You can tell it's spring because the bloggernacle has turned to thoughts of, um, love. The General Conference thread at BCC has mutated into an referendum on Elder Oaks' infamous, infelicitous phrase. The discussion (242 comments and counting) has finally metastasized to the other copy-cat blogs (hey, Steve put me on the blogroll, I have to return the love).
As usual, I find myself outside the orthodox position on this issue. First of all, in an attempt to keep this discussion, as Seinfeld would say, sophisticated, I will employ various euphemisms. Many people seem to use the word "pr0n" but this always sounds like "prawn" to me; therefore, I will refer to the consumption of that particular media as "eating shrimp." And what goes hand-in-hand with this seafood? That's right, marination. Now that I've defined the terms, let's begin.
It seems weird to me that the General Authorities are always harping on shrimp consumption, but never seem to mention marination. Are they too embarrassed? I doubt it; they have been rather graphic at times. But they miss the main issue: the whole point of eating shrimp is the marination. No one eats shrimp because it's aesthetically pleasing. It's solely done to enhance the food preparation. So let's put the shrimp to the side for a moment, as it's ancillary to the real problem.
The real problem is that nearly every male in modern times marinates or has marinated at some time. For some people, that might be enough evidence to deem it natural or at least unavoidable. So what is the church's reaction to this omnipresent activity? It condemns it, of course, as part and parcel of the second-most serious sin possible. Innumerable local priesthood meetings are held to discuss it, innumerable man-hours are spent confessing to local leaders, and innumerable young men torment themselves over it. And all for what? For something that most people won't be able to control until marriage, if even then. In my opinion, this is just making people feel bad for no reason. I think you'll find a much healthier attitude outside of the church. It's something that is done and that's it; there's no need to dwell on it and let it consume our lives and destroy our marriages. As long as it's done in moderation, it doesn't seem to be a big problem.
However, when you make it strictly verboten, that's when even minor transgressions can flare up into addictions. Everyone is walking around all bottled up, like ticking time bombs. This is when the seafood comes into play. You catch the unmistakable scent of the ocean, and it's suddenly all you can think about. Since you are going to hell anyway for marinating, it's not that big of deal to add some shrimp on the barbie. You gorge yourself on shrimp since you know you are going to try never to eat it again after this meal. This is an unhealthy way to eat, and it's an unhealthy way to live. Young men get sucked into shame spirals that would not exist if they were only allowed to marinate like every other human on the planet. They would not want to gorge themselves on shrimp if they could simply eat a less pernicious form of seafood.
I think it is safe to say that soft shrimp (as defined by G.A.s, e.g. catalogues, certain Sports magazines, Maxim) hurts almost no one in its production, while hard shrimp hurts just about everyone. If we could only adjust our standards to be more realistic, we could go after some stuff that is truly ugly in this world. But as it is, we cast our nets too wide and they break with fish too small to fry.
This is just a plea for some understanding. Men will always have a taste for seafood. It's unavoidable. The church seems to think the best way to keep them from eating the poisonous fish is starving them. And then making them feel bad for being hungry. Isn't moderation in all things a healthier way to live?