Does watching R-rated movies make you a bad Mormon? Depends on whom you ask. So I was surprised to see in the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey last week that 39 percent of the Mormons surveyed said not watching R-rated movies was essential to being a “good Mormon.” Another 47 percent said it was important (but not essential) to achieving “good Mormon” status.
First of all, I have no idea what exactly the term “good Mormon” means here. Perhaps it means being the most Mormony Mormon on the block. I don’t know. It’s a really horrible phrase that I wish the Pew Forum hadn’t used because it makes me think of passing out gold stars and getting a pat on the head by a bishop who says, “You’re a good little Mormon, aren’t you?”
Whatever it means, apparently not watching R-rated movies is an important part of the LDS religion to a majority of the 1,000 Mormons surveyed.
I’m especially interested in these findings because my husband and I have been discussing the kinds of things our family will and won’t do. Will we play team sports on Sunday? Will we watch R-rated movies? Will we drink Coke?
For me, things like R-rated movies and caffeinated soda fall into this gray area of Mormonism. I know of no “rule” about them, but church leaders have strongly discouraged drinking caffeine or watching R-rated movies (or any movies with objectionable values).
Often, though, I feel like within Mormon culture these topics morph into hard-and-fast commandments.
For the record, my husband and I don’t watch R-rated movies. We made a commitment not to because we felt it was the right thing to do based on counsel by our church leaders. Even though I don’t feel there is anything inherently bad about watching an R-rated movie, I made a commitment. End of story.
So you won’t see me touting the evils of R-rated movies, but you also won’t ever see me watching one. You will, however, see me drinking Dr Pepper occasionally, and still considering myself a gold-star Mormon.
Hopefully what I’ll be teaching my daughter is that we honor our commitments. It’s not a rule or something we are forced to do, but if we make a decision based on the counsel of church leaders, we will stick to it.
But we also won’t rip off other people’s “good Mormon” gold stars if they choose differently.
What choices have you made in your family about R-rated movies or caffeine? What do you think makes a “good Mormon”?
Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, Stewart discusses it all while her 4-year-old daughter crams Mr. Potato Head pieces in her little sister’s nose.