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Thursday, December 31, 2009

"Is that Porn?" Insight from Photographer Mark Mabry

In the preface to his beautiful book of photography, Reflections on Christ, LDS artist Mark Mabry discusses a year-long process he went through to find himself and his path in the world as he approached the age of 30 and became worried about his future. Looking for brilliant one-shot insights to find success, his path of introspection and prayer led instead to an unexpected, gradual path of "step-by-step life-changing promptings." The first was "change your music." That direction was clear, simple, and direct. His iPod was filled with wide variety of music, some of it rather questionable. He made some drastic changes. "Changing my music lifted my spirit. I could go in and out of mental prayer without so much white noise. I could love deeper and communicate better. My command of language improved."

His next step might seem even more drastic. He ended up throwing away his art books. He went to a meeting for men in the Church that dealt with the dangers of pornography. It hadn't been an issue for him, but he had two sons and worried for them. He then considered the issue of nudes in the art of photography:

I thought about how in art school, it was not uncommon for an instructor to use "artistic nude" photographs to illustrate the beauty of light and the human form. At first I was caught off-guard by the images, but soon I began to accept that it wasn't pornography, but art. As I sat in the meeting that day, my mind turned to my growing collection of books by legendary photographers. Most of them had "artistic nudes" that were beautifully lit and well-printed. I was envious of their technical prowess.

I asked in my mind, "Heavenly father, is that porn?" Instead of a warm, "yes, son," I felt the incredulous stare of a living Father. After the meeting, I drove straight to my studio, gathered my art collection, and dumped it in the recycle bin outside.

I felt liberated and closer to God. The experience made me pause to evaluate the power of my chosen medium. I had to ask the question again: How can I be righteous in a field where most of the legends are not?
Sometimes the things we spend years justifying, if considered honestly and taken before God, may well deserve an incredulous stare that should drive us to quick repentance. What one person may need to discard or change might not be the same as another, but I suppose that we all have a few incredulous stares waiting for us, and some clearing out of trash in our lives that really shouldn't wait any longer.

71 comments:

Anonymous in the U.S. said...

Interesting timing on this post. I just turned 30 and am undergoing the process of changing my music - throwing out all of the songs with swearing (if I can't find a clean version) and the ones with a poor spirit and replacing my iTunes/iPod with harmonious melodies of Paul Cardall, Jon Schmidt, relaxing piano jazz, etc. music that I can listen to and still feel the spirit. Music that I know my Stake President would listen to.

At the same time, I am changing my ways from justifying certain adult scenes to constantly remembering the "let virtue garnish they thoughts unceasingly."

And what a perfect time to begin, with the New Year a day away - a time to rethink who we are, where we are, and what God wants us to become.

Thanks for this post Jeff!

C.J. said...

I guess I'm confused about why art books are porn. To me, the question isn't the subject matter, but why we're looking at it. Reasoning by analogy, a favorite topic of conversation in our home is the Word of Wisdom. As my better half is fond of pointing out, if the purpose behind the WoW is to avoid the use of mind altering substances (and so safeguard our connection to Heavenly Father), then half of the Mormons in Utah are violating it with ice cream. If you're eating ice cream (or chili cheese fries, or whatever) to feel better, or cope with stress, or whatever (the ubiquitous "comfort eating"), then you're violating the spirit of the WoW just as much as someone who turns to beer for the same reasons.

The human body is beautiful; Heavenly Father created us to inhabit these bodies, and, as the Scriptures affirm, our bodies are our Temples--they're Sacred, and should be treated as such. So while it's wrong to look at naked pictures in order to incite lust (duh), why is it wrong to look at naked pictures in order to gain a more full appreciation of Heavenly Father's gift to, and purpose for us?

Many of the most uplifting works of art we have (e.g. the Sistine Chapel) feature people, who just happen to be naked. The purpose of these murals, paintings, etc. aren't to incite lust, but to aid in our appreciation of Heavenly Father's plan. Are we supposed to avoid these works of art, just because they feature naked people?

Paul said...

When I returned home from my mission, my father spoke in a ward conference my first Sunday home. His topic was about personal inventory, in which we assess our own standing compared with the Lord's expectation for us. He had recently undergone that process himself as he and my mother lived in West Africa, the only members of the church in their area for about two years.

I've also done a similar inventory. Mine didn't involve photo books (I'm neither an artist nor a photographer), but revolved at one time about career choices that would (or would not) allow me to practice my religion as I wanted to (for myself and my growing family).

Each of us will make these difficult decisions for ourselves. It seems this post isn't calling us to clean out our coffee table books, but to examine our lives to see if we're living up to what the Lord expects, and to make changes where required.

Great food for thought.

P

Tony said...

Good points all.

I'm a big fan of Mabry :D

I think, CJ, that it is really up to us to judge, and go by the Spirit. As I believe Jeff said, it is up to us to choose what we should keep/get rid of in our personal inventory to keep us close to God.

Anonymous said...

You mormons are the type of people who would put pants on Michaelangelo's "David". Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

"You mormons are the type of people who would put pants on Michaelangelo's "David". Sheesh."
A little condescending, but, yes. Comment was spot on.
I find it funny that porn is so scorned by LDS when there are other things that are more addictive and destructive. Porn does not destroy families, it is the perception and belief of what porn is that destroys families.

R. Gary said...

.

Mark Mabry did the right thing. He discarded his pornographic art books.

C.J. and Tony: Yes it is up to us to judge what we will do. But the pornographic nature of material exists independant of the person looking at it.

The essential characteristic of pornography from a gospel perspective is its offensiveness to modesty or chastity. In fact, this is how the entire Judeo-Christian society identified pornography for hundreds of years. As far as I can tell, every dictionary of the English language published anywhere in the world before 1957 equates obscenity with offensiveness to modesty and/or chastity (click here).

Modesty was born when Adam and Eve made fig-leaf aprons. The LDS standard of modesty is defined by the temple garment. The garment covers nakedness that should not be exposed in public. Keeping our bodies appropriately covered is modesty.

But society has forgotten its six-thousand year old tradition of Judeo-Christian decency. Are we therefore, as Latter-day Saints, justified in doing the same? Have the laws of God changed? Have the Biblical laws of modesty and chastity been repealed?

Anonymous said...

A woman considered modest today would not have been modestly dressed a 100 years ago. Even our Temple Garments have been altered in keeping with what is modest in today's world.
Modesty and what is modest has changed.
This idea that any photo painting, sculpture etc of a nude woman or unclothed in any way is Porn is wrong. I don't think the Louvre or musee d'orsay hang porn on their walls. I certainly would not go to Church to ask them what is considered porn. Most of the people in my ward have no education past high school and do not understand art history.

Anonymous said...

