There are only a few weeks left to apply for a Covenant Eyes scholarship! Each year we award thousands of scholarship dollars to students who demonstrate integrity. Check out the application information and pass it along to a student you know or apply for the scholarship today. Applications are due by May 31, 2019.
The essays below were written by one of last year’s winners.
How do you use Covenant Eyes, and how has it impacted your life?
I have used Covenant Eyes’ accountability software since college and Covenant Eyes’ filtering in addition to accountability for the past four or so years. I say this with no exaggeration: Jesus, through Covenant Eyes, gave me transforming mercy and grace.
My own struggle with pornography started in junior high, as I responded to various popups that I found surfing the web. Throughout junior high and high school, my own use of pornography morphed into a full-fledged inability to rid myself of it, as I wrestled with serving two masters, Christ and porn. I simply knew of no way of battling pornography in those yearly years, other than trying harder each and every week. Yet, as week after week went by, I returned again and again to the very thing that brought utter darkness to my life.
No youth minister knew about it. No youth minister asked about it. It was never a topic in my friend group; and no one I knew struggled with it. In silence and isolation, porn was tearing my life to pieces.
It was not until my freshman year of college that the winds changed, when a new friend suggested Covenant Eyes. I had no idea what he was talking about, but after embarrassingly asking my parents to foot the bill, I found out that the power of Christ was tangible and real for my struggle with pornography. Almost immediately, through my brother in Christ keeping tabs, asking me about my own heart, praying with me, viewing my accountability reports, porn began to loose its grip.
Covenant Eyes facilitated a relationship with not only that individual but also with a campus minister, and through these two brothers, I found a refuge in the arms of Jesus that I have never forgotten. Progressive sanctification is just that, progressive. Covenant Eyes’ software began an increasingly stronger fight in my life against porn through the facilitation of Christian community. Though, as with most of life, I continued to struggle throughout college, the Lord began to make known to me the truths of James 5:16, that there is, indeed, healing and transforming power in openness and confession, not death and shame.
Since college, I’ve had numerous accountability partners, but the most precious one has been my wife. Since the night before our engagement where I confessed my past struggles with lust and porn and my current, ongoing battles, she has been a tangible presence of the faithfulness of God to me. Throughout our almost eight years of marriage, she has received my accountability reports, challenged me when I have failed, showered me with faithfulness, and has been a strong arm, holding me up and leading me to the feet of Christ.
Even in the past months, we have talked about my journey in fighting pornography, and she surprised me by remarking how she had seen tremendous growth. I struggle to see growth in my heart, because each temptation feels like an absolute war; but through those little moments with her, she has urged me to holiness and faith.
Each time I mess up, though I’m certainly growing, Covenant Eyes facilitates James 5:16 in my life, and proves to me, time and time again, that light is better than darkness, Jesus is better than porn, and that in confession and openness there is true transformation to be had.
How do you strive to demonstrate a life of integrity?
An integrated life has been a struggle of mine since I can remember knowing Jesus. It’s easy to live an integrated life when He isn’t in the picture, but when He makes Himself known, when He captures and beckons, the hard task of living with integrity becomes the entire task of life.
In my own spiritual life, integrity was far from my grasp in junior high and high school. I struggled more and more with internet porn and found no measure of relief. While intentionality and sincerity were strong within me, practicality on my part was weak.
My freshman year of college brought porn into the light, as one of my closest friends suggested Covenant Eyes to me. Through his love and the faithfulness of a loving, campus minister, they helped me to push into those places in my life, one of the strongest of which was my faith in porn, which were simply incompatible with my faith in Jesus.
A life of integrity, for me, is about practically grasping with my heart the Reality of Christ. Christ himself has pushed in to me and, in doing so, has changed everything.
As I have tasted the corruption and anguish of a life that seeks to keep porn hidden but close, since college I have progressively tasted the goodness of living life in accordance with Reality. In the mornings, I strive (though with my children, I’m lucky if I get it in!) to get in the Scriptures and to bring my heart before Him in prayer. My marriage has been one of the most important areas of my life, and the Lord has, time and again, pressed upon my wife and I the life-giving value of honesty and integrity. My wife receives my accountability reports, and sexual faithfulness is a frequent topic of conversation and growth in our marriage.
From those crucial moments during my freshman year as well, I’ve learned the value of Christian community, specifically the wisdom that comes from having others speak into my life. That has facilitated a group consisting of peers and older men who essentially run my life. Every major decision is run through them. Every life stage is evaluated with them. And they are the ones who pray and come alongside of me when I am weak, confused, and cannot see where Christ is.
Socially, I think a life of integrity for me has meant striving to live a life of love for others. I certainly wrestle with loving others—my own children, for that matter!—but the Lord gave me an opportunity in college to spend my days as a volunteer small group leader in a church youth ministry.
That taste of an outward-oriented life was like finding the road to home for me. From there, I worked for a number of years on staff in youth ministry after college, striving to love kids and help them to see the worth and life of following Christ, loving God and others—and now I receive accountability reports for a number of them!
This calling for integrity has also meant that, throughout my years in seminary, I worked for a para-church ministry, Harvest USA, in Philadelphia, developing seminars, presentations, and minibooks for youth ministers and parents oriented around helping them love and disciple students better in the area of sexuality. This culminated recently in the publication through New Growth Press of Alive: Gospel Sexuality for Students, a small-group curriculum for youth ministries which helps students grasp their sexuality and its various facets through the lens of union with Christ.
The challenge in Christ to obey the great commandments, to love God and others, is the challenge to live with integrity.
Academically, after pursuing an MDiv, I’m off to pursue postgraduate work in theology at Cambridge University with the hopes of doing a PhD over there in the same field. Ultimately, I want to teach theology in an undergraduate setting. My wife and I really do feel as if colleges and universities are some of America’s most important mission fields; we see teaching through the lens of discipleship, as loving and walking alongside students, and helping them, in turn, integrate their faith into every corner of their lives.
In other words, throughout all of this, the Lord has pressed upon me that integrity is not only about my own life, but, in response to His mercy, grace, faithfulness, and love, is about helping others live a life of integrity as well.Learn More About the Covenant Eyes Scholarship