Does using Internet accountability software mean I am relying on mere man-made barriers to keep sin at bay? When I use Covenant Eyes to keep me from looking at pornography, is this just an unhelpful form of legalism?
Yesterday I summarized an e-mail I received from a man who claimed that Christians shouldn’t need Covenant Eyes. Accountability software can’t fight our sinful desires. The gospel does.
Below was my reply to this objection:
I think you are right in many of your observations: People can try in vain to use human-made restraints to overcome sinful behavior. People can even use Covenant Eyes this way. I agree with your take on Colossians 2 and 3.
But I take serious issue with the idea that Covenant Eyes is always used this way and is therefore something always unnecessary for those who live in the power of the gospel. I’ll explain.
I agree with you that it is only by setting our affections on things above, only being captivated with a “higher affection,” that our sinful thirst for pornography is conquered. But we need to ask: What means has the Spirit of God given us to embrace these new affections? How does he help us see what these “things above” are?
I would argue that the community of the church is one of the Spirit’s primary means.
- It is through the faithful proclamation of the Spirit-inspired Word by spiritually gifted men that we learn to understand what “the things above” are (Ephesians 4:11-16).
- It is through mutual exhortation and encouragement from fellow believers that we are stirred up to live in light of the Day when Christ returns, the Day when “the things above” will become visible (Hebrews 10:24-25).
- It is as we mutually edify one another that we experience the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17-19).
- As those among us are caught in sin, we who are spiritual are called to restore them, bearing one another’s burdens, fulfilling Christ’s law of love (Galatians 6:1-2).
- We can set our minds on eternal truths when we encourage and comfort one another with promises from Scripture (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11).
Yes, we are called to set our affections on Christ (Colossians 3:1-4), not rely on man-made rules (2:20-23), but even as we do this, sinful sexual drives still live in the physical members of our bodies (3:5). These drives pull us away from our heavenly affections, so we are called to go to war against them (3:5). What does this war look like? Among other things, one of the weapons in this war is the community of the church: Paul tells us to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom (3:16). This is an indispensable tool for holiness.
And this is where Covenant Eyes comes in. For many people, using Covenant Eyes is a discipline of communication to other believers. It enables easier communication with brothers in Christ about the temptations they face, the choices they make, and the state of their heart.
For instance, I meet weekly with an elder in my church who receives my Accountability Reports. While he does ask me about specific items on my Report, the bulk of our conversation has to do with helping me to set my eyes on Christ and the gospel. The details of the Report aid the conversation.
Covenant Eyes is like other online communication tools: in the right hands and with godly motives, these tools help someone to build conversations of encouragement and honesty. Given the Word’s clear call to the church to love one another in these ways, why would we call tools that further enable this communication a waste of money or time?
So, what do you think? Are Covenant Eyes Accountability Reports used as a form of “human regulations”? Or can they be used as communication tools that provide a springboard to having gospel-centered conversations?
‘Rules and regulations’ do not SAVE, BUT they are a good fence. If you dont put ‘hedges’ around your marriage, you SHOULD..that means never travel or eat with an opposite sex person alone unless there are 3 people or you’re with spouse. I don’t know what covenanteyes consists of though.
My argument with the nay-sayers of our program is that there are a lot of solid Christian men with a besetting sin (sex addiction). Some of them in that pastor’s denomination. Our God ‘full of Grace’ is giving us a gift through technology that says, “Here is the way of escape I have planned for you.”
I would be bold enough to say that a Pastor who teaches this type of “name it and claim it” philosophy will have to answer to God for his false teaching.
I know one of the main reasons I use Covenant Eyes, even if I’m “feeling stronger” and “in no way going to give in to lust,” I realize I am always capable. I put safeguards up because I know I can fall not because I don’t. I’d be foolish to let my guard down and believe everything is okay if I take down the “walls” protecting me.
