When i entered Form 1 at SMKTM, the student population comprised mainly of those of us from SKTM2 and a whole new group of ppl from SKTM1. Among the latter group was Andrew and i remember him because his friends made quite a big hoo-haa about Andrew being in a Smarties commercial. Towards the end of high school, my perception of Andrew changed drastically and i developed a profound respect for him. Besides being a surprisingly good friend to me, one who's there whenever i needed someone to talk to, Andrew's a Christian whose Christian values i've grown to really look up to. It isnt so much how he invites every Tom Dick and Harry to church and gets them to sit up and listen to God, instead it's how he holds so strongly to his principles and values in life, never imposing it on others and never never judging. I don't profess to know him really well, or to even see the good deeds he does cause i see him so rarely these days.
and my whole point is this... Andrew never imposes any preaching on us. and it's for this reason that when i received this email of his, in his plight against piracy, that i actually took the time to read through it and to post it here. His points are all valid, you and i and everyone in the world know this. the only difference is that Andrew was brave enough to sit up and listen, stand up and take action. And i choose not to turn a deaf ear to it, nor to cast my eyes downwards in shame. i may not be as brave as him, but i'll help in whatever way i can...
and for those who don't know andrew, and are thinking that he is a boring person who has nothing better to do, take it from me, or anyone who ever had the privilege of knowing him, he's fun, he makes us laugh at our Mamak sessions, even in school, his wisecracks tickled even the strictest teachers.
so here goes...:
To my peers
I have recently made a decision to make a stand against piracy. I know some of you may think I'm crazy (and maybe some of you will say "finally"), but I don't care. My view on life has changed, and with it, my priorities and focus. I choose the difficult path to being one step closer to righteousness, and I know what I'm doing is right. I choose to try, and I will try harder, to be a wholly surrendered vessel that can be used by God. I want to be ready for God's movement when it comes, and I'm taking sure and planned steps to prepare myself. Throwing away my DVD's, pirated games, software and other stuff will be difficult, but now I know, and truly understand why king Solomon said that everything under the sun is meaningless. Attached with this letter is an essay I wrote to present to you, my case against piracy in hopes that some of you may rise and stand with me, and together perhaps, we can change our generation, and even our nation. If I slave and labour futilely alone against piracy, then so be it. I know where my rewards are. However, I challenge you to take your time to read it and consider, just consider the implications, if I'm right.
ps: Feel free to pass this on to your peers if you want to, and feel free to correct me in places that I may be wrong.
My case, and war against piracy.
• It is against the law – There is no gray issue here. The laws of our country and others clearly state that it is illegal to possess trade or use pirated goods. As Christians, we are to submit to authority. We must acknowledge that God is sovereign, and he has placed us under governments for a reason. The only possible reason for Christians to break the law would be if the law of the world defies the word of God. I’m very sure the bible does not have any commands or directives that allow us to break the law in this manner. Some may argue that if this is the case, and we should submit to authority, then what if countries ban the bible and preaching the gospel? The answer is simple. Jesus says in Mat 28 : 18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, all authority is given to Me in Heaven and in earth. Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things, whatever I commanded you. And, behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world. Amen.” There is no conflict. God’s command is greater than all.
• It is stealing – People have invested much time and effort into producing the product that we so easily and readily purchase copies of. Does the bible allow stealing? Obviously not, as it is written so clearly in the 10 commandments. Every pirated product we buy/copy or download means money NOT going into the pockets of the rightful people who worked for it. The bible says in 2The 3 : 10 “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this, that if anyone would not work, neither should he eat.” Similarly, if we do not want to pay for something, then neither should we enjoy it. To give a crude illustration of this, Imagine the water department builds a pipe to your house. You pay your monthly bills and you enjoy a reliable supply of water. Then, imagine a stranger comes, breaks open the pipe, and connects it to his house. Your water pressure drops. The water department may even cut the water supply if they find out about it. How would you feel? Bringing it a little closer to the current generation, how would you feel is someone sets up his laptop near your house and steals your Wi-Fi bandwidth? Or perhaps see it this way, buying pirated products means you’re paying others to steal. For you. Your hands are no cleaner than the pirates themselves.
