Four reasons not to pirate
The Bible is clear: it's not ok for Christians to illegally download movies, music and TV shows.
I’m not sure about you, but among many people I know there seems to a general endorsement of internet piracy. They might know that downloading TV shows, films and music illegally is against the law, but they seem to think it’s okay – that it doesn’t hurt anyone, and it’s kind of excusable if you’re a student and don’t have much money.
What about you? Do you pirate?
While as Christians we are saved by grace alone, we are called to live as God’s Holy People. In 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter writes to the church:
you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
I think this should affect our approach to internet piracy.
As the New Testament was written long before the internet was even thought of, it doesn’t specifically mention the issue of internet piracy. Paul didn’t drop an email to tell the church in Rome to stop pirating the latest action films. Peter didn’t tweet to God’s people scattered throughout the provinces to tell them that they really should be paying for all that music they had on their iPhones.
However, I think there’s a lot of principles for godly living outlined in the New Testament which should inform our approach to internet piracy.
So here’s four reasons not to pirate:
1. It’s not loving
In Romans 13:9, Paul tells us that God's commandments, including ‘Do not steal’ are summed up as “love your neighbor as yourself.” Internet Piracy is a form of intellectual theft. Think about it – if you created a TV show, film or album, would you want others to steal it? We should be loving and actually pay artists and producers for what they produce, rather than downloading it illegally from the net.
2. We should obey the authorities
Internet piracy is not just against God’s rule to love our neighbours as ourselves, it’s also against the laws of our government. Earlier in Romans 13, Paul says “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities...Pay to all what is owed to them…revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed....” Part of being subject to our authorities is paying our dues ... in this case to those who own the rights to the media.
3. Not getting caught doesn’t make it okay
Internet piracy isn’t very easy for authorities to police – this is partly why it’s so widespread. People can get away with, and so they do it.
This “it’s only illegal if you get caught” attitude may be the view of many in our society, but it shouldn’t hold true for Christians. We should obey our government’s laws not simply to avoiding getting in trouble, but in order to respect the authorities instituted by God. We might be able to pirate without the government knowing, but God still sees us.
4. Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it okay
Piracy is widespread. But as Christians, we are called to stand out from the crowd, “to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11). Internet piracy is an opportunity for us to stand out as God’s people, and who knows, people might “see our good deeds and glorify God”. (1 Peter 2:12)
As technology improves, it seems to be easier and easier to pirate. But at the same time, there’s an increasing number of ways to legally access music, TV shows and movies.
It really is up to us whether we do it or not.
So before you start downloading content that you should legally be paying for, have a think. As a Christian, saved by God’s grace, as one of God’s chosen people, is this the right choice to make?