Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Public Response to a Request by MTV's Show 'Ridiculousness'

Dear Ryan Budds,

I want to take an opportunity, publicly, to respond to your several requests (email, Twitter, and a call to my home) to use the below video on an episode of your MTV program, "Ridiculousness."

First, while I know nothing at all about producing television programs, I suspect you are good at what you do--if for no other reason, the tenacity with which you pursue material for the program. I'm sure your program, which I have never seen, is very popular among the demographic you are trying to reach. And while I have not watched your program, I have been able to glean a general idea of the show's premise from online articles.

The Atlanta Black Star had this to say about Season Five of "Ridiculousness":
"Hosted by Rob Dyrdek, Ridiculousness takes the funniest amateur Internet videos and builds them into an episode of edgy, funny and, most importantly, timeless television. Driven by Dyrdek, the core content of Ridiculousness are the videos framed by Rob’s unique style, pacing and infectious energy. Rob breaks down the hottest clips, laughing along with co-hosts Sterling 'Steelo' Brim and Chanel West Coast (Fantasy Factory’s rapping receptionist). Shot on a studio set with an audience of fans and celebrity guests such as Johnny Knoxville (Wildboyz), Travis Pastrana (Nitro Circus) and Christopher 'Big Black' Boykin (Rob & Big), Ridiculousness brings the best of the Internet to MTV, taking the video clip show to the next level."
From your program's web page:
"Rob Dyrdek hosts an internet video clip show with celebrity guests and co-hosts Sterling 'Steelo' Brim and Chanel West Coast (Fantasy Factory's rapping receptionist).

"Ridiculousness is back with an all new third season, and Rob Dyrdek returns with his hilarious take on the greatest viral videos on the Internet. Along for the ride once again are co-hosts Sterling 'Steelo-O' Brim and Chanel West Coast, breaking down all new video categories like 'Nut Snipers', 'Russian Good Times, and 'Probably Florida'. With guests like Jersey Shore's Pauly D, Jackass's Steve-O and Bam Margera, and Hip Hop phenom Mac Miller, the third season of "Ridiculousness may just be the funniest one yet."
And from Wikipedia:
Ridiculousness shows various viral videos from the Internet, usually involving failed do-it-yourself attempts at stunts, to which Rob and his panelists add mock commentary. Although the format bears some similarity to viewer-submission driven shows such as America's Funniest Home Videos, Ridiculousness producers, as well as the show's network, MTV, do not accept viewer submissions and air a disclaimer before and after each episode warning that, because of the dangerous nature of the stunts being shown, any attempts to submit a video to the show will be discarded sight unseen."
So, my understanding, Ryan, is that your program is a comedy, using viral Internet videos as the either the setup or punchline for jokes. For that reason, Ryan, I must decline your request to use my video on your program.

I would like to say I am flattered by your request (I'm sure many people, maybe even some Christians, would jump at the opportunity), I cannot say that I am. Please don't misunderstand. I am not angry, upset, or offended by your request. I understand you are simply doing your job and trying to put together what you hope would be, consistent with your worldview, the most entertaining and successful program you can.

You see, Ryan; while some find funny what happened in the video, it wasn't funny to me. The video wasn't posted to draw laughter, although we knew it would. The video was posted because we wanted to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible. We know that most people who surf YouTube for entertainment are voyeuristic and love to see conflict. We also know that most people who surf YouTube hate Jesus. I'm not saying they hate Jesus because they surf YouTube. I'm saying that most people in the world hate Jesus, and some of them also surf YouTube. I hope you can understand the distinction. So, we knew that a preacher (me) getting hit in the face with a burrito or anything else would draw people to watch the video.

Ryan, your interest in the video has proven this hypothesis.

I was at the 2012 Super Bowl, in Indianapolis, along with more than 100 other Christians. We were there to preach the Law of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to any of the hundreds-of-thousands of people there who would listen. What you saw in the video was not comedy (although you think it is). What you saw in the video was tragedy, as people in various stages of intoxication, engaged in various forms of depravity, showing their hatred for the God who created them. What you saw was the tragedy of a normal response toward Christians who try, in love, to share the reality of one-day facing God's wrath and judgment and the hope of receiving forgiveness of sin, through faith in Jesus Christ the Lord.

Ryan, considering the premise and goal of your program, if I were to allow you to air my video on your program I would actually be harming you, the show hosts and guests, and your viewing audience. For if I were to allow you to air my video so you can spend time on your show mocking what happened to me, then I would be helping you to facilitate the mocking of Jesus Christ and His gospel. I would be helping you, the show hosts and guests, and your viewers to heap God's wrath upon themselves for the Day of Wrath. For me to allow you to use my video, Ryan, would be an act of hatred toward you, not an act of love.

Ryan, you need to understand, when the anonymous person hit me in the back of the head with a dirt clod, and then moments later another person hit me in the face with a burrito, they weren't simply saying, "I hate you, preacher!" They were saying, "I hate what you are saying! I hate who you represent! I hate God!" To allow the opportunity for that kind of hatred to be extended to your staff, hosts, guests, and viewers would be to help them blaspheme God. I love you and them too much to allow that to happen.

I hope you've made it this far in my letter, Ryan. I hope you didn't close the page when you read I do not give consent to use my video.

Ryan, you and I will likely never meet, and we may never again communicate with each other. I want you to know that I truly care about you, as a fellow human being. You were created in the image of God. The Bible teaches me to obey two great commandments--to love God and to love people. And it is because of my love for God and my love for people, including you, that I must decline your request.

