Of Vice and Men

mm

It is always interesting to me how our in our more conservative religious circles we yet see how the culture of the therapeutic has been so fully embraced while simultaneously criticized.

It is not long after asserting a discussion about something like pornography that one hears an almost constant barrage about “addiction,” framed in a lot of religio-speak. Men talk in whiny-pitched tones about their “problem” and pastors talk in a duped tenor and rehearsed empathy about all the “devastation that comes from pornography.” Men talk about what sort of bugs they have placarded their computers with, revealing that they have simply chosen to meet their juvenile behaviors by further treating themselves like little boys via baby sitter software. Awash in group versions of self-help, ministry-teams talk about “accountability partners” and we are all supposed to be impressed.

It is not as if I am of the bootstraps mentality that cavalierly dismisses the validity of both authentic behavioral problems and legitimate intermediacy and convalescence. To be sure, there are those who have real, genuine behavior problems that manifest themselves in illicit consumption of certain substances or phenomenon—and real people with real problems need real help. But it is my contention that the large majority of those who claim this thing called sexual addiction actually give these poor souls a black-eye by pirating their problems in order to excuse their plain and simple bad behaviors. They want the benefits of being considered—by others and themselves—amongst those for whom will power and personal responsibility are but more tangential dimensions for those with real ailments. And it’s further baptized in the “devil made me do it” spirituality which has human beings the unwitting pawn between the unseen forces of good and evil. But the problem with the husband who has turned to pornography is not so much a problem of addiction or devils and angels perching his shoulder as it his plain refusal to pull up his socks and behave like a man instead of a child. And if he really has a serious behavioral problem he needs to see a psychiatrist in real time, not a pastor doing Christian voodoo. Just because a red-blooded man has refused to control what his natural wiring seems to demand is no reason to steal the validity of those who have authentic behavioral problems.

But conservative religionists have always had a particular fixation on sexual ethics ever since they were persuaded that personal holiness and orthodoxy go hand-in-hand. Personal holiness is merely the individualistic, self-help version of what one finds in social transformationalism. It helps explain why they are so associated with and fixated on issues like abortion and homosexuality. I tend to agree with those who observe that social and political sanction against abortion or homosexuality on the part of conservative religionists is more a punishment for aberrant sexual behavior impeding personal growth (whatever that is) than it is a concern for social welfare.

And I would say that the tendency for most conservative religionists to cast our society as being one that “would Babylon blush” seems to reflect how they still have chosen to side with Mrs. Grundy when it comes to the meaning of modesty. The legalisms of yesteryear’s rigid, moralistic sexual ethics amongst conservative religionists have simply morphed to fit our kinder and gentler therapeutic age. This morphing seems a lot like what Horton talks about when he more generally observes the difference between “hard law” and “soft law,” the brutalizing of sinners or coddling them. It isn’t so much anymore that one wants to stay in the good moral graces of the Jones’ as he must bow the knee to the new trinity of being “happy, healthy and whole.” The new legalism is wholeness.

I fully realize it is politically incorrect to say so in a cult and culture wooed by comfort and ease, personal completeness and all things therapeutic, as well as anathema to a wider conservative religious landscape that relishes moralizing that which is therapeutic and therapeuting that which is moral. But the problem is not big, bad magazines roaming the earth seeking whom they may devour but people who refuse to throw the off switch.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Prosperity Gospel. Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to Of Vice and Men

  1. kazooless says:

    I was with you until the 4th paragraph. Not sure what you’re getting at from then on.

    However, pornography is just a form of adultery and it must be repented from just like any other sin. I grew tired years ago of “men’s meetings” being just a place to hear all the whining you talk about. First thing I ask about any “men’s” meeting I’m invited to, is if it is going to delve into that area. If so, I stay away.

    Kazoo

  2. Echo_ohcE says:

    First, I object to the publication of the cover of Playboy magazine here. I don’t think your post needs the picture.

    Second, I agree about the software that supposedly blocks porn. And since the power of sin is the law, having this software on your computer only reminds you of what’s out there, and pushes you to seek out ways of getting around the software. Taking this software off your computer and recognizing the freedom we have in Christ from SIN is a step of faith that I would recommend to anyone struggling with such a thing.

    Third, men who have problems with porn aren’t merely refusing to control a natural urge. No, they are consumed by sinful lust. Porn is idolatrous above all else.

    And now, for anyone who is interested, I will describe how porn is idolatrous. If you aren’t interested, then don’t read it.

    Adam and Eve, when they sinned, covered themselves. That’s the starting point. Now, why did they cover themselves? Because they were ashamed of their bodies. They had used their bodies for evil, rather than to the glory of God. They had turned their bodies into instruments of rebellion against rather than submission to God. So since their bodies no longer properly reflected the glory of God, all they could figure out to do was cover them up, since they were no longer beautiful, but ugly in a spiritual and yet also physical way.

    So they covered their bodies because of their sin. They rightly recognized that they should be covered. And God confirms this by covering them with animal skins.

    So then, what does the picture of a naked woman inherently signify? If Adam and Eve covered themselves from shame, a woman who is not covered is inherently not ashamed. What is she not ashamed of? Sin.

    Men, you like to look at a picture of a naked woman not just because of natural sexual desires, but because the picture communicates a message to you: “I’m not ashamed of my sin.” Here’s a woman telling you that she’s not ashamed of her sin. She’s encouraging you not to be ashamed of your sin either by setting the example for you.

    But whoops! Now the problem gets worse, because not only is her message blasphemous (sin is ok), but she, being a woman, is seeking to lead you and guide you, encouraging you to be unashamed of your sin.

    And when you listen to her, when you gaze at the image, you yield to her, submitting yourself to her. But she’s a woman, and you’re a man. She’s not your wife, and you’re not her husband. Why on earth should you be submitting to her message? By submitting to her message – by unashamedly gazing at a pornographic image – you give her authority over you that you have no right to give her, and she has no right to take.

    Have you ever wondered why there is something comforting about porn, especially when you’ve really had a problem with it for a while? Because sin produces guilt and anxiety, and the message of the uncovered woman comforts the guilty, saying, “Shhh, mama’s here, your sin is ok with me.”

    Yes, when you look and gaze at pornographic images, you listen to this woman, whom you don’t even know, rather than God. Not only do you give her authority over YOU, you give her authority over GOD HIMSELF! Why? Because God says that sin is evil and wrong, and he is our Creator. Thus we SHOULD be ashamed of our sin, we SHOULD seek to have our sins covered and taken away by Christ! God says our sin needs to be covered, taken away. We need to have our shame removed, and he sent Christ to accomplish that for us. So when this naked woman says that you have nothing to be ashamed of, and you listen to her, you put her in a higher place than God.

    And having put her in a higher place than God himself, you elevate her to the level of a false god, indeed, a goddess, and you fall down and worship her image.

    Every time you gaze at porn you engage in goddess worship. The ancient goddess that was most commonly worshiped was the image of the virgin, Venus. The planet Venus also has another name, however: Lucifer. Yes, Venus and Lucifer are one in the same.

    When you engage in goddess worship, you are only worshiping the devil, because it is his message this goddess image is bringing you anyway. That’s been Satan’s message from the beginning.

    “You won’t surely die!”

    Brothers, you WILL surely die. Your only hope is Christ.

    Gazing at porn is necessarily a falling down and worshiping a prostitute whom you are making your goddess, and placing in a higher position than God himself.

    The next time you are tempted by porn, perhaps you might think of that, and perhaps the deception will be broken, and God will be pleased that you will overcome by his grace.

  3. RubeRad says:

    Mixed reactions here as well. I agree with

    social and political sanction against abortion or homosexuality on the part of conservative religionists is more a punishment for aberrant sexual behavior impeding personal growth (whatever that is) than it is a concern for social welfare.

    But wrong motivation doesn’t mean aberrant sexual behavior should get a political pass.

    And I don’t see anything wrong with babysitting software on home computers. First off, it’s easy to make a case that it is a prudent safeguard whenever kids have access to the family computer (no matter how unprivate the computer location, or how monitored the access). And what’s wrong with the concept of “accountability partners”? Isn’t accountability a good thing?

  4. Echo_ohcE says:

    Blocking software is a good thing for children. But adults aren’t children, right? So no kids, no software.

