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I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)

David - December 31, 2008

In the spirit of MCQ’s focus on resolutions, I refer to this scriptural passage:

Mark 10:17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none agood but one, that is, God.

19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

I think about this encounter from time to time (when I feel like torturing myself). The burn of realization the poor guy must have felt when he hit that wall– just because he couldn’t let go of that one thing. The story cuts me deep because I’ve got at least a few walls in my own life. I have an unbridled tongue, I’m impatient, I will every once in a while run to the store on a Sunday ’cause “the ox is in the mire…” These I’m not so worried about tackling. I’d put them up on the resolution altar with little hesitation.

The most conspicuous, nagging wall that stands high and wide before for me, though– the one I acknowledge should be a piece of cake to overcome, but I just refuse to– is restrict myself from R-rated movies. Despite the countless directives over the pulpit to remove them from our lives, I’m just not prepared to do that. I’ve loved movies from my youth– saw my first “R” when I was 12, “The Godfather.” Such a restriction for me would be like the one my doctor already condemned me with– no meat or dairy. It just sucks.

Part of me says (to myself) that this is more of a guideline than a commandment– and we don’t get points taken away from guidelines, do we? I also say I’m a member in good standing: I go to church every Sunday, settle my tithing at 100% every year, go to the temple every month,do my home teaching. It’s not like the movies possess me with dark hues or control my behavior. I don’t even hear the swear words unless my daughter is nearby. And it’s not like I’m irresponsible or indiscreet about it. Movies like “Saw” or “Hostel” or even Tarantino films, make me uncomfortable. My threshold’s right about where Joe Pesci is doing his, “What? How am I funny? Am I a clown, do I @#%*## amuse you?” I contend that some of the best thrillers, mysteries and action flicks out there are R-rated, and I’m not going to miss them because of a word or a particularly bloody bullet wound, or because a politically-driven committee decided to slap the letter on them. There are worse PG films that I avoid.

So, go ahead, say it: Methinks he doth protest too much. Maybe. I’m just trying to state my case here. Practice for when I’m praying to the Lord, going down my laundry list of all the wonderfully obedient things I’ve done and he whispers back, “One thing thou lackest…”

All right, yeah. I know, eventually I’m going to have to cut them out– I’m not that deluded. Just not this New Year’s, not yet. Let me cross that plane of righteousness when I’m about, say, 75… or… *sigh*…before…

I’m sure I’m not alone. I’ll bet a lot of others have pet foibles they’re not quite prepared to sacrifice January 1– or anytime soon. Energy drinks… watching football on Sunday… reading fluff novels, or… R-rated movies?

Eh, no… it’s probably just me.


  1. Yes David, it’s just you. Sorry.

    Comment by Bret — December 31, 2008 @ 2:59 pm

  2. Seriously though, I have basically the same feelings regarding the matter and probably should go post some resolutions over on McQ’s post, as he’s got the right idea.

    However for me, the elephant in the room as s YSA is idleness.

    …oh and not dating enough.

    Comment by Bret — December 31, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

  3. I think in the case of things like R-rated movies and other guilty pleasures like that, the problem isn’t so much that we’ll be punished for the disobedience; more like going through this life not becoming as good as we could have been. Never fine tuning ourselves by making those last few sacrifices. Never having been able to say “I gave up ALL of my sins to know thee.” I know King Lamoni’s father probably made that decision when he was older, and I just can’t think of a good reason to wait that long.

    I think we all have things we try not to give up for one reason or another. Mine was the refusal to speak to my father because I didn’t want a relationship with him anymore. And given even some of my past, I know my actions were justified. But seeing as I’m the only member in my family, speaking to him about the gospel was a sacrifice I had to make, and it took years. Finally, I got tired of having that over my head and decided there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my God. I wrote my father a letter and sent him a Book of Mormon. The relief I felt after having made the choice was mine to keep, and there’s no going back now. That in itself is a grand reward, to know that Heavenly Father was pleased with me. Even if nothing comes of what I chose to do for his life, despite his life, the fact that I made the choice was a crucial part of my spiritual development.

    And besides, I figure we’re gonna have to answer to people like Abinadi one day. The guy BURNED to death for his people. I know MY problems pale in comparison to that, and Abinadi seems like the kind of person who can give a good verbal lashing if he feels the need. Making sacrifices and doing the right thing seems, to me, an easier thing than to have to look men like that in the face and say, “Yeah, I screwed up over something that really didn’t matter.”

    I guess it’s just a matter of looking at things in the right perspective.

