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Grace, Freedom, and Internet Filters

Last Updated: February 21, 2014

Daniel Darling
Daniel Darling

Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of Teen People of the Bible, Crash CourseiFaith, and was a contributing writer to Zondervan’s Couples Devotional Bible. His work has also been featured in evangelical publications such as Focus on the Family, Marriage Partnership, Pray!, and In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley.

Growing up in the church, I have seen two extremes when it comes to our interaction with media. There is the legalistic approach which hands out lists which serve as unofficial arbiters of someone’s spirituality. This is a harmful approach for a couple of reasons.

First, it removes the ability of a Christian to be active in the world in which we are sent (John 17:13-19). Ignoring new media and technology and writing everything off as “bad” robs us of life-giving opportunities to harness technology for good and ill prepares us for discernment. This approach has no theology and no worldview. It simply assumes a policy of “no” is good enough.

The other danger with the legalistic approach is that it becomes an idol in and of itself. We tell ourselves that if we’re living the list, we’re okay. We pride ourselves on how many hedges we’ve set up, exalting our version of the law rather than worshiping the exalted Christ. In essence our methods become our message and the gospel is lost. I’ve seen this approach prove counterproductive, especially in parenting, as kids see through the façade of man-made rules. They rebel because of the lack of authentic faith.

However, there is an equal danger in the pride that keeps us so “liberated” from rules that we slowly imbibe the values of the culture around us. So resistant are we to legalism that we willingly enslave ourselves to destructive influences. We adopt the Satanic lie that a little poison is okay for the soul. Instead of being guardians of the pollution that could infect our families, we leave the gate open, it’s hinges rusty. There is no spiritual security and soon the enemy makes his home in our lives, shaping our thoughts, enslaving us, and rendering us ineffective messengers of the Gospel.

Ironically the answer to legalism is the same answer to license. It’s an acknowledgment that as sinners, our flesh cannot be trusted. This means we need solid guardrails on our consumption of media, so that we are free to pursue what is God’s best. We don’t worship the hedges we put in place, we don’t use them as monuments to our own self-righteousness, which we know only pleases the enemy.

Instead, we establish accountability through services like Covenant Eyes, simply because we desire to be free from the chains of addiction and sin. Free to pursue that which is best. Free to experience love and joy and peace.

A truly humble, spiritual Christian doesn’t brag about the guardrails he installs. Rather they are a constant reminder of his personal weakness in the flesh and his need for a sustained dependence on Christ.

That’s why a tool like Covenant Eyes isn’t about legalism and law and restriction. It’s about freedom and grace. Freedom to keep our weak hearts from turning toward idols that only lead to destruction. We want to be so free to pursue the worthy goals of a spiritual family, a ministry of impact, and a life of integrity that we erect fences to keep out the advances of the enemy.

It’s also about grace. Legalism says, “I am great because I didn’t get caught.” Grace says, “God has reached down in grace and given me the gift of new life. He gives me grace to sustain me every day, therefore I will set up boundaries to keep my heart from wandering toward lesser idols.”

Covenant Eyes doesn’t want to catch people. They want to free people. And that’s why it’s an ally in the pursuit of Christ.

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