Rated R Movies and Inappropriate Media
The LDS church teaches that "R" rated movies and any other inappropriate movies should be avoided. This page provides a summary of the teachings about rated-R movies from the following sources:
The For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet states:
"Our Heavenly Father has counseled us as Latter-day Saints to seek after "anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy" (Articles of Faith 1:13). Whatever you read, listen to, or watch makes an impression on you. Public entertainment and the media can provide you with much positive experience. They can uplift and inspire you, teach you good and moral principles, and bring you closer to the beauty this world offers. But they can also make what is wrong and evil look normal, exciting, and acceptable.
Pornography is especially dangerous and addictive. Curious exploration of pornography can become a controlling habit leading to coarser material and to sexual transgression. If you continue to view pornography, your spirit will become desensitized, and your conscience will erode. Much harm comes from reading or viewing pornography. It causes thoughts within you that weaken your self-discipline.
Don't attend or participate in any form of entertainment, including concerts, movies, and videocassettes, that is vulgar, immoral, inappropriate, suggestive, or pornographic in any way. Movie ratings not always accurately reflect offensive content. Don't be afraid to walk out of a movie, turn off a television set, or change a radio station if whats being presented does not meet your Heavenly Father's standards. And do not read books or magazines or look at pictures that are pornographic or that present immorality as acceptable.
In short, if 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."
"It goes without saying that all X and R-rated movies are automatically eliminated." (The Church News, Conference Issues 1970-1987, p.11)
"Do not attend R or X-rated movies." (The Church News, Conference Issues 1970-1987, p.14)
"Be clean. I cannot emphasize that enough. Be clean. It is very, very important and you at your age are in such temptation all the time. It is thrown at you on television. It is thrown at you in books and magazines and videos. You do not have to rent them. Don't do it. Just don't do it. Don't look at them. If somebody proposes that you sit around all night watching some of that sleazy stuff, you say, (It¹s not for me. Stay away from it." (Denver Colorado, youth meeting, 14 Apr. 1996, Quote by Elder Joe J. Christensen, Ensign Nov. 1996, p. 40)
"We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don't see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. Don't listen to music that is degrading." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.222)
Consider carefully the words of the prophet Alma to his errant son, Corianton, Forsake your sins, and go no more after the lusts of your eyes. (Alma 39:9) The lusts of your eyes. In our day, what does that expression mean? Movies, television programs and video recordings that are both suggestive and lewd....We counsel you young men [and women] not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don't see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive or pornographic. Watch those shows and entertainment that lift the spirit and promote clean thoughts and actions. (Ensign May 1986, p. 45)
"Another activity that can detract us from the proper way is watching television excessively or viewing improper movies. While fine productions on these media are uplifting and entertaining, we need to be very selective in choosing what we see and how much of our time such an activity deserves. Our precious time must not be diverted to the sideline attractions of vulgar language, immoral conduct, pornography and violence." (Ensign Nov. 1990, p.65)
"In a day when broadcasters and publishers have rather free access into our homes, we must seek clean, uplifting entertainment, whether on television, videos, movies, magazines, books and other printed material. We should be very selective and choose only those things that meet the test of being virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy. If it is questionable, we should avoid it." (Ensign May 1992, p.87)
"[Our Heavenly Father] has, through prophets, cautioned against consuming the steady diet of evil that is offered relentlessly in today¹s media, especially magazines, movies, videocassettes, video games, and television. The windows of computer monitors and television screens can bring to us very useful information, but they can also bring information that is evil, degrading, and destructive. The Lord has warned repeatedly against the evils and designs of conspiring men in our day who would enslave us to our appetites and passions by tempting and tantalizing us with the obscene images, words and music. Through his servants, the Lord has cautioned us strongly not to take into our minds thoughts that can harm our spirits. Since 1950, Church leaders speaking in general conference have counseled us some seventy-five times against unhealthy media consumption. In recent years, as standards of public decency and morality have declined and as public media have reflected and often led that decline, these words of loving concern from inspires shepherds of the Lord¹s flock have come with more frequency and greater urgency. The watchmen on the tower have raised a warning voice." (Ensign Nov. 1995, p.77)
"Young men and women, keep yourselves worthy. Stay away from those environments, the music, the films, the videos, the clubs, and the associations that draw you into immoral conduct (see 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Thes. 5:22; 2 Tim. 2:22; D&C 9:13)
Now, I must speak of another danger, almost unknown in our youth but now everywhere about you. Normal desires and attractions emerge in the teenage years; there is the temptation to experiment, to tamper with the sacred power of procreation. These desires can be intensified, even perverted, by pornography, improper music, or the encouragement from unworthy associations. What would have only been a more or less normal passing phase in establishing gender identity can become implanted and leave you confused, even disturbed.
If you consent, the adversary can take control of your thoughts and lead you carefully toward a habit and to an addiction, convincing you that immoral, unnatural behavior is a fixed part of your nature. "
See "Ye Are the Temple of God" for President Packer's full comments.
