Purity in the field

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The low-resolution image of the undressing woman flickered, then stopped. Just before the woman’s body was more fully revealed, my dial-up connection broke. My heart pounded, and my feelings were confounded by a mix of mystifying primeval attraction and agonizing spiritual dismay. My soul broke instantaneously as the jihadi’s blade dashed menacingly against my throat.
I am sharing my personal testimony in order to break the shackles of silence and shame and to offer a solution that has helped me. In my experience, shame in keeping silent about giving in to the sin of lust – especially through viewing porn on the internet – is one of biggest problems that our men face on the field. It could be the reason many men never go to the field in the first place. This is a travesty of biblical proportions.
Our organization has recommended the use of Covenant Eyes, an online internet accountability program. But if our men are still returning from the field because they are not dealing with the issue of pornography, then we must find a new way to help each other win this battle. I have a powerful, practical suggestion that takes only a few minutes to put in place. But first, I will tell you my story.
During my adolescent years – with the exception of a few friends’ magazines – I was blissfully sheltered and naïve to porn. When I was 19, I was radically born again and filled with the Holy Spirit.
My first introduction to internet porn began the year after I left university at 23. What a shameful and sudden fall from grace. At that point in my life, I had no one to turn to with an answer but God. The young, empathetic men in my life whom I confided in didn’t know any practical solutions.
When I was 24, I married my incredible wife. For the most part, I was successful in containing the compulsion. However – in spite of my best efforts to pray away the temptation – the Adamic urge to look at a naked woman was too strong, and I gave in. I believe that a man is blessed with a healthy instinct to be physically attracted to his wife. This is God’s design, and sex is a beautiful parallel of the intimacy of Christ’s bride, his church, and of Jesus himself as the groom.
As kingdom workers, how will we use that instinct to God’s greater glory? Sexual desire is a God-given gift. Sin corrupts it into lust, and every man battles it. It is not a new battle. But the internet has provided an avenue of profiting from that godly instinct in man by capitalizing on every man’s battle: the corrupted sin of lust.
Pornography isn’t an issue just for those on “the edges of the faith,” those who are not sold out to God’s cause. It’s also a struggle for many of us on the field. In fact, I would even argue that the more masculine men who are naturally drawn to the harsh battle of the field are blessed with an even greater abundance of the testosterone-filled warrior’s urge.
Throughout our marriage, my wife and I have avoided the visual temptation of TV. Thankfully, it was enough of a time waster to convince my wife not to have one. But the internet was vital for mail, communication, and information. How could I successfully justify to her the idea of an internet-free home?
In 2002, having spent my first year of marriage living a defeated double life with good months and bad months, I confessed to my wife. She had not suspected. Understandably, she was devastated. I tried to console her, and she knew that I still loved her sincerely with every ounce of my being. Yet she felt deeply betrayed.
After praying through it together, by God’s grace, she forgave me. Prior to my confession, I had already researched the best safeguards. But I needed her to help me be accountable. She agreed to it.
I had also found some men whom I thought would be good accountability partners, but I found that they were more deeply entrenched in this sin than I was, even though they held higher positions in our church. In our accountability group, it seemed I was finding the most victory. I had gone to my brothers hoping to be inspired by them, but the reverse was true. The group took two unhelpful approaches. The first was short-sighted: just man-up and get through it. The other was over-spiritualized: just pray through the strongholds. What we needed was a radical, practical, and yes – inconvenient – approach. We needed to establish boundaries that would supplement our confessions while our minds were being transformed into the likeness of Christ.
Skirting boundaries
One of the safeguards my wife and I put in place was Covenant Eyes. Unfortunately, it simply became the new obstacle for me to try to work around. The primal urge of hunting and chasing made it into a game for me – to see whether I could somehow find a sneaky little loophole. There were many loopholes. Eventually, the surveillance from my wife and my other accountability partner was revealed to be a farce. I knew they weren’t checking the Covenant Eyes reports regularly, and I was able to negotiate around the thin veneer of security.
I prayed in desperation for an answer. I wanted to be intimate with God, but as long as the temptation was there, I would eventually give in. I could go a whole year on sheer willpower, then fall in one day. In my mind, one day lost in the downward spiral of lust, ruined my entire year in the sight of my blessed Father in heaven.
Finally, I found the answer I was looking for.
It was like an angel had just knocked at my door and handed me the key.
A boundary that has helped me
I discovered that if I created two accounts on my computer, I could apply parental controls so that I had access only to certain websites. We gave my wife the main administrator’s account, and I created a secondary account for myself.
This means that my computer has two passwords: my wife’s, which I do not know, and my own. On my computer account, I am able to access secure mail. If I need to access my personal email account on gmail, I do that through apps on my iPhone. My account allows me to set up a handful of safe websites that I actually need to access, such as my banking site. Aside from those, there is no reason for me to have a browser on either my phone or my laptop: no Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer.
I can use every other piece of software on my computer, but constant roaming of the internet is no longer an option.
When I absolutely have to use the internet (for example, to update software every month), I ask my wife to log in to the admin account, and she stays in the room with me. (A single person would need to enlist a trusted friend to install a secret admin password).
Every month when I need to make those software updates, I hand my wife the computer and she just types in a few keystrokes. Simple. She quickly saw the benefits of having a completely safe, locked down, 99.9 percent porn-free home. These restrictions have mitigated the temptation to almost zero and allowed me the freedom to use my computer alone without the proverbial apple on my Apple dangling before me.
By her own admission, my wife is less technically savvy than I am. I had to provide the safety net, but she just needed to have authority in this area. She now also has authority over our pre-teen son’s access to his iPad. There is no browser on his iPad, and he can only access iTunes content and apps below a certain age restriction.
A both/and solution
I do believe that the primary battle has to be won in our hearts through God’s transformation. But we must have a practical solution in place, too. God has created us men as reasonable and pragmatic creatures foremost. The alcoholic’s cupboard has to be bare.
What if David had shared, in community with his advisors, the struggles he faced? I suspect if he had done a bit of troubleshooting with his men, they would have built a higher wall on his balcony to block his view. He would have avoided the opportunity to look at Bathsheba. And there would never have been the adultery that led to murder, spiraling quickly out of control. This was a man after God’s own heart, a man intimate with God. Did he have root issues in his life? Most probably he did, as we all do. As we work those out in community, over time, Jesus will transform our minds. But what if David had implemented practical steps to guard his heart – before the initial lust, when the sun set on that bathtub below his balcony?
How are we setting up walls to guarding our hearts on the internet? Does that innocuous Sports Illustrated bikini cover on CNN’s home page still cause our gaze to wander momentarily, begging us to delve further into the underbelly? It’s not called “the web” by mistake. Healthy boundaries have to be implemented as a supplement to an imperative victory.
Get help
It is not easy to talk about this issue. But it is one we must address as a community. Young men, the next generation of warrior ambassadors for our king, I make myself vulnerable in my own weaknesses because of you. Let us not make the mistake of thinking we can find long term victory from this – the most insidious of all sins – by sheer will power alone. Sin’s power is in its silence.
God is the one who transforms minds. Here is a prayer that you may want to use as a starting point: “God, I make an eternal agreement with you about my eyes. The promise is between you and me, God. Help me to keep it. Help me to be doggedly determined, devout, and even piously obedient in the pursuit of the greatest intimacy with you, my Creator. Give me the practical tools never to tread again where I have gone before in this sin, which has torn me from you. I ask this for the sake of the highest calling, which is you and you alone.”
How to restrict your internet browser
If you have been accessing a personal email account (such as gmail) within your web browser, you may want to choose an email client that is accessible offline or set up your mobile device to access your personal email account(s).

