselves, but the judging of everyone else is annoying. And yes, it especially seems hypocritical if its a letter of the law thing and not the spirit. Watching trash, regardless of the ratings, is probably not good.

  69. Justine

    October 27, 2009

    My question is, how does anyone have time to watch movies!!!? The last movie I saw in a theater was Men in Black (what, was that 10 years ago?). I’d probably go see something else, but I can’t seem to find five minutes, let alone an uninterrupted two hours. That’s all…

  70. Kari

    October 27, 2009

    I watched one on Saturday. It was Zombieland. Absolute nonsense fluff. Brain candy. No merit, really. Just pure entertainment.

    There was one scene with a topless Zombie and lots of cinematic fake gore.

    Did it cause me to sin? No. Did I have a fun time laughing at the movie with my husband on our first date without kids in 19 months. Yes!

    We’ve decided as a family to carefully consider ALL movies.

    I’m a recent convert to the Church and when joining the Church at the age of 40 I had seen plenty of offensive movies over my lifetime. We won’t bother to go into all the details here.

    Suffice it to say that not all R rated films are Satan’s work just as not all PG rated films are worthy of our time or consideration.

    Moderation in all things.

  71. Peter LLC

    October 27, 2009

    63: Also wanted to point out that this counsel has, I believe, more to do with shunning worldliness than splitting hairs between ratings.

    This. If for no other reason than for the half of the church living outside the US, handwringing over MPAA ratings is a jarring bit of parochialism in what really is an international church. As a rule of thumb to a local audience, Benson’s counsel is certainly valuable; but as a bright line rule to be applied around the world it just doesn’t work. Better instead to emphasize the principle and let the members interpret it for themselves.

    I think the international experience has demonstrated that even in the absence of any hard and fast R-rated rule, members abroad are, on average, about as moral as members in the US. Local leaders leaders in my neck of the woods hardly let an opportunity go by without exhorting us to lead gospel-centered lives, but I have yet to hear a single one make a case for doing so or draw a line in the sand based on a movie rating.

  72. Handsfullmom

    October 27, 2009

    I haven’t read every comment, so I apologize if I’m saying what’s said before.

    I have never watched an R-rated movie and never plan to. Capricious ratings aside, I want to make sure I qualify for all the blessings I pray for daily, and I do so by staying well on the Lord’s side of the line. I also avoid a lot of PG-13 movies.

    I teach my kids that you may not always agree with everything a prophet asks you to do, but that you will ALWAYS be blessed by following them. I’ve found that to be true in my life.

  73. Catania

    October 27, 2009

    this post reminded me of why I wished I lived outside of the U.S. – no ratings!

    I used to watch Rated-R movies, and I thought I’d stop. I have to say – for the most part, I’m glad I did. I stopped after seeing “Saving Private Ryan” and then having nightmares for about a week. I happen to be very impacted by visual cues – like movies.


    I love movies! I don’t watch much TV, but I love reading and I love watching movies. So, yes, we have a Clearplay, and I love it. I know that it may make some film-people cringe, but it is the only way I can watch all the movies I want to see without being completely riddled by guilt.

    I’ll keep using my Clearplay – until I move out of the country – where there are no “r” ratings! 😉

  74. Erin

    October 27, 2009

    I so disagree with the counsel given to YW leaders. As a mormon, teenagers can feel such guilt over one transgression that they feel it’s too much and can’t go back. If they heard more about repentance and how you can become clean again and still be married in the temple I think more YW wouldn’t have the attitude of “Oh well, I’ve screwed up and there’s nothing I can do now.”
    Sorry for subject change!

  75. Leslie

    October 27, 2009

    I don’t watch r-rated movies and in the same line avoid quite a few PG-13 movies too becasue the content is offensive to me. As an artist I believe art can/should run the gamut of emotion and experience but much of what is offensive in movies today I find gratuitous

    I appreciate the counsel of the prophets, I trust their words and I do on many other subjects. I trust that following it will make me happy, as it has thus far. I think we sometimes underestimate the blessings of obedience on faith.

    I think as a culture we need to be more educated consumers of media in general. I actually heard a conference presentation recently (natl recignized child development organization) on media influence on children & individuals. It was very eye opening. Viewed violence does desentize. The statistics have extremely strong correlations. We are affected by the images we see much mroe than we realize. Even as adults they shape how we think.

  76. Emilyrg

    October 27, 2009

    When I turned 30 I stopped watching rated R movies because of the counsel that the prophet had given. (It took me a long time to get there) I have found that in my experience that because I have stopped watching the movies I am no longer being desensitized to what is going on in the movies. Because I have a heightened awareness I am able to distinguish what is good for my kids and what is not regarding what they see in the movies and what they watch on tv and I am not being a hypocrite. I do not want my kids heads filled with violience and well just everything that is going on in the movies now a days. It is amazing to me how what was so bad a few decades ago is the norm these days. I don’t want the norm. I want a clean mind for my kids and I am working to keep them clean.

    There are some movies that my husband loves and tried to convince me that an old Wesley Snipes movie from the 80’s is ok for my 3 year old to watch with him. No,no,no! We went to another room to play while he was watching that.

    I can’t make others choices for them but I can make my choice and it does affect others. Like my husband who doesn’t badger me to watch rated R movies with him any longer but will rent something that is not rated R and want to watch it with me. We rented the Duchess the other week. Rated PG 13 but that should have been rated R or worse in my opinion.