    Accountability partners?

    What gives rise to you sinning less? Is it A) someone reminding you of what sin is, B) your sin being known to someone other than yourself, or C) hearing the gospel?

    If you said C, you’re right! Tell ’em what he’s won, Bob! Well Joe, for our contestants who answered correctly that their only hope for sanctification was the hearing of the preaching of the gospel, since sanctification is by grace alone through faith alone, they’ve won the right to be set free from accountability partners, and have been set free to have smoking and drinking buddies! Let’s give our contestants a big round of applause, and wish them happy smoking and drinking and may God bless their fellowship!

    E

  5. Echo_ohcE says:

    PS Rube,

    We have accountability partners in our little church. We call them elders though.

    E

  6. kazooless says:

    Echo,

    I think your argument proves too much, unless you want to say it isn’t okay for a husband to enjoy looking at his naked wife.

    Kazoo

  7. RubeRad says:

    may God bless their fellowship!

    I thought fellowship only happened on Sunday Mornings!

  8. Pingback: Of Vice and Men « Heidelblog

  9. Mike Brown says:

    Echo,

    First of all, props on your comment: “We have accountability partners in our little church. We call them elders though.” Nicely said.

    I am wondering, though, with Kazoo about your argument proving a little too much. You make some good points, but I think you need to develop in your argument more about the goodness of creation, AND bring in the racey Book of Song of Solomon, viz., the enjoyment of mutual nakedness and sex within the context of the covenant of marriage.

  10. Mike Brown says:

    Zrim,

    Interesting post. I have only one Q for you: did you scan that photo from a hardcopy?

  11. Brad Lenzner says:

    Zrim,

    “I fully realize it is politically incorrect to say so in a cult and culture wooed by comfort and ease, personal completeness and all things therapeutic, as well as anathema to a wider conservative religious landscape that relishes moralizing that which is therapeutic and therapeuting that which is moral.”

    Man, you rival Owen with your lengthy sentences!

  12. kazooless says:

    Mike,

    LOL!! (on the hardcopy comment)

    🙂

    Kazoo

  13. Echo_ohcE says:

    Mike Brown and Kazoo,

    I thought it was crystal clear that I was talking about porn, not a marriage.

    Sigh. The uncovered flesh in porn sends a different message than the uncovered flesh in the marriage bed.

    This is driven by the fact that when gazing at porn, it is necessarily a lustful, sinful act. Her nakedness in that context is necessarily a sinful declaration of pardon, saying, “Your sin is ok with me, go ahead and gaze at my body.”

    Anyway, the beauty of marriage is that we can be thus exposed and uncovered with someone. Someone can know us that well, and we can be that vulnerable to them, and they don’t condemn us.

    The fact that being naked in a marriage context is good does not mean that being naked is bad. Nor does the profanity of the naked flesh in porn mean that the nakedness of marriage is evil. The nakedness means something different in the two different contexts.

    Just like the word “Queen” can mean a female monarch, a homosexual, or a rock band, depending on context, so too uncovered flesh says something different in different contexts.

    It is a form of communication. Pornography is the devil’s pulpit.

  14. Echo_ohcE says:

    Oh and by the way, it is the law of God that defines the difference in the two contexts. Specifically the 7th commandment.

  15. Echo_ohcE says:

    Typo:

    The fact that being naked in a marriage context is good does not mean that being naked is bad.

    This should read:

    The fact that being naked in a marriage context is good does not mean that being naked in all contexts is good.

    Sorry for any confusion.

  16. Echo,
    I think your post is correct to say that law does not sanctify us, only the Gospel of grace does. However, I think your view of this issue would be better nuanced if you would talk about wisdom as well. I think having an internet filter is perhaps a wisdom issue rather than a law issue. I think it is wise for one to have an internet filter who has been struggling with internet porn. Sure, there is something deeper there that only the gospel can fix, but wouldn’t you say that it is wise for this person to have an internet filter for at least a season?
    I guess I would say that having open access to internet porn without a filter is unwise, though we are free in Christ to go without a filter. In the same way that it would be unwise to buy a house that is within walking distance from a strip club, it may be unwise to go without an internet filter. Sure, it is lawful to buy a house there, but it may be unwise.
    Ultimately we need grace, but wisdom speaks as well. Wisdom says flee Potiphar’s wife, rather than buck up and remain where you are. I think having an internet filter is one way of fleeing that temptation that is always one-click away. I know ultimately that only grace will sanctify, and that we all need to have the gospel preached to us in order to transform us into the image of Christ, but that doesn’t take away the proper place of wisdom in ones life.
    Perhaps if/when we suggest an internet filter to others, we should remind them that this is a wise move for them, but that ultimately it does not sanctify them. What they ultimately need is the means of grace in their lives every Lord’s Day.
    I understand where you guys are coming from, because there are many books written that preach either law or wisdom as a means of grace, and that is wrong. Instead, I believe that we should give all three (gospel, law, and wisdom) their proper place.

  17. Echo_ohcE says:

    Brian,

    I see your point. I just think it’s unwise for most. Sure, if a guy is having problems, a filter isn’t a bad idea, but in general, in the long run, it is only going to make matters worse. This is because it is a continual confrontation with the law. Your computer is constantly telling you, “Nope, you can’t see that page.” And the response of the sinful nature is to say, “Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t look at, O my computer!?” And then the person in question may be tempted to try to find a way around it, just for a second or two, in order to reassert his autonomy over his computer.

    So a guy that’s having problems, ok, in order to make an abrupt change, but in general, it won’t make the problem go away. It doesn’t take away the temptation, and the filter isn’t perfect. Any filter can be worked around if one is determined enough. And I’m saying the continual confrontation with the filter only in the end pushes you to try to get around the filter.

    But then without the filter, depending on Christ alone, by his grace, perhaps the problem will be greatly alleviated, without the continual remembrance of it.

    E

  18. Zrim says:

    Mike,

    No, I didn’t get the shot from a hard copy. I skated the internet on my babysitter-free machine. I did my level best to at once be racy and modest to make the point about the difference between being a true conservative and a prude.

    Brad,

    I apologize. An old, beloved Baptist ST prof would have had my head for “not being succinter.” Well, he and a beloved English Comp 101 prof.

    All,

    So far I see plenty of men still sympathetic to coddling fellow men who refuse to act more like men and less like children. Where are the women who have told me before that what I am saying is refreshing to hear, the ones who are as undersold on the idea that men may parlay their refusal to control their hard-wiring into “a psycho-spiritual problem”? Maybe their relative silence is because women are less likely to utilize an outhouse…

  19. RubeRad says:

    Typo:

    The fact that being naked in a marriage context is good does not mean that being naked is bad.

    This should read:

    The fact that being naked in a marriage context is good does not mean that being naked in all contexts is good.

    Sorry for any confusion.

    Whoops! Better get my kit back on then! Pity — I so love blogging naked! But I keep getting these funny looks from everybody else in the library! (And these library computers for some reason won’t show this post’s image everybody is talking about (And they tell me they don’t have hardcopy I can check out either!))

  20. Cory G says:

    Zrim, Echo and others,

    I am curious about your thoughts on this program:

    http://www.covenanteyes.com/

    It is not a filter, it allows you to view whatever you want, but it reports what you view to your wife or an elder if you wish. I think it perhaps will fall under some of the same criticisms that you all are presenting, but it seems to me there is a principle of freedom here that could be used properly. A man cannot “get around it,” and if he has no shame concerning his sin he won’t care if his elder knows what he looks at. But if there is some God-worked shame of sin before God and men, I think this approach could be benficial. I could conceive of a man having the reports of his activity on the net sent to his elder. The elder could then deal with the man and his sin with the law and the gospel. The issue here is that it is not secret. There is an elder or someone else who is going to confront you with your problem (soemthing elders are supposed to do) and if you have a decent elder, he will deal with you as the law and the gospel deal with you. I think this is both wise and honest and provides a good avenue for confronting sin. Because though you are right, what we need is men to gird up their loins and become men, the reality is we have a lot of men that are children. And I’m not sure just telling them to be men is the only way things will change. We need to confront sin with the gospel, because it is the law and gospel that make men. I realize the preaching does this, but I think for people caught in a specific sin there is a place for preaching to the individual (aka gospel centered, nouthetic counseling). Personally, I think “covenant eyes” facilitates this. Any comments?