The art books weren't porn but if he felt he needed to get rid of them he did the right thing. However this is one of those things where what is necessary for one person may not be what is necessary for another. As a fan of photography and art in general I have found through prayer and experience that a nude photograph or painting can be just as inspiring and bring the spirit of the lord into the heart as effectively as a hymn or a prayer so long as the viewer is in the proper state of mind. Someone who can be in that state of mind is no better or worse than someone who may not be able to and there a numerous ways for people to react to such images both good and bad. As others have stated sometimes a self inventory of ones actions and thoughts leads to changes for yourself that may not be required for others, if this man felt prompted to do what he did than it was necessary for him that said I think we as members have a tendency towards thinking that because this man did it it would be required of anyone who asked the same question and as stated earlier my experience of the same things was the opposite. I think we need to be careful how we judge things like this and not necessarily assume that his exact actions should be emulated. That said we should all have the same willingness to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit no matter how much we may have invested in what we are being asked what to give up.

Anonymous said...

"I asked in my mind, "Heavenly father, is that porn?" Instead of a warm, "yes, son," I felt the incredulous stare of a living Father. After the meeting, I drove straight to my studio, gathered my art collection, and dumped it in the recycle bin outside."
According to Wiki:
Pornography or porn is the depiction of explicit sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual excitement.

So, I am guessing that old Mark had some problems being able to look at the photos without the sexual excitement. Kinda telling he had to pray to know if it was porn or not.
To me, this is like saying, Thanks for the brain Heavenly Father, but I don't think I will actually use it and just ask you to tell me the answer.

Sam B. said...

Giving him the benefit of the diubt, I'll accept that he felt like he needed to discard the books for his spirituality. That said, using the word "pornographic" when what you mean is "naked" is, imho, not only inaccurate but irresponsible.

R. Gary said...

For many centuries, the commonly used definition of obscene (offensiveness to modesty and chastity) was also the legal test for pornography.

In 1957, the U. S. Supreme Court formulated a new "legal" definition of obscenity. The Court's decision in the case of Roth v. U.S. removed the religious doctrines of modesty and chastity from U.S. obscenity law. This created a new category of obscenity: material that is obscene by traditional scriptural standards, but not obscene under the new legal definition.

Further clarification of the Roth standard came in 1973 with the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Miller v. California. In that decision, the Court said: "The Roth definition does not reflect the precise meaning of 'obscene' as traditionally used in the English language.... Pornographic material which is [legally] obscene forms a sub-group of all 'obscene' expression, but not the whole." (Miller v. California, 413 U. S. 15, at 18 and 19, 1973.)

"But not the whole."

The intrinsic nature of the material hasn't changed. The only thing that changed was its status with respect to the law. The material itself is just as obscene and harmful now as it ever was. For example, for five and a half years in the 1980s, I worked at the Utah State Prison. In my work there I was occasionally confronted with pages clipped from Playboy magazine. Playboy exists within the law, clearly outside the Supreme Court's sub-group. But by gospel standards Playboy is still pornography.

Citing legal technicalities to prove the morality of public nudity is just a cheap legal maneuver. The gradual erosion of moral standards in the world caused by social implementation of the Supreme Court definition of pornography is not the result of modern enlightenment, it is the result of moral apostasy.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is truly frightening. To me it demonstrates the slippery slope of fanaticism. This man is surely educated and intelligent enough to be able to discern the difference between the beauty of the human form and the violence, degredation and filth that constitutes pornography. What's next is he going to burn his National Geographics so his kids won't see them? I greatly admire his work, but this mentality scares the heck out of me! On May 10th, 1933 Students from all over Germany burned upwards of 25000 volumes of books in an effort to "purify" German language and literature.
Joseph Goebbels praised this action. In a speech to the students he said "The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end. The breakthrough of the German revolution has again cleared the way on the German path...The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character. It is to this end that we want to educate you."
I fear the attitude, especially in LDS youth, toward a sort of Nationalistic (LDS) arrogance of "purity". I see how quickly ideas spread throughout LDS culture and take on a life of their own. Self censorship is one thing, but we need to be aware how quickly this can become societal censorship in the name of "right", and how dangerous that can ultimately be. The last thing we need is a big bonfire at BYU. No one forced those German students to burn books. It began with a thought in someone's mind, and then a word communicated to others, and finally culminated in a deed that began one of the most atrocious periods in modern history. Ideas are powerful when sown in fertile soil, and this man is an icon for many LDS youth.
Sorry for the rant, censorship of art and literature in the name of "purity" just scares me to death, even if it is only self-imposed censorship of one, it has the power to influence many.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say this to you R.Gary as I notice you completely ignored my remark in which I mentioned I have prayed about this very same issue and got that complete opposite answer. Here is what the church teaches on the matter and please try to tell me where in an artistic depiction of the human body these do not apply. To quote our 13th article of faith and the apostle Paul who's scripture were used as a basis for it " If there is ANYTHING virtuous, lovely,or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

It's also of note that while they do not have the models appear nude in their Art courses at BYU they do have students which draw them nude while they model in skin tight body suits. They have also sponsored many arts events and Galleries in which they allowed and displayed works of nude art both male and female.

So the Church by your definition of pornography,not only supports it and helps encourage others to make it, but peddles it as well as entrance to a large portions of their gallery showings aren't free.

I find it interesting that most of the people defending nude art have been doing it in a non-contentious manner yet you are determined to not only be contentious but pretentious as well.

I would strongly urge you to take an inventory of yourself as well you are not defending the right at the moment, your are not on the moral high ground, you are simply stating how it effects yourself and doing it in a very rude and ugly manner towards others. So as in my first post I will say again not everyone is required to do these types of things, you may be, and this photographer may be but their are plenty of us who have prayed sincerely about this issue. It was not because we felt guilty for seeing something but because we were edified and uplifted by it. Since most of us aren't taught that there is a difference we became confused at why we were feeling the spirit, and seeing evidence of God's inspiration in these kinds of works.

In my own personal case when I am confused I pray about something and when I did I got the distinct and firm answer that not only was there a difference between Art and Pornography, but that Art done in this way is the most sacred and highest form of art. There is nothing that comes even close to showing the workmanship or our lords hands as the human body in all it's shapes and sizes. So rant and rave about laws and definitions all of which have and can be changed but you may want to be wary of calling God's work pornography.

P.S.
C.J.
You are much braver then i am for even putting your initials on your post. You did it knowing the reaction despite the manner in which you stated the truth, you are just as brave as Mark Mabry in my regard.

R. Gary said...

Anonymous: In 1989 I was commissioned by the Church to write a feature article about pornography for the Ensign magazine. After it was reviewed and approved by Church Correlation, it was published in the August 1989 issue. The article doesn't contradict any apostle or prophet on the subject. So before telling us "what the church teaches on the matter," I suggest you study carefully what the Church currently publishes "on the matter" and what the prophets and apostles have said about pornography.

