It's a pirate's life for me
Ever heard someone say, ‘I didn’t rob the bank, I just drove the car?’
Interesting statement isn’t it?
Not too long ago, I said it aloud in front of a friend and he burst out laughing.
Now hold up, I’ve never driven a getaway car…well, not in a literal sense anyway. The reason he found it funny was because he recognized the absurdity of such a statement, like most, if not all of us, would.
However, I’m about to open a can of worms that will put some of us in the shoes of this ‘absurd driver.’
I am sure we would all be in the same camp saying that the driver of the getaway car is guilty of the crime to some degree. Nonetheless, not many of us would admit that we are, more often than not, the driver of the getaway car when it comes to none other than...piracy.
Before you choose which side of this dividing line you are on, I just want to
say that the purpose of me writing this is so that you would personally
and diligently search Scripture to see what it says about this matter,
whether explicitly or implicitly, and thereby have a conviction of your
own so that you can walk in it because it’s what the Bible teaches.
The pirate in the mirror
A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine gave me call one night, but unlike most occasions, this time he sounded rather low and sunken. He went on to tell me how he had just been robbed. I felt especially bad for him when he told me the worth of the stuff that was stolen from him. Typically, I expressed how sorry I was for him and just tried to comfort him.
But as it usually goes with this buddy of mine, he said something to me that changed my walk with the Lord. His words were as follows, ‘Well, it sucks, but I have done the same to others for many years when I downloaded Christian music illegally.’
Now, you may be thinking that he was advocating for the idea of karma, or that he was indirectly saying that he deserved what happened to him. That wasn’t the case. He was communicating how, quite often, we don’t understand the pain and consequences that our sinful acts have on others, till it happens to us.
At that point, I was convicted, and was starting to learn what every passive and active engagement of piracy meant in the eyes of God.
It was a hard pill to swallow.
I had deliberately lowered the estate of other men and women (Exodus 20:15).
I had purposely ignored to treat others as I would want to be treated (Luke 6:31).
I had chosen not to honour and do good to others as I have been called to do (1 Peter 2:17; Titus 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:15).
I had not considered others more significant than myself but had rather chosen to look out for my own interests, pleasure and entertainment (Philippians 2:3-4).
In summary, I had blind-sided myself from the command of Christ to love my neighbour as myself (Matthew 22:39).
‘Aren’t you being a bit…extreme?’
I’ve heard this response, and I’ve used it before. (My journey hasn’t been easy).
Let’s not forget what I shared from the start: my goal is that you would carefully search Scripture to see what it says about this matter, whether explicitly or implicitly, and thereby have a conviction of your own so that you can walk in it because it’s what the Bible teaches.
If you can objectively research on the right usage of the downloaded or copied material you currently have on sites such as the ones beneath (view reference list) and lay claim to not be guilty of any type of infringement for what you have either downloaded or copied from others, then praise God.
I am sure you would probably agree that we should be purposeful in making decisions that please God (2 Corinthians 5:9) and to seek to glorify Him in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Please note, I haven’t got it down to a tee, nor have I had the smoothest of journeys up to this point.
A few years ago, I got back into the habit of watching pirated movies and TV shows, and the more I did, the less my conscience panged about the matter. You may well be aware that there are few things worse than a numb conscience. It is the complete opposite of what Paul and the author of Hebrews exhort us to in the Bible (Acts 24:16; Hebrews 9:14).
So how did I bounce back?
It was a painful smack of truth that hit me right between the eyes.
On the way to an evening service, a friend of mine asked us this question, ‘Do you think it’s right for us to take part in Communion tonight after watching pirated material?’
Talk about dropping a bomb.
First, there was silence…and then an onslaught attack on our bud who had brought up the issue.
I clearly remember making silly arguments in defense of our actions of piracy, but deep down in my heart I knew I was ignoring a passage that I had read not long before then,
‘…test everything; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.’ (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)
‘Every form of evil’….think about what that phrase means. If you had asked me then, I would have probably told you that I believed what I was doing was evil, but I wouldn’t have stopped, and that scared me. Clearly there was something wrong with my fear gauge (Psalm 2:11, Psalm 5:7; Proverbs 3:7; Job 28:28).
What happened to the guy whose eyes opened wide at the sight of God’s hatred for every form of evil (Psalm 5:4-6)? At this point, he seemed to be far cry away.
It was a pirate’s life for me all over again, someone willing to go against Biblical convictions just to satisfy personal pleasures and be entertained.
By God’s grace, it was that passage that restored my resolve. My friend who had raised the issue was definitely the catalyst, for which I am truly grateful. But without conviction from Scripture, it’s hard for an impure heart to be restored to a clear sight of God and His desires for us (Matthew 5:8). God abhors every form of evil.
Do you truly believe that? If so, do you actively engage in pursuing what He loves and fighting against the sin in your life that He hates?
Tough questions, but definitely worth asking and answering (painful as it may be) to be sure to walk in light of what His Word teaches.
Don’t borrow my conviction
I hope this has been helpful. I’ve shared my convictions, but don’t borrow them because the resolve won’t last. Your resolve will only be sustained by a solid foundation laid in your own heart and not that of another’s.
I do hope that this will be a catalyst for you to be more of a Berean, so that you can have your own conviction based on what God’s Word says, so that you can live it out unto Him.
I’ll leave you with the words of J.C. Ryle, 'If in anything I am still in error, I hope I shall be shown it before I leave the world. We all see in part…'
Holiness by J.C. Ryle
Websites on Piracy:
Luke is from Zambia but is currently living in Johannesburg, South Africa and working as a Software Developer.
He loves theology, reading, the occasional football game and teaching Sunday School.
He used to rap and has released two mix tapes under the alias 'Luke9ine.'