The internet is an amazing tool. I remember in 1999 when we first got the internet as a family – I remember the dial-up noise, the anticipation, the excitement, and wondering if it was actually going to connect (it often took a few attempts).
As an 11 year old boy, I loved cars. And once I discovered Lycos (a search engine, like Google, but with an awesome black labrador as it’s logo) I realised I could download as many pictures of Aston Martins and Lotuses as I could fit on our 3 gigabyte hard drive. And back in those days, images appeared line by line over the space of several minutes.
It didn’t take long before I morphed into a grumpy teenage boy and pictures of cars became pictures of something else.
When I was at school, porn wasn’t just something that was accepted, it was something that was expected. If you were a boy, and you weren’t looking at porn, then you were considered a bit strange. And that was 10 years ago. Most teenage boys will be looking at porn, and most men will have at some point, if they’re not now. If you’re reading this and you look at porn, you are far from alone!
Porn is everywhere. Porn is a problem for the Christian. Porn will affect your relationship with Jesus. If you don’t believe me, or you want to know what the Bible teaches about this subject, Mars Hill Church have published a very helpful short book that you can download for free.
Yes, I shamelessly stole the title of that book for this blog post. A wise man once said:
“There’s no copyright in the kingdom of God” – Now there’s a topic for a future blog post…
When I became a Christian three and a half years ago, God changed me. He changed my desires. I no longer wanted to participate in a pornography culture. Sadly, it’s not very easy to stop. It took a long time, with many failures along the way, but with God’s help I made it through.
One of the things that God providing to help with this was software. Software to block websites. Software to take away the possibility, and therefore part of the temptation, for me to look at porn.
You can use it for this, you can use it to protect your family, and I’d recommend using it even if you don’t think you have a issue. It just takes away even the possibility of stumbling into a problem with porn.
If you’re facing this issue alone, don’t. Find someone to talk to, a friend, or come along on a Sunday and speak to an elder, or a member of the prayer team. Find someone who can walk with you; you’ll find it a lot easier.
I can recommend a free bit of software called K9. K9 will only protect your PC or Mac, so it leaves other devices (smartphones and tablets) unprotected, but we’ll cover that in a bit…
Another piece of software that people commonly use, and one I use with other people, is XXX Church. This sits in the background and monitors all websites you visit. It doesn’t block anything, but once a week it emails a friend that you’ve chosen to be accountable to a list of any questionable sites that you’ve visited (sometimes with hilarious false positives).
All major mobile phone networks block ‘adult’ content by default. But when smartphones and tablets are connected to wifi, they use your home broadband connection which is unprotected by default.
Recently, the government has been asking internet providers to give people an easy way to block porn, and thankfully most major providers now offer a way to do this really easily. Below is a list of providers, and links to their instructions on how to turn this on:
EE apparently do offer a way to do this without installing software, but do not provide instructions on how to do so. You’ll need to log in to your account and have a look around, or contact them directly and ask for the ‘Content Filter’ to be turned on.
As I’ve helped other men through this issue, the biggest complaints I’ve heard about any software or blocks are that they slow down your computer (the ones provided by ISPs don’t) or that it blocks things that shouldn’t be blocked. My response to that is pretty simple:
What do you care about more? Your relationship with Jesus and overcoming this problem, or a computer that goes a tiny bit faster and lets you access that one obscure site that you don’t really need anyway. Think about it!