    I understand why the President Benson had said what he did and I appreciate it more now that I have kids than when I didn’t.

  77. joylenskey

    October 27, 2009

    When I typed “R-rated movies” in the LDS publications database, it brought up 500 hits. This is not an obscure three-instance teaching by President Benson.

    <iHave you ever served in the Young Women organization? They counsel leaders there not to discuss in lessons wrong choices they’ve made and how they repented and it all worked out okay in the end with a temple marriage. I love this counsel and feel like it applies to every gospel conversation that occurs in a large group setting. Inevitably there will be someone reading this that will use this post to justify a future indisgression, thinking that others do it

    Carrie, (and Handsfullmom, and Maya, and others similar):

    I deeply appreciate what you wrote, and the courage that it took to sign your name. To those who read self righteous judgement in Carrie’s comments, please remember that it’s very difficult to make ANY point if one has to qualify every single sentence by acknowledging every possible exception to the general principle. Carrie DID try to acknowledge some of those.

    While I do empathize with many of the complexities inherent in others’ comments, I wonder, has there ever been a prophet who was not accused of being judgemental?

    This discussion reminds me of a story told multiple times by Elder Packer:

    When we speak plainly of divorce, abuse, gender identity, contraception, abortion, parental neglect, we are thought by some to be way out of touch or to be uncaring. Some ask if we know how many we hurt when we speak plainly. Do we know of marriages in trouble, of the many who remain single, of single-parent families, of couples unable to have children, of parents with wayward children, or of those confused about gender? Do we know? Do we care?

    Those who ask have no idea how much we care; you know little of the sleepless nights, of the endless hours of work, of prayer, of study, of travel—all for the happiness and redemption of mankind.

    Because we do know and because we do care, we must teach the rules of happiness without dilution, apology, or avoidance. That is our calling.

    I once learned a valuable lesson from a mission Relief Society president. In a conference, she announced some tightening up of procedures. A sister stood up and defiantly said, “Those rules can’t apply to us! You don’t understand us! We are an exception.”

    That wonderful Relief Society president replied, “Dear sister, we’d like not to take care of the exception first. We will establish the rule first, and then we’ll see to the exception.” Many times I have borrowed from her wisdom, grateful for what she taught me.

    I don’t mind if Segullah sometimes talks about exceptions. Because there are some. But maybe not as many as we’d like to think.

    Not every declaration of principle should have to be followed with the ultra-tolerant:

    “that’s just for me, though, I have no problem with what other people do….”

    Other people’s actions do affect me. Other members teach my children. Other members interact with people I’m trying to fellowship. Your kids are going to be friends with my kids (I hope!) And your kids are going to be bishops who counsel my grandkids.

    R-rated movies influnce the youth groups I’m trying to teach. Maybe the term “R-rated” is just an artificial fence around the pornographic abyss. But I testify from first hand experience that church leaders talk about R ratings to protect us from desensitizing ourselves to a VERY, VERY slippery slope.

    Some of us have seen the deep pain of pornography addictions. R-ratings are not a fence around a mud puddle that will sully our children. They are an (imperfect!) fence around a slope that leads to spiritual death. Enumerating the many exceptions to the R-rated rule reminds me of kids trying to see if they can squeeze through the bars above Niagra falls. Nobody plans on falling.

    The invisible paradigms in many of these movies goes far beyond the violent and sex scenes that a clear-play can screen out. It is found in the most invisible assumptions of these movies; in the way they treat gender, beauty, money, reverence, etc.

    I imagine there are a lot of silent readers who don’t often weigh in because it’s VERY hard to craft your words so as to not appear judgemental. Some of you master Segullah writers do a beautiful job of choosing your words in a way that encourages faithfulness without judging anyone. But I bet a lot of “lurkers” are like me (afraid to speak for fear of choosing words too harsh).

    I don’t see R-rated movies. We also program our ordinary TV’s to black out any programs that exceed a PG rating. I screen international films as carefully as USA ones.

    I wish the rest of you would do the same.

    Not because I look down on you, or think I’m more pure or more righteous or smart than you. But because I know I’m vulnerable, just like you. Because someday (we move around alot) I might be called to be your visiting teacher. And I never want to see you weep with the agony I’ve seen come from some of my beloved spiritual sisters. I want to attend your kids’ temple marriages…and their 50th anniversaries. And yours.

    This week I saw another husband leave his wife (my friend) and five kids. So if you sense emotion in my writing…well, that’s why.

    With regard to those few truly inspiring R-rated movies…Is there really an inspiring, fascinating principle that you learned from an R-rated movie that the Spirit couldn’t have taught you another way?


    P.S. Many of you already know about Elder Packer’s wonderful charge to LDS creative artists, but for any who haven’t read it:


    P.P.S. forgive my length. I write in love, honest!

  78. Faithful

    October 27, 2009

    I have chosen to have the companionship of the holy spirit, I choose not to participate in any activity that will offend the spirit; that choice includes all types of media. I have felt the spirit literally leave while watching a mostly innocent pg-13 movie, I choose to pursue things to uplift and feed the spirit with my time. As Elder Uchtdorf said in the april 2009 priesthood session “We are involved in a great work and cannot come down”. The real reason we are here in this life is to learn from our experiences how to become like God the Father, he is always thinking what he should be thinking and doing what he should be doing; he is the law giver and perfectly obeys all the laws; let us not get distracted by the things of the world.
    Here is an excerpt from an article by Elder Ballard (July 2001 Ensign) “Now, I’m aware there may be a few of you who think that you know better than the leaders of the Church about this subject. You may even argue that there is artistic merit or that ‘everyone is doing it.’ You may believe that you are not one of those people who will be influenced by on-screen sex or violence. To you I have only one question: are you going to follow the true and living prophets or not? It really isn’t any more complicated than that. The standard of the Church with regard to morality is clear. If you choose to read anything that contains material that is contrary to the moral standards of the Church, then you are placing yourself and your own wisdom above the counsel of God and His prophets—a course of action that would indeed be very unwise.”