Sam B. said...

R. Gary,
I'll save Anonymous some time--the Church teaches that pornography is evil. It does not, however, teach that representations of nude persons are ipso facto pornographic. Why not? Because they're not. I'd write more, but my phone only fits so much.

R. Gary said...

Sam B.: Would you mind citing a Church published source (Church magazines, curriculum manual, something like that) for the ipso facto thing, please? And note that this isn't about whether nudity is intrinsically pornographic, it's about what the Church teaches its members about public nudity.

Sam B. said...

R. Gary,
Afraid I can't, for two reasons. First, my phone is currently my only internet access. But second, I said that the church doesn't teach that nudity is pornographic.

Moreover, we are clearly not discussing whether public nudity is pornographic.

Sam B. said...

(cont) We're discussing whether representations of naked people are always pornographic. Clearly the answer is no. David is a great example. And would David somehow become pornographic if sculpted today? No.

Mormanity said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mormanity said...

Why is it that Christians can't talk about their personal standards without having critics start ranting about Nazis?

Mark Mabry was not guided by the Lord to censor anyone besides himself. He wasn't seeking to burn your books or to turn libraries into smoldering rubble. He chose to get rid of his own art books.

Before you judge him for having some kind of personal problem with whatever was in those books, also recall the context of his conversation with the Lord. He was considering his two young sons. Perhaps the greater risk and the greater need for action was to protect them or to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy in teaching them basic moral standards. Whatever the reason, his sense that these were inappropriate materials in his life and his home leaves no room for hysteria about Nazis or the other fear tactics used to dismiss Christians who wish to keep a wide distance between their standards and those of a world drenched sexual promiscuity and obscenity.

It's a personal decision for each of us, but there may be some similar things that some LDS folks might want to toss out, choosing to err, if err it is, on the side of caution and moral wholesomeness. For example, perhaps you might want to tank some of the cable TV channels you peek at or that your kids can watch when you're not around. Better to have a few more hours a month doing things besides watching the tube than to risk harming your children with the world's warped views on relationships and intimacy. It's a personal decision, but there may be surprises when we open up our decision making process to input from above. An incredulous stare or two might do us a world of good, if we'll just open up our spiritual senses.

Creek said...

There can be a very fine line between art and pornography. Evidently, Mabry decided his art books crossed the line. I respect him for his decision and applaud him for taking responsibility for what's in his home.

As a high school teacher, I deal with kids almost everyday who possess drugs and have pornography on their cell phones. It seems like 90% of the time the parents not only don't care, but they defend their child's right to have these materials. They get irritated with the school for "harrasing" their kid. It's disgusting.

Parenting is becoming a lost art. At least Mabry is trying to do it right.

Anonymous said...

Jeff I just want to say first I am the anonymous who has posted twice already, Second i want to be clear that as I stated in both my posts that i agree with everything you recently commented 100 percent. I made sure to say that he was no more or LESS righteous than me for his decision and I meant just that. If he needed to do it he needed to do it and none of us have a right to question or judge anything about him from his decision except that he followed the promptings of the spirit. So if you thought I was trying to demean him or his actions I just wanted to make sure that was not my intent. My intent was in fact the same as your comment's which is that some decisions such as his are very personal decisions and we can't judge him or people who receive a different answer because both are following the spirit because both have different lives personalities ect... I'm sorry if my comments came off in such a way that this was not clear. I think your comment is spot on and agree with it but sensed some hostility and feared that some of that was geared towards me because of miscommunication on my part so I am clarifying this at this time.

Dan said...

ah, the Talibanization of American conservatism continues unabated.

R. Gary said...

Re: Michelangelo's David

"Can there never be another Michelangelo? Ah! Yes! His David in Florence and his Moses in Rome inspire to adulation. Did all such talent run out in that early century? Could not we find an embodied talent like this, but with a soul that was free from immorality and sensuality and intolerance?... Take a da Vinci or a Michelangelo or a Shakespeare and give him a total knowledge of the plan of salvation of God and personal revelation and cleanse him, and then take a look at the statues he will carve and the murals he will paint and the masterpieces he will produce." (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, July 1977, p.4; italics added.)

According to President Kimball, Michelangelo is great in spite of the nudity, not because of it. Kimball is clearly not endorsing artistic representations of naked people.

Re: BYU and nude art

"An exhibition of works by illustrator Burton Silverman will open later this month at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art. Nude illustrations in his collection, however, won't be shown." (Deseret News, July 17, 2006.)

"The president of Brigham Young University told students Tuesday he takes responsibility for the controversial decision to exclude four nude statues from a museum exhibit." (Deseret News, Nov. 14, 1997.)

Exceptions, if any, aren't the rule.

Matthew said...

@ R. Gary
I want to say first off that if this artist found that the nude art was something that he should not have in his home then I think that's great. I'm always excited to see parents that are considering their children's upbringing in such a way.

What you seem to be saying R. Gary is what I take issue with. There is no universal standard of modesty as much as people would like to claim that there is. As has been pointed out to you (and you seem to have ignored it) what the world and even the chruch considers 'modest' is not a set in stone thing. It's very much a fluid concept. Modesty is a relative notion. It's very much like saying that a person is 'underdressed for wearing a t-shirt and jeans to a fancy ball. In other circumstances that T-shirt and jeans is the correct thing to wear. It depends on the situation. Likewise we see changes in our societies as time goes on. Contrary to what some would like to believe changing fashion is not necessarily a sign of Satan's influence on society. It may be a huge surprise to some but people that live in tropical climates tend to wear less clothing then people in temperate climates. This has obvious reasons, but it has an effect on the culture of a place. There are plenty of fashions in South America that would be seen as 'indecent' here but are not seen as such down there.

You are saying that your own personal viewpoint on what is 'modest' coincides with some sort of scriptural definition of the word, but as far as I am aware there is not a biblical section that describes the appropriate dress for one to be modest. Also by your own definition Michaelangelo's 'David' would most certainly be porn. It's highly immodest for me to walk around naked in our society and if porn is anything 'immodest' then David would be pornographic. It doesn't matter whether you appreciate the statue inspite of or because of it's nudity. The fact remains that it is naked and it either is pornographic or is not. The honest truth is that there is not set definition and that this is open to interpretation.

Again, I don't think Marby's decision was bad (and certainly not nazi-esque) but I also don't think (as Marby seems to indicate himself) that his decision is one that is held up by some constant and immutable standard as you seem to be suggesting.

Please correct me if I have misrepresented your comments though.

Matthew said...

@ jeff,
I just want to make sure that I understood your post correctly. The point was that you believe it is important for us to take inventory in our lives and decide with the Lord's help what things are good or bad for us to be involved in correct? It seems like this has devolved into a debate about whether artistic nudes are porn and I'm assuming that this was not the intended purpose of the post, but it is slightly ambiguous.