    Comment by Paradox — December 31, 2008 @ 3:37 pm

  4. Bret,

    So I guess your resolution for not dating enough is to become a bounder, a dirty dog, a cad? I wish all repentance was so reprehensible.



    Comment by David T. — December 31, 2008 @ 4:23 pm

  5. David, if the biggest obstacle in your life comes from watching rated R movies, I’d say:

    1. Bravo, Mr. Perfect! and
    2. Stop watching R-rated movies.

    Until that time I can safely say that watching most R-rated movies is simply not a big deal, and hardly worth mentioning in the context of the larger commitments of the gospel.

    p.s. Godfather Part II was better.

    Comment by Steve Evans — December 31, 2008 @ 5:34 pm

  6. In ref to 3: I wouldn’t say that is is so much about how “good” we can be. I think it’s just about the spiritual blessings one misses out on…I know, semantics.

    My wife and I made the R-rated movie leap six or seven years ago. We’re both artists of a sort and both love film. Even so, it very quickly became no big deal, and we both find that we are more sensitive and aware to what our young children are being exposed to, not to mention being less prone to any number of R-rated thoughts and behaviors. (Which, in the marital state, tends in my experience to increase harmony in the home, which tends to increase the incidence of spousal chastity, if you know what I mean… ;-)

    There’s plenty of well crafted whiskey out there too, but you’re not about to waste your time on that, are you? Take the leap! Whenever you feel put out about not getting to see the latest thriller, have sex with your wife instead.

    Comment by Owen — December 31, 2008 @ 10:38 pm

  7. I’d like to second Steve Evans’s comments in #5.

    as you’ve “protested,” this isn’t a commandment. It *is* just a guideline and it’s not a worthiness breaker. Although, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth seeing what stuff movies get away with these days on all ratings…

    Comment by Andrew S — January 1, 2009 @ 3:51 am

  8. [...] perhaps more quotable example of what I thought guilt might be. At Nine Moons, David wrote about how sometimes, we might say we are willing to do anything to get what we want, but many times, when …. In the end, I don’t want to trivialize David’s concerns (really, guys, I’m not a [...]

    Pingback by Guilt and Repentance « Irresistible (Dis)Grace — January 1, 2009 @ 6:52 pm

  9. Reading fluffy novels is a sin?

    Crap. I’m so screwed.

    Comment by Sue — January 2, 2009 @ 12:41 am

  10. OK, it never occurred to me that I would have to defend watching R-rated movies as being a barrable sin, but that’s precisely what I feel I need to do now after Steve and Andrew’s input. Even after all this time defending watching R-rated films, I’ve still been counseled– pointedly and repeatedly– to refrain from it.

    Intellectually, I know the damage it can cause (although Mr. Invincible, with whom I share my temporal body, knows he’s exempt from such spiritual physics), but I literally love the thrill of some of the elements only R-rated movies can provide– the jolts of graphic reality, the seemingly less hindered storytelling (Schindler’s List was rated R, as was Passion of the Christ, Terminator 2, Shawshank Redemption, Saving Private RyanSleepy Hollow is the only R-rated movie I let my daughter watch because, for the life of me, I don’t know why it was rated R.). Clean Flicks are for wusses.

    But watching R-rated movies, while not in the same caliber of sin as committing adultery or taking the sacrament with your left hand (yes I’m joking), it’s still doing something consciously and willfully that goes against the counsel of Church leaders and, presumably, the Lord. It’s not a “thus-sayeth-the-Lord” edict to refrain from them, but just being aware that I’m doing– loving– something that I know isn’t good for me, and that I find myself unwilling to stop, makes me feel like the rich schlub in Mark 10. Does this realization give me the resolve to repent? Hell, no.

    I guess what I’m saying is, it’s not the act itself, but the informed rebellion, that troubles me. Hopefully that made sense.

    And yes, Sue, fluffy novels– particularly graphic novels and those written by James Patterson or bodice busters like Garwood or Devereaux– are unpardonable sins.

    Comment by David T. — January 2, 2009 @ 9:41 am

  11. two words that inspired this post: Mormon Guilt.

    God is not a heavenly accountant ticking off your missteps.

    Comment by Tim — January 2, 2009 @ 9:49 am

  12. God is not a heavenly accountant ticking off your missteps.

    I don’t think David is saying that at all Tim. I think David is saying that he knows he feels closer to God when he obeys his commandments and yet there are some commandments that he wilfully refuses to obey. All of us have these, because we are stubborn and stuck in our habits. Everyone has a cherished sin (some, like me, have many), something they hold back and refuse to give up and put on the altar. The New Year can be a great time to evaluate our lives to see what sins we are carefully hoarding that we could sacrifice to know God better.

