I recently learned about a newish series which was produced in order to help men conquer sexual sin. This program is being marketed to individuals as well as Christian leaders who can use this program to help their congregation or small groups.
With today’s sexually depraved society where 60% of people (probably much more) are in bondage to sexual sin, this could be a welcome blessing to break people free from sin, if it worked. However, there is a massive caveat to this program. They have locked up the program behind an expensive paywall – $130 for the DVD set or a whopping $500 for just one DVD set and 25 study guides. For small groups they have a price of nearly $300 for only 1 DVD set and 10 study guides.
This pricing of much-needed help for millions of people, especially overpricing, is really an evil thing. Moreover, if the value, especially spiritual value of something was the determining factor in its price for someone to acquire that knowledge or help, then the entire world (not just most of it) would be well on their way to hell right now, because there is not enough money in the world to buy salvation.
I believe that pricing spiritual guidance behind an expensive paywall, either for individuals or for spiritual leaders, is not only morally wrong but in fact insidiously evil. Think about it like this. What if everyone in the world had to pay 1 billion dollars in order to learn about Jesus. How many people would go to heaven? Zero. Even the few that could afford it simply would not understand the value in eternal salvation when they have everything in life that money can possibly buy.
I believe that if God places it on your heart to share something with others, especially if it is to help them break the bondage of sin, you should not be charging money to do it. If people want to give you a donation (above and beyond their tithe), then great, but you should not require payment in order to share knowledge, wisdom, or help that God placed on your heart to share with others.
Imagine if Paul had said, “Hey everyone so as you know, I have been traveling all over the world lately sharing the good news. I have lots of travel expenses, and I got shipwrecked at least a couple of times. So I have put together some writings to encompass my knowledge and anyone can have it as long as they pay me $150 for each book, or $1,500 for all of my letters. After all, I have lots of expenses, and traveling around the world is risky business. I also face the threat of death constantly, so that’s why I need you to pay me a lot of money to be able to read my God-inspired words.” Sounds absurd, right? In fact, Paul worked as a tentmaker instead of living on donations.
Imagine if Jesus had said, “hey everyone, as you know I’m the Son of God and I have wisdom that goes beyond what you could ever fathom. I can miraculously cure you of any disease and ailment, and not only that I can save you from eternal damnation in hell. So as you know I live quite the poor life. Me and my followers don’t have a steady 9-5 job because instead we go around sharing the Good News. Since we don’t have much money, we are requiring that all listeners must pay $150 for every seminar (sermon).”
Was that Jesus’ attitude? Quite the contrary. What did Jesus actually do? Did Jesus beg for money or demand compensation for his hard work with threats of litigation for “copyright infringement”? Did Jesus say, “Hey, I’m the Son of God, you didn’t come up with that! How can you go around infringing on my copyrights by printing free copies of the Bible and giving it to everyone who needs it?! I demand compensation or I will file a lawsuit for copyright infringement!” Imagine if no one could hear about the Bible without first paying hundreds of dollars to buy the Bible.
No, Jesus did not have that insidiously evil attitude. Jesus had the complete and total opposite attitude. Jesus demanded nothing from his listeners. Freely Jesus came and went and taught the Good News. I have to imagine that Jesus and his followers were probably supported by generous people, but Jesus did not make payment a requirement in order to get healed, listen to his teachings, or hear the Good News of salvation.
Not only did Jesus require no compensation from his followers, but Jesus even went so far as to feed 4,000 people who had gathered to hear him talk. Read that again. Jesus did not charge a “cover charge” to cover the expenses of some elaborate Christian-themed rock concert with fancy lights in a giant castle or stadium. Jesus charged nothing for them to come, and then gave them all food to eat.
When Jesus healed the blind man or the crippled man or the woman with bleeding, did he demand compensation first, or make their parents or religious leaders pay for it if they couldn’t afford it? Most certainly not. How about when Jesus decided to make a sacrifice for all the sins of every person to ever be born who would accept him, did Jesus make people pay for it first? In fact, Jesus did it despite the fact that other people took from him – his freedom, his health, his dignity, and even his very life as he was brutally tortured nearly beyond recognition and then murdered in one of the cruelest and most gruesome and humiliating way that anyone could ever be killed.
Jesus offered all of this for the grand total of: free. The knowledge of Jesus is completely free, and while there is a cost to acquire it (giving up of ourselves and repenting of sin), that cost is not money or fleeting material possessions, of which so many have such little of.
Moreover, for over 2,000 years the Bible has been printed freely, completely infringing on the copyright owned by God who produced that work. I kid, I kid. Of course the Bible is free to those who need it. While God does require us to place Him above all other things including money, God does not make us pay money (often that we do not have) in order to receive healing or to break us free from the chains of sin, or even to receive a priceless forgiveness and eternal salvation.
