Last night I was with my Mormon friends at an informal discussion group – one of our other friends was talking to us about theater in NYC and recommending shows, etc. One of my friends lightheartedly mentioned an experimental show where there was a red velvet cake representing someone’s dead bloody body and people started eating it. I exclaimed my disgust. One thing about me – I can never hide my emotions.
Everyone laughed at me and another friend mentioned a show she had seen where someone smashed a pumpkin that was supposed to represent a human head. “I can’t handle it!” I cried and covered my ears. Again, everyone laughed.
People think I’m just overreacting or being funny, but I really cannot handle such gross depictions of violence to the human body, even allegorical.
Then they started discussing the immersive theatre piece “Sleep No More.” The girl who led the discussion intoned in a very serious voice, “I have to warn you, there is eroticism and sexual connotations.” Another of my friends, who’d seen the show, agreed that there was nudity, but she didn’t feel the scenes she saw were particularly erotic (since the show is interactive, each person can see a different show, depending on which character they follow, which rooms they end up in, etc.). They both thought the show was excellent but emphasized that one should be prepared for the sexual inferences.
I remember reading about “Sleep No More” when it first came out a couple years ago and was instantly intrigued. I still need to see it, but what will be uncomfortable for me will be the violence, not the sex. This theatre discussion only reinforced to me how different I am from my dear Mormon friends. I was dismayed, as I usually get, at hearing my Mormon friends exercise caution in all matters sexual but think nothing of violence.
My friends know I can’t handle violence. When we watch movies, they always tell me when I need to cover my eyes and (sometimes ears). But when we’re choosing movies, if there is too much hint of anything sexual, someone will invariably voice concern. But I feel like I am the only one who protests at violence.
I will never understand the Mormon culture’s over-concern with sex and under-concern with violence (I specify culture because our doctrine is pretty clearly against violence). Even my roommate has often complained that guys in New York are worse than guys in California because they’ll cheat on their women (I could never tell her the full story about my beloved married Robert Hannibal), and guys in Cali are faithful, but they all have guns. I didn’t press her on this because I didn’t want to get in an argument with her, but I’m so tired of this kind of thinking.
At this theatre discussion, I remembered a meeting with my bishop this past December. He was trying to understand how I can have a testimony of the LDS church but not a testimony of the law of chastity. He asked what I thought about the human body and the sacred creation that it is and the sacred respect that we should give the body. I told him I have so much respect for the human body that it upsets me to watch any kind of violence and I don't even like watching fights because I can't handle bodies getting hurt. He seemed surprised and said it was commendable that I feel that way. But he said he wants me to work on getting a testimony of the law of chastity.
I’m still trying. But I would like all Mormons to get a testimony of the beauty and sacredness of the human body in the full sense, not in their limited sex-outside-of marriage-is-bad sense.