  21. RubeRad says:

    Covenant Eyes would fall under the general category of “accountability partners.” So the next question is, should you only ask an ordained elder to be your accountability partner?

  22. Cory G says:

    One adendum:
    From looking at the website, I think the covenant eyes program now has a filter as an option to be added. However, the main point of the program is to make public what is private. Just wanted to be accurate.

  23. Zrim says:

    Cory,

    Sorry, a Big Brother is a Big Brother, even if she’s my children’s mother. Once my wife agrees for me to treat her like a little girl and get the clerk at WorldMarket to call me whenever she spends more than, say, $100 a week, so I can keep tabs on her spending, then she can do the same. Something tells me she won’t.

    As far as the elder goes, making public what is private makes my skin crawl. Moreover, the problem is that covenant-breaking behavior deserving of discipline is corporeal/tangible/public, not ethereal/intangible/private. I know we are all supposed to be persuaded that adultery that demands overt correction can be something other than physical, but I’m not. Until flesh and blood actions take place, I am not persuaded the elder has any business. If we think he does have business before that, I think we have been persuaded by the culture of the therapeutic.

    There is a world of difference between really poor judgment, etc. and covenant-breaking behavior. If one is lucky enough to have a friend in his elder, he would have someone to advise him on bad judgment. But that would be the friend talking, not the elder, until bad judgment turns into covenant-breaking behavior.

  24. Joe Brancaleone says:

    The talk of “wisdom” with regards to filters and accountability partners does seem to widely miss the mark.

    To echo what’s already been said, such behavior comes from a spirit of childishness (as well as discontentment). The solution to childish behavior is NOT to provide solutions fit for children — that simply acknowledges rather than rebukes the spirit of childishness at work.

    And what better solution for a spirit of discontentment than the Gospel, which admonishes one to be content in the Lord and the good things he has bestowed?

    The solution in short is to diligently apply oneself to the means of grace in order to develop a Christ like character, seeing that all behavior is the overflow of the heart. One would need not worry about the big bad porn monster, blocking up the dam with filters and accountability partners (like the Dutch boy). What concern is it if the monster is roaming to and fro looking to devour, when there is nothing here to eat?

    j

  25. Joe Brancaleone says:

    “No, I didn’t get the shot from a hard copy. I skated the internet on my babysitter-free machine. I did my level best to at once be racy and modest to make the point about the difference between being a true conservative and a prude.”

    Then it must have been unintended genius to cite the most likely starting point of the road to what later was called “porno chic” (the overlap of glitzy media friendly stardom and an overtly provocative sexuality). Which in turn solidified pornography’s inroads to mainstream art and culture ever since.

  26. Chris says:

    Hard to improve on scripture. It is such a beautiful means of grace.

    From 1 Peter;

    For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

    The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

  27. Here are a few articles that I find helpful on the topic.

    Here are two articles by two OPC ministers:

    http://tinyurl.com/2erepp (George Scipione in “Evangelium” a WSC publication)

    http://tinyurl.com/343cab (William Shisko in “Ordained Servant” an OPC publication)

    http://tinyurl.com/2dbtg4 (On the “Harvest USA” web-site, a ministry associated with the PCA)

    Once again, I don’t think that an internet filter sanctifies a person. Only the Gospel has the power to transform lives. However, to say that a filter is all “Law” and has nothing to do with wisdom and fleeing from temptation I think is wrong.

    Do you guys think that having your computer in a public location in the house such as a living room, or keeping the door open while using the computer is bad too? Or do you think that calling a hotel in advance to turn off access to the porn channels before you go on a business trip is bad too? I think it is wise to prevent yourself from being placed in tempting situations wherever possible. Perhaps an internet filter can function in such a way.

    It’s like the pastor that tries to avoid counseling a woman in private. Or like the man who likes to run, but avoids the route that takes him by the porn shop. It’s wisdom, not “coddling.”

    BTW, women struggle with porn too these days. It’s not just men who need grace in this area, its women too.

  28. Zrim says:

    Brian,

    My general point is not to get too caught up in the details of where someone elects to puts his computer or what he tells the front desk, etc. Mainly, it is to observe that anymore our culture seems very juvenile in many ways, from what we consume to how we try to avoid those very same things.

    It also seems fairly well saturated in self-improvement. Like I alluded to in the post-proper, conservative religionists seem to have made the mistake of seeing as analogous that which characterizes personal holiness and what it means to be one in covenant with God. But they seem very different to me. Those who don the lens of personal holiness seem to be more interested in “self-improvement” than in “keeping covenant.” To my lights, the piety of keeping covenant seems very different from the psycho-spirituality of personal holiness.

    To avoid certain things seems more like an effort akin to monsastic withdrawl that is yet seeking to justify the self before God instead of a life already justified and charged to live in covenant. This seems to render believers relatively unafraid to “live in the world but be not of it.”

    I don’t begrudge anyone doing as he sees fit. All I want to do is examine the motivations, assumptions, etc.

    The links you provide seem to encourage the sort of thing I would discourage: seeing the self as a sort of victim and helpless to behave as one ought. Further, there is this odd view that turns grace into some sort of magic. I really do think that for those who might have us to believe they understand the categories of law and grace, much of what I sense is the opposite. But grace does not overwhelm nature; it is not a substance to be pulled down or hurriedly waited upon for “radical transformation” the way the sarx understands such things. And there is a rightful place for law. In fact, I really do think much of what floats around our circles when it comes to this topic undoes much of what the best of confessional Reformed orthodoxy understands by law and gospel, nature and grace; I hear a lot of what I would expect to hear in my old broad Evangelical circles. Ouch.

  29. Echo_ohcE says:

    Brian,

    There are no easy answers here. Wisdom is never a formula. It is not either (in all cases) wise or unwise to have an internet filter. That’s what wisdom is all about: a case by case basis.

    There is, on the one hand, such a thing as a healthy fear and distrust of our sinful nature. For example, a pastor ought not to counsel a woman alone with the door closed.

    However, there is also such a thing as being cowed by our sin that denies that, thanks to Christ, sin is no longer our master, because we are not under law, but under grace.

    The filter may be good for a guy who has a problem with porn. True. I am not denying that, and I appreciate your bringing it up. However, I would say that there must come a point when the guy goes without it.

    For example. Let’s consider an alcoholic. Let’s say that he’s not saved, but becomes a Christian, and wants to get over his alcoholism. Complete abstinence from alcohol might be a good beginning. But I whole heartedly reject that such a man must abstain from alcohol for the rest of his life. That’s not the answer.

    I would say that the ideal for such a man to strive for is a healthy enjoyment of alcohol in reasonable amounts to the glory of God. It is only when the man can learn to enjoy alcohol properly to the glory of God that his alcoholism will be finally done away with.

    Now let’s apply the same kind of wisdom to porn. Of COURSE, it’s not a one to one correspondence, because porn is not in any way good, so I’m not saying that the man with the porn addiction can learn to enjoy porn to the glory of God or something stupid like that. That’s not what I’m saying.

    What I am saying, however, is that the ultimate solution, the goal to which we should strive, is for the man to be able to use his computer without being tempted to look at porn, or at least to be able to overcome that temptation.

    While using a filter might be fleeing from temptation in some sense, NOT going to pornographic sites when you CAN do so is the truest flight from temptation. And don’t we believe that this is the nature of the power over sin that Christ has given us?

    Some former drug addicts refuse to carry cash so that they can’t go and buy drugs. But I’d say that if you can’t carry cash or else you’ll buy drugs with it, you aren’t over your addiction.

    Sin begins in the heart with sinful desires. We know that we will always remain sinful, that’s true, but the goal should be for the desire to sin to disappear.

    Don’t we have the right to hope in Christ to this extent? Don’t we have the promises of the Word of God that he will sanctify us and take away our desires to sin?

    Keeping the filter indefinitely says that the desire to look at porn on the internet will NEVER go away.

    I don’t believe that.

    I don’t believe that we can never be free from our desire to look at porn on the internet. I don’t believe that that’s what Scripture would teach us. And even if you don’t want to go that far, perhaps you can at least say that maybe the desire will never totally be gone, but surely you can admit that Scripture would not want us to view ourselves as powerless over these desires.