    I am trying to LEARN to use agency wisely.

  79. joylenskey

    October 27, 2009

    When I closed my Segullah comment window, I noticed in the LDS search window that I had searched for R-rated movies, not “R-rated movies.” Without the quotation marks, it yielded 500 hits (I was truly surpised how many) but when I added the quotes, it was only 47. My sincere apologies. [Yet another instance of wishing I could edit my own comments…]

  80. eljee

    October 27, 2009

    I don’t watch R rated movies. I’ve seen two in my entire life, in my much younger years (it’s probably been at least 20 years ago….) I very rarely watch PG-13s either.

  81. Miggy

    October 27, 2009

    I agree with the idea that blatant sex, violence, etc are not the only problems with movies. There are plenty of movies that don’t have a sex scene per say, but the general attitude with sex is certainly not the church’s standards–it’s pretty much a given that of COURSE you sleep together before marriage, which just so happens to mirror society’s views on sex. If I were to take that one small issue into mind and never watch another movie that in any way sanctioned pre-martial sex I would be watching very few movies for the rest of my life. There is a part of me that wants to say “that’s just unrealistic…and besides there can be a lot of good learned in those movies as well, etc. etc.” But there is another part that says “why is that unrealistic? Why shouldn’t I demand that much purity from the art I participate in? And why wouldn’t Heavenly Father expect the same?” Of course I also believe that we grow in the gospel in different ways at different times….things I used to think were of little consequence I now understand in a different light…perhaps I will also come to feel the same way about movies and media as well. I hope we give each other the room to grow and learn at their own pace and in their own time as we give ourselves.

    In college we watched a video on art and the gospel–which was essentially an interview with President Packer. One thing that he said has always stuck out in my mind, he said we have a responsibility–particularly in art–to deal with things as they should be, not necessarily as they are. I believe he also went on to talk about how we can learn a principle without stooping to negative or bad influences to teach about it {you don’t have to view pornography to learn that it’s evil–or you don’t have to watch a movie about adultery–even if it’s portraying it as a bad/negative thing–to learn that it’s not right.}

    So do I watch R’s? I have. I don’t as a practice, but like most of us I think it’s much more complicated than a rating system. As one church leader said when speaking to our stake about pornography {he’s sort of the church’s guru and leading crime fighter when it comes to pornography} “Mormon’s don’t know pornography when the see it.” He went on to say that the only movie he had seen in the past 4 years was March of the Penguins. I have to say while I’m not yet to that point, I admire people who take the 13th article of faith, words of the prophet and general church doctrine and teachings so seriously.

  82. Naismith

    October 27, 2009

    “This post reminded me of why I wished I lived outside of the U.S. – no ratings!”

    Of course other countries have their own ratings systems–IMDB lists the ratings in various countries.

    I think that the notion of avoiding R can give a false sense of security. So much of the rating is based on things like whether it is an indie film.

    I also endorse kids-in-mind.com as a great source about information to guide those of us seeking a pure life.

    And I also found ONCE to be a very uplifting film.

  83. Amy S

    October 27, 2009

    I love movies. Love them.

    I don’t watch r-rated movies anymore because I can’t have the level of spirituality I strive for and have those scenes in my head. I am not saying I am a spiritual giant (what a thought!), I am only saying that I try to receive inspiration and guidance on a daily basis and I have found that r- and many pg-13 movies drive the spirit out of my life.

    It is interesting that nudity on the screen in Europe bothers me less because it is so non-sexual and the bodies do not have to be perfect. Here, we cannot make any image of women without them being sexual objects.

    And Erin, the point of the counsel is not to refrain from speaking about repentance. We are supposed to continually talk of repentance and the miracle of forgiveness. We are supposed to refrain from given them detailed transgressions from our own lives.

  84. Amy S

    October 27, 2009

    “I think that the notion of avoiding R can give a false sense of security. So much of the rating is based on things like whether it is an indie film.”

    Anyone with common sense should not be lulled into any sort of false sense of security. The leaders of the church have repeatedly said to beware of PG-13 as well.

    to Peter LLC– respectfully, I must say I don’t follow the european leaders of the church. I only follow the prophet and apostles. Also, I think again that European movies do not sexualize nudity like Americans do. I could go on and on about that, but I won’t.

  85. Christy

    October 27, 2009

    Joylenskey’s comment was interesting to me, and brought out another point about which I feel particularly strongly.

    I agree that pornography is so, SO dangerous. But I think that perhaps Mormon culture has fostered in some a fear of pornography that’s become irrational. I have heard my fellow Mormons say that a video of a woman giving birth is pornography. I’ve heard MANY people liken public breastfeeding to pornography.

    Those attitudes scare me too – not as much as actual porn addictions do, but they are harmful nonetheless. It shows the level to which society’s sexualization of the human body has infiltrated our culture.

