This week we have a guest blog post from Jon Dixon, Pastor of Next Generations & Families at New Minas Baptist Church in Nova Scotia. This is a follow-up to last week where I shared “Why you need to talk about porn at your church”. Jon has been intentional about talking about porn in his ministry, so he is sharing his helpful thoughts and great resources to help us in this area.
They walked in the room, laughing and talking, tired from little sleep the night before. The story they were about to hear wasn’t one of their choosing. They were unaware of what God was about to reveal to them. The lights dimmed and the video started, capturing their attention abruptly. As the video finished, you could have heard a pin drop in the room; every movement of each person echoed in the room. Many looked at their own feet rather than face the eyes of the person taking the microphone. This was our experience at a youth conference at New Minas Baptist Church this fall. This is what we expected to happen when we addressed the topic of pornography.
“Pornography dishonors the image of God in an individual by treating him or her as a sexual object to be consumed… the current porn industry has capitalized on the commercialization of human sexuality as a commodity… pornography takes human sexuality out of its natural context… and makes it a product to be bought and sold.” [abridged from William Strutters, Wired for Intimacy, page 19]
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!” [Romans 1:24-25, ESV]
At the youth conference, we heard two stories from adults who were formerly addicted to the viewing of pornography. God has rescued this man and woman and is now allowing their stories to be told as an inspiration to others who are trapped in this addiction. Several students and leaders chose to trust Jesus and began a journey towards healing that weekend.
Over the past several years, I have met person after person who has a story to tell about pornography. Almost every story I’ve heard has similar features. The stories sound like this: “When I was young, I was tempted; as I got older, I got deeper into my sin. I tried to get out but I couldn’t; I needed God to rescue me.”
I used to wrongly believe that pornography was only an issue for sinful men who were far from God. I have come to believe now that pornography is an issue for everyone, male and female, of all ages. If we are honest, it is only a matter of what degree we are currently being tempted by pornography and if we are currently giving into that temptation.
As I have worked with adults and youth who have struggled with pornography, what I have discovered, not surprisingly, is that this is a secret sin that almost everyone struggles to defeat on their own. Like many addictions, simply giving it up ‘cold turkey’ doesn’t work for most people. The power of God, the Holy Spirit working in the life of a person is the solution. Real repentance from sin leads to real redemption from any addiction, pornography included.
The temptation to view pornography in any form is the result of the desire to lust after what we do not have. This was true in Moses’ day [Exodus 20:17] and is still true today. Scripture tells is that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” [1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV] In order to fight against the temptation to view pornography, we have to stop hiding in the shadows, believing we are all alone. Pornography, unlike many sins that have a more public face, is a sin and a temptation that lives in our private lives. Every time I walk alongside someone fighting against the sin or the temptation of pornography, I recommend accountability – a choice to no longer remain alone in the temptation, to no longer allow the sin to live in the dark. The Bible clearly says: “a person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” [Ecclesiastes 4:12, NLT]
Accountability in the fight against pornography takes several forms but technology is a great place to start. There is software for all of our devices to filter what we don’t want to see and to let trusted friends know when we are struggling. The power of having trusted people in our lives, who love us and are willing to walk alongside of us against the temptation we all face, is enormous. I am so blessed to have two people in my life whom I trust completely, ask me about my life, family, faith, calling, and ask about my current temptation with pornography on a regular basis. These two men receive weekly reports from Covenant Eyes [the accountability / filtering software I currently use] about my online activity.
As you consider how to put accountability / filtering software in place to help you and your family, take a look below at my summary of some of the best options:
• Open DNS [www.opendns.com] is a free product that changes the settings on your internet rotor [either that your purchased to received from your internet provider] to prevent access to pornography. Essentially, this provides a filter for your whole home network – which means that any device accessing the internet in your home is filtered. Any phone with its own data plan and using that data plan in your home will be unaffected by OpenDNS.
• X3Watch [www.x3watch.com] is a product from XXXChurch, an outreach ministry to those involved in the pornography industry. X3Watch provides both free and premium [paid] versions of its software which work on PC & Mac and Android and IOS.
• Covenant Eyes [www.covenanteyes.com] has been serving those struggling with pornography for years and also offers software for PC, Mac, Android and IOS. The cost of this software is a little more than the cost of X3Watch, but the software seems to be updated more regularly. [Note: The Android software offers accountability only, no filtering, the other platforms include both accountability and filtering.]
• Two other products, are Safe Eyes [www.internetsafety.com] and Net Nanny [www.netnanny.com]. In my opinion, Covenant Eyes [which I currently use] and X3Watch are better choices with better features; however, please investigate all options and choose what fits you and your family the best.
• A couple other simple things that every person with internet access should consider: Go to www.google.com/preferences and set filter preferences and install an add blocking web browser extension like Ad Block Plus [https://adblockplus.org]
For those who are reading this and asking, “What about my children?,” a few things to consider:
• Almost every youth that I have spoken with over the past several years has said something like: “My fall into sin from the temptation of pornography happened when I got my first iPod.” As you considering buying your son or daughter a new iPod, phone, tablet, computer, consider their soul and their ability to fight the temptation of porn – put accountability, good parenting, and good software in place to protect them.
• For young children, take a look at apps designed with their protection in mind. Kidoz [http://kidoz.net] offers pre-filtered content for IOS, Android and PC. This is an example of the many resources that you can consider. Another example is YouTube Kids by Google.
• Another product which will arrive in Canada in 2016 is Circle by Disney [https://meetcircle.com]. This new product looks like a fantastic option for families! You can read a review of Circle here: http://www.challies.com/resources/protect-your-family-with-circle
For those looking for a more in-depth, step by step guide to how to implement all of these things, Tim Challies, a popular Christian blogger, has written an excellent and extensive article on how he protects his family. Read it here: http://www.challies.com/articles/the-porn-free-family-plan
Pornography is everywhere in our world today. As Christians, especially as Christian leaders, we cannot keep our heads in the sand and pretend that it’s all going to go away. We must acknowledge that the temptation of pornography affects all of us and we must choose to put in place the accountability and filtering that we all need to help us to flee from temptation! Choose to be accountable to trusted friends so that you can fight temptation together! Choose to put protection in place for your family! Choose to glorify Christ!
“So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light…” [Romans 13:12, ESV]
Thanks so much Jon! @jondixon
I’d add, and Jon agrees, while accountability tools are very important it does not negate the responsibility of parents and leaders to teach youth and children how to live in a world where porn can be so accessible and the sacredness of human life and human sexuality can be so devalued. The two go together, we put software in place, but we also raise up kids that know how to act and react in a world where porn and degrading attitudes towards others can easily hit them in the face.
As always, we welcome your comments or questions.