Recently I posted a comment about Moore Theological College‘s initiative to offer the installation of CE on all student and faculty computers.
Read on to find out what more of our detractors are saying . . .
Only 20 days ago one blog submitted a series of comments about this initiative at Moore.
First, let me start with the comments I found enlightening.
1. “Surely ministers-to-be, pastors-to-be, should be able to discuss anything.” Sometimes there is an unnecessary fear of being candid about our problems with sin. I agree that the Christian world needs to strip away this taboo and allow people to be honest.
2. “Your dedicated porn watcher would find a way to circumvent this software. They will have The Covenant Eyes loaded onto one computer and simply have a separate computer also in their room, yes probably under their bed (whatever) which they can then use to watch their internet porn and no-one would be the wiser. Lots of infringement of people’s privacy but no solving of the problem. Or they follow the time honoured tradition of going to adult shops and buying pornographic CD’s and/or watching dirty movies in out of the way cinemas.” I agree. There are always ways around software, even the best software, without needing a separate computer. And CE certainly does nothing about stopping seminary students from rushing off to the nearest pornography shop. The addict will find a way to get around the software. This is why Covenant Eyes is not a be-all solution to addiction. It is a tool at best, a tool to be used in the hands of willing participants.
3. “Oh but this third party [that receives your accountability report] is your close friend, you say. Yeah? For how long? For how long will he be your close friend after he sees what you’ve been looking at on the internet? And who is he going to tell, and when? He’ll have a duty to tell and, oh boy, won’t he warm to his duty! . . . Are there protocols in place for how people are to react? Has that aspect been thought through?” I agree that new protocols need to be discussed and dealt with, especially in a context where a whole community is promoting the use of CE. As a school, church, or business tries to create a culture of accountability, it is important to not only install the proper software, but to also help people unlearn false ideas of “accountability.” Accountability should never be a culture that promotes paranoia or chronic shame to change people’s hearts.
4. “Christ has given us freedom. Don’t live somebody else’s life. If you live somebody else’s life you will, deep down, be resentful and restless and irritable. Such people become envious and jealous, thinking that in some way they are owed some pleasure. They think that since they have given up themselves, they are now owed something. Don’t be like this.” I agree that far too few Christians are finding a true, abundant life in Christ. We are not to live by someone else’s morals or model our lives after the expectations of others. I know personally how much envy brews in the heart of someone who feels pressure from the surrounding community to “fit the mold.”
Next, let me try to correct some false assumptions about the use of CE software.
The blogger also writes . .
1. “To get back to the point, all adults must learn self-control and they must learn to vote with their feet. We must learn to walk away from pornography while keeping our freedom and our privacy intact. . . . The Covenant Eyes software is childish and intrusive. It diminishes people and infantilises them.” While I agree that the crucial issue behind any addiction is self-control, to call CE software intrusive assumes too high a value on privacy. To be sure, we all desire our privacy on some level (I want to change my clothes without anyone else watching), but when it comes to matters that are potentially psychologically damaging and sinful, a voluntary loss of privacy is very helpful. In fact, this is exactly what joining the fellowship of the church involves. We are saying, “I am no longer my own. I belong to you, the community, and you to me.” In our world, where privacy is highly valued, this may seem cultish, and to be sure, there have been many examples of community that have handled accountability in cultish ways. But we need to give one another permission to watch each other’s backs and care deeply for one another. I remember when I was struggling deeply with pornography addiction; it was therapeutic for me to drag my sin into the light and let someone know specifically the nature of my sin. One of the advantages of CE software is that it did not allow me to play the “time game” with my Accountability Partners. I would sometimes wait days or weeks to confess my sin and then pass it off as “no big deal,” because by then it was all “water under the bridge.”
2. “Interestingly the whole, ‘Please don’t tell anybody else about this’ hysteria that will surround this type of software is seriously counterproductive to the task at hand. It is likely to worsen or at least perpetuate the problem. This sort of approach only heightens the drama, heightens the excitement, exaggerates the salaciousness on which pornography feeds.” I agree that pornography feeds off of the heightened drama of secrecy, but with proper community protocols in place, CE software is designed to eliminate the environment of secrecy. Now, I agree that a new environment may be created that only exposes and unnecessarily shames people who are struggling, so hopefully this will not be the result. But theological institutions like Moore should be places where struggling saints find freedom, where sins can be deliberately brought into the light and lose their grip. The church needs to again become a place where the “worst of sinners” can find a home. The church also needs to be a place that puts a high premium on repentance and lets its members know that sin is a cancer that must be found and rooted out.
3. “. . . regardless of what other people say, believe you are a good person. Believe that you know what to do with your life and that you are capable of making the right choices. Low self-esteem and low self-worth never helps in these situations. . . . Your actions should arise out of the principle of doing what is right because it is a part of your inner being, not because someone tells you what the right thing is to do.” I do agree that low-self worth and self-esteem are BIG deterrents to freedom from sin, but self-esteem needs to be based on truth, not wishful thinking. While there is a big move in today’s market to increase self-esteem, it is important to know how to esteem ourselves rightly. Is it right to say that we are “capable of making the right choices” and “you know what to do with your life”? The track record of every human being I’ve ever known certainly doesn’t illustrate these ideas to be true. I wholeheartedly agree that it matters far more who we are rather than what we do, but if we are to solve the problem of pornography addiction we need more than simply telling ourselves we are different. We need to actually be made different. This is where God comes into the picture.
4. “I believe that a real expert would judge this solution to be amateurish, intrusive, controlling, heavy-handed and likely to be counterproductive.” I disagree. Many ministries and churches and families have adopted Covenant Eyes as one of their countermeasures to temptation and have found that it works. Dr. Mark Laaser, for example, who heads up Faithful and True Ministries (a Christian recovery ministry for individuals and couples who struggle because of sexual addiction), recommends Covenant Eyes to many he counsels. I recommend also reading blogs on The Clergy Recovery Network, Mobile Ministry Magazine, and Christianity Today.
Admittedly, I am looking at this new initiative at Moore Theological College as an outsider. I am not an Anglican, have never been to seminary, and have never visited Sydney. But I hope (and believe) that this initiative will prove to be a healthy and productive one for Moore.