    Pretty off-topic, sorry. I guess it relates in that I don’t find nonsexual nudity in movies offensive?

  86. Morgan Lee

    October 27, 2009

    Re #77: So, are you saying that man left his wife and five kids because he watched R-rated movies? I call BS.

  87. Sue

    October 27, 2009

    I’m not a big watcher of movies. Missing most R-rated movies is something I would do even if I weren’t Mormon, because I’m not interested in seeing sex or violence on the screen, and bad language offends me. Period.

    However, when do I want to watch an R-rated movie, I watch it. For instance, I’ve watched Schindler’s List, Slumdog Millionaire, and a few others. I don’t feel guilty for watching the ones I chose to see.

    In reading comments from those who seem unduly disturbed by what others are watching (not the ones who merely disagree with my stance, but those who have their own agendas about personal choices other members of the Church are making in regard to movies), I am reminded of what I learned some years ago as a graduate student in counseling. When we find ourselves taking someone else’s inventory, it’s probably a good time to look inward and focus on our own.

    In my family, we have black-and-white thinkers and grey area thinkers, and you know what? Some of those grey area thinkers are among the most stalwart and devout members we have. The Lord loves all of His children, and each relationship with Him is different.

    We all have to find our way home again, and every individual’s path will have its own twists and turns. Because we are human, no one’s route will be perfectly straight, and that’s okay. The good news is that we only have to navigate our own. That works for me, because navigating somebody else’s would probably get me lost.

  88. KE's mom

    October 27, 2009

    Prophet: Don’t spend time in bars.

    Satan’s FAVORITE response:

    The term “bar” here is capricious, because after all, you can get alcoholic beverages at the supermarket and on airplanes. And bars offer plenty of wholesome beverages too. So really, I’m not going to worry about the name “bar.” I’ll just decide each atmosphere on a case by case basis. I avoid nasty bars of course. But some bars have a more classy atmosphere and people with unique perspectives. If I always order juice, isn’t that safe enough?

    My perspective:
    Healthy juice can be found elsewhere, without so many risks. So can meaningful perspectives. It’s not just about avoiding the consumption of alcohol (read, sex scenes). It’s about the mindsets that surround you, the example that you set, and having a wide open channel for the Spirit to get through.

    Don’t spend time in bars.

  89. Cindy

    October 27, 2009

    Just a note to those bothered by profanity in favorite old movies. We have a TV Guardian hooked into our tv and just love it. It scans the closed captioning and when a profanity or use of the Lord’s name is coming up, mutes the tv. At the same time it puts up alternate words at the bottom of the screen so that your eyes are drawn to the bottom of the screen and you’re not just watching the silent profanities. (Remember the varsity theater?) Every now and then it goes a little overboard (In “Emma” when someone refers to “the fairer sex” it is changed to “the fairer hugs”) but we have appreciated it so much.

  90. Melissa M.

    October 27, 2009

    I’m sorry, KE’s mom, but I just have to point out that when I was a freshman English teacher at BYU, we taught a unit on logical fallacies. What you just did in your comment (#90) is demonstrate a perfect example of a false analogy. 🙂

  91. joylenskey

    October 27, 2009

    Morgan Lee,
    Yes. I AM saying that a strong contributing factor to my friend’s husband deserting her was his long-time diet of rated-R thinking about excitment, personal fulfillment, sex, responsibility, and relativism.

  92. Marintha

    October 27, 2009


    I seems to me you are falling pray to the slippery slope fallacy. Although rated ‘R’ movies could be included as a symptom in your friend’s marriage, it is silly to say that watching them will lead to divorce. How many people who watch ‘R’ rated movies aren’t LDS? Are all of those people divorced? Not only that, not all ‘R’ rated movies contain sex, excitement, personal fulfillment at the expense of others and moral relativism.

  93. KE's mom

    October 27, 2009

    Wikipedia’s entry on “false analogy” says in part:

    False analogy is an informal fallacy applying to inductive arguments. It is often mistakenly considered to be a formal fallacy, but it is not, because a false analogy consists of an error in the substance of an argument (the content of the analogy itself), not an error in the logical structure of the argument….

    …Very often people try to refute a correct analogy as a false analogy, often saying “Well, but that’s different because”, and refer to an existing property that the two things in the analogy indeed do not share. In cases like this, such a refutation is merely a “false charge of fallacy”. But as analogies are comparing two different things there are always some properties that A and B do not share, so it is tempting to pull up one such difference to try to disqualify the analogy. For the purposes of the analogy, however, it is important to check if that difference is relevant for the analogy or not.

    Melissa M.:

    I apologize for offending you or anyone else. Bars and movies definitly have some differences. Most of Christ’s parables could be deconstructed too. I could explain how mustard seeds are NOT like the kingdom of heaven, and how the 10 virgins are NOT like the second coming. But the comparison is not inherently fallacious for the point he was trying to make. I can certainly imagine gray areas even in my analogy; legitimate reasons why a moral person could enter a bar.

    Probably I started off offensively because I grouped some of the above arguements as the type I suppose Satan would like. Please understand, I didn’t mean to demonize any particular person or their feelings. I wasn’t responding to any individual post. I was just responding to some of the tenor that lingered with me from reading 90 responses. I am NOT trying to say that any of you personally are like Satan. I’m also not saying that everyone who watches R-rated movies is like the unseemly bar crowd.

