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Apple, porn, and freedom

Grace City (which I found via BTW) desribes an interesting story on Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple) and his unwillingness to make porn readily available on his portable devices like the iPhone (now, I am not sure exactly what his devices prevent. I am not privy to technology, especially hip and sleek Apple products; it is a mini-miracle that I am blogging).

Pete from Grace City points this out:

“When a critic emailed him to say that this infringed his freedoms, Jobs emailed back and told him to buy a different type of computer.”

And another complaint hit a bit closer to home, specifically, Jobs love for Bob Dylan:

one customer emailed him to ask how Dylan would feel about Jobs’ restrictions of customers’ freedoms.

The CEO of Apple replied to say that he values:

‘Freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin’ and some traditional PC folks feel their world is slipping away. It is.’

The interlocuter replied:

“I don’t want ‘freedom from porn’. Porn is just fine! And I think my wife would agree.”

In the most revealing line, Steve Jobs dismissed the critic thus:

“You might care more about porn when you have kids.”

The notion of freedom evident in these comments is worth touching upon. For the upset Apple customer, freedom means doing what one wants. Freedom is the absence of entanglements. Here is the problem with this view of freedom: once one removes all external hindrances, authorities, and snags (eg, rules, software that prevents porn, disapproving spouses, God, etc.), they are still a slave to themselves. To return to Bob Dylan, “you’ve gotta serve somebody” (or something). If one removes all rules and outside authorities, one remains a slave to themselves.

The book of Exodus brings clarity to the matter. The Hebrew people find themselves enslaved in Egypt (the Hebrew root abad–serve, slave–is laced throughout the first chapter). What is interesting is the goal of the book: the Hebrews are not moving from enslavement to freedom, but from bad enslavement to good enslavement. The purpose of their exit from Egypt is to serve (again, the root abad) the Lord (Exodus 4.23). Only when the Hebrews place themselves under the authority of God can they be truly free.

This is the biblical idea of freedom. It is an idea at variance with our culture’s assumptions about freedom (evidenced in the comments directed to Jobs) but, ironically, only when one tethers themselves to God’s rule can they be liberated.

Author: Casey Shutt

View more articles by Casey Shutt.

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  • Justin Taylor

    Just to clarify: what you’ve posted above IS true. A satire site took it a step further and said that Jobs was going to ban porn from all Mac browsers this summer. That’s not true—but the email exchange you’ve reprinted above is indeed true.

    Sorry for the confusion I’ve created here!

    JT

  • Thank you for the clarification, Justin. Another update is in order!

  • Jay Sampson

    Great post, Casey, and spot on. We are NOT our own, no matter what we feel “freedom” from all hindrances brings us. One of the great (the greatest?) lies of the Deceiver is that governing ourselves allows us to have our own identity, to make our own decisions, to be the master of our life and answerable to no one. He convinces us that the power struggle is between a tyrannical dictator God and a good, well-intended self. Wouldn’t most of us agree from experience if not from Scripture (as you have well illustrated) that we are not indeed masters of our own fate but rather “slaves to the one we obey, either of sin which leads to death or of obedience which leads to righteousness” (Rom 8:16)?

    I’m thankful to God for the candor of the emailer because it so vividly illustrates the darkness of the deception of sin.

    May we be happy slaves of Christ rather than ignorant and deceived slaves to sin.

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