I believe it is a sick and evil modern mentality, based on greed and eyes full of dollar signs, to create a work that God inspired them to create to teach, grow, and free Christians from the bondage of sin. To put the words inspired by God behind a paywall is insidiously evil.
There is a series called the Conquer Series which was produced in order to break men free from the bondage of sexual sin. However, in order to acquire this God-ordained freedom, they demand you pay them over $130 after tax for the privilege of receiving this spiritual freedom from the deadly chains of a morally depraved and sin-infested world. Moreover, if you want to have the privilege as a pastor or youth leader to help other men be free from this bondage, then you must pay $500 or more for the materials to do so.
What do you think God thinks about this? Do you think Jesus would have put it behind a paywall, and then made sure to put a warning, a threat in the beginning about how this was a “copyrighted work” which they “worked hard on” and that sharing it without making people pay for it would be an “infringement” in which they would then go after you in litigation?
No. I believe Jesus is very angry about this. By putting a God-inspired mission to break people free from bondage behind an expensive paywall is actually hiding the words and help of God from people who desperately need to be broken free from bondage. Worse, it also provides a strong block that prevents many pastors and church leaders from using this series to help men, and this is possibly even more evil.
In a world where pornography and sin is at the fingertips of nearly every person in the developed world without material consequence, even completely free, placing the God-inspired mission behind a paywall is preventing the majority of these people from receiving the help they need. I believe that this series should be free with the option to donate. Surely God would bless them financially if they are helping so many people and doing God’s will?
These producers are trusting their own wallets instead of God to provide for them. Do you really think that if some Christians produced a video because they were inspired by God to produce it to help men break free from sin, that God would not provide the means not only to pay for it but to bless them for their faith? Of course God would. It is an evil attitude to hide God’s words behind a paywall.
Likewise, you have writers who will produce works which are inspired by God but they hide these words behind the cost of a book instead of freely sharing this online or providing a free PDF. One example of someone who does not do this evil thing is John Piper. John Piper’s book, Desiring God, is 100% free online and downloadable from the official website. This is completely wonderful. I listened to the Desiring God audiobook multiple times.
Even the Bible, the most valuable book ever written and inspired by the Creator of the universe (God), is completely free to all. Modern society and technology has enabled the Bible to be free to even more people at more times and in more places than ever before in history, and all for free. Digital apps are plentiful and available to anyone with a computer or smartphone. Websites even have cross-references and full concordances that are completely free so that anyone who wants to study the Word of God can do so at any time.
Yes, you can pay for a physical Bible if you don’t have one, but even before digital Bibles, churches, Christians, and even organizations would and still do go out of their way to provide free Bibles to everyone. Even if you couldn’t get one for free you could go to any church and read one for free. I guarantee that anyone who goes to any church and asks for a Bible because they cannot afford one will not be denied one – and at no cost. If there are none immediately available to give away I am sure that the pastor or any of the church leaders or even congregation would be happy to go out of their way to buy one and give it to you for free.
If God makes his own words free, and pastors who teach in church also allow their seminars (sermons) to be completely free to anyone who will come, then why should Christians who are inspired by God to teach others be charging money for a video series, training, seminar, or even book designed to help people overcome serious spiritual issues? Simply put, they should not.
I won’t ever lock this site behind a paywall, but that is what people like the producers of the Conquer Series have done – they have locked their teachings behind a paywall so that only those willing and able to pay a very high price will ever be able to acquire it. What’s worse is that if the series works, then it may the only thing that can help many people recover from this bondage, at least, not before a line is crossed, a marriage is broken, or some other natural consequence for sin is incurred.
Most of the world today is poor, and this includes those in developed countries like America. In fact, most of America is poor, especially in the past few decades with the elimination of the middle class. Simply put, most people can barely afford food, much less a $30 book, $150 program, or $1,000 seminar or conference.
By placing a paywall between the people of the world including God’s people, and the words that God has used a teacher, writer, speaker, producer, or other artisan to share, this is preventing the majority of people from hearing, reading, growing, breaking free, and flourishing. This is an insidious evil and an abuse of the wisdom and knowledge that God has given many teachers to impart His will, wisdom, and guidance to the world.
Put simply, spiritual knowledge should be free. If it is not free, you are inhibiting the ability for God to use you to help others. Should people make a donation to those servants of God who helped them grow in their relationship with God? Certainly, if they can afford it, and if this is above and beyond their tithes. But should it be a requirement in order to acquire this knowledge? Most certainly not.