The Wisdom of Accountability Measures
If a person wants to be wicked, there is no stopping him. There are not enough accountability measures to put in place to stop a free moral agent from willfully choosing to sin. A parent could go so far as to lock up a teenager in an empty room in hopes of keeping him from sinning against God, but even then the teen could think and say wicked things. Even though Adam and Eve lived in a sinless world at one time; even though they were surrounded by good things (Genesis 1:31); even though they were able to walk and talk with God, live in the midst of the tree of life, and freely eat of every tree of the garden with the exception of one (Genesis 3:8; 2:9,16-17), they eventually chose the one thing that God forbade.
Generally speaking, however, Christians do not want to sin. Rather, we desperately desire to live in accordance with God’s will. The reason we call ourselves Christians is because we want to be Christ-like. That said, we are not perfect. More than we like to admit, we give in to “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). For this reason, (1) we pray that we are not led into temptation, but instead are delivered from it (Matthew 6:13), and (2) lest we fall, we “take heed” (1 Corinthians 10:12) and walk carefully (Ephesians 5:15).
One area in which all Christians in the 21st century need to walk carefully is the World Wide Web. With one or two clicks of a button, a Christian can find himself “walking” in the filthiest places on Earth. More evil can be discovered more quickly on the Internet than anywhere in world history. In 1996, the U.S. Department of Justice argued, “Never before in the history of telecommunications media in the United States has so much indecent (and obscene) material been so easily accessible by so many minors in so many American homes with so few restrictions” (1996, emp. added). Literally, in just a few seconds, with merely a few clicks of a mouse, or by typing in only three or four words in a search engine, men and women, boys and girls, can view almost any wicked thing imaginable.
What proactive steps can Christians take to shield ourselves and our families from the many dangers on the Internet? Some Christians may think that they and their children are strong enough to withstand whatever temptation comes their way over the Internet. Such an attitude is seen to be very unwise in light of the apostle Paul’s admonitions to Christians. Not only did he warn the Corinthians to “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall,” he also wrote to the churches of Galatia, saying, “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3). Admittedly, we will never be able to put so many safety measures in place that the possibility of sinning is removed. But, there is much wisdom in being “careful” to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,” including those “shameful” things “done…in secret” (Ephesians 5:11-15).
Every Christian family that uses the Internet, seriously needs to consider filtering and accountability software. Filtering software, such as that offered by OpenDNS® or Safe Eyes® (among others), can block a myriad of different kinds of sinful sites that we might be tempted to visit. Though filtering software is not effective 100% of the time at blocking immoral sites, it can be a great safety measure most of the time.
Perhaps an even better (or additional) line of defense for Christians is accountability software such as that provided by Covenant Eyes®. This software tracks every site you visit and every search you make, whether on a computer, a phone, or a tablet. It then passes that information on to an accountability partner of your choosing (e.g., husband, wife, parent, close friend, etc.). For example, a parent can install this software on a teen’s laptop, tablet, or smart phone, and once a week get a report of what web sites the teen has visited or attempted to visit. This enables families to have continual informed and meaningful discussions about how Christians can wisely use the Internet in a Christ-like way.
Most all of us put various kinds of physical safety measures in place in our lives. Whether it is a law or not, many of us wear our seat belts faithfully. We may purchase security systems for our house or apartment in case of break-ins. We teach our children how to escape from their rooms in case there is a fire. Sometimes the physical precautions we put in place seem almost endless. Unfortunately, most people either forget or ignore the need for all of the spiritual defense measures that can help Christians continue walking in the light, rather than be continually tempted to stumble in darkness. It seems to me, two of the best tools that Christians can use in the 21st century are filtering and accountability software. I would encourage you to visit such helpful Web sites as www.safeeyes.com and www.covenanteyes.com.
U.S. Department of Justice (1996), Post Hearing Memorandum of Points of Authorities, at I, ACLU v Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824 in Parenting the Internet Generation (2012), (Owosso, MI: Covenant Eyes).