"Parental hypocrisy can make children cynical and unbelieving of what they are taught at home. For instance, when parents attend movies they forbid their children to see, parental credibility is diminished. If children are expected to be honest, parents must be honest. If children are expected to be virtuous, parents must be virtuous. If you expect your children to be honorable, you must be honorable." (Ensign Nov. 1990, p. 33)
"It is very unreasonable to suppose that exposure to profanity, nudity, sex, and violence has no negative effects on us. We can't roll around in the mud without getting dirty. It is a concern that some of our young Latter-day Saints, as well as their parents, regularly watch R-rated and other inappropriate movies and videos. One more reason why the devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice.(3 Ne. 9:2)'' (October 1996 General Conference, see The Savior Is Counting On You)
"Although there are some uplifting exceptions, in most areas of the mass media there seems to be a declaration of war against almost everything the majority treasures most: the family, religion and patriotism. Marriage is degraded, while premarital and extramarital relations are encouraged and glamorized. Profanity and the foulest of vulgar gutter language bombard the ears of all who listen. Reportedly, in one R-rated movie, the most common, vulgar, four-letter word was spoken 256 times! Human life itself is trivialized by the constant barrage of violence and killings. Remember that anything that is not good for children is rarely good for adults." (Ensign Nov. 1993, p.11)
"Any film, television show, music, or printed material unfit for youth is also unfit for parents. Those who rationalize acceptance of immoral material on grounds of maturity or sophistication are deceived." (Ensign May 1991, p. 42)
"I know it is hard counsel we give when we say movies that are R-rated, and many with PG-13 ratings, are produced by satanic influences. Our standards should not be dictated by the rating system. I repeat, because of what they really represent, these types of movies, music, tapes, etc. serve the purposes of the author of all darkness." (Ensign Nov. 1993, p.43)
"In magazines and books, on CDs and tapes, on our television and theater screens is portrayed more and more often a lifestyle that might even rival the excesses of those who lived in Sodom and Gomorra....One of the great tragedies is that too many [members] are watching and listening to this type of so-called entertainment. Some do it only casually at first. They think they are spiritually strong and will be immune to its influence. This trash is nothing more nor less than pornography dressed in one of its many imitation robes of splendor one of the master counterfeiters best products....many do not recognize they are trapped or soon will be....They see this as a form of entertainment that serves as a relief from the troubles of the day. In point of fact and in reality, it is only relieving them of their spirituality and their capacity to draw on the powers of heaven in times of need....no [one] can look at, read about, or listen to such explicit vulgarity, even in its mildest form without bringing sorrow to a loving God and a terrible injury to ones own spirit....I plead with you to leave it alone. Stay away from any movie, video, publication, or music (regardless of it rating) where illicit behavior and expressions are a part of the action." (Ensign Nov. 1993, p.42-43)
"Wise use of our technology would include care in that which we invite into our homes by the way of television, videos, computers, including the Internet. There is much that is good and edifying in the media, but there is also much that is gross, immoral, and time-consuming, enticing us to be 'ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.' 2 Tim. 3:7 During the Second World War when gasoline was in short supply and rationed, I remember signs saying, 'Is this trip necessary?' Today, with ever- increasing demands on everyone and time in short supply, might we ask ourselves before we turn on the video game, the television, the computer, or access the many programs available, 'Is this trip necessary?...Is the information I am receiving from this tool of learning edifying, and adding truth into my life? Are the hours I am investing an effective use of my valuable time? Does this computer game assist me in fulfilling my responsibilities and goals?' If the answer is not a resounding yes, then we should have the courage and determination to click off the button and direct our lives to more important tasks." (Ensign. Nov 1997, p. 63)
"One of the most critical challenges mankind faces today is to recognize the difference between happiness and mere pleasure. Satan and his forces have become extremely effective in their effort to convince people that pleasure should be the most sought-after objective. He slyly promises that wherever found, pleasure will bring happiness. Our television and movie screens are filled with not-so-subtle messages that encourage and persuade young and old alike to unbridle their passions and they will experience happiness. The results of this reckless course should be so apparent as we watch the tremendous social and psychological costs continue to mount." (Ensign Nov. 1993, p. 82)
"Discipline is organized love, and children develop properly in an atmosphere of love, with adequate guidelines to shape their lives and their habits. More children are punished for mimicking their parents than ever for disobeying them. We should be what we want to see." (Ensign Nov. 1990 p. 12)
"Satan has intensified his efforts to destroy the family by corrupting the youth and robbing childhood of its innocence. Our youth are especially vulnerable as the enemy cunningly utilizes every means at his disposal, including the mass media and changes in constitutional law, to deceive them. He bombards our homes with enticements of destructive and harmful products and morals through television, videos, press, books, etc. We as Latter-day Saints and all good people anywhere must consciously screen what comes into our homes. Parents have the inalienable right and the responsibility to educate their children. No inappropriate outsider should be allowed to dictate our family's values nor what our children are being taught." (Ensign Nov. 1994, p. 23)