Iâ€™m about to explain why I regard HBOâ€™s depiction of a part of the temple ceremony as morally equivalent to pornography. Let me make clear up front that I donâ€™t subscribe to HBO. Never have. Never will. I was reminded again why I donâ€™t subscribe by HBOâ€™s lame apologies for an ailing petty-drama that is not doing well in the ratings and using sensationalism to prop up pretty poor and pathetic writing.
HBO said that it didnâ€™t intend to offend LDS. Well, they knew it was offensive and announced that they didnâ€™t intend to offend knowing it would offend. Thatâ€™s just a mealy-mouthed admission of an intention to offend as I see it. Itâ€™s like using a defense of lack of intention to a charge of battery: â€œI knew that I would break your arm by hitting you but I didnâ€™t intend to break your arm by hitting you. I really intended just to hit you.â€
Merely depicting what is clearly non-essential and in bad taste is bad enough, but depicting what is sacred outside of the appropriate context to give it the meaning of the sacred turns it into the category of pornography. Let me explain this rather strident claim. That you and your spouse (or your parents) have sex is good and holy. In the appropriate context sex is one of the most life-affirming things humans engage in.
Now letâ€™s have you post pictures of you and your spouse (or your parents) having sex on this site. See what I mean? Here is the essential aspect of context: within the context of the privacy of oneâ€™s own bedroom and covenants of faithfulness to protect the procreative potential for human intimacies, human sex is just the best that it gets in this life (in most cases). Precisely because it has such value, the problem with pornography (and out of wedlock sex for that matter) is not that too much is given, but that not enough is given. The value of the intimacy and context is profaned by trading it for something that is not merely of less value, but destroys the potential to realize that value altogether.
The context of privacy is one aspect; the context of the entire covenant-making-setting with the complete reverence for the capacity to be instructed and learn from personal revelation is the entire point. That entire point is missed â€” necessarily missed and mucked up â€” by what HBO did. The temple ceremony was mocked by taking it out of context and using it as a dramatic counterpoint to tell a story that distorted its meaning even within the story itself. The rituals can only look confusing and silly from outside of the context of the covenant relationship, just as your sexual acts with your spouse are pornographic outside of the interpersonal context in which they have such sacred, even divine, meaning.
Thus, the comparison to pornography is apropos. It profanes the sacred, takes out of context the holy and makes the interpersonal level of ritual performances into befuddled nonsense. Rituals have their meaning only within a context. Those outside the context, like anthropologists, are keenly aware of their limitations in entering into the world-view that gives meaning to the performances and rites. What HBO did was sheer peeping-Tom voyeurism.