    I just don’t think we should be afriad to say it:
    99 out of 100 R-rated movies (at least) are evil, with atmosphere as plainly anti-Spirit as most bars.

    Commenters above have ennumerated the merits of the cleanest 1%. Isn’t it possible that Satan loves those arguements? We teach Primary kids that Satan loves to mix good with bad, because no one would eat the bad straight. They have to be enticed.

    I think we should keep teaching the rule (in the USA) “Don’t see R-rated movies” and “don’t spend time in bars.” And then we should ADD (“or unhealthy PG’s or supermarket wine sections.”)

    And I truly mean no personal offense to Carina. From her writing tyle, I’ll say that I wish I had more friends like her in real life. And all of you, for that matter, if you were still willing, after my post.

  94. anon

    October 27, 2009

    Carina, you are such a rabble-rouser!

  95. m2theh

    October 27, 2009

    My dad keeps inadvertently buying movies that are rated R, and he doesn’t realize it until after he’s watched the movie! Then he’s all, “oh, that makes sense, there was a lot of swearing.”

    Personally, I try really hard not to watch any R rated movies unless they are tv edits, which is why I still haven’t seen all of the Terminator movies. I have seen a few I regretted, like Silence of The Lambs, and a few that were fabulous. I think we should make our own decisions and do our best not to judge others on the decisions they make.

  96. teki

    October 27, 2009

    Sue (#89), you rock!
    While I appreciate the original post, sadly, new insight is rarely gained from these types of discussions (see also coke-drinking/temple-worthy dress for kids/sabbath-keeping, etc. etc.) Rather,they become yet another opportunity for lots of self-righteous posturing and judgmentalism (is that a word?). In my many years in the church, I’ve learned for myself, and more importantly,taught my children that we are each responsible for our OWN salvation. Our path is the only one we have control over and get to make choices for. Sure, we can testify,preach, exhort, and teach, but others in the Church, and even within our own families, will make different choices than we do in the specific ways that they implement gospel principles in their lives. What did Sis. Okazaki say?…something like “in principles, clarity -in practices, charity”…(hopefully, someone will correct me) I usually totally enjoy the discussions on here (even if I rarely post)…this one, not so much. No offense to the OP, just too much “judginess” for me.

  97. teki

    October 27, 2009

    oops- sue was #87…sorry

  98. Angie f

    October 27, 2009

    What a variety of comments this post has generated! I must say in full disclosure that I have, in the past, seen R rated movies as well as consumed Coke (full sugar, I hate diet) But,

    On my mission, Elder Dallas N. Archibald spoke about a variety of behaviors (of course R rated movies weren’t really an issue as missionaries, but Coke definitely was) that could easily be classified as “grey areas.” The ones he focused on were dietary–Coke and various non-herbal teas common in Brazil–but the principle is the same. He referenced a scripture in the New Testament (Pauline epistle, but that’s all I remember) about doing nothing that would challenge another’s cause to believe. He went on to suggest that it really helps neither us nor anyone around us to get mired down in grey areas. When we are engaged in behavior that requires rationalization, either to ourselves or others, it takes our energy and attention away from our pursuit of what is universally praiseworthy. That concept stuck with me and often, when I find myself defending my behavior, I try to ask myself “am I defending truly praiseworthy behavior or am I rationalizing a grey area in my choices?”

    I have slowly diminished many of the movies I watch. I seek a lot of feedback before I will watch (or let family members watch) a movie–ratings, kids-in-mind movies, trusted friends and relatives with the same barometer as I, etc– but even then, most movies just don’t get watched for lack of time more than philosophical stance. I find I am far more sensitive to visual media than written or auditory media alone, for example, while I read The Kite Runner, I could not bear to see the movie, so that enters into my choices as well. The choices I make for my children’s viewing is tailored more to their developmental advancement and their personality.

    As for Coke, I did find it troubling on my mission that the best way to unclog a toilet was to pour 2L of Coke down it. But the final nail in the coffin of my cola consumption was the December Ensign article by an MD about caffeine consumption, including cola drinks. I found myself hearing Elder Archibald’s talk again and I knew that for me it was time. I recommend the article as it details the levels of caffeine in different drinks and the health problems associated with prolonged caffeine consumption.

    I know that obedience is blessed. I will never be harmed by not watching an R rated movie. I have heard a story, I think, about Heber J. Grant, in the days when the Word of Wisdom was first making its way to mandatory observance. A woman told him that she didn’t believe she would be kept out of heaven for a little coffee every morning. He asked her, Is a little coffee every morning worth being kept out of heaven for? As powerful a movie as Schindler’s List was or Slumdog Millionaire may have been (didn’t see that one) is there ANY movie that’s worth being kept out of heaven for?

  99. Mindy Gledhill

    October 27, 2009

    Thanks for being real, Carina. I feel alienated by those who are appalled by these subjects.