Another thing to note about the internet is Virtual Integrity. Not always do we surf the web and get exactly what we wanted. Like Dan Lohrmann mentioned, “we need to surf our values,” but we don’t always get the kind of values presented to us that we like. People in the porn industry want people to accidentally stumble upon their material unrelated to someone’s search for example. Which is another reason moving them all to an obvious .xxx, .sex, .whatever domain name would never work because it helps take away their deception.
I’ve got 3.5 years of sobriety from porn. I don’t use filters on my computer (or covenent eyes) because A) I know how to get around those blocks B) I tend to side personally with the DC pastor.
However, I definitely feel that a filter (or better covenent eyes) can go a long way to helping a person get rid of the stuff that is bringing them down. If you’re a guy just starting out on this journey of ridding your life of porn, you’ve first got to rid your life of porn. You can’t work on the real issues until you get rid of the surface clutter. Perhaps, once you’ve mastered the art of surfing without indulging, then you can consider surfing without a safety net. However, that is not for everyone. There are those that need the constant reminder that someone is watching over your shoulder. Let’s face it, God is always watching over our shoulder anyway, so if it takes thinking that another man is watching over our shoulder to reinforce that truth, then so be it.
Do what you need to help you along the journey. We’re all at different places in our progress towards holiness.
I am completely convinced – as a commited Husband and Father – all men should do whatever is neccessary – at any cost – to stay pure
The battle is fierce – its ruthless – I have hundreds of times caved in after sayint i would never look at it
– thats becouse on my own i can do nothing ( i really believe Ephesians 6:10 – 20 )
– yet only when i was told about real Men’s accountability – Filters – real open confession – exposing the lie of the sin for what it is – allowing Gods word to show me what the root causes are – as well as being simply practical – this is war Gentleman – our families are at stake
– I have seen men in my church ( tank ) – the families are now Blown Out – we are the Pointman in our Families
– I think it is very scriptural – to allow other Men in to our lives – for me that was the only way to get this junk out – I now see I was allowing it in – yet there is nothing wrong with taking the needed precautions to live in right standing with our Wives as God strengthens us daily – Hourly – minute by minute
– for the first time in my life – i have real alone time with Jesus – Yes lets do what ever we can while on this side – to keep our eyes on Him
– ” It’s hard to imagine the freedom we find – in the things we leave behind ” – Michael card
I believe that what Jesus is saying in the verses below help to answer this question.
Matt 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell.
Matt 5:30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell.
There is nothing new under the sun as regards sexual immorality, but access to pornography has never been easier because of the Internet. Jesus is telling us to use whatever tools and means we need in order to remove temptations that lead to sin from our lives.
It seems to me that accountability software could be a good tool in a Christian’s battle against Satan.
Both God and Satan are using the Internet, one to spread His Kingdom, and one to spread his evil and destruction.
I believe we are standing on shaky ground when we believe that we have attained a degree of maturity and spirituality that don’t require us to avail ourselves of all the tools provided to us.
Of course, if we know how to get around software filters, the software won’t do us much good, but it may give us a few more seconds to consider our obligation to Christ before we decide to sin.
If people don’t know how to get around the filter, the Internet is not required in order to engage in sexual immoral behavior anyway, and ultimately yes, we are increasingly victorious over sin as our hearts are sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Anyhow, those are my thoughts.
Right, Ed. I think of Covenant Eyes as a robust and highly tuned tool that aids me in my personal accountability. I see other tools the same way. I have an app on my iPhone that reminds me to call a friend who has asked me to hold him accountable to specific aspects of his life. It is a tool that aids the commitment. We need to avail ourselves to things that help us to stay connected with members of the body of Christ who are God’s means of grace to us.
The problem with the DC pastor’s argument is that one needs to stop viewing porn first in order to work on deeper inner heart/spiritual issues. if one continues to view porn everyday it is impossible to grow spiritually. lots of times we need to stop sinning behaviorally first in order to grow spiritually. “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God”