FIRST-PERSON: How to surf the Internet & avoid wiping out to porn

RALEIGH, N.C. (BP)--"It appears the sin of choice among Christians today is Internet pornography," writes James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources.

To be sure, "avoiding" versus "resisting" temptation is far superior. The apostle Paul wrote, "It is God's will that you should ... avoid sexual immorality." Avoiding web porn lessens the likelihood of having to resist it.

Here are 10 guidelines for safely surfing the Net.

Disconnect from the Internet! Also known as a "modemectomy," this option is often met with incredulity -- "That's preposterous!"

Is it? Jesus said if your hand, foot or eye causes you to sin, get rid of it! Hyperbole made his point.

A mother called me expressing her and her husband's distress on learning their 18-year-old son was viewing gay porn online. I invited all three to my office. After some conversation, I excused the parents so Ted and I could talk. Ted admitted his struggle with homosexuality and gay porn. When his parents returned I suggested, among other things, the family disconnect from the Internet. Immediately the father appeared agitated, "That's impossible, my work depends on it." After more conversation they left. I was not surprised to later learn from Ted that the father's agitation stemmed from his web porn use also; the father's secret was no secret to Ted. "Like father, like son!" Can't disconnect? Try fasting 30-90 days.

Ask a friend for accountability! Confide your struggle with a prayer partner; such relationships are precisely what web porn hinders. See www.covenanteyes.net which e-mails questionable web sites you've visited to your accountability partner.

Use a filtering system or a clean Internet provider. Some are listed here:

-- www.info.lifewayonline.com

-- www.afafilter.com

-- www.familyclick.com

-- www.hedge.org

One system, Watchdog, takes random shots of what's on your monitor and records text of all program usage; it searches and displays a list of all graphics, even if someone has tried to hide them. Your accountability partner can check where you've been at any time. A director of a ministry to sex addicts allows his pastor, board and family to check on him. Visit Watchdog at www.charlesriver.com/WD.html.

Move the computer to a high traffic area. Viewing porn diminishes when the computer sits in the family room. Avoid any room where doors can be closed.

Let teens surf only under adult supervision. Even if the computer sits in a high traffic area, limit its use to times when mom or dad is nearby.

Get what you need and get off the web! Browsing can be a mistake! When my wife goes "shopping," I know she will return with only the item(s) she is shopping for; but when she says "honey, I'm going to the mall to browse," she will undoubtedly return with a half dozen shopping bags.

Stay off the web at night when fatigue makes you vulnerable to temptation. A tired body is a tempted body! Insomniacs beware: Counting sheep prevails over surfing the web.

Fortify your computer and work space. Be creative! Place Scripture on your screen saver pertaining to sexual temptation. "Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity," the Bible says. Use a family photo or a picture of your wife as a reminder of your wedding vows.

To unblock his computer, one man must type his password, "I will follow Christ." Another user plays Christian music while surfing -- an audible reminder to avoid porn.

Randomly or regularly check e-mail transmissions and web history. One family randomly checks their children's sent and received e-mails. A church has a different staff person check the history of all computers each month.

Keeping the history is a must. Such a measure, for example, might have saved one church staff member from falling into sin and losing his job. A pastor called me needing help; when a support staff person was out sick, another staff member retrieved a needed file from the sick staffer's computer. He found more than the needed file; porn had been downloaded from the Internet.

Visit these sites for help with web porn:

www.enough.org

www.pureintimacy.org

www.parsonage.org

Finally, don't ask, "How much can I get away with and not be caught?" The prudent man knows that the true mark of a Christian is measured in what he would do if he knew he would never be found out!


Wilkins is director of CROSS Ministry, Raleigh, N.C., focusing on issues related to sexual brokenness, on the Internet at www.crossministry.org.

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