I hope and pray, Ryan, you will take the time to keep reading.

Jesus Christ is Lord.

He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He was with the Father in and at Creation. All things--all things--were created by Him, and through Him, and for Him. Nothing has ever been made that was not made by Jesus Christ. He is the sinless Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. He is also the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who will judge both the living and the dead. He is King of kings and Lord of Lords. He is sovereign over all things.

He owns every person, just as He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and it matters not if, at present, the person is in wanton rebellion against Jesus Christ or one of His born-again, beloved children. Jesus owns it all. Jesus owns us all. God is. God is one. God is Three in One--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--One God in Three Persons--the Triune One--the Trinity--God. And this God, for there is only one God, is the God before whom every person will one day stand to give an account for their lives. Because God alone is truly and perfectly good, He will judge each person according to the perfect moral standard He has written on every human heart.

Ryan, you know that it is a sin to lie because you know God is Truth. You know it is wrong to harbor bitterness, resentment, and hatred in your heart toward another person because you know God is love. You know it is wrong to fornicate (to engage sexually with a man or a woman outside the bonds of marriage between one man and one woman). You know it is wrong to look and think with lust. You know it is wrong to commit adultery. You know it is wrong to engage in homosexuality, lesbianism, or any other form of sexual depravity because you know God is Faithful. You know it is wrong to take the name of the Lord your God in vain, to bring his name down low and use it as an adjectival term of excitement, anger, sorrow, or fear, because you know God is Holy.

For the above reasons, and others, everyone who stands before God to give an account will do so without excuse. No one will be able to claim innocence or ignorance of violating God’s law--whether in thought, word, or deed. Because God is good, because He is holy, righteous and just, He must punish sin. The punishment God has determined for sin, all sin, is eternity in Hell. It matters not whether you believe this, Ryan. What matters is that it is true. Truth is not determined by what you or I believe. God is truth, though every person is found to be a liar. Truth is that which comports to reality, and any attempt to live life apart from the reality of God is to live a life of chaos, absurdity, arrogant denial, and sin.

Hang in there, Ryan. Don't stop reading. It won't kill you to keep reading, but it could cost you your soul to stop. I'm not being melodramatic; I'm simply giving you a reality check.

This same God--again, for there is only one God--who is angry with the wicked every day, whose wrath abides upon the ungodly, who will judge the world in righteousness, is the same God who is loving, merciful, gracious, and kind. And He showed His great love for mankind when He sent His Son to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ--fully God and fully Man, yet without sin.

Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin just as the prophet Isaiah declared more than 700 years before Jesus’s literal, physical birth, lived the perfect, sinless life you cannot live. For some 33 years, Jesus lived a life in perfect obedience to the law of God--in thought, word, and deed--a life you and I could not hope to live for a mere 33 seconds. And then He voluntarily went to the cross.

Yes, it was the Jewish people who hatefully and viciously demanded Jesus’s execution. Yes, it was the Roman government that carried out the despicable act. But they were all merely instruments in the hands of another. For it pleased God the Father to crush God the Son under the full weight and fury of His wrath against sin. God the Father made God the Son, who knew no sin, to become sin on behalf of those who repent and believe the gospel so that through the sacrifice of His Son many would be made righteous in the eyes of Almighty God. In other words, on that great and terrible day God the Father looked upon God the Son as if He had lived the depraved life of a sinner and in exchange--a great exchange--God the Father looks upon those whom He has caused to be born again, to repent and believe the gospel, as if they had lived His Son’s perfect, precious, and priceless life.

Jesus shed His innocent blood on the cross. He died a literal, physical death on the cross. And He was buried in a tomb not His own. Three days later, Jesus forever defeated sin and death when He physically, bodily rose from the grave. And unlike every false god created in the imaginations of men--whether the false gods of Islam, Catholicism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oprah-ism, or Atheism (a religion like every other spiritual “ism.”)--Jesus Christ is alive today and He will return at a time of the Father’s choosing.

What God commands of you, Ryan, is the same thing He commands of me and all people everywhere, and that’s that you repent--turn from your sin and turn toward God--and by faith alone receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

You must come to God on His terms, Ryan. God does not negotiate with sinners. God will not be bribed by your religious practices (if you are engaged in any) or what you may perceive as “good works” acceptable to God. God will not weigh your “good” against your “bad,” for God does not see you or anyone else as good--good in keeping with His standard of moral perfection. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, including you and me.

If you do not read the gospel of Jesus Christ and see it for what it is, good news, it is because you love your sin more than you love God. It is because you love yourself more than you love God. It is because the love of God and the Truth of His Word is not in you. But if God causes you to be born again, Ryan, and extends to you the gifts of repentance and faith, which only He can give, then He will take your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. You will begin to love the things God loves and hate the things God hates. You will stop presuming upon God’s forgiveness as if it is something you have earned or deserved. Instead, you will have the confident assurance He has forgiven you--not on the basis of any deeds you have done in righteousness, but based entirely upon God’s mercy, grace, and love.

And why would God allow His one and only Son to die a sinner’s death He did not deserve in order to take upon Himself the punishment sinners rightly deserve for their sins against God, so that sinners could be forgiven and saved? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Ryan, I urge you, with love in my heart, to repent and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, while God has given you time. And I do hope to hear from you again. You are in my prayers.

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