  100. cmb

    October 28, 2009

    I am hesitant to comment on this post (first time commenting ever, btw)because it seems to be getting a bit heated. Who was it that said, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still”?
    However, I do feel it imortant to express my deep feelings on this subject.
    I’m sure no one in this audience likes to be accused of being insensitive to the spirit, or of inadvertently viewing pornography, or of being blatantly disobedient to prophets, as some comments may have implied. Naturally our first instinct when being accused is defensive. Yet, humility.
    How often have our church leaders, who we sustain as prophets and apostles, warned about pornography? The “For the Strength of Youth Pamplet” is fairly straightforward when it says, “Do not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable”.
    Personally, I feel that all R rated, most PG-13, and even some PG rated movies would fit this description. I feel increased peace in my life by avoiding these influences in TV and movies.
    While no one likes to feel accused, and recognizing that I’m sure there is no person commenting here that doesn’t struggle in obedience to some point of counsel from our prophets (food storage, debt, wasting time on the computer, FHE, family scripture study, etc.), it is important for us each to step back in humble introspection. Just because some commenters have expressed their strong feelings on this subject does not make them “judgemental” (REALLY hate the way this term is thrown around in discussions like this).
    Patience with eachother as we all strive to improve upon our own personal weaknesses. Yet, please lets not have anger towards those who are striving to keep the inspired counsel of Prophets.

  101. Emily W.

    October 28, 2009

    It’s not the stupid movie that will get you in trouble. It’s willfully and knowingly disregarding the words of an apostle.

  102. Emily W.

    October 28, 2009

    “KE’s Mom” and “Joylensky”,
    I very much appreciated your comments. I don’t watch R-rated movies. If any other kind of entertainment (TV, books, music, PG-13 movies) offends me, I turn it off or walk away. (We walked out of “The Producer’s” even though, as students, the tickets were a financial sacrifice.)

    We DO have some strict rules and guidelines in this church. And even if the rule is arbitrary, we follow it! (Baptism at 8–even for very mature 7 year olds. No alcohol-even if a glass of wine is good for your heart. Etc.) You will NEVER be harmed by following the rules. You just wont. I do understand that some areas are grey and require our thought and prayer to determine what course we will take. But why spend time justifying something that HAS been spelled out?

    So what if people like Slumdog Millionaire and ratings are arbitrary. Sometimes you can’t keep the spirit of the law if you’re breaking the letter of the law.

    And I also stand by my previous comment. I’m paraphrasing a quote from a church leader I heard in institute 12 years ago. It was referring to r-rated movies and in response to all the justifications listed above.

    THAT SAID, before you all say I’m judgmental: Yes. I judge that watching r-rated movies is bad. But I have friends and family who watch them all the time and I still love them. So don’t hate ME!

  103. Emily W.

    October 28, 2009

    “The Lord and His living prophets are counting on you to avoid the trash that surrounds you in the media. When anyone chooses to ignore or defiantly go against the counsel of the living prophet, he is on very shaky ground” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 55; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 40). Elder Joe J. Christensen.

    Maybe this is the quote I heard in institute all those years ago–after a very similar discussion to the one above.

    And since I learned about the counsel when President Benson was alive, I don’t think I should be allowed to go out and watch R-rated movies now that he’s dead.

  104. Liz C

    October 28, 2009

    There are quite literally hundreds of G-rated films that I will not allow in my home for a number of reasons (my biggies are poor production quality, lame scripting, and toilet jokes)… luckily, we do have great pre-screening sites all over the internet, so it’s rare we’ll go into watching a show “blind.”

    Over time, I’ve noticed that we don’t tend to watch R movies. My DH is not LDS, and couldn’t care less about ratings. Both of us are aware enough of the world to want our home to be a refuge, though, and some films just don’t add to the spirit of our home, so they don’t get watched. We’ve also turned things off that we felt were fine, but one of the kids expressed discomfort with. Letting them know it’s okay to tell their own parents “I’m not okay with this one, let’s watch something else,” is, I hope, a great training ground for harder decisions they may have to make about entertainment choices later in life.

    Sometimes I think we have a bit Leviticus problem… in some ways, we’re just as stubborn and stiff-necked as Israel coming out of bondage, and we’ve managed to get our own very detailed sets of “thou shalt nots” written, just because we don’t exercise our agency in more spiritually mature ways. Shouldn’t it be obvious that we don’t want to pollute our immortal souls with low, base, or ugly things? And yet, there are so many justifications we *can* make as to why our favorite low, base, or ugly thing is okay, for us, or just this once. I’m surely not blameless here! 🙂

    I have only one movie regret: I’d love to see “The Pianist.” I won’t, though, because of the director. I find his personal life repugnant, and can’t support his work in any way, period. So that’s one movie I’d love to see, but never actually will, in any form.

  105. Peter LLC

    October 28, 2009

    84: I must say I don’t follow the european leaders of the church. I only follow the prophet and apostles.

    Setting aside for a moment the fact that a European member of the church is one of your prophets and apostles, my point was not that you should follow my local leaders. Rather, the point is that shepherds around the world do a great job tending their flocks without having to use a very American idiom.

  106. Morgan Lee

    October 28, 2009

    #88 — “The term “bar” here is capricious, because after all, you can get alcoholic beverages at the supermarket and on airplanes. And bars offer plenty of wholesome beverages too. So really, I’m not going to worry about the name “bar.” I’ll just decide each atmosphere on a case by case basis. I avoid nasty bars of course. But some bars have a more classy atmosphere and people with unique perspectives. If I always order juice, isn’t that safe enough?”

    False or not, couldn’t this same analogy be applied to TV. I would submit that at least 80% of what’s on TV is morally questionable. Most TV shows (even, sometimes, shows as seemingly innocuous as those you might find on HGTV) implicitly condone premarital sex, selfish decisions, violence, abortion, etc. Yes, there are a few high-quality TV shows out there, but by your analogy, you would only be obeying the prophet if you abstained from TV altogether. I mean, why risk it?