    To have the filter is to acknowledge the desire, and to say that you cannot fail to act upon it. To have the filter is to say that the desire will always be there, and I will inevitably act upon that desire if I am able to do so, so the solution is to not have the ability to do so.

    The problem with this is that it says that sanctification can only accomplish so much. In my opinion, in the long run, having the filter takes away from our ability to wholly trust in Christ alone to save us from our sin.

    It is impossible for any filter to make it impossible to view porn. That’s a fact. Any filter can be gotten around.

    Now some have suggested that if others can see what sites you are going to, you will be less likely to go to those sites. But this plays on our fear of man rather than fear of God. “I don’t want my elder to know about my porn surfing tendency, so I won’t go to those sites.” Again, this might be alright for an initial solution, but it cannot be the ultimate solution. This can only be training wheels.

    We have got to get beyond training wheels at SOME point. Training wheels are fine for training, but at some point, the training wheels must come off. At some point we’ve got to learn to trust in Christ alone to save us from our sin, and our motive has to be solely what Christ has done for us.

    At some point we have to be able to say to our sin, “NO! How could I do such a wicked thing against God?” It has got to be a fear of GOD, not a fear of man that drives us. It has got to be gratitude for what Christ has done for us that makes us lay sin aside, not the fear of our elder or our wife finding out.

    Again, maybe these are initial solutions for the weak, but at some point we’ve got to get beyond the milk and get to the meat. At some point we’ve got to begin to demand maturity of ourselves, recognizing that we have a right in Christ to expect that of ourselves, trusting in the work of the Spirit in our hearts.

    Is using a filter a sin? No, it violates no law. Is it unwise? Not necessarily, some may be just that weak. But at some point, it becomes a denial of what God has promised us in Christ, at some point it becomes a denial of the work of the Spirit in our hearts, at some point it becomes a denial that Christ really does save us from our sins. At some point it becomes a confession of unbelief. At some point. Maybe some never reach that point, and maybe some will never understand that point.

    But surely those of us who get the point must step out in faith away from the filter and trust in Christ alone to save us from our sin, and not lean on training wheels like filters and accountability programs. At some point, we need to realize that God is in heaven watching our every move, and at some point, THIS must become our motivation to do good, not out of fear of condemnation, but out of gratitude for what he has done for us.

    And if we really believe what he has done for us, if we really trust him to save us from our sin as he has promised, then this strong faith will give rise to fruit, the fruit of laying sin aside, and living lives pleasing, to a degree, to the Lord.

    Let us strive to take EVERY thought captive to Christ, and not stop at some point and say that we’ve taken captive all the thoughts we can, that we’ve grown in grace as much as we can, that God has saved us from our sinful desires as much as HE can.

  30. Echo_ohcE says:

    Sorry, I have to make one more point.

    We Calvinists talk a lot about being totally depraved. We talk a lot about how we know that sin will never be done away with in this life.

    But often times this leads to our thinking that sanctification doesn’t really take place. We focus so much on the fact that our sin will be with us continually in this life, that we fail to properly recognize that God has promised that though it will remain in this life, it will yet DIMINISH.

    Will we always be sinful in this life? Yes! But we will be continually less and less sinful as God grows us in grace, faith and maturity.

    That we believe that we will always be sinful in this life doesn’t mean that we’ll always be as sinful as when we first began. No, it means that no matter how sanctified we become, we should always be humbled by the notion that even the tiniest sin is worthy of condemnation. So the more sanctified we become, we must remember that we still need Christ for our justification, and that we still need him for our continued sanctification.

    We must not let the notion that we will remain sinful as long as this life continues to let us lay down and die in the face of our sin. We must not let that notion push us to think that sin cannot and will not be defeated. Sin is no longer our master! We have been set free from sin! We are free!

    I know I said one more point, but I have more, and I can’t keep them to myself.

    The internet filter cannot remove temptation. It does not remove temptation. It does not affect the heart, and we must strive to have our hearts changed by the power of the Spirit working through his Word.

    Too often, we think that internet porn is the greatest sin on earth, and if we could just avoid that, then we’ll be satisfied with our piety. We think, and I know we do because I did, that we’re generally pretty good, unless we mess up and look at some bad site or something, allowing our eyes to linger on the devil’s illustration of his point in porn.

    But then we get a filter, and we are no longer looking at porn sites, because trying to work around the filter takes hours of searching and work, and we just don’t want to bother. So we become satisfied that we’ve done our duty, and when we say our prayers at night, we find that we don’t know what sins to confess.

    But putting the filter on our computer doesn’t make us any less sinful! We think we have accomplished something, but we haven’t! Not really. We haven’t become any less sinful, but we think we have. We think that sanctification means that we didn’t look at dirty women on the internet today, thanks to the filter that prevents it.

    Meanwhile, the next day, we are on some site, and we see some banner ad for Victoria’s Secret or something, and we are tempted. And we click on it. And the filter pops up saying, “No, you can’t do that, remember?” And we get frustrated, and walk away. But we don’t think we’ve sinned. We think the filter has saved us, but it hasn’t. Your heart hasn’t changed. You still can’t take your eyes off of that scantily clad woman at the store, or at work, or walking her dog as you drive by. Your heart hasn’t changed. You’re still the same old sinner.

    What has the filter actually accomplished?

    Now as I argued above, pornographic images are visual sermons of the devil’s point, “You will not surely die.” So to some extent, blocking the influence of those images from your perception is good and helpful. That’s definitely true.

    But what should we be looking to, to save us from the devil’s influence, from the strength of our sin?

    Shouldn’t we be looking to the means of grace, to the Spirit’s work in our hearts, to Christ’s effectual death on the cross, where our sin was nailed to the cross and crucified once and for all? To what should we be looking to protect us from our sin?

    The filter doesn’t keep us from temptation, it only blocks, and only to a degree, our attempts to ACT on that temptation.

    We’ve got to set our sights higher than this, brothers! We’ve got to recognize that God has promised us something more than this, something better!

    He has promised us to deliver us from temptation! He has promised to give us new hearts of flesh, so that we will no longer want to gaze at the image of the goddess who comforts us with her declaration of pardon for sin because she thinks sin is just fine.

    What better cure for our desire to seek such a comfort than to cling ever more tightly to our true comfort, the shed blood of God in the flesh on the cross for our sins! If we are truly clinging to Christ, and bringing every thought captive to our hope in HIM, then when the devil disguises himself as a goddess and tells us sin is ok, we WON’T BE COMFORTED, we’ll be disgusted, because we know that sin is NOT ok, but grieves our God, who has sent his only Son to die for us! We will say that sin is NOT ok, but required the propitiatory death of God himself in the flesh! And we will say that THAT is our ONLY comfort in life and in death! And no longer will we long to gaze at the images on the screen that tell us that sin is good and piety is evil. No longer will we take comfort in such things.

    Porn is only about sexual desire on the surface. Something much, much deeper is going on, and recognizing that and understanding it can help us to put these desires aside, trusting in Christ alone, whose declaration of pardon was purchased by his own blood, shed on the cross, and whose declaration alone is the only declaration that counts. The devil does not have the authority to tell us our sins are ok through the unspoken message of porn. When we recognize what porn truly is, and what power it actually wields, then we will realize that it is truly powerless in the face of the authoritative declaration of the Son of Man when he says, “YOUR sins are forgiven you because I shed my own blood on the cross to pay for them.”

    God alone is judge.

  31. Echo_ohcE says:

    I’m really sorry but I can’t be silent.

    Remember the Amish who refuse to use the internet. I met an Amish man once. I got to know him fairly well. He thought a man shouldn’t have the internet, because it was such a temptation to porn.

    Clearly, he was looking to the law, to outward actions to be his sanctification. Truly he was a Pharisee. He was looking at outward obedience as being true obedience.

    And yet, I’ve never met such an unhappy and angry individual in my life.

    True satisfaction is not found in gratifying the flesh, but in God. And yet, we seek satisfaction in gratifying the flesh all the time.

    But this man thought that if he simply denied the flesh, he would be holy and obedient to God. But while he denied his fleshly desires, he was completely unsatisfied in life. He was angry and restless and frustrated all the time. Why? Because he wasn’t resting. He wasn’t resting in Christ, and finding satisfaction in him. He was just, like a Buddhist, denying himself.

