Covenant Eyes is a software program that automatically blocks inappropriate sites on your computer and/or monitors Internet use and sends a report to the person you designate. The goal is either to protect one’s children from various evils they may stumble upon on the Internet or to protect oneself from unwanted temptation. Let me begin by saying this article is not against Covenant Eyes. I’m in favor of Covenant Eyes, if it’s used correctly. My main contention is that Covenant Eyes is not the gospel; it is not the answer for the sin problem. It therefore must be used as an avenue through which to further depend on the gospel, not as a gospel substitute.
The problem I see with those who use Covenant Eyes to avoid unwanted temptation is that it frees men and women to think that the problem is outside of them. “If I can just keep those nude pictures or videos away from me, I won’t commit adultery.” The problem is if you blame everyone else for your adultery, you may never deal with the root of your wickedness: your heart (Jer. 17:9). Eventually, because you live in a wicked world, you will be faced with some form of adulterous temptation. How will you respond then?
If you previously thought the problem was outside of you, then when faced with sexual temptation, you will probably fail sexually. Desiring sexual, emotional, etc. fulfillment outside of one’s spouse is not a “natural” desire. Adulterous desire period is not a “necessary evil” that you and I must embrace as absolute. On the contrary, adulterous desire is a result of the fall. It’s not one of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:18-25), and therefore, should not be viewed as an “assumed reality for Christians.” You and I should be able to work, fellowship, etc. with attractive men or women without adulterous desire: sin. We must constantly put to death the adulterous desire in our hearts.
Here’s a test to see if you have dealt with your wicked heart. For men, what if the most beautiful woman you can think of stopped by your office and propositioned you? How would you respond? For women, what if a very handsome man from your favorite romantic movie began pursuing you the way he pursued the woman in the movie, would you commit adultery? I realize we cannot answer these hypothetical situations absolutely, but we can make an educated guess concerning our response. Have you dealt with your wicked heart?
It’s not enough for Christians to try to keep evil away from them. We must necessarily kill the sin in our hearts. We must put it to death (Rom. 8:13), instead of merely lulling it to sleep by trying to starve it. As soon as you near an attractive woman or a man who shows interest, your flesh will awake from sleep and kill you. “Be killing sin or it will be killing you” (John Owen). If you’re a man or woman on an island with your spouse, you may remain outwardly faithful to your spouse, but your mind may be saturated with evil, adulterous desire, and all you need is an opportunity. Christians, however, should be holy, and thus, more than just one opportunity away from sinful failure.
So, how should Christians use Covenant Eyes? Christians should use Covenant Eyes while depending on the gospel alone to save and sanctify them (Eph. 2:8-9). In other words, Christians should use Covenant Eyes, not to save or sanctify them from adultery or adulterous desire, but rather for the purpose of protecting themselves from seeing another human being who doesn’t realize his or her value.
Pornography is dehumanizing due to its glorification of the sexual availability of humans outside of marriage, and its portrayal of human sexual availability as the end-all and be-all of humanity. Humans, being created in God’s image are so much more valuable than their sexual availability and the perverted twisting of this God-given gift known as sexuality (Gen. 1:26-28). Thus, if you are able to keep yourself from seeing someone other than your spouse in a sexual situation, then you should do so. After all, what right do you have to see someone other than your spouse in a sexual situation? You don’t have this right. You should block these images and videos if at all possible, not because you desire adultery, but because you desire sexual holiness: seeing only your spouse in a sexual situation.
In other words, because you have been and are being changed by the gospel, you must live a life wholly devoted to the Lord (2 Cor. 5:14-21). Because of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, you belong to His kingdom through faith alone, and thus, you are expected to view humanity as created in God’s image for His glory (Gen. 1-2). Covenant Eyes will only help you accomplish this if you use it to reveal the gospel transformation inside of your heart, namely that you value humanity as God’s Word says you should. The sinful way to use Covenant Eyes is for the purpose of hiding your gospel-less value of humanity as less than God’s image bearers.
To summarize, if you use Covenant Eyes while still rejecting God’s definition of humanity, you may be headed to hell with Covenant Eyes installed on your computer. The gospel alone saves you, and you must make sure that your trust is in Christ alone for your salvation. The problem with you is not that porn exists; the problem is that you desire to look at porn. You don’t need protection from porn as if it will overtake you, you need saving from your desire to believe the truth-claim porn portrays: namely that the sexual availability of humanity is the end-all and be-all of humanity, not mirroring God in His world through Christ’s finished work and the Holy Spirit’s power through the Word of God (Gen. 1:26-28; John 14:6; 1 Cor. 2:12-14). Any man or woman who believes God’s definition of humanity continually and consistently cannot desire or look at porn. So, use Covenant Eyes because the gospel has transformed your heart to agree with God’s value of humanity, not because you desire adultery and sexual immorality, and believe Covenant Eyes will save you from adultery and sexual immorality.
How will you use Covenant Eyes and other software programs like it . . . as the gospel, the answer for your adulterous desire, or as an avenue through which to further depend on the gospel?
BTW: If it’s not happening already, I hope that one day a Christian will apply the above biblical principles and attack the porn industry somehow with the gospel. If Christian men and women however desire adultery, the porn industry will never be eradicated with the gospel. We’ll never get close enough with the gospel to eradicate it.
What are your thoughts?
Jared Moore is 32 years of age, and has served in pastoral ministry in a Southern Baptist context for 12 years. He currently pastors New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, KY. He is happily married to Amber and has three children. He has authored one book 10 Sacred Cows in Christianity That Need to Be Tipped. Jared is also a regular contributor at SBC Voices, Servants of Grace, Sermon Central, and Church Leaders, and occasionally writes for Speculative Faith, Credo Magazine, Gospel Husbands, and SBC Focus. I have a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Trinity College of the Bible, an M.A.R. in Biblical Studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.Div. in Christian ministry from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), a Th.M. in Systematic Theology (ABT) from SBTS, and I’m currently a PhD Student in Systematic Theology at SBTS.