    #98 — “As powerful a movie as Schindler’s List was or Slumdog Millionaire may have been (didn’t see that one) is there ANY movie that’s worth being kept out of heaven for?”

    If you really believe that you’ll be kept out of heaven for watching a movie, then no. But in that case, you’re probably going to outer darkness anyway, as I imagine you (and every one commenting here) have much worse things to account for.

  107. jendoop

    October 28, 2009

    I really appreciated Jennifer and Jolensky’s comments.

    Something that hasn’t been mentioned is the money. Everytime you watch an R rated movie you vote. You vote with your money at the box office or rental company. When you watch movies or other shows on TV that are “mature” you are influenced by advertizers and spend money accordingly. When you spend money on a less than moral entertainmet you are encouraging that faction of the industry – even if you turn it off or walk out.

  108. Emilee

    October 28, 2009

    First, Carrie: your comment was fantastic. Bravo.

    Second, am I reading this right when I see several of you actually saying that the prophet’s words of admonition about R rated films were directed to the *youth* — as in, the rules of the prophet ONLY apply to the youth and thus it’s okay to do whatever the heck you want once you’re an adult? Seriously?! I can’t believe anyone would use that as justification to watch an R rated film (or any other council given by a prophet). Those of you who said that it was just for the “youth”, do you also not recall the countless times it is said in the scriptures that we are commanded to become as *little children* — willing to submit ourselves to anything/everything the Lord sees fit?

    While I 100% agree that there are things that are not appropriate for children that are for adults, I do not think anyone who truly understands the gospel could actually subscribe to the idea that council given by the prophets to the youth expires once someone turns the magical age of 21 (or something). That’s one of the most ridiculous notions I’ve ever heard.

    While I am far, far, far (did I say far?) from being where I’d like to be spiritually, I also believe that the Book of Mormon (and thus, God) really means it when He says we cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven unless we DENY ourselves of ALL ungodliness. While there are many things I need to work on (it’s all about progression), I think a justification for going against any council given by the prophet (which is thus a commandment) is just that: a justification. A sin is a sin.

  109. Melissa M.

    October 28, 2009

    KE’s mom, for the record, I wasn’t offended by your comment. I don’t see R-rated movies (except filtered on Clearplay), as I stated in an earlier comment. And I know you meant well in your comment and were trying to illustrate your point by using an analogy. The analogy itself struck me as a little over the top, that’s all. And I should have used the term “faulty analogy” instead of “false analogy”—it’s been too many years since I was in the classroom!

    Bottom line: no offense taken.

  110. Angie f

    October 28, 2009

    Jendoop-thank you for bringing up money. I think it is important that we realize that we vote our values with our wallets in everything we do. Sadly, my understanding of the film industry is that PG movies regularly out earn R rated movies, but film makers don’t care. There is sophistication and cachet (or however you spell that) in the R rating and it is difficult to make a “serious” film to be taken seriously if it does not garner an R rating. How many non R movies have won Oscars in the last few decades? Sad, so sad. But despite that, I still agree with you that we should consciously vote with our wallets.

    Oh and Morgan Lee, I think you missed my point (or I put it badly). No, I don’t believe that attending an R rated movie is a ticket to hell. But if it were, is it worth it? Once again, rationalization rationalization. We all do it.

  111. Heather O.

    October 28, 2009

    I like abstaining from TV. I’m fine with the idea that obeying the prophet may mean getting rid of your TV altogether. Television is pretty gross.

    That said, I have to disagree with the idea that watching one rated R movie will keep you out of heaven, and certainly a man watching Schindler’s List isn’t going to somehow snap and immediately turn to pornography or divorce. But I think the idea, as was mentioned, is that it’s the steady diet of this kind of stuff that leads to bigger sins of morality and desensitization. And how much is a steady diet? How much can your spirit handle? I think those kinds of questions are impossible to answer, so I think it’s smart to avoid rated R movies altogether.

  112. Kathryn P.

    October 28, 2009

    I love this quote by John Ruskin, which Elder Jensen shared in conference in 2001: “The first test of a truly great man is his humility. I do not mean, by humility, doubt of his own power…[But really] great men…have a curious…feeling that greatness is not in them, but through them…And they see something Divine…in every other man…and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.”

    I have not read most of the comments because I’m having health problems which make me very sensitive to negative energy and this topic seems to attract it. My feelings on the subject are probably the closest to #100 which I did read; however, everyone is on their own spiritual journey, so I try to be “endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful” which usually means just setting a good example for my own children and not worrying about what my friends and neighbors are doing. The first talk my daughter gave in sacrament meeting as a young teen was on this topic and she spoke with such power that several people came up to her the next week and told her that they had thrown a chunk of their movie collection into the garbage after hearing her powerful testimony.

  113. Merry Michelle

    October 28, 2009

    This week two of my siblings came forward and announced that they have left the church. It has been a very hard, teary and tough week for me.

    Thinking back a few years before this announcement, I remember these siblings adamantly defending their right to watch “R” rated movies. I didn’t think much about it, after all they were adults and capable of making their own decisions. They used many of the same justifications that I’ve read in the blog and comments; the rating system is faulty and flawed, there are so many inspiring films, they were close to those in the entertainment industry, etc.

    Now I wish I had said something. Not that I “blanket”ly equate “R” movies with inactivity, but now I see it as a warning sign. In the end this has less to do with “R” rated movies and more to do with commitment, faith and obedience. This gospel is about sacrifice and committing ourselves to the Lord, even if it’s unpopular, inconvenient and hard.

