So I clicked the link to BYUI's online newspaper, which lead me to several things: the video in question (below), and the criticizers in question, RawStory, DaileyCaller, and SFGate.
Now, let me correct some of the things I think the other articles got wrong and then clarify why this video seems normal to most Mormons.
The “cruel, ruthless and relentless” “enemy” is not masturbation as the articles write, but Satan, who tempts the young man into watching pornography/masturbating. Therefore, the great war being waged is not against masturbation, but against Satan.
If you are Mormon, then you wouldn't bat an eye at analogies like this. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I have heard war parables a hundred times over about a hundred different things. If you're not Mormon, I can see how it might seem strange or perhaps extreme.
With that said, the pornography/masturbation aspect of the video and whether it's bizarre or not, as the critical articles believe, is not what concerns me. What concerns me is the promotion and fostering of tattletale culture on this campus under the guise of 'helping' your fellow students.
For those of you who do not attend BYUI, let me explain the situation for those who do. Until you are married, or unless you receive special permission, you must live in school approved housing. That does not just mean on campus, I am not just talking about the dorms. You have to live in apartments that have received the BYUI stamp of approval or else you will have a hold placed of your account and you will be unable to register for classes.
What the BYUI stamp of approval means, is that the apartment abides by the rules of BYU-Idaho. Otherwise known as the honorcode. Every student upon admission must sign the honorcode. The school summarizes it as:
What that really means to the students:
- No cheating
- No further intimacy than kissing the opposite sex
- No homosexuality
- No masturbation/pornography
- No member of the opposite sex allowed in bedrooms (or past what is referred to as the chastity line)
- Curfew of midnight every night except 1:00am on Friday. Meaning you must be home and opposite sex must be out of your apartment
- No skipping church
- No facial hair for men besides mustaches
- No flip flops
- No shorts/capris
- Skirts/dresses to the knee
- No piercings for men, one ear piercing for women
- Naturally died hair colors
- No clothes with rips
- If you know someone isn't compiling with the honor code and don't report them, you can also be found guilty
Therefore these rules apply not only on campus, but where you live. And in fact if you are found to break these rules anywhere, even when you are gone for the summer, for example, you could still get into trouble. And by get into trouble, I mean you could very well be kicked out of the university.
That's why the tattletale aspect of the video, which is also in the honorcode itself is so concerning to me.
About two weeks ago I was sitting in a reading room with a view of the parking lot, waiting for my ride. There was another girl in the room talking on her phone and I couldn't help but overhear her conversation. She was explaining to whoever was on the other end, that she had gone to her bishop to tell on her roommates, for what I don't know. She then expressed that the Bishop had instructed her to work things out for herself with the other girls. She went on to say into the phone that she had later found out that what she'd told the bishop wasn't even true.
I had to restrain myself from berating this girl. Because of her over-zealousness to tattle she could have gotten a girl kicked out of school, putting her college education on hold up to a year, for something she didn't even do.
Perhaps this is a good time to clarify something else for those who are not Mormon. Members of the LDS church believe in confession. Not in the same way that Catholics do. You don't go into a booth where your face is hidden and you are prescribed hail Marys. You go in to see your bishop, face to face, and disclose your sins. If the breach of church conduct is severe enough, you could face having your membership put on probation or even excommunication. In any case, whether severe or not, you will need to go through "the repentance process", which is seen as necessary to be clean before God and entrance into Mormon temples.
The problem when you are a BYU Idaho student, is that your education and steadfastness as a church member are inseparably intertwined. Your confession which you see as necessary for your salvation could also get you removed from the university. The bishops of BYUI wards have the ability to report you to the school's honor code office which can then expel you.
For many Mormons the choice between your salvation and your education seems like a no-brainier, but I think it is incredibly unfair to encourage students to make that decision for someone else.
An important doctrine in the LDS church is that of agency, which is simply the right to choose. Mormons believe that there were two plans proposed before we came to earth, one by Satan and one by Jesus Christ. To be concise, Satan's plan was that no one would be able to choose wrong and therefore all would return to heaven and he would receive the glory. Christ's plan was that we would have the ability to make choices, and consequently he would sacrifice himself to atone for sins, so we would be able to return to heaven if we made use of that atonement. In Christ's plan the glory would go to God and that is the plan Mormons believe was chosen. So the school's policy is not only unfair, but is also contradictory of church beliefs.
When I heard that girl in the reading room, it was clear to me that she did not go to her bishop out of 'love' and 'concern' for her roommates, but was acting out of her own self-interest.
The video above portrays love and redemption, but the fact is if you tattletale on your roommate to your bishop, the end scene won't be playing pool as best friends and getting girls. It will be your roommate packing his bags resenting you for tattling. If you really want to express Christ like love towards your roommates, don't act like a child telling a teacher or a parent. Be an adult. Confront your roommate, express your concerns, have an honest conversation, but most importantly respect them. Because they are adults too.
It is my belief that confession and repentance are deeply personal and if you force someone to do those things before they are ready or against their will, you could do far more damage than good. You could drive them even further from the belief you wish them to embrace.
Stop the tattling and grow up BYU-Idaho.