    Comment by MCQ — January 2, 2009 @ 10:53 am

  13. David,

    Yes, exactly! At least that’s what I’m told by leaders and girls alike. Just date MORE! Nothing about quality as obviously ALL the girls in my ward are wonderful, amazing people and WHY are you not taking one out every weekend?

    Actually, what I meant was I know I’m lazy about the whole dating scene and I need to take a more proactive approach to my love life if I’m ever to stop being a menace to society :)

    As for the R rated thing. I figure nowadays with the intarwebs and all, there is enough information out there about any and every movie I may want to see to decide for myself whether I should see (hopefully without clouding my judgment with how much I may want to see it). I see no reason to let the MPAA be my spirituality gauge setter. That’s mine and the Spirit’s job.

    Comment by Bret — January 2, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  14. I should tread carefully now…but…

    Re 10:

    David, are you saying that you “know” Schindler’s List and Passion of the Christ are “bad for you” just because they are rated-R (and have material that definitely makes them earn that rating)?

    I mean, I’m having a hard time saying this, but it was always my understanding that there never was any Thus Saith the Lord pronouncement on R-rated movies *precisely* because it’s not like you can paint with so broad a paintbrush to delineate between what is bad and what is good for you. The movies that are bad for you aren’t just noted by an R rating (you can find PG-13 movies that are just as bad or worse), and you can still find movies that are not damaging that are R-rating, precisely because of the things you talked about — less hindered storytelling, a graphic, but more truthful reality, etc.,

    and that what I’d have to say that would be charitable on the issue. A less charitable outlook would be the echo Tim’s words in 11, and then I’d question MCQ in 12 if you’re really “feeling closer to God” by abstaining from Passion of the Christ

    Comment by Andrew S — January 2, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

  15. As for the R rated thing. I figure nowadays with the intarwebs and all, there is enough information out there about any and every movie I may want to see to decide for myself whether I should see (hopefully without clouding my judgment with how much I may want to see it). I see no reason to let the MPAA be my spirituality gauge setter. That’s mine and the Spirit’s job.

    Exactly. Go to http://www.screenit.com and find out everything. Since when are Christians letting hollywood buearocrats motivated by all kinds of factors decide what is and is not inappropriate to see.

    Comment by Tim — January 2, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

  16. R rated movies blah, blah, blah. How about giving up all your wealth? R rated movies? We’re talking about R rated movies?! Seriously, give it all away, follow Jesus (whatever that means) and your guilt will vanish because you won’t be able to purchase a damned movie ticket or update your Netflix queue. Sheesh, talk about trivializing the grave and “scripture-likening” to point of absurdity. Sorry to sound so dismissing, but come on.

    Comment by fp — January 7, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

  17. I’d question MCQ in 12 if you’re really “feeling closer to God” by abstaining from Passion of the Christ

    Yes, absolutely, if that is your goal, and you are abstaining in order to show obedience and exercise faith. I have not seen the Passion of the Christ and don’t intend to. I’m not interested in a movie that graphically shows how our Lord was tortured. It tears me up plenty just reading about it. I’m not interested in seeing anyone tortured, for that matter. I guess I go to movies for different reasons. Call me crazy.

    fp, I think you have a point to some extent, but the fact is that we are not currently asked to gve up all our wealth. We are asked to give up 10% of our income and follow certain other commandments. If you want to go the extra mile and give up all your wealth, feel free to do so, and to blog about it (elsewhere), but it doesn’t mean everything short of that is trivial.

    If, however, you believe that abstaining from R rated movies is one of the commandments, and that your continued non-adherance to that commandment is holding you back, then you should probably work on exercising the faith necessary to achieve obedience to that commandment. I suspect you will find that you are well-rewarded for doing so.

    Comment by MCQ — January 7, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

  18. The R-rated movies thing can be likened to the Ammonites. They covenanted to give up their weapons of war because they knew that was a particular weakness of theirs. So they went the extra mile to make sure they would overcome something they specifically have difficulty with, turning a weakness into a strength.

    If you have specific difficulty with things found in R-rated movies or even just want those things (for whatever reasons) out of your life, go ahead like McQ says. Give it up and you’ll be blessed for it, but don’t condemn the Nephites choose keep their weapons of war.

    Comment by Bret — January 7, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

  19. fp,

    It seems to me that all a bunch of Israelites had to do to avoid perishing from the asps’ poison was look up at a staff, trivial as that is, and a lot of them died. Because they didn’t look up at a stick??? Come on! How stupid. Right?

    Comment by David T. — January 7, 2009 @ 5:53 pm

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