A favorite childhood pastime of mine (and one I would never let my kids do now, along with most of my other “pastimes”) was exploring the woods in my neighborhood with my friends. One friend in particular had a home in a prime exploring spot that ran along a stream. We spent a lot of time back there, and apparently so did her older brother. While it was our favorite place to explore, it was his favorite place to hide his porn. We came across it one day and I brought it home with me and stashed it in my nightstand.
I was 8.
Another unfortunate pastime of mine was seeking popularity with the wrong crowd. One night a group of us got bored and decided to go rent a movie (remember video stores?). While we were there, someone suggested that we sneak into the “back room”. It’s not really sneaking if there isn’t someone guarding the door and checking your ID, but it was obviously a bad choice if we were being sneaky. We returned home with an inappropriate movie, I probably called my mom to tell her I’d be late for my curfew because I was doing something really important (definitely not watching porn), and I sat there for an hour laughing uncomfortably with everyone else and thinking about whether it would be worth the embarrassment to tell them to turn it off. I knew it was wrong, I had been taught better than that.
As a child I thought pornography was something that only adults could look at. Something to “look forward to”, like driving, or voting. Why was this stuff even on my radar as a child?? As a teen I learned that it was something that was not really appropriate at any age, but still acceptable in most circles. I realize now, as an adult, that it is not only inappropriate and unhealthy, but leads to other more serious damaging and unhealthy behaviors (which I’ve seen firsthand with a close family member).
With the unveiling this weekend of the worldwide, morality-crushing phenomenon that I don’t even need to name, I feel the need to be yet another strong oppositional voice in defense of a return to virtue. This week alone, I have seen far too may phrases used to justify a need for this kind of entertainment:
“It wasn’t abuse; he was upfront about what he wanted and she consented to it.”
“It may have started out dark but in the end it is a love story.”
“You shouldn’t judge BDSM if you’ve never tried it. Some people really enjoy it.”
“It’s not hurting anyone. Just don’t see it if you don’t agree with it.”
“It’s not real life, it’s just fantasy. Stop making such a big deal out of it.”
“We’re sexual beings designed perfectly by God. We can choose to express our sexuality in whatever way we want.”
What?? Don’t blame God for this. And as if that last one wasn’t bad enough, an even more terrifying card is being played:
“I won’t let my kids won’t see this. Certain things are made for certain ages and this is an adult novel.”
I’ve been going over this and over this in my mind. Why does it matter what age you are? Is there an age that morality and decency stop being important, and if so how do we decide what that age is? Once you’re 18 are you not emotionally affected by things like violence, profanity, and indecency? One person admitted that she and her husband planned to see the movie together this weekend without their kids (obviously) but it’s okay because “we have a rule that our kids can’t date until they’re 16.” Yes, that’s a start. But what happens once they turn 16 and suddenly they decide to “express their sexuality in whatever way they want”, because Heaven forbid they be accused of inexperienced judgment?
I have to admit, I am not completely void of guilt in this respect. When Aaron and I watch TV at night we turn the sound way down, and if our kids come into the living room at anytime we pause the show quickly to avoid the scarring that may occur when they see someone getting beaten up or shot or naked pushed up against a wall, or to avoid the embarrassment at the grocery store when one of them repeats a word they heard, or when they call someone that word at school (which did happen last week when my daughter told me a boy called her 6-year-old friend “sexy” on the playground). The conversation that would follow would go something like, “Honey, we don’t use words like that,” “But they were saying it on TV,” “Yes, you’re right, but only adults can use words like that, and only when they’re really angry, or trying to be funny, and only when no one is listening, and only if they’re not Christians.”
Why the double standard? If its not right for kids, why is it all right for us?
A scripture passage from the bible keeps popping up in my head:
…Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4).
We could all stand to learn from children. Children come to Earth with “believing hearts. They are full of faith…They exemplify humility, obedience, and love. They are often the first to love and the first to forgive (Jean A. Stevens of the LDS Primary General Presidency). With all the time we spend trying to move on and forget the past, maybe there is more to be gained from remembering it than we realize.