Most everyone can remember when the film The Passion of the Christ came out. It caused quite a bit of talk amongst Christians and even non-Christians. Some may or may not be aware of the fact that Mormons tend to stay away from R-rated films. Modern-day prophets and apostles have counseled Latter-day Saints against watching such movies. While not all Mormons adhere to this advise (I myself have not been 100% perfect), you may have noticed this trait of your Mormon acquaintances.
From what I’ve experienced and noted, it’s good counsel. You can argue about specific movies, but generally speaking, nothing good comes of R-rated films. They are littered with excessive violence, profanity, and sexual content that no one needs to subject themselves to. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “mature” adult or not. Being an adult is not an excuse to participate in these things.
So, getting back to the topic here, most Mormons did not go and watch The Passion in the theatres, as many of their other Christian peers did. Some commended Mormons for setting a standard, and not viewing a violent movie despite its apparently Christian nature. Others condemned Mormons, claiming that we cared more about our image than our Savior. Such a claim is foolish.
The fact is, the film is R-rated for a reason. It’s violent… ridiculously so. My companion and I visited with someone not too long ago who had this film on in their living room. We were sitting in the kitchen area, but I could see the screen and hear what was going on. We dropped in just as Christ’s scourging was taking place. It took a good ten minutes for the gruesome scene to finally be over. It was difficult to watch, but I’m easily distracted, and so my eyes diverted to the screen every minute or so as we were talking to this person.
Whether or not Jesus’ actual flogging was that horrific is an invalid point. The point is that it was a horrific portrayal, and one that was devoid of any good spirit. I felt no love. I felt no growing faith, and I certainly did not feel the Spirit of God… watching that. Eventually her son turned the TV off. I can say for certain that I felt no closer to my Savior after witnessing that scene.
To those that were critical of Mormons straying away from this film, I would say that we don’t need violence to feel close to Jesus. I don’t need to watch Him getting ripped apart by whips for my faith in Him to grow.
Contrast The Passion to a film made by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called Finding Faith in Christ. It’s short, only a half hour. It does indeed portray Christ’s scourging and crucifixion, but not in any excessive way. Instead, it focuses on the miracles Christ performed, drawing upon the Holy Spirit to testify to the viewer that Jesus is the Christ. I actually watched it yesterday, and like always, the Spirit was strong. I felt love. I felt faith. I felt close to my Savior.
When it comes to our standards, we don’t lower them to appease to the world, and when it comes to Jesus Christ, I don’t need violence to feel close to Him, I only need the Spirit.