Don’t rate righteousness

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A recent opinion piece criticizes individuals who watch R-rated movies, claiming that such entertainment is unequivocally offensive to the Holy Ghost and Jesus Christ. While caution should be exercised in making our entertainment choices, the Church has not drawn any such line in the sand, and choosing to do so risks becoming pharisaical. Any individual can make such a choice for themselves, but using that personal decision as a barometer of others’ righteousness is completely inappropriate.

“For the Strength of Youth” states that we should “not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable.”

Some, perhaps many, R-rated films fall under these categories. However, the interpretation of the guidelines is up to each individual. Ratings vary from country to country and within the U.S. are established by the MPAA. The organization has no ties to the Church, so trusting it to enforce the standards promoted by “For the Strength of Youth” is naïve and misconstrues its purpose.

As Brigham Young said about theater, “The stage can be made to aid the pulpit in impressing upon the minds of a community an enlightened sense of a virtuous life, also a proper horror of the enormity of sin and a just dread of its consequences.” We must choose for ourselves what films encourage us to lead virtuous lives and dread the consequences of sin, regardless of their rating.

Conor Hilton
Idaho Falls, Idaho