Tuesday, March 27, 2007

R-rated films?

I think the boundary of real standard advocated by Church leaders has never really drawn an arbitrary line at R-rated films, though the criteria of the ratings board probably intersects in most areas of concern. The bar is actually much higher, and this is obvious when we consider the actual words of counsel on this issue. The real standard is driven by the ideals enumerated in Article of Faith 13 -- seeking that which is lovely, or praiseworthy, or of good report. Of course, abjuring the antithesis is clearly implicit here.

Elder Ballard's address of 2003 October conference is a good case in point. (Elder Russell M. Ballard, "Let Our Voices Be Heard")  He asserts unequivocally that the influence of media depictions of evil can be a corrupting influence on families. He counsels the saints to take steps that will help protect our families from this degrading influence. No place in his address does he use the term "R-rated". But in fact, the problems he suggests that we avoid are to be found in many contemporary films with R-ratings, and often even with lesser ratings.

Obviously, just avoiding R-rated films is not sufficient anymore. Anyone who is too smug about their own righteousness because they don't watch films with the "wrong rating" has simply missed the point.

I think perhaps the effectiveness of such a half-measure is somewhat analogous to carefully guarding our doors from the passage of axe-murderers, but allowing the kidnappers and child molesters to enter unimpeded. Or perhaps, more appropriately, we might be said to strain at a gnat, but swallow a camel.

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