Anonymous said...

"Mark Mabry did the right thing. He discarded his pornographic art books."

He did the right thing for who? For you or for him?
Also, He never said his books were porn, you just did though. Without ever seeing them.
ahhh Gary

Creek said...

C'mon, Dan, "...the Talibanization of American conservatism..."?

That's a bit harsh isn't it? This is one parent making a decision that effects his own home and nobody else. I'm more concerned with the rising number of parents who have no problem with their daughters sending nude pictures of themselves to their boyfriends or their daughters using sex to get money for clothes. Do you realize how many fathers are PROUD when they find porn on their sons cell phone? This is all much more common than you think.

Is that just the Playboyization of liberalism?

Matthew said...

@ creek,

"I'm more concerned with the rising number of parents who have no problem with their daughters sending nude pictures of themselves to their boyfriends or their daughters using sex to get money for clothes. Do you realize how many fathers are PROUD when they find porn on their sons cell phone? This is all much more common than you think."

Parents who have no problem with their daughters sending naked pics? You are falling into the exact same exaggeration of the 'other' guys that you accused Dan of at the beginning of your post.

As far as the "proud when they find porn on their son's cell phone" comment tell me honestly why a person may be proud or relieved to find such a thing. I don't know how many parents I've met that are deathly afraid that their children might be gay. I would guess that this would be a possible reason for such a reaction.

And finally all of this is, of course, because some people wouldn't categorize an artistic nude as corrosive pornography. Seems like you are also victim to over generalized ideas about who the 'dangerous' folks are.

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

I am the anonymous who wrote the "Nazi" post. FYI, I am not a critic. I am an active LDS female, single mother of a 9 year old boy. I was moved and touched by Mr. Mabry's work and I consider him a very talented individual, whom I would expect to be able to tell the difference between art and pornography. He said he came home directly from his meeting and threw out his art books. I find this a little scary. I am not judging Mr. Mabry or anyone else. As I said, I greatly admire his work. I was merely commenting on the danger of censorship. It is born of fear, not love. I don't happen to believe it is the best way to approach sensitive issues. I have a background in art and have art books in my home depicting the nude form. In fact I have discussed these works of art with my 9 year old. I don't believe he is going to rush to the computer and start downloading porn as a result. The other day, the clerk at the game store gave my son a calendar portraying scantily clad female avatars. He took one look at it and said "Mom, you are not letting me hang this in my room are you?" This provided the perfect opportunity for us to have a discussion regarding respect for women, which in the end is at the heart of the pornography issue IMO. Maybe we should consider communication about sensitive issues with our children rather than censoring art and literature. You can turn off your TV, and your radio, you can prohibit use of the computer. You can even home-school, but you can't go through life with blinders on. Why would you even want too?

Matthew said...

The above post from Anonymous was much appreciated by me. Every parent can choose for themselves what they feel is right for their children but I see so often where parents try to censor everything in their child's life and yet are strangely vague or distant in regards to talking to their children about sex or why pornography is wrong. Such a stance can often be damaging for a kid as they grow up because they are going to see pornographic stuff at some point. You can't censor their entire life and internet access is on practically every device you can think of. Kids that only know that porn is 'bad' but haven't had good explanations as to why or what is meant by this are going to have a hard time because on one hand they will find themselves very strongly enticed on a biological level and yet they have been told that porn is evil. The above approach to the issue IMO shows a pretty responsible approach that nurtures her child to do the right thing for the right reason and not have nieve views of how the world works or what is out there.

The alternative approach of throwing away the books isn't evil or bad in my opinion, but it is not the reaction I think I would take. Unless the books were of a highly pernicious nature and demeaned women and sexuality.

Dan said...

Creek,

It's not that harsh. This is but one example. The BYU incidents are others. If this artist were doing this simply within his own home, he would not publish his decision for others to see. The fact is, as an artist, his words carry weight on the topic of art. Thus, he is actually trying to influence anyone who hears him. More power to him if he feels sexually attracted to nude art. And maybe it will help others who also feel they cannot control themselves. In terms of what is porn, well, porn is meant to incite lustful desires that distort love and beauty. The statue of David, for example, is no porn, and neither are any of the female statues at local museums. They celebrate the beauty of the human body, God's greatest creation. That includes every part. God created our sexual organs too, and they are beautiful. What we need to do is learn how to differentiate between lustful, selfish desires to satisfy oneself, and draw in the beauty of God's creation. It takes a better understanding of what is the human body than what we learn from American conservatism, which tends to be very ignorant and fearful.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 11:05 and Dan, Thanks for your comments. It is nice to see reasoned responses and logical thinking on display.
I had a question, some comments were about changing music. Maybe I am not that hip but what music is it that needed to be changed and thrown out? I like many kinds of music but don't know of any that I have bought that needed throwing out. What is this evil you speak of?

Anonymous said...

If Mark Mabry believes that nudity is pornography, fine. He is entitled to his belief. I know many fine LDS artists who would disagree -- thankfully.

Emily said...

Whether or not certain works of art are pornographic or not is an irrelevant argument of semantics. The real issue is whether or not they provided a distraction for Mr. Mabry from the path on which he was intended to be. He sought direction from Heavenly Father on how to address something that concerned him, and he received a very distinct response. Some things may be more a distraction for Mr. Mabry than they are for others. Some folks may be able to look at nudes without concern, while others will be plagued with errant thoughts which keep them from focusing on what they need to be doing or thinking about. If we're going to drag the Lord into our introspection, we've got to be open to His divine perspective.

Thomas said...

Mr. Mabry's decision has everything to do with his and his family's circumstances and has nothing to do with other people's ideas about what is art and what is pornography. People shouldn't take it as a personal attack on their judgment, but, of course, they do. This is wrong and feeds into most people's need to defend themselves and be right. Oh well. I applaud Mr.Mabry for a personal decision that, in his business, must be very difficult to make. Also, his actions harm absolutely nobody. He doesn't seem to impose his morality on anyone else who he's not directly responsible for.

Matthew said...

@ thomas,

If it were merely a personal ideal that was not meant to influence others then he would not have made it public. I don't see what he did as wrong in the slightest.

Jeff posted this story with some specific reason in mind and the title of the post is "Is that Porn?" so it shouldn't seem too farfetched that people are asking exactly that question.

Again, its a decision that people must make for themselves and there is no universal definition that all people follow when it comes to what material gives them lustful thoughts.

Sam B. said...

R. Gary,
I get your point now. You like to read into GA statements what isn't there; moreover, where you have nothing, you quote, e.g., the Deseret News.

"Could not we find an embodied talent like this, but with a soul that was free from immorality and sensuality and intolerance?"