• It is hypocrisy - A sin is a sin. There are no BIG sins or small sins. We as Christians judge others when we see abortions, when we see homosexuality, when we see terrorist killing people, when we read of rape, murder, robbery, deception, corruption, and the list goes on. Guess what, if we indulge in piracy, I believe we are no better in God’s eyes. We judge others, whose sins may be more provoking, but yet, we are no better than the white-washed Pharisees of Jesus’ time. No small comparison when we know that they are the ones who called for Christ crucifixion. Mat 7:3 says “And why do you look on the splinter that is in your brother's eye, but do not consider the beam that is in your own eye?” Before we continue judging others. I believe there’s a need for us to first, judge ourselves.
• It is probably affecting us spiritually – I cannot help but feel strongly that this war against piracy is not only fought physically, but also in the spiritual realm and dimension. Mat 12:43-45 says “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he walks through dry places seeking rest, and finds none. Then he said, I will return into my house from where I came out. And when he has come, he finds it empty, swept, and decorated. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and live there. And the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so it also shall be to this evil generation.” Notice how it brings the illustration of an unclean spirit in a man, and links it to a generation. What if “piracy” is an unclean spirit/s assigned to our generation? How corrupted have we allowed ourselves to be then? If it be true, then we have swallowed hook, line and sinker of Satan’s trap. So often people can blame gambling, sexual immorality, rebellion, etc on spirits. Why not piracy? Perhaps it is time for us to look again at the things we have become so accustomed to and comfortable with. If piracy is indeed a spirit, then this generation has to first rid itself of it before it can be filled fully with the things of God. Eph 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world's rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
• Piracy corrupts - Mat 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit.” In my opinion, piracy has become the biggest corrupting factor for today’s generation in our region. For example, piracy has made readily available, media that is uncensored, unmoderated, uncertified, all at an affordable price. Materials otherwise banned by our government, and almost always for good reason. Influence of movies, music, TV serials, etc has increased many fold, simply because the current generation is constantly bombarded with them. This leads to rapid moral decline, trapping the generation in a sinking spiral. When we compromise something like piracy, we have already given a foothold for the devil to work his way into our minds. Satan seeks to make us corrupt. I believe piracy is one of his greatest tools. Not only does it corrupt us by blurring the edges of outright theft, it also indirectly corrupts our morality, our integrity, our spirituality and our ability to hear God’s voice.
• Mighty men and women of God are righteous - 1Pe 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears open to their prayers. But the Lord's face is against those who do evil.“, Jam 5:16 “Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much”. We often ask ourselves why God can use certain people with such great power, and why we don’t see the reality of this power that Jesus has promised us in Joh 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, He who believes on Me, the works that I do he shall do also, and greater works than these he shall do, because I go to My Father.” I believe one of the reasons is because these men and women have set standards of righteousness. They strive and pursue the goal to be like Christ, who is without sin. Surely Gods power can move in us even though we are not perfect, but a pure and holy vessel will be more readily used by God. 2Ti 2:19 “Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal: "The Lord knew those who are His." And, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity!" But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. Therefore if anyone purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. But flee youthful lusts, and follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” I believe if we want to see God’s power work in us, some standards of righteousness should be set, and piracy MUST be dealt with. 1Co 15:34 “Be righteously awake, and sin not; for some have ignorance of God. I speak this to your shame.”
• It is a bondage – Piracy has weaved itself and has become so intertwined with our daily lives, that it has mutated into a form of bondage. Ask anyone to stop their acts of piracy, and the effects will be clear and obvious. They will immediately seek ways to defend themselves, and when they are proven wrong, they will choose to ignore you, and feign ignorance. It has become so difficult for many to leave this lifestyle behind.