  114. SilverRain

    October 28, 2009

    I came to this discussion because Allan commented on a post I wrote a few months ago on this topic. I re-read it, having forgotten that I had written it. I still think the key to this question is in the For Strength of Youth pamphlet:

    “[I]f you have any question about whether a particular movie, book, or other form of entertainment is appropriate, don’t see it, don’t read it, don’t participate.”

    The bottom line is you. The pamphlet (our leadership’s most recent word on the subject) makes it clear that you have a responsibility to decide for yourself, not for others, but for yourself.

    I think there is a reason ratings are no longer mentioned in the pamphlet. If we try to draw the line for others, we are overstepping our stewardships.

  115. Heather O.

    October 28, 2009

    I like abstaining from TV. I’m fine with the idea that obeying the prophet may mean getting rid of your TV altogether. Television is pretty gross.

    That said, I have to disagree with the idea that watching one rated R movie will keep you out of heaven, and certainly a man watching Schindler’s List isn’t going to somehow snap and immediately turn to pornography or divorce. But I think the idea, as was mentioned, is that it’s the steady diet of this kind of stuff that leads to bigger sins because of desensitization. And how much is a steady diet? How much can your spirit handle? These questions are hard to answer.

  116. Heather O.

    October 28, 2009

    Whoops, sorry for the double comment.

  117. Random Commenter

    October 28, 2009

    Rating has nothing to do with it. I had a friend who refused to watch any PG-13 movies. So we lied to her and told her “Hitch” was rated PG. She watched the whole thing and loved it. Luckily someone coughed when the F-bomb was dropped, otherwise she might have caught on. But really, why did the fact that she THOUGHT it was PG change her view of the movie? It shouldn’t have. Oh, and after watching the movie she became addicting to PG13 movies and then to R-rated movies and then she left the church from drinking too much caffeine.

    Just kidding, she’s on a mission. And still thinks she’s never seen a PG13 movie. Just use your judgement when picking movies/books/tv/music/whatever.

  118. Faith.Not.Fear

    October 28, 2009

    Here’s an article I stumbled upon today — basically says what For the Strength of Youth says, with some ideas on how to make Spirit & information-guided decisions.

    Christa Skousen, “Out of the Best Books, Movies, or Music,” NewEra, Aug 2009, 20–22

  119. Morgan Lee

    October 28, 2009

    I agree that a “steady diet” of films (or TV shows, or books) that have casual sex, abundant profanity, characters making immoral decisions that are presented as acceptable, graphic violence, etc. is not good for the mind or soul. But whether or not a movie contains any or all of the above cannot, under any circumstance, be determined by its rating, whether PG or R. I think that’s the point.

    Putting a black and white spin on counsel (which is distinct from commandment, is it not?) may make a person feel safe, assured, or even righteous, and more power to you if it does. But it is not mere rationalization to point out the imperfections of the rating system. Big time directors get whatever rating they request. You all know this, right? God does not rate films; the chuch does not rate films. If they did, I would support a black-and-white take on church counsel. But since this is not the case, it seems silly to base whether or not you view a movie on a rating, rather than a little research into the actual content and moral message of the film (using some sort of filter for what you choose to watch is just wise).

    From some of the comments here, I think some of you think the MPAA is inspired or something. In that case, the MPAA has determined that any R-rated film is appropriate for any 17-year-old. Do you agree? Neither do I.

  120. Moriah Jovan

    October 28, 2009

    @LizC #104:

    I have only one movie regret: I’d love to see “The Pianist.” I won’t, though, because of the director. I find his personal life repugnant, and can’t support his work in any way, period. So that’s one movie I’d love to see, but never actually will, in any form.

    I’m right there with you. It’s the only movie (that I can remember) that I truly wanted to see, but put my foot down to say, “No. I will not support that person’s work.”

  121. Moriah Jovan

    October 28, 2009

    @Morgan Lee #119:

    counsel (which is distinct from commandment, is it not?)

    Thank you for making that distinction.

  122. Morgan Lee

    October 28, 2009

    Angie, I think it’s clear from your response that I didn’t miss your point at all.

    One more point: What a person can handle (emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually) varies a lot from person to person, and therefore, what might lead one person to dark places in the mind, or to divorce (which I don’t buy, but I’m pulling an example from this thread)another might be able to shrug off as entertainment, with no negative effects.

    For example, to my regret, I recently saw Paranormal Activity, and it stuck with me in a deep and disturbing way for several days afterward. Violence and gore don’t bother me one bit because, in horror movies especially, the violence is so cartoonish as to be laughable, and I find myself thinking more about the special effects guy than anything else. Paranormal Activity has virtually no violence, and no gore. Instead, it is about a demon who has been pursuing a woman since she was a small child and …SPOILER ALERT… takes full possession of her at the end of the movie. That’s the kind of thing that gets under my skin, and not in an enlightening or thought-provoking way. I vowed never to see another movie like that again.

    My husband, on the other hand, just thought it was funny. And I’ve talked to a couple of other people who think it was boring and dumb, and about as scary as a pancake. Blood and gore are what take them to that dark place, not a lame demon. It’s all about knowing what your soul can handle and what it can’t.

  123. Carina

    October 28, 2009

    Thanks for a great discussion, all!

    We’re closing comments on this post for the time being.

Comments are closed.