Pres. Kimball isn't saying anything in your quoted statement about nude art being bad; instead, he's taking a theme that has existed for a long time--that there should be something about being Mormon that creates great artists.

And Jeff,
The problem isn't Mabry's decision to toss his books; that's his prerogative. But labeling them "pornographic" says he's not making a judgment call for his own life. Rather, he's labeling (inaccurately) an art form, and implicitly making a value statement about those who disagree with him. He's a better person than Gary, who attacks anyone who disagrees with his narrow worldview, but is still making a(n inaccurate) judgment.

Ryan said...

Dan: If this artist were doing this simply within his own home, he would not publish his decision for others to see. The fact is, as an artist, his words carry weight on the topic of art. Thus, he is actually trying to influence anyone who hears him.

Sam: But labeling them "pornographic" says he's not making a judgment call for his own life. Rather, he's labeling (inaccurately) an art form, and implicitly making a value statement about those who disagree with him.

anon: even if it is only self-imposed censorship of one, it has the power to influence many

Emperor Kuzco: And that's.... bad?

These kinds of comments make an explicit value statement about those who disagree with your own label (accurate according to whom?).

Why should he remain silent when those who disagree with his "value statement" do not?

This is a very subtle issue, and not remotely settled, doctrinally, and yet y'all seem willing enough to influence folks toward the opposite conclusion.

Maybe, just maybe, he feels like others would appreciate or even benefit from hearing his experience.

Personally, I think there's an awful lot of porn out there masquerading as "nude art" and that ditching the last few bits of clothing is seldom a significant value-add for pious appreciation of the human body. Is it really a wonder that some folks just decide to bag the whole thing?

I do agree completely that we need to be open and frank with kids about subjects like this rather than just avoiding the discussion, though.

Ryan said...

Note: I'm actually willing to consider that, made and viewed in the proper setting, nude art can be virtuous. I'm not at all sure whether our fallen, telestial, earth is an appropriate setting for it.

After all, Adam and Eve didn't need clothing until the Fall (or was it the knowledge they gained in the process? or the fact that someone besides husand and wife would soon be sharing the view? dunno).

Ryan said...

OK, last one and I promise to go away for a while:

Consider the recent aesthetic debate between Emmanual Asare, art gallery janitor, and Damien Hirst, darling of the contemporary British art scene. Arriving at work, Asare found a gallery littered with cigarette butts, empty beer bottles, and other debris. He dutifully bagged it up and threw it all away. “It didn’t look much like art to me,” Asare was later to remark. However, it develops that the mounds of trash were, after all, a work of "art" assembled by Hirst.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,576979,00.html

Matthew said...

@ ryan,
I'm all for people standing up for what they believe in regardless of whether it's the same thing that I believe in.

I don't think that's totally the issue here though. In some people's opinion the way Marby talks about this seems to suggest that nude art is pornographic not just for him but for all people. He states at the end "I had to ask the question again: How can I be righteous in a field where most of the legends are not?" which seems to imply to me that he deems the 'legends' who took these nude photographs to be unrighteous. This is an area where I think there is (and for good reason) some healthy debate being brought forth.

The other thing of note is that you seem to be insinuating that only those of more liberal viewpoints are being heard. I don't watch a whole lot of TV but when I occasionally turn it on I see plenty of examples of people calling things out from the others side. People like to say that the media has a liberal bias but it depends on what you're watching. Our country has plenty of outspoken defenders of 'traditional' values. So I don't think all the talking is one sided. This thread is a pretty good evidence of this with several people saying that nude art is pornographic in nature.

I agree though that people oftentimes disagree just for the sake of disagreeing. I myself tend to take the position of devil's advocate pretty often when I'm speaking with my more conservative family and then when I'm talking with my more liberal friends I tend to argue more on the side of conservatism. Some of us like to keep things as balanced as possible.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

You mormons are the type of people who would put pants on Michaelangelo's "David". Sheesh.

7:10 PM, December 31, 2009

Pants? Heavens no! Now maybe a nice long starched white shirt and a tastful tie... but not pants... sheesh, who do you think we are?

JayleenB

R. Gary said...

Re:  Michelangelo's David

Michelangelo Buonarroti  "is without peer and is revered by all."  His work remains "the benchmark"  (rome.info/michelangelo).

"Cleanse him, and then take a look at the statues he will carve." (Spencer W. Kimball re. Michelangelo, Ensign, July 1977, p.4.)  Please tell us, Sam B., what it is (if not modesty) that Michelangelo lacks?

Re:  BYU and nude art

It was claimed by an earlier anonymous comment that BYU exhibits nudes, which claim prompted me to ask, why a 2006 exhibit excluded Burton Silverman's nudes and why four nude statues were excluded from a 1997 exhibit? These facts are not "nothing," yet they were published in the Deseret News.

Re:  The pornography label

From the earliest days of United States history, the commonly used definition of obscene (offensiveness to modesty and chastity) was also the legal test for pornography. Secular judges applied this definition of pornography in criminal courts. Convicted violators were jailed. In those days, public morality was considered a political necessity, and biblical standards were enforced without apology (see note below).

It's not just a "label," Sam B., it is a historical fact. The laws of man have changed, the laws of God have not.

R. Gary said...

Note

On October 8, 1875, in Indiana, a man named Henry Ardery was arrested for public indecency. A jury found him guilty.

Mr. Ardery took his case to the Indiana Supreme Court. He claimed that the statute was not specific enough because it did not name any body parts. Therefore, public indecency was not clearly defined by the statute and that meant it was not punishable.

The Indiana Supreme Court answered: "Immediately after the fall of Adam, there seems to have sprung up in his mind an idea that there was such a thing as decency and such a thing as indecency;... and, since that time, the ideas of decency and indecency have been instinctive in, and, indeed, parts of, humanity. And ... historically,... the first ... exercise of mechanical ingenuity was in the manufacture of fig-leaf aprons by Adam and Eve, by which to conceal from the public gaze of each other their ... private [part]s. This example ... has been imitated by all mankind since that time, except, perhaps, by some of the lowest grades of savages....

"The parts of the body which are charged, in this case, to have been exposed, are the parts referred to in the statute, the exposure of which is declared to be public indecency, but which decency forbids should be technically named in the statute." (56 Ind. 328.)

On February 14, 1890, a Valley Falls, Kansas man was arrested for depositing in the U.S. Mail an obscene newspaper. The defendant was ... a peaceable, well-conducted citizen. He was a married man, living in wedlock and was about 60 years of age. He was convicted.

He appealed, partly on the grounds that he had acted unwittingly, not realizing that what he had mailed was obscene. To this claim the federal appeals court judge responded as follows: "There is in the popular conception and heart such a thing as modesty. It was born in the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge they ... `knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.' From that day to this civilized man has carried with him the sense of shame,—the feeling that there were some things on which the eye—the mind—should not look; and where men and women become so depraved ... that they will not veil their eyes, nor hold their tongues, the government should perform the office for them....