    But we believe in something else, don’t we? Don’t we believe that the cure for denying our flesh is satisfying our faith? Don’t we believe that looking to Christ, fixing our eyes on Jesus, is the way to be free from the desires of the flesh?

    Ok, now I’m not saying any more.

  32. Mike,
    Sheesh, longest reply ever. I would say more, but I can just talk to you on campus. I wouldn’t want you to respond with 3 more mammoth comments :).

    Brian

  33. Mike Brown says:

    Is Echo’s real name Mike? Does he go to WSC? Hmm…

  34. Anonymous says:

    Echo,
    well said, finally the truth. thanks. needs to be put to print.

  35. Zrim says:

    (Mike,

    It seems nobody in cyber-land really knows who this Echo character is…which is interesting on various levels, if you ask me.)

  36. Echo_ohcE says:

    I post anonymously for what I think are good reasons. You’re more than welcome to disagree.

  37. Sarah says:

    Speaking as a woman I feel I must say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this post, especially the comments. Although, I will admit that one of my guy friends sent it to me in light of current issues in our “Christian” workplace.

    But don’t be fooled, pornography effects woman just as much as men. Not that I truly believe you are fooled by this idea….but I think that men forget how this effects their wifes and girlfriends. Satan has an amazing foothold in our society to make women believe that we don’t “measure up.” The weight of perfection presses on us daily! If our husbands and boyfriends are looking at these kinds of things, it makes us feel cheap. It makes us feel like one of those women in the picture because we wonder if you want us to be like THAT to be satisfied. It causes us to doubt that if we love you fully and with pure intentions, in the context of marriage, that it will be enough. Will it be enough? Will these pure kisses be all you need, or is Betty Page better than normal women? You see…. for a woman, pornography strips away our assurance of beauty in our Saviour. We doubt because of the pressure of perfection. And this is our sin that we must confront. This effects us all. Our purpose and beauty is found in Jesus. And to His arms of love I will go everyday to remind me that I am His daughter.

  38. Echo_ohcE says:

    Sarah,

    What a man wants is respectful submission. Pornography provides a deceptive illusion to that effect, thus its power. It doesn’t demand any conditions on that respectful submission. It is an image of a woman who reveals herself fully, no matter who you are, what you do, or whatever. No strings attached, so to speak.

    But because it’s not a person, it’s totally empty. And because it’s sinful, there is no satisfaction in it. So don’t compare yourself to this. Not ever.

    E

  39. Zrim says:

    All,

    With all the icky feelings I am getting within as this conversation continues, I am beginning to have second thoughts about this post. I was well aware that it might start getting into sideline issues about sexuality, etc., so in the spirit of the post I do take full responsibility.

    …I know it’s my own fault, but do me a favor if you can and try not to talk about things that need words like “satisfy, gratify, naked, etc.” Brulsh.

    That said, for what it’s worth, pornography has nothing to do with image but everything to do with regard. Image is secondary, regard is primary. The male species is not after image so much as it wants to see the feminine adoption and expression of masculine sexuality. Women very often miss this and mistake pornography to be about image, thus Sarah’s comments.

    Image is only used to sell, just like any other commodity. Nobody wants to buy any product wrapped in ordinariness, including sex.

  40. Zrim says:

    Echo,

    I’d be careful about dismissing things out of hand. You make it sound like there is nothing attractive about this phenomenon. This just makes the problem worse, I think. You seem to be appealing to a sinner’s inward sense of fulfillment.

    This reminds me of those who want to over-realize something like marriage in order to avoid the thing that makes marriage part of what it is this side of the fall: unnatural faithfulness. Part of what makes marriage what it is is that, bent in on ourselves, we are not naturally monogomous beings. If we were, why would we need an institution built on exclusivity? I don’t take vows to eat when I am hungry. I must take vows against that which is not my natural inclination.

  41. Chris says:

    I believe Echo hit upon one of the core and perhaps one the the most reprehensible issues in his last post, “What a man wants is respectful submission.” In desiring/using porn, man in his idol, sinful, unregenerate mind makes himself god.

  42. Echo_ohcE says:

    Chris,

    Wives are to respect and submit to their husbands, and as a man whose wife respects and submits to him, I can tell you that it’s quite gratifying. But porn gives the illusion of respectful submission, without any of the work or commitment required to bring about the respectful submission of a wife. For your wife to respectfully submit to you requires a husband to love his wife, to woo her and convince her to WANT to respect and submit to him. He must earn it, in other words. Porn gives him the illusion of unearned respectful submission, but respectful submission to his sinfulness and depravity.

    E

  43. Zrim says:

    Echo,

    So are you saying that you have no pull toward any form of smut because your wife fits the bill of “respectful submission”?

    I wonder what a wife, who believes she is “respectfully submissive,” should think when her husband still likes smut? I mean, somewhere in the world this must be happening. Maybe it’s her fault because she isn’t “respectfully submissive” enough?

    I am finding your formula much too contrived here. Men like smut because of what is in them, not what is or is not in a woman; that was my point above when I said the appeal of smut is how men project masculine sexuality onto women. Your formula still allows men to claim that something outside them is at fault. I know you want to make a point about “personal responsibility,” but I don’t think men get off the hook with what you are saying.

    Also, I can see where your construct appeals to the impulse in American religion that all can be well in the believing life if we just follow the rules: God made a plan in creation (i.e. respectful submission) and human agents may be invulnerable to certain things if they just follow it. Seems like another version of prosperity gospel. Man, that stuff runs deep. Almost as deep as sexuality itself…

  44. Whiskeyjack says:

    “Men like smut because of what is in them, not what is or is not in a woman; that was my point above when I said the appeal of smut is how men project masculine sexuality onto women. Your formula still allows men to claim that something
    outside them is at fault. I know you want to make a point about “personal responsibility,” but I don’t think men get off the hook with what you are saying.”

    This is exactly the point, because it seems we are really asking the same old question, did Adam fall because of Eve or because he chose of his own accord to eat of the fruit?

    Echo_ohcE,

    If we submit, as it seems you do, that the necessary environment for the prevention of men using pornography the “respectful submission” of the wife then I think that we are actually placing primacy upon the wifes sanctification in order to facilitate the husbands mortification of the flesh. To do so would create a marriage context of legalism and paranoia for the wife while mitigating the husbands appropriate guilt by moving the cause from internal to external.

    We, as men, do not sin because our wives will not submit to us, but rather because we will not submit to God.

    And, as a side note, I personally think that, apart from the obviousness of the our sin nature, that the use of pornography is more an attempt, whether conscious or not, to disassociate oneself from ones present reality. The point is to escape from what one has to what one does not have. In that sense pornography functions like a drug which intoxicates and alters ones perception of reality.

  45. Echo_ohcE says:

    You guys have completely misunderstood what I said. I’m not sure if that’s my fault or yours, so I’ll just try to explain again.

    My wife respectfully submits to me, and I like it, because as a man, I’m wired to like it.

    Porn gives the illusion of a woman respectfully submitting to the man looking at the porn. The pornographic image seems to say, “Sure, you can look at me naked.” So men are deceived into thinking that this is respectful submission that they are getting from this pornographic image.

    In reality, that’s not what’s taking place, but they are deceived into thinking that that need of theirs for respectful submission is being met. Respectful submission means a whole lot more than that.

    At no time did I say or mean to imply that IF my wife is respectfully submitting to me, THEN I will have no desire for porn. At no time did I say or mean to imply that if my wife struggles to respectfully submit to me that that can or should be any kind of an excuse for looking at porn.

    Zrim, could you please tell me what I said that made you think I was implying that IF my wife is doing her part, then I won’t feel the need to look at porn? I am absolutely dumbfounded that you would see that in what I said, and even more dumbfounded that you weren’t alone in seeing that, though I suspect Whiskeyjack took your word for it that that was what I was implying.

    In fact, I’m so far from believing what you thought I was implying, that I’d go so far as to say that if a man’s wife is unwilling to respectfully submit to him, it’s almost CERTAINLY mostly his fault. To say that my wife is in any way ever responsible for any sin of mine is to reverse the roles. She will not ever be called to account for me, but quite the opposite. I’m HER shepherd, and if she’s struggling to submit to me, then I need to do something different to help her submit to me, to help her WANT to submit to me.