• I can use the money I save for God – Total rubbish. The idea of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor has nothing to do with God. If God had allowed this, Jesus would have asked Zaccheus to tax even more so he can give to the ministry. It is disgusting to think that people actually think they can steal from others, and give what they have stolen to God.
• It is convenient – Indeed piracy has made things so convenient for us. Why bother driving the whole family to the cinema, when a single pirated DVD bought from the peddler who approached you at the hawker center can make everyone happy at home? Why buy the whole CD when I only want one song? The fact is, none of these excuses are justified in this current age, because through technology, it is just as convenient to purchase original DVD’s, MP3’s and etc. Besides, making things convenient for ourselves is the first sign that we’re slipping into complacency. Just like how many people nowadays treat God as just another convenience. If convenience were the law to live by, then there would be lawlessness.
• The original is too expensive – A very simple answer for this is, if you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. We do NOT need movies. We do NOT need MP3’s, we do NOT need TV series, branded shoes, pirated T-shirts, fake watches, etc. Mat 6:19-21 “Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up treasures in Heaven for yourselves, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The bible clearly states that all this material things that we hunger after, from entertainment to clothes, have no value, and so there is no reason for us to want it in the first place. If it is indeed too expensive, then live without it, or work for it. Besides, piracy generally leads to less legitimate sales, which leads to lower profits, which leads to even higher prices to cover costs. If piracy would be eradicated today, Prices of many things would certainly balance out and start being more affordable.
• Everyone does it - Rom 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.” Jesus calls us to be the salt and the light of the world. If we as Christians conform to the standards of the ungodly, than what difference can we make? What right do we have to preach the life changing message of Christ, if we ourselves, are no different from the world? We should be the leaders, and not the followers, and as leaders, we should lead the world to paths of righteousness. Not following them into sin and thievery.
• I can’t wait to watch the show – Perhaps then we should ask ourselves if it really is necessary for us to watch that movie, listen to that song, or catch that series. Does it in any way edify God? What do we actually miss? The fact is, as Christians these things should mean nothing to us. If they mean so much, that you just have to ignore God’s word, then I believe your priorities need to be re-evaluated, and you need to check who is God in your life, and who is God to you.
• I cannot find the original – This argument is invalid in today’s context, as almost anything is available for us to buy online. If it is not, then once again, we should question ourselves if we really need it.
• I just want to try it and see – We can always watch trailers, research and read about it, ask opinions of others and download/listen to demos. It does not justify stealing. Otherwise, I can say that I just want to try what it feels like to be rich, so I rob the bank. There are legitimate means of trying and testing a product. We have no excuse for doing things the illegal way.
• What about files and things I already have? - Jos 7:19-26 “And Joshua said to Achan, My son, I pray you, give glory to Jehovah, the God of Israel, and make confession to Him. And tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me. And Achan answered Joshua and said, Indeed I have sinned against Jehovah, the God of Israel, and this I have done. When I saw among the spoil a goodly robe of Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, I coveted them and took them. And behold, they are hidden in the earth in the middle of my tent, and the silver under it. And Joshua sent messengers, and they ran into the tent. And behold, it was hidden in his tent, and the silver under it. And they took them out of the middle of the tent, and brought them to Joshua, and to all the sons of Israel. And they laid them out before Jehovah. And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had. And they brought them to the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why have you troubled us? Jehovah shall trouble you this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones to this day. And Jehovah turned from the greatness of His anger. Therefore, the name of that valley is called, The Valley of Grief, to this day.” I believe that if God says no, we should have no relation to whatever that was forbidden. Achan did not do anything with the things he took, but kept and hid them. His sin was disobedience, and the consequence of it was he and everything he had was destroyed.
• What about pirated clothes/shoes/etc? – I share the same sentiments about other pirated products besides digital ones. In the end, Basically we are still robbing people of reaping the fruits of their labor, and paying those who conveniently steal ideas and designs.
• What about sharing music with people to practice in church? – In my opinion, we can all live without it. If you claim that it helps you play better, then here’s a better suggestion, buy the scores, and learn how to read and interpret them correctly. Otherwise, you can always buy the CD, or perhaps if there was enough support, one day Christian music can be found commercially on legitimate sites like Apple’s iTunes.