"The defendant ... cannot claim that he has acted unwittingly." (45 F.R. 415.)

Anonymous said...

I think the title of the post could have been worded better. "Is that porn?"
From what Mark said, I do not think it was porn. I think he felt it was not good to have with his children around but not that it was porn. So he got rid of it, which was fine and I can respect that. If he is telling others that it is porn, and others should get rid of those kinds of photos, I think that is not so great. I am more than happy to use my own reasoning to say what is and what is not appropriate for my family. No need for someone else to tell me what is acceptable and what is not. He is a photographer, not a Church leader. So, his influence is on me is negligible.

Rusty Southwick said...

The most telling reader comments here seem to be the ones of rationale. Can any of you give a definition of where art ends and where porn begins? Or pairs of examples that are directly on either side of the border?

First of all, it's a silly endeavor to be comparing a historical piece of art with modern art on moral grounds, because art is a product of its time, and art produced in another era carries with it different connotations. Thus, one can't automatically say that because Michelangelo did it then it must be OK for everyone else today. We should be even more discrete today with our art, in light of society's rampant fixation with publicized sexual expression. In earlier times, there was an implied code of public decency. Today, sex is flaunted in advertisements left and right, and every excuse is made for its display, in the name of freedom of speech all the way to the hallowed land of art, where supposedly all rules go out the door. (how convenient to stand behind such a facade)

I'd like to ask the active LDS members here if they would be comfortable having a nude painting above their kitchen table for their children and home teachers and the missionaries and the bishopric and the grandparents to come over and see. And do you think all of them would approve? Why or why not?

Another underlying point here is that those saying "That's not pornography!" are relying on the semantics of one vague term to justify their position. Delineating pornography (a legal term) to wherever suits you doesn't allow you to escape from the notion that many things non-pornographic are still morally inappropriate for Latter-day Saints. Wearing just a bra in a TV commercial, or Victoria's Secret specials, etc. You get the idea. Saying it's non-pornographic only takes it off the top level, but that still doesn't make it appropriate.

And lastly, finding rare exceptions to nude paintings doesn't make them generally acceptable any more than killing by self defense makes murder generally acceptable. Let's not talk extreme cases, because it doesn't address the topic.

Wait, there's one more lastly. It's very disingenuous of people to stand behind the "the body is a beautiful thing" argument. Duh! That's not at issue, and doesn't add to the argument at all. The point in question is whether the sacredness of that beautiful body trumps the artsiness of it.

Matthew said...

@ rusty,
I'd agree that nobody can give a clear universally accepted answer to the question of where art ends and porn begins. People are always going to disagree on this matter I would think.

It's up to every person to make this decision for themselves and their families. I think the only thing most people are arguing is that Mr. Marby is not making such a decision for all of us. If he were to say that all nudity is pornography as a standard that all people should follow, then I would find disagreement with his idea. Most of the argument here seems to hinge on whether or not that is what he is saying.

As far as a print of the sistine chapel hanging up in one's house, I would probably hang it up if I really thought it looked nice or was particularly fond of it. It is worth noting that just because someone wouldn't hang something up for fear of offending another person does not mean that said item is in violation with some sort of universal standard of decency, but merely of the person that they are worried may become offended.

When it comes to issues of victoria's secret magazines etc. I personally would see Victoria's secret as much further towards the porn category of things as it's entire purpose is to incite lustful thoughts and actions. That is not the sense I get from many paintings or statues.

In the end, much like everything in life, this is not a question that has a universal all encompassing answer. As not all people see things the same way there is more likely a myriad of answers that different people will find to be 'correct'.

Matthew said...

@ rusty,
Sorry just one side note. If I'm not missing anything the only person I can call to mind in this thread that is using 'vague semantics' to define pornography was Mr. Gary and he was arguing in the notion (as near as I could tell) that nudity=pornography. I think most of the people arguing otherwise have been doing so more on the grounds of "there isn't a standard that everyone is going to agree on" type of view.

Perhaps I missed something though.

Dan said...

Rusty,

The most telling reader comments? Really? Why are they the most telling? Because you disagree with them? What exactly do those comments "tell?"

"Can any of you give a definition of where art ends and where porn begins? Or pairs of examples that are directly on either side of the border?"

Can YOU? See, you're the master arbiter of what is porn and what is art for yourself. But you're not the master arbiter of what is porn and what is art for others. Neither is Mr. Mabry. The fact that he is an artist means absolutely nothing. It's like taking advice on sex from a prostitute. She may do it quite frequently, but does she really know it?

I'd like to ask the active LDS members here if they would be comfortable having a nude painting above their kitchen table for their children and home teachers and the missionaries and the bishopric and the grandparents to come over and see. And do you think all of them would approve? Why or why not?

It depends. I probably would this Picasso. It's a fantastic nude. Do a search "nude" at art.com and you'll see the various types. Some are not worthy of my house while others are perfectly fine. The Picasso definitely is. So is the "Endless Love" by Alfred Gockel. The colors and contours of that painting are fabulous.

Rusty Southwick said...

I asked the question of where the line is drawn because many commenters had seemed to be attempting to make definitive statements about it without actually addressing the specifics, so it would seem the onus is on those claims. Calling them to task doesn't mean I have to answer the question for them. I do have an answer, but I'd like to hear whether they have a version of their own first, to back up their claims.

I also wasn't clear on the question about if someone would feel comfortable displaying a nude painting in their kitchen, meaning one from modern art as opposed to historical paintings, and meaning one that shows sexual body parts, i.e.-showing everything, the entire body. I seriously doubt that an active LDS member could answer yes to that question, but I'd be interested in their response.

I think that the Picasso cited is a good example of more subtle art that wouldn't constitute titillation-inducing. That piece represents art (to me) without bringing in ancillary considerations or moral problems.

Matthew, when I was alluding to vague semantics utilized by commenters here, the gist of what I was getting at was they seemed to be hiding behind the term "porn" instead of confronting the overall concept. In other words, they were focusing on one aspect of the argument that wasn't really germane to it.

Dan, the reader comments were telling to me because of the dancing around the issue, as if a painting that might be just on the other side of pornography was somehow still morally appropriate within the LDS culture, and that pornography was somehow the yardstick of morality.

Anonymous said...

I have tons of respect for Mark and his work. I bought the book and was touched by the account of his journey in creating the images, and - yes - in particular with his decision to throw away his art books. In my recollection, he was simply relating his personal experience and was not making any kind of judgment call for anyone else. It seems as though he was searching to draw closer to Heavenly Father, asked a question, received a prompting and followed it. Good for him! Whether or not any of the rest of us consider art porn is completely irrelevant.