    In other words, if our wives fail to submit to us, it’s almost certainly because we have failed to love them as we ought. More than likely, we have failed to communicate to them that we love them and put them first, that we have their best interests at heart. After all, if she’s convinced that I have her best interests at heart, and she knows I’m the one in authority in our home, then she will want to submit to me, because it’s in her best interests to do so.

    E

  46. Whiskeyjack says:

    “Porn gives the illusion of a woman respectfully submitting to the man looking at the porn. The pornographic image seems to say, “Sure, you can look at me naked.” So men are deceived into thinking that this is respectful submission that they are getting from this pornographic image.”

    This I think is rather novel, at least to me. As for the rest of your post, I concur and humbly retract my objection.

  47. Echo_ohcE says:

    Whiskey,

    I’m very grateful for your retraction. What about what I said was novel to you?

    E

  48. Whiskeyjack says:

    Echo_ohcE

    I myself don’t see the allure of pornography as that which mascarades as that which is respectful but that it is precisely because it isn’t acceptable that it’s pull can be so strong. The allure factor is the fact that it is illicit, it does call us to violate our conscience, it does call us to satisfy the demand of pleasure rather than the cost of love, and that it is different from the marriage context because it calls for no commitment. If anything, it is the culture which attempts to call it innocent and fun because it is attempting to assuage the guilt which is produced by their conscience.

    Just my thoughts, though.

  49. Echo_ohcE says:

    Ah, I see. Well, what I meant was that in porn, an illusion is painted before your eyes. The illusion is that here is a woman who is willing to reveal herself to you, submitting to your gaze, submitting to your having a measure of intimate control (control for lack of a better word) over her. There is something submissive about it. But again, it’s an illusion. It’s not really her being respectful of the man in any respectable sense. It’s her submitting herself to his sinful desires. But more than that, it’s also all that I said above. The deception of it is that a man feels like this woman is giving herself to him, when in reality he’s worshiping a false god, in this case a goddess. So the illusion is that he feels in control or authority over a woman, but the reality is that he is surrendering his manhood to her in a viciously perverse way. But all you said applies as well.

  50. Zrim says:

    Echo,

    That is what I thought you’d maybe say, that it’s his fault for not getting his wife trained well. Not only do I find this quite a bit chauvantistic, but to yet miss my point about what porn is really about, namely, a masculine projection of sexuality into feminine expression. I still sense that your formula is too “biblical principals” oriented. Men who have wives that have “respectfully submitted” still like smut. If they tell you otherwise they are being less than truthful.

    I think I have said all I want to about the psycho-sexual thing (which was somewhat perpheral to my larger point anyway). Sometimes, guys, it’s just about sex. It’s not all that complicated.

  51. Greetings to the Confessional Outhouse from Covenant Eyes!

    First, Cory G:

    Thanks for asking about Covenant Eyes in the midst of this stirring discussion about the value of accountability and our freedom in Christ. We’ve heard thousands of testimonies from men and women who have found Covenant Eyes accountability program instrumental in moving them towards freedom from sin.

    To Zrim:

    Many thanks to you for starting this provoking discussion.

    I agree with many of your points. In many evangelical circles terms such as “addiction” are overused. Sins are often cast as a parasites or diseases, and people as victims, rather than speaking of patterns of disobedience. Self-help and self-improvement language, cased in carefully phrased and rehearsed Biblical language, is becoming the norm. The “devil made me do it” spirituality is also a theological pandemic.

    I also agree that the internal motivation of many who speak out against abortion or homosexuality is, as you put it, “more a punishment for aberrant sexual behavior impeding personal growth (whatever that is) than it is a concern for social welfare.” I certainly know many who have other godly motives, but your point is well taken.

    Thank you for clarifying what you meant by “Personal holiness is merely the individualistic, self-help version of what one finds in social transformationalism.” I do agree that personal holiness needs to be understood as personal character that is fitting of “keeping covenant” rather than the psycho-spirituality or holy self-improvement.

    From your original post:

    “Men talk about what sort of bugs they have placarded their computers with, revealing that they have simply chosen to meet their juvenile behaviors by further treating themselves like little boys via baby sitter software. . . . ministry-teams talk about ‘accountability partners’ and we are all supposed to be impressed.”

    Thank you for clarifying later that you “don’t begrudge anyone doing as he sees fit” and much as you just want to examine the motivations and assumptions behind someone using such software. I think this is a very needed thing in evangelical circles. Sometimes our juvenile and therapeutic versions of accountability seek to hold the believer in a cycle of chronic shame and fear about the possibility of encroaching sin rather than pointing to our union with the crucified and risen Christ as our only sufficient source of covenant-keeping strength. Sometimes our accountability relationships are attempts to justify the self before God, like a sophisticated suit of fig leaves to cover our perceived nakedness. To keep in step with the Spirit is to eagerly anticipate the expectation of righteousness (Galatians 5:5,25) that the Spirit of Christ produces in us. True accountability among the family of Christ involves nurturing a culture of that kind of anticipation.

    To take issue with one of your points, I do think that “personal holiness and orthodoxy go hand-in-hand.” Jesus certainly connected sexual ethics and orthodoxy with the church in Pergamum (Revelation 2:14-16) as Paul did in Corinth (1 Corinthians 6:16).

    To Echo_ochE:

    You have many good points here that I believe get overlooked in evangelical circles.

    First, your comments about porn being idolatrous are well-worded. I loved your statement that “pornographic images are visual sermons of the devil’s point, ‘You will not surely die.’” Well said. The pornographic images many see in a given day do communicate that we shouldn’t be ashamed of our sin, when in fact we should.

    I agree with you that the wisdom of having a filter or an accountability program on our computers is something that needs to be handled on a case-to-case basis. It is an issue of wisdom.

    I also agree that there is a normal tension in the Christian life between, as your said, “a healthy fear and distrust of our sinful nature” and a celebration of being under grace and therefore free from sin in Christ.

    Your analogy about the alcoholic was helpful to your explanation. Yes, “It is only when the man can learn to enjoy alcohol properly to the glory of God that his alcoholism will be finally done away with.” Similarly, “the ultimate solution, the goal to which we should strive, is for the man to be able to use his computer without being tempted to look at porn, or at least to be able to overcome that temptation.” Well said.

    So what are we do with those who continue to use Covenant Eyes or some other accountability resource for their Internet viewing? Are they leaning on an accountability crutch rather than striving for a freedom found in Christ? Does having a filter take away our ability to wholly trust in Christ alone to save us from our sin?

    I cannot answer this question in a holistic way. It depends on the person, to be sure. Certainly for some, this may very well be the case. Some may use software as a childish means to excuse them from cooperating with Christ’s sanctification process aimed at strengthening our minds to destroy the strongholds of lofty pretensions and false beliefs (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

    However, I know many, many members of our program who, as far as my limited human eyes can see, have used our program as a stepping stone to freedom. They needed to cut off the right hand of private Internet access and gouge out the right eye of the endless steam pornographic images available to them. They did this out of a response of loving obedience to Christ.

    In the process of developing good relationships with their accountability partners, their journey transitioned from a cycle of “sin management” to a more holistic approach to obedience and living in covenant community. What began as a formal partnership that involved viewing Internet accountability reports morphed into a quality relationship of bearing each other’s burdens, thus fulfilling Christ’s law of love. That is exactly what the Covenant Eyes program is meant to do: be a tool for covenant community friendships.

    Can is be abused? Of course. Has it? Probably.

    So do they quit using the program when the sinful habit is broken? Some do. Others, with that “healthy fear and distrust” of their sinful nature, as you mentioned before, keep the program. I cannot say whether this means that each one of them do not wholly trust in Christ to sanctify them. Perhaps they are merely working out their salvation with fear and trembling. I also cannot say that keeping the accountability program engenders a fear of man vs. a fear of God in all who use it. These are questions, I believe, that each member should be asking themselves.

    I think one issue that needs to be included in all of this discussion is a more well-rounded picture of obedience. If we merely partition our sexual obedience from all other matters of obedience, such as living in covenant community, we not only disregard the words of Paul (“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”) but we are in the same camp as the legalist who is so fixated on his sexual holiness that he cannot see the big picture.