• What about duplicating copies of something I bought as backup? – If you’re not selling or distributing the copies, then I believe it is alright. This is also in accordance to the law of the country.
• What about singing copyrighted songs in church (eg : HillSongs)? – There are always legitimate ways of doing things. It is only up to us if we want to do things the right way, or ignore them for our own convenience. If ever in doubt, always check with the owner of the copyrighted material.
• What about downloading TV series? They will show it on TV anyway – Some reason that if ultimately they will get to watch it, then what’s the difference? The difference is, watching it on national television you are paying for the show by having to sit through the advertisements. Also, our government has provided us with a blessing that is often criticized, which is censorship and ratings system. Downloading from sources not regulated by the government means we are bypassing their control, which exposes us to temptations and sin of the lustful human body.
• What about things that I cannot buy in Malaysia (eg : Movies)? – If the product is not available in Malaysia, then it must either be too obscure or deemed unsuitable by the government. In the first case, there are always online sites where you can purchase original copies of the product. If it has been banned, then what possible righteous reason can we give for wanting/needing it? Movies are not a necessity.
• What about things that are designed to look like something else (branded) but does not claim to be, or have any relation to that product (eg : a BATA shoe looking like a NIKE )? – I believe we can always tell if the business we are purchasing our goods from is legitimate or not. It’s very obvious that NIKEY shoes in Petaling Street are of illegal means, while a BATA shoe comes from a legitimate business, which means legal action can be taken against them for copyright and design infringements by the rightful parties. Hence it can be assumed that legitimate businesses would not purposefully copy and pirate a product and put it for sale. However if still in doubt and your conscience bugs you, then the simplest answer would be to walk away and buy something else.
• What if someone gave me something pirated? What do I do with it? – Perhaps with human emotions coming into play in regards to gift, this can be a very sensitive issue to deal with, but I believe there are very practical, if difficult answers. Firstly, we could destroy it, plain and simple. Secondly, we could return the gift to the giver, and explain humbly your stand on piracy. This way, people will begin to see a difference in your standards, and the world. This way, people will begin to question their own standards. This way, we can actually create a culture that will frown upon piracy. I believe the wrong thing to do would be to give it to someone else as a gift.
Why I want to do it (summary):
God has called us to be the light of the world. If we do not differentiate ourselves from the ways of this world, then we are no better, and perhaps worse, because we know it is wrong, yet still defy it. We should be setting the standards for the world to follow. We should be shining God’s light at the path that people should take. We should be, but are we?
I believe the standard of purity needs to be raised among ourselves. Why? Because multiple people and signs are pointing towards something major happening spiritually in our region this year, and I believe for it to come into greatest effect, we should purify ourselves, and prepare our hearts to be filled with the things of God. If we are still so complacent about stealing, then surely we are not ready for God’s movement. I want to be a part of this movement of God, and I don’t want to rob myself of this chance to be an impact to the nation just because of some sources of temporary entertainment. Even if go at it alone, and revival still breaks forth as God is all powerful, I lose nothing, and gain integrity. I know for sure God sees. And I know for sure my rewards will be in heaven. Psa 24:3 “Who shall go up into the hill of Jehovah? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, and has not sworn deceitfully.” Surely God can use anyone and anything, but even more surely God can use a surrendered obedient vessel to even greater things.
What we have on this earth, our experiences, our joy, sadness, pain, it is all temporal. What is a hundred plus years on earth when compared to the prospect of reigning eternally with God? Think about it, what is working one full day in the sun, with no food, water and shelter, when you can retire for the rest of your life? Why do we find it so cruelly normal to slave everyday at our workplace, then enjoy one or two days of rest, but cannot see that life on earth is like a “day” of work for the kingdom of heaven, and a “hundred years” of reward, glory and honor? Our lifetime on this earth is so small, yet it is the only thing God asks that we surrender our lives to him. Have we really surrendered ourselves? Let us not be so focused on what we can get for ourselves on this earth, but on what we can gain in the kingdom of God. I’m sure if we get this right, God will bless us on earth till overflowing. Luk 6:20-23 “And lifting up His eyes to His disciples, He said, Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men shall hate you, and when they shall cut you off, and when they shall reproach you and shall cast out your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy. For behold, your reward is great in Heaven. For so their fathers did according to these things to the prophets.”