That said, I grew up with an artist father. I remember the photography books that were in my home as a little girl. Even today I don't know that I would classify those images as porn, but I can still see them clearly in my mind and know the effect they've had on me. They were certainly inappropriate for children. Kudos to Mark for considering his children and the images he exposes them to.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anon above, :).
" but I can still see them clearly in my mind and know the effect they've had on me. They were certainly inappropriate for children."
Can you explain the effect they have had on you? I mean, since they were in an art book and not classified as being pornographic ( meaning, not meant to arouse sexually) what effect did they have on you?
Thanks!

Matthew said...

@ rusty,
Yeah, there really isn't a defintion of the word 'Porn' that everyone is going to agree on. That seems to be exactly what people (for the most part of what I've read) are saying.
I don't think the age of the art is really the issue, but the whole scenario is going to be a big bag of worms trying to get people to agree on what is 'offensive'. Each one of us processes things differently and due to this it's hard to find an extremely stark line to define what is 'appropriate' and what is not.
In some areas of the world it is not 'appropriate' or 'modest' for a woman to walk in public with her face exposed. Not everyone agrees on this throughout the world though. Does that mean that I'm being unrighteous because I would look at such a viewpoint and think it silly to call a person 'immodest' for not covering their face? Some would say yes. This is a very similar idea except that in the US there is much more of a consensus that nudity is what is 'obscene'. People want all of society to follow into a neat tidy little order but it's just not realistic. Many feel theratened by the idea that their personal morals are not the same morals that all humans have as a universal preset. If objective, absolute morality does exist we have little to know evidence of it and even less of an ability to convincingly define it.

Matthew said...

D'oh! That should be 'no' not 'know' at the end of the last entry.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Matthew, well reasoned response.
I remember when I was at BYU, the ACLU got involved with a case of a student having a poster up of some bikini clad women. BYU had determined that it was immodest and the student said since he was living off campus and did not find it inappropriate that he should be able to hang on his wall what he wants.
BYU set the standard for what was immodest and appropriate even for college students living off campus. That was fun.

Anonymous said...

Who is the anon who said that seeing some photos in an art book has had an effect on her? That sounds a little far fetched to me and in need of some serious explanation. Sorry, calling you out on that one, unless you can say what 'effect' they had on you. Sounds like malarkey to me.

Matthew said...

@ Anon
While I don't agree personally with the way BYU enforces it's honor code stuff, I can't really argue with it that much either. It is a private, church run school, so I'd kind of expect that sort of thing. It doesn't surprise me that they don't do artistic Nudes or that they have issues with them when placed on display either.

I've been thinking about this stuff all week now and here is the conclusion I've come to. Keep in mind as I say this that I'm not sure if I believe in the church and in fact am considering throwing in the towel faith-wise as I just seem to be making no headway at all in my 30 year journey to know if the church is true.

If morality is something that is important to God then it would be based off of things we don't fully understand. When I think about it, it seems to be focused on helping us have strong marriages and families, and appreciating (not demeaning) the amazingly spectacular bodies he has given us. While it may be true that there are a variety of ways in which this can be accomplished and it is not the same for every human being, the decrees that he would send out to his church (if he exists in the way that we are taught) would be fairly general. I think it's safe to say that MOST (but not all) men tend to have lustful thoughts when looking at scantily clad or naked females. That being the case God may place down a general rule that says, don't look at nudity a lot.

I guess what I'm saying is that one shouldn't get too upset if the rules in the church are on the side of being a bit prude, mainly because the issue of morality is something that is a big deal for human beings and most human beings tend to become rather obsessive about it. There is plenty of reason to argue whether morality in general is even a 'good' thing as churchs have always attempted to vilify the natural sexual urges of mankind, but I have to say that I see lots of good reasons for morality even outside of a religious outlook. For one it maintains a very high view and respect of other people (fights the objectification of others) and it really does seem to work wonders in a marriage as it seems to strengthen the bond of trust in most cases of two spouses as they work hard to place their spouse on a very special pedestal and discourages having 'wandering' eyes. I'm not married myself but I've witnessed many marriages disintegrate and nearly always there was cheating involved, or one spouse (or both) that had started to look around for more then they currently had. I understand that the churchs traditional views on morality don't fully eliminate divorce or people treating one another badly, just that in my experience the church's view on sexual morality seems to be something that can be extremely positive.

Matthew said...

*Continued (sorry, it's too long)


All of this is undone when we start judging others though. I don't see how a fair and loving father could look at the choices of one of his children and say, "look, you didn't follow an arbitrary guideline that I placed about sexual purity. That picture you were looking at, even though you didn't find it sexually appealing, was labeled 'Porn'. So now I'll have to punish you. That seems rather at odds with the description of him and I honestly believe most people that like to vilify an act and attempt to police people around them (especially when they have no reason to) are doing so because they feel threatened (dealing with the moral grayness of life can be exhausting) or because they it helps them feel morally superior to others (I may do thing x, but at least I don't do horrible thing y, like such and such person.)

If the gospel is true then it is full of very human and very flawed members. Because of this it's going to have to be an accepted fact that there will be plenty of times where there isn't a clear line between that which comes from God and that which comes from mankind.

Phew! Sorry that was way too long.

TL;DR version- There is a lot of gray area in the subject of sexual purity, but the church in needing a consistent thing to be functional has to draw a line somewhere and just stick with it's guns. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Matthew said...

@ R Gary,
It's an old post so I don't know why I'm revisiting it but I don't understand your argument with the Playboy thing in the state prison. You seem to be saying that the government would not classify it as porn but the church does and that this is an example of how the legal definition of porn is wrong. Playboy is considered porn by the law. Legal porn, but still porn. There is a whole lot of stuff that is most definitely porn and called such by its creators that is perfectly legal in the US.

Expecting our legal system to outlaw everything which is seen as 'obscene' by the general public would be ridiculous. Laws have changed on this over the years not because people are becoming evil horrible godless heathens but because it is not the state's place to enforce by law that which is primarily of religious concern.

Should it be illegal to do anything that R Gary disapproves of?

Anonymous said...

Should it be illegal to do anything that R Gary disapproves of?
Yes!

Rusty Southwick said...

That which doesn't arouse me must therefore be moral... Not sure how that twist of logic got generated. Now we're interpreting the intent of the commandments, and further excusing ourselves from conditions which obviously don't apply to our own selves, but just to others who can't "handle" it as well.

Hmmm. Sometimes the best way to bring out the flaws in the opposition's argument is to just let them keep talking.

Matthew said...

@ rusty,
I'm afraid people are left to try and interpret the intent of the commandments on this one because there aren't any specifics that have been laid down. That's why this whole topic has been hopping like it has.