    I’ll explain . . .

    Sinning less includes not only greater purity of mind, heart and action, but also sinning less in the area of our rugged individualism that is alien to the Biblical view of covenant life. This individualistic thinking is actually at the root of much of our sexual sin in the first place.

    Entering into good accountability relationships is just one facet of a right view of covenant community and of the self. It is not a quick fix to sexual sins. It is not a tactic to move our brothers and sisters into an unhealthy fear of man. It is an introduction to what covenant community life looks like: men and women together as the Body of Christ. It is an introduction to true fellowship as defined by John and James: bringing our sins, even our hidden sins, into the light of mutual confession so that there can be prayer, healing, and a practical outworking of our function as a spiritual priesthood (1 John 1:7-9; James 5:16). To move away from this kind of covenant community life, even when it is motivated by the desire to “lean on Christ alone,” reflects a mind that needs to consider the whole of Scripture.

    Does this mean that someone without good filtering or accountability software is being disobedient to a Biblical picture of covenant community life? No, of course not. But often what the Covenant Eyes member finds is that in the midst of “trying to get his sinful problem fixed” through the program, he finds at the root of that sexual sin a tendency to become so inward, selfish and individualistic. He finds quality relationships in the Body of Christ that become a powerful means of grace in their sanctification. He finds a God-given design for the body of believers as a covenant family. He keeps those relationships and nurtures them. He continues to use Covenant Eyes as one means of building integrity in those friendships and fostering the spirit of openness that the Bible calls walking as children of the light (Ephesians 5:8-12). He knows that disconnecting himself from the God-given covenant community life would just be a form of pride, a selfish pride that got him into his sexual mess in the first place, a pride that comes before the fall.

    Thanks to all the contributors of this discussion!

    Luke Gilkerson
    Internet Community Manager
    Covenant Eyes
    http://www.covenanteyes.com

  52. Gary says:

    I think there is nothing wrong with pornography as long as it does not affect the person’s marriage or real sex life.

    The use of a software to block porno is like using a handcuff on a criminal – you are admitting you are a criminal and no software can change that.

  53. Rick says:

    To all, don’t click on Gary’s name here. Hover over it to see why you might not care to. If anyone wants to respond to Gary do it soon – otherwise I’ll delete his comment as I am now considering it spam.

  54. Echo_ohcE says:

    Zrim,

    You said: “that it’s his fault for not getting his wife trained well.”

    I feel like we’re speaking two different languages here. My wife submits to me not because I’ve trained her with carrots and sticks, but because I have won her over by loving her, by putting her first, by wooing her and getting her to trust me.

    About a “masculine projection of sexuality into feminine expression” I have little to say. Sorry. I’m not sure what you mean or what the significance is. Are you saying that women by nature are more prudish, and porn helps men fantasize about loose women? Maybe that’s part of it. But there’s a whole lot more to it than that.

    You said: “Men who have wives that have “respectfully submitted” still like smut.”

    Zrim, I don’t know how much clearer I can be. I am NOT IN ANY WAY connecting a wife’s behavior with whether or not he is more or less likely to want to look at porn. Whether or not a man looks at porn, or whether he wants to, bears no causal relation whatsoever to his wife’s submissiveness. A wife’s faults are not an excuse for a husband’s sins. And frankly, her faults are more than likely the result of HIS faults.

    So a man can in no way blame his wife for his pornographic appetite.

    The most unsubmissive wife in the world does not in any way make a man want to look at porn.

    The most submissive wife in the world cannot prevent a man from wanting to look at porn.

    The only cause for a man wanting to look at porn is his lustful, wicked heart that rages against his God.

    You said: “Sometimes, guys, it’s just about sex. It’s not all that complicated.”

    Let’s replace that with sin.

    “Sometimes, guys, it’s just about [sin]. It’s not all that complicated.”

    So I guess if someone were to ask you, “why do we sin?” your answer would be, “because we just do.”

    Yes, it’s about sex, but what pushes us in that direction? Yes, it’s about sin, but why? What’s going on in our hearts? How is it hatred against God?

    We have a natural appetite for food, and sometimes we satisfy that appetite with good, nutritional food. But sometimes we eat Twinkies.

    Your argument makes porn look more like eating Twinkies than spitting in God’s face.

    But porn is a rejection of God; it is the worship of an idol; it is a sin of the most fundamental sort. It is dramatically wicked, and the bad fruits of it are many.

    Gazing at porn is not just a natural appetite channeled in the wrong direction in need of a simple little correction. No, it is an act of idolatrous worship. It’s not some small, trivial little thing that can be corrected by a simple little change of attitude, “I want to be a more manly man.” It’s far more than just about sex.

    It’s about a rejection of God’s Word in favor of the apocryphal word of Satan, as spoken in the image of a naked woman.

  55. Echo_ohcE says:

    Luke,

    Why should I have someone monitor my internet usage if I don’t have someone living in my house to make sure I never yell at my wife?

    I do understand that some people need this kind of thing to snap them out of their cycle of behavior or whatever. I understand that VERY well.

    But if the goal isn’t to one day graduate to going without it, then it is, as you said, a crutch they are leaning on, when there is a far better crutch, namely Christ, who promised us that he will give us victory over sin by his Spirit, because sin is no longer our master.

    Has he set us free or hasn’t he?

    I don’t have an accountability partner to monitor how I talk to my wife. I don’t record conversations in my home that my wife and I have, and then send them to my buddy so he can listen to them as a deterrent to tyrannical behavior in my home. I don’t do that. In fact, the notion would probably come across to everyone reading this as ridiculous.

    So my question for you is, what’s the difference? What is the real difference between having someone monitor my internet usage and having someone monitor the conversations I have with my wife?

    Well, you might say that many men fall into problems with porn on the internet because it’s so easy, and because no one will know.

    But can’t you say the same thing about yelling at your wife or treating her badly? Who’s gonna know? Sure, you can say that your wife will know, and she’ll go and tell the elders on you. Not likely though. It happens all the time and no one knows about it. The elders just get the shock one day of finding out that so and so is getting divorced.

    No, wives don’t often go complaining about their tyrannical husbands very often.

    So if I’m mean to my wife, no one will know. It’s private. It’s secret.

    So what prevents me from being mean to my wife?

    Two things. 1) Fear of God, and 2) my love for her.

    How could I treat her badly when I know it grieves God? And how can I treat the woman I love badly?

    Sure, every now and then I’m less than polite to my wife, as all men are. But in general, it works out ok. And no one knows about it. If I’m very considerate of my wife, no one knows about it, and if I’m mean to her, no one knows about it. It’s private, between me, her and God.

    So sure, the internet is private. Sure it’s easy to get sucked in. Sure you can keep it secret from even your wife.

    But why is the prescription different for this particular sin? Why do we need blocking software to control us when God has promised that HE will control us?

    Should I wear a shock collar that shocks me every time I raise my voice, so that I stop yelling at my wife?

    Well, I suppose it would work. But is that the best thing to do?

    If I had a problem with yelling at my wife, is a shock collar really going to solve the problem? Sure, I’ll get shocked a lot, and I’ll learn to stop yelling at her, but the desire to yell at her will only be inflamed. I’ll resent her because in my mind it will be her fault that I have to wear this stupid, humiliating collar. I’ll hate her because I can’t yell at her. Instead of yelling at her, I bet I’d start beating her. No yelling, just the back of my hand. I bet that’s what would happen, if I were a man who had such problems.

    If I yell at my wife, it is a manifestation of rage, of anger and of hatred towards her. Basic sinful nature, right? The law says to love, so the sinful nature hates. So if I yell at her, that’s borne of the sinful nature that hates her. The problem isn’t my yelling. The problem is the hatred in the heart. Solve the latter, and the former will disappear like magic.

    A shock collar would not make me love my wife any more or hate her any less. It would have no effect on it. I’d just have to find another way to manifest it.

    The software is like a shock collar. We are smarter than Pavlov’s dog.

    If I have a problem with porn, and my buddy gets to monitor my internet usage, I’ll find other ways. The lust is not gone.

    And the thing is, if the lust is not gone, it doesn’t really matter if the behavior has changed. The behavior is only evidence of what goes on in the heart.

