Do I Really “Need” an iPad?

I really got a kick out of Dave’s message the Sunday before last where he attempted to pass off a device that weighed food as a new Apple iPad. I have to admit I initially thought he was telling the truth. I know Dave has some acquaintances with connections at Apple and as I already know him to be a “technophile”, it was not out of question that he might have actually acquired an early version of the long anticipated device.

As soon as I saw the photos of him holding the scale up to his ear, I knew I’d been “punked”. Funny stuff. However, I must admit I was checking my laptop over lunch on Wednesday to see what all the fuss has been about over the past six months as a media frenzy has developed around the release of the iPad. You can read about the release here.


You see, I am a tech junkie as well. I love to get the latest electronic toys. I have the option to listen to Pandora radio on my iMac, my iPod Touch, or my Plasma TV through my wireless internet connected ROKU device…yep, I’m certifiable. So, I had to ask myself if this was the next thing on my wish list.

I think it is amazing as a grown man I still filter a large purchase or a big decision through what my parents would do if faced with the same decision. I think we all do that to some degree (I am sure there is a psychiatrist reading this who knows exactly why we employ such a filter). I think my tendencies are related more to the respect I have for my parents than it is to my indecisiveness. When perusing information about the iPad, I could actually hear my dad’s voice saying; “Jeff, remember we always evaluate everything we acquire through the Needs, Wants, Desires Test”.

Did your parents use a similar test? It goes something like this; If you are faced with an opportunity to purchase some pursued entity you must ask yourself “do I need it, do I want it, or do I desire it?” My dad used to add to this advice the anecdotal footnote of suggesting we tend to stay out of trouble when we stay somewhere between the “needs” and the “wants”. As a young adult I assumed this was just another opportunity for my parents to play killjoy. I mean really, the things we actually “need” make for an extremely short list!

As I am now a young father, I think I am beginning to understand my dad’s point. The “trouble” he was referring to may be exemplified clearly in an amazing statistic recently published by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The foudation’s survey found the average American kid spends over 7 and 1/2 hours a day engaged in electronic media of some sort or another. That is literally close to half the hours awake! Now consider they are typically multitasking while engaged with the media, that brings them up to almost 11 hours of media content packed into that time span.

Our own Justin Garrett mentioned the Kaiser research earlier this week on this very blog and as I read it I was stunned. I wondered if my kids were living up to the same “averages” defined by the survey. As I came home from work this week I noticed what my kids were doing when I arrived. I quickly took notice of my 9 year old who was playing a game on the computer while my 6 and 3 year old were watching a TV show in our bedroom…well, it looks like it is “average” for the Gamble family after all! I immediately proceeded to plop myself on my couch and catch the last of the basketball game on my new TV! Those apples didn’t fall far from the tree, did they? Here is my point; desires distract.

I know I am treading on some thin legalistic ice here, but I think we sometimes too quickly dismiss good old-fashioned wisdom as legalism. How do you interpret the context of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:23 when he suggests that “All things are lawful”, but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful”, but not all things build up?

I think it to be clearly evident that Paul would say there is nothing wrong with the iPad. In fact, I expect he would have considered it extremely useful to have the ability to wirelessly display a youtube video of his conversion experience on the road to Damascus! However, if my pursuit and enjoyment of the newest techno-fad distracts me from my primary responsibility as a husband and father, then it is not helpful for me to obtain it.

My desire for that thing has distracted me from glorifying God with it. Therefore, I think it can be rightly said the object is not the sin, it is the inordinate desire for the object that leads to sin. Now, if you will excuse me, I have an online rematch to catch with my son on our Nintendo Wii.

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