On top of that, the whole spirit of the law vs letter of the law thing is an old debate. If the scriptures gave us exacting standards on all things then these debates wouldn't happen, but alas they are not all that clear. Another such area that has all sorts of confusion and is left up to interpretation in many ways is the Word of Wisdom.

Some will say that it only means to not drink alcohol or do drugs, drink coffee or tea. Others say it includes everything with caffeine and I have talked to others that view getting obese as breaking the law. We know that it is a word of wisdom for the betterment of one's health so there are a lot of ways that can be interpreted. The church has not clarified this commandment either.

I understand that people don't like the idea that a subject isn't black and white, but in the area of morality it most definitely is not. Even some things which you may not have any issue at all with may be seen by someone else out there to be indecent and immoral. Does this mean that you're trying to justify pornography?

Is there a scriptural account or prophetic statement you can show us that explains exactly which things are considered porn? Lacking such it seems that there may not be some exacting standard of 'what is porn'. In which case the best way to approach the subject would be to try and understand (through scripture study, prayer) what it is that God hopes for us to follow and go by that. Just don't be surprised if it happens to be different then what others have also come to a conclusion on through their own searches.

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Alan said...

If I feel that something I might be watching or listening to is taking me in the wrong direction I shut it off or get rid of it.

I do not presume to tell others what they should do.

I think this is what Mark Mabry is saying.

JC said...

Instead of a warm, "yes, son," I felt the incredulous stare of a living Father.

So essentially he says he didn't get an answer on this but then assumed a non answer means yes.

Maybe this comment is off base but the experience he described just seems totally different then anything i've experienced or been taught about personal revelation. How come the "incredulous stare" couldn't mean something more like you're not ready for the answer yet but if you diligently seek for it i will tell you." Ultimately its up to his own interpretation but just a thought.

I think there is a huge difference between nudity and pornography. Porn is anything designed to incite lust. I'd categorize much of the media we consume under porn. However just because someone could lust after something dose not make it porn. If that were the case, any picture of a person could be porn as people can and do lust after others regardless of their attire.

Nudity is natural. You are not sexual or "naughty" by simply being naked but the porn industry teaches you are. They are the ones who have programmed society to think any display of skin is pornographic.

It is not a natural state of being for a person to immediately become aroused upon seeing an attractive person clothed or unclothed but this is how we are in the western world. And it causes people to lust after others all the time. This is the state of decay we are in, Calling the human body which is good and pure and beautiful as being evil and filthy. That's not what God created.

Our bodies are temples. Sacred, not secret. There's a proper time and place to view images of the inside of a temple (like the ones the church shows in visitors venters), just as there is proper times to glorify Gods beautiful creation in the human body. But both need to be done respectfully and with great care.

Calling everything nude as being porn is like saying every translation of scripture is accurate - some are more accurate then others, some like the BOM are, some aren't at all. Just like many naked pics are porn but many are soft porn but still porn but many aren't porn at all. Case in point a doctors photograph of a woman's reproductive organs is not porn but playboys Pics of her chest are and an artistic nude photograph of a pregnant woman showing the beauty of child birth is not. Two are reality for none lustful purposes, the other is fantasy for lustful purposes.

AuthorandArtist said...

R. Gary, just because society deemed something porn or modest for years, doesn't mean it wasn't stupid. There is always the "foolish traditions of their fathers," so the scriptures say. Now, I agree that people should wear modest clothing. I believe that people need to abstain from pornography and pre-marital sex. Such is a sin. But the body in and of itself is not immodest. You're so busy touting about how we should go back to how they acted in the 19th century, but let me tell you something, the 19th century was not an innocent time period. Nor was it right for people to be so persecuted, even if they were immoral.

All that said, I do oppose porn and premarital sex. But what's so immodest about a nude body in and of itself? There is ample evidence that there was nudity in Biblical times. Read the article, "Nudity and the Judeo Christian View," http://www.ldssdc.info/_VARIOUS-AUTHORS/JudeoNaturism.pdf

From the article above, and other research, nudity was probably not uncommon back then. The Bible, nor The Book of Mormon, never condemn nudity in and of itself, but only immodesty and actions.

I believe that the nude in artwork, such as in paintings, drawing, and photography, can be spiritually edifying and just as beautiful as a hymn in a hymn book, giving glory to Heavenly Father, that God who lovingly crafted us.

I'll be honest, Gary, you scare me. You strike me as someone who would force his viewpoints down others throats, making them think the way you do, if you had the chance. Your blog offers very little room for dissent, and you close conversations often before too many other people can disagree with you.

Anonymous said...

In my time studying and viewing art around the world as well as digitally and in print, I've seen a few-- very few-- nude pieces that touched me positively (mostly it's neither a pro or con). My issue with nudity in art has always been that almost all of it required immodesty in its creation.
Some person was typically nude, treating their body with disrespect-- as a thing to be traded and sold. The number of artists who created religious paintings with nudity, which were having illicit affairs with those same models, underscores the likely attitude of those involved.
And if the body is a temple, it may be one of the most beautiful things in creation, but it should also be one of the most respected.

As far as having nude of art in the home, trying to explain the difference between using nudity as a representation of a theme in art and the nudity one might run across anywhere is an impossible task-- as has been illustrated by the discussion above. That difficulty is multiplied when the other half of the discussion involves children, and don't even try to pull that with an adolescent. They are hyper aware of hypocrisy, and though they may not argue it, neither do they buy it. Eventually maybe, but there's a lot of opportunity for damage in the mean time.

As there's a great deal of amazingly beautiful art, enough that we could each have fabulous art on every wall of our house without even considering a nude, I've never found it an issue.

AuthorandArtist said...

Anonymous, I am sorry, but I feel you have not given a valid argument. Were their artists who had illicit affairs with their models? Absolutely! Was this wrong? No doubt that it was indeed sinful! But let's keep in mind that many musicians, actors, and writers have also committed adultery and had many affairs. Doesn't make it right, but it's the sad truth of the matter. Now, if an artist had an affair with their models then that's his fault, but it shouldn't put all nude art into the sin category anymore than it should put a bishop or a stake president exercising unrighteous dominion put the Church in a bad light and so forth. There are plenty of artists who have integrity. Whereas you can also get kindergarten teachers who are teaching children with bad intentions, doctors doing physicals with bad intentions, police officers with bad intentions and so forth. In other words, you can't paint it all in the same brush. Heck, I could even go so far to say that all politicians are crooked and corrupt and that they are only in office to line their pockets with coffers. But again, not all are.

As for nude art in the home, I am thinking of finding some really spiritually edifying stuff, such as David, a copy of a Sistine Chapel scene, or a Renoir painting, just to name a few, to try and break the taboo. I would also have no problem putting them by a picture of my Savior or by the temple.

AuthorandArtist said...
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