    What men need is a change of heart. They need to repent. There is something to the software that allows the men not to truly repent. Now the monitoring programs, ok, but the blocking programs? The man doesn’t have to renounce his sin in his heart, but can still treasure it. Only now, he’s frustrated because he can’t do anything about it. How is this helping? How has he renounced his sin? Repenting means turning away from sin even in your heart. That’s true repentance.

    Didn’t Jesus say that looking at a woman lustfully is the same as adultery, only it’s in the heart? And isn’t Jesus saying that you are wrong to pat yourself on the back for not sleeping with the woman, even though you really wanted to, since your desire amounts to the same thing? Isn’t Jesus saying that an unconsummated desire is the same as a consummated one? Isn’t he saying that both are equally displeasing to the Lord?

    These programs don’t affect the heart, they affect the behavior. And while that’s good on the one hand, it CAN be bad when people STOP there, which they often tend to do.

    Meanwhile, they still lust after every woman they see in their hearts, and no decease of actual sinfulness has taken place.

  56. Echo_ohcE says:

    Gary,

    You said: “I think there is nothing wrong with pornography as long as it does not affect the person’s marriage or real sex life.”

    There is no such thing as porn that doesn’t affect a marriage or a person’s sex life.

  57. Gary says:

    Rick, did not mean to spam here.

    A knife can be good or bad depending on how you use it. So is porn. Too much becomes addiction. Just a bit can enhance one’s sex life.

    Anyway, just an opinion.

  58. Whiskeyjack says:

    “A knife can be good or bad depending on how you use it. So is porn. Too much becomes addiction. Just a bit can enhance one’s sex life.”

    Gary,
    read Matthew 5:27-28 and tell me how you reconcile this with the idea that we can use pornography to enhance our sex life. Sex, whether in the mind or in tangible reality outside of the marriage covenant is not permissible, it is not an aspect of Christian liberty.

    Personally, I would ask the pastor and elders of your Church what they thought of this notion.

    Ad well, I fail to see any correlation between a knife and porn. On top of that, the knife is never good or bad, it is the person who use it that acts morally or immorally, to suggest otherwise is to embrace gnostic ideals.

  59. Whiskeyjack says:

    Correction:

    “to enhance your sex life”

  60. Echo_ohcE,

    I agree wholeheartedly that software doesn’t affect the heart, only behavior. You are right: when people stop at software programs they are dragging their feet on real repentance, changing their behavior but still treasuring the sin in their heart. I completely agree that repentance that is skin deep isn’t real repentance.

    You said, “There is something to the software that allows the men not to truly repent.” Surely, the “something” is not really in the software, but in the heart of the person (and I can see by what you wrote that you would agree). There is something to dry laws that allow men to not truly repent of alcoholism. Dry laws and Internet software are strictly behavior modification tools. Nothing more.

    So what’s the value of monitoring software?

    You asked, “What is the real difference between having someone monitor my Internet usage and having someone monitor the conversations I have with my wife?”

    First, I think you would agree there is a difference between the sin of viewing Internet pornography and the sin of being mean to my wife. The first sin is intrinsically private (no one has to know about it) and the second sin already involves an accountability system (i.e. my wife holds me accountable to how I treat her). I don’t need someone to record my conversations with my wife because I already have something that takes careful note my conversations with her: her own ears.

    But still your question is intriguing.

    I want to answer it by asking a better question.

    First, we need to ask “Should I be accountable to to the body of Christ for how I treat my wife.” The answer is, “Yes.” Should I be accountable on if I allow pornographic images enter my home and my mind. Yes. I say Yes because of how I understand covenant community works Scripturally. I say Yes because regardless of how true accountability affects my tendencies to sin, to be in covenant community (involving quality accountability) is a matter of loving obedience to the Lord. I say Yes because my sin affects the Body of Christ, and my sanctification is in their interest. To maintain an individualistic view of sin reflects an unrenewed mind. Just ask the children of Achan who died for his greed (Joshua 7:25) or the 70,000 Israelites who died because David took a census (1 Chronicles 21:14).

    So if we agree that I should be accountable in the first place, then we ask what the best means of that accountability is. If we think that recording conversations with my wife at home and passing them off to others is a proper and helpful means of accountability, then go for it. But because there is already a covenant community relationship going on between me and my wife, then this sort of technological means is probably superfluous and cumbersome. I don’t reject the idea of recording conversations with my wife because I reject the concept of being accountable for them, but because I reject it as a reliable and helpful means of accountability. If a problem arises in the area of how I speak to my wife, then she can talk to me about it, and if it isn’t dealt with sufficiently, then others can come into the picture from the Body of Christ in an appropriate manner.

    This is the same with monitoring software. If I deem it to be a poor means of accountability, then using it is unnecessary. (There are other monitoring programs out there besides Covenant Eyes that are pretty poor programs.) But if a program is fitting, helpful, and reliable, then it may be wise to use it.

    It is helpful to differentiate between means and ends in our discussion. If one rejects the idea of accountability (as I have presented it in my replies) altogether, then it is unnecessary to talk about whether recording my Internet usage is helpful. If the end is rejected then a discussion about the means is superfluous. If, however, I accept that being accountable for obedience in my heart, my thoughts, and my actions is a good thing—a God-given means of grace in the Body of Christ—then a discussion of means can be helpful.

    By the way, I totally agree with your response to Gary: There is no such thing as porn that doesn’t affect a marriage or a person’s sex life. Well said.

    Luke Gilkerson
    Covenant Eyes

  61. Chris says:

    Mr. Gilkerson,

    Perhaps you should call Covenant Eyes, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.”

    I can see some value to this program at least for conscience sake. At least if you are are going to sin you can do it boldly.

    Lydia Brownback wrote a beautiful piece on sin called, “Just Jesus”in the diaries of a postmodern Christian section of Modern Reformation magazine sometime last year. Well worth reading. I’ll have to go dig it up, I might be wrong on the author. Have any of you read it?

  62. Heh. I can see how some people would see it as sinning boldly. However, if you are sinning in secret, how can your community come along side you and help you get through the sin? If you sin and people know about it, there is far greater capacity for someone to come and assist.

    I admit just broadcasting “Hey, I watch porn” on your T-shirt would probably be a bad idea. Too many judgmental Christians who would reflect the hypocrisy of the pharisees and not the loving kindness of Christ. However keeping it in a confidential Biblically based accountability relationship (as defined in our Building Integrity in Relationships videos) can be a truly powerful demonstration of the hand of God shaping our lives to be more like Christ.

    Covenant Eyes is a tool to help facilitate that relationship to the purpose of purging sin from ones life. Will every single person who uses it use it for that purpose? Probably not.

    Romans 6 asks “Should we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We have died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?”

  63. Chris says:

    “However, if you are sinning in secret, how can your community come along side you and help you get through the sin? ”

    That’s my point. So long as the Community is pointing you to Christ and not merely seeking to give therapy.

    “Hey, I watch porn” on a tee shirt- I think it’s a great great idea. It would be like the bat signal beacon- it says, hey, I need some help here.

    I should have kept Luther’s “Sin boldly” in context. If I have it correct, it reads something like this, “”Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly… Pray boldly – for you too are a mighty sinner.”

    Not a license to sin, but a recognition of the fact that we are sinners.

    Too bad about the judgmental Christians.

  64. Ah ok. That makes a bit more sense :). Generally when I hear the term “do something boldly” it is without shame and generally defiant.

  65. Did anyone Else enjoy the Academy Awards?
    John
    http://www.royaltalent.com

  66. Ralphie says:

    My OPC pastor referred me to this site for my opinion on humanistic behavioralism, which is all these accountability systems are. I have submitted to such things before and the result after some length of time is dependency on man and not God, with little enhancement in one’s ability to resist sin. I formerly had a consuming life of porn for 10 years – absolute slavish addiction and a hopeless lifestyle of lust.

    God himself turned me and I turned. Free of slavery for 29 years, it was no credit to pastoral confrontation, strategies of avoidance, or confession to man. Only the manifest mercies of Christ reaching me as this poor man cried out in secret.

  67. Pingback: Breaking Free » Blog Archive » Why Some Christians Dislike Covenant Eyes (Part 2)

  68. Pingback: Why Some Christians Dislike Covenant Eyes (Part 2) - Covenant Eyes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s