Holiness and a Culture of Theft

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"The culture there assumes it's your responsibility to keep things locked up. It's not someone else's responsibility to not take your stuff."

We were discussing, over lunch yesterday, the ideas summarized by Vishal Mangalwadi. One of my co-workers shared about her experience studying in South America. The culture of theft was just one of the radical differences there from what we experience here in the US.

Then, as I stood in the shower this morning, three key ideas suddenly clicked together. Here's my thesis: Piracy has created a culture of theft in the United States and, just as "adult entertainment" has completely changed, the digital revolution demands of us a higher level of holiness.

I'm sure you're aware of the ways the internet has changed the face of the "adult" industry. It is no longer required to go to a seedy part of the city and physically purchase a dirty magazine. Now, from the comfort of your favorite computer chair, you can obtain just about any kind of "adult" material you may be interested in... for free. And, as virtual worlds continue to claw their way into reality, Huxley's Brave New World of the Feelies inches closer. "How are men going to remain faithful to their wives in such a world?" one of my coworkers asked.

"The solution," I was quick to propose, "is to become more holy. Unfortunately, you can't legislate holiness and it's not easy. But these advancements in technology are forcing us to become more like Christ."

The internet--coupled with digital delivery--has made piracy a common practice as well. Right now, I could find just about any song I could imagine online. With a little more effort, I could have it on my computer. It's little wonder, then, that I get questions every week from Sonlight students asking about the legality of copying music. If you can find this stuff on major legal sites, how can it be illegal/wrong?

Well, teenagers aren't the only ones discussing this topic. John August recently blogged about sheet music piracy and both his post and the fascinating original article have been flooded with comments on both sides of this issue.

Here's what struck me this morning: The arguments often boil down to a fundamental disagreement over responsibility. Is it your responsibility to keep your stuff locked up, or my responsibility to not take your stuff?

Yes, just as we could argue about the complexities of obscene materials on the internet, we could go around and around with the issues surrounding digital copyright law. But as I stood under the hot running water of my shower--something my coworker did not have when she lived in South America--everything clicked:

I'd rather not live in a culture of theft.

Talk to your kids about being Christ-like and piracy.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

P.S. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm happy to share what I know and think about this issue if you have specific questions. This is important because your children are growing up in a world where their morality is the only thing between them and an endless stream of instantly accessible sin. It's much easier to practice being like Christ in the little things right now.

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