Set restrictions on a mobile device.

iOS. Watch this procedure on YouTube.
  1. Select Settings > General > Restrictions. Then select Enable Restrictions.
  2. Ask your spouse or accountability partner to set a four-digit passcode that

you don’t know.

  1. Under Allowed Content, set age-related restrictions to avoid explicit content across movies, TV, and apps.
  2. Under Allowed Content > Websites > Allowed Websites, select Specific Websites Only. Scroll down to Only Allow These Websites, then enter the specific websites that are allowed (for example: a banking website).
  3. Exit the Settings app. Once set, these restrictions can only be lifted with the restrictions passcode.
Android. Watch this procedure on YouTube.
Set restrictions on a computer.
Mac. Watch this procedure on YouTube.
  1. Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Admin. Click Change


  1. Ask your spouse or accountability partner to set a password that you don’t know.
  2. To add another non-admin account for yourself with a Password for this new account with a password you do know, go to System Preferences > Parental Controls. Click Admin.
  3. Disable the internet browser access for your new account. Where necessary, add relevant sites that you visit regularly and don’t have an app for on your device, such as your banking website.
  1. Watch this procedure on YouTube.
By default, the Windows operating system creates an Administrator account. This procedure allows the Administrator to set up a second user account; then, you can set up parental controls to limit the website access for the second account.

Transformation comes usually only through community and an ongoing process. And, it is not just the cessation of bad behaviors we are looking for, but an ongoing process of transformation into the likeness of Christ.

I think you are right that shame keeps so much of this hidden. One of the most significant things is getting testimonies and sharing out there so that people feel freer to talk about their struggles.

What a tremendous model of transparency, victory and helpfulness to those snared. I will share this testimony with my guys (and girls) and encourage its dissemination.

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