Looking at the big picture, I see the significance of trying my best to set things right, if only the things that are made obvious to me. Hopefully, as I progress, God will reveal more that needs to be done, and God willing, with his strength, I will carry out his will. But as for now, I can hear clearly a clarion call of war against piracy, and I want to rise up and take a stand, a stand that I feel has been conveniently ignored, and by ignoring, we as a Body of Christ have been significantly weakened. Before we think of taking spiritual warfare to the gates of the enemy, let us purify ourselves, lest we fall into the same mistakes that befell the army of Israel. It is just as difficult for me, perhaps even more than some others, to leave this culture of piracy behind, but in the end, I know it will be worth it. If no one wants to voice out, then let me be the voice of reason calling for change. Let’s not look at this matter lightly anymore, but let us address it with a firm resolve, because years of compromise have weakened us to the point of acceptance of sin staring at our face.
My action plan against piracy:
• Get rid of all my illegal mp3’s .
• Delete my illegally downloaded videos and series.
• Throw away all my pirated discs.
• Stop buying/downloading/ pirated products or copying files illegally.
• Replace my pirated software with original versions.
• Hold myself accountable by letting others know my stand, so they can remind me in my moment of weakness, and at the same time, bring to their awareness about this issue.
• Sign up for services such as iTunes so that I can legally purchase MP3’s and other commonly pirated products in the future.
• Try my best to accomplish all of that in a timeframe of 3 months.
• Pray for God to help me.
Other things I must do :
• I must remind myself that if I accomplish this, it does not give me any right to judge others.
• Pray and watch for the coming movement of God, and be ready to be a part of it.
• Keep my ears, eyes and heart open to God, to hear what more he has to say for me to do.
Mal 3 “Behold, I will send My messenger, and He will clear the way before Me. And Jehovah, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Angel of the Covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He comes, says Jehovah of Hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap. And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. And He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may be offerers of a food offering in righteousness to Jehovah. Then the food offering of Judah and Jerusalem shall be pleasing to Jehovah, as in the days of old and as in former years. And I will come near you to judgment. And I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those who extort from the hired laborer's wages, and turning away the widow, and the orphan, the alien, and not fearing Me, says Jehovah of Hosts. For I am Jehovah, I change not. Because of this you sons of Jacob are not destroyed. From the days of your fathers, you have turned aside from My statutes, and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you, says Jehovah of Hosts. But you say. In what way shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, In what have we robbed You? In the tithe and the offering! You are cursed with a curse; for you are robbing Me, the nation, all of it. Bring all the tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house. And test Me now with this, says Jehovah of Hosts, to see if I will not open the windows of Heaven for you, and pour out a blessing for you, until there is not enough room. And I will rebuke your devourer, and he shall not decay the fruit of your ground against you; nor shall your vine miscarry against you in the field, says Jehovah of Hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed; for you shall be a delightful land, says Jehovah of Hosts. Your words have been strong against Me, says Jehovah. Yet you say, What have we spoken against You? You have said, It is vain to serve God; and, What profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked as mourners before Jehovah of Hosts? And now we are calling the arrogant blessed. Not only are the doers of wickedness built up, they also test God, and escape. Then those fearing Jehovah spoke together, each man to his neighbor. And Jehovah listened and heard. And a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared Jehovah, and for those esteeming His name. And they shall be Mine, says Jehovah of Hosts, for the day that I will make up My treasure. And I will pity them as a man has pity on his son who serves him. Then you shall again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between him who serves God, and him who does not serve Him.”
Andrew Tan – 26th February 2006