From Mark Thompson:
In 2008 the then Principal of the College, John Woodhouse, introduced the Covenant Eyes software as a way of caring for each other in the face of the scourge of internet pornography and the serious and sustained damages it causes to people, marriages and ministries. It has become quite simply ‘what we do around here’ to help those struggling in this area and to make it more difficult for any of us to fall into this very real danger.
John Woodhouse very helpfully outlined the problem when he launched the program in 2008.
The following four things are at least widely acknowledged to be true.
First, pornography does hurt people. It does harm. It hurts the person concerned — and especially the Christian person, I believe. It messes with your mind in serious ways. It affects your attitudes to something that is in fact good and wonderful, namely your sexuality. It can also harm relationship. It can do serious harm to marriage relationships. It is true that problems with pornography can be a symptom of other difficulties a person or a relationship has. But it can also cause difficulties. Pornography does hurt people.
Second, pornography is powerful. It can capture, and it can create a serious addiction. An almost seemingly innocent curiosity can become a distressing obsession. And it is very easy to get caught up in it. Then beyond its attractive and addictive power is the power of the shame that it causes, and again this is particularly so in a Christian person. The shame is very strong and causes further problems. The shame is a big part of the power of pornography. A normally honest person finds that he lies. The tangle that life can become can be very distressing, and it can be difficult to unravel — you find it hard to know where to start. Pornography is powerful.
Third, the shame means that a person who has been or is suffering from pornography — and although that is a strange way of putting it, I think it is a helpful way to put it as I will explain in my fourth point — a person who has been or is suffering from pornography can find it difficult to seek help — indeed difficult to do anything that might suggest to anyone that he has a problem in this area. It can be a desperately lonely problem to have — although many will testify that the act of seeking help was the most liberating thing they have ever done.
My fourth point is very important, and in my opinion needs to be clearly said and heard. I do not want to take away the real responsibility we all have for our own actions, but I do want to say that the ‘bad guys’ in this whole matter are the purveyors of this material. In a very real and important sense those who get caught by it are victims of exploitation. Again, we really are responsible for our own actions, and should accept responsibility, but the purveyors of pornographic material are just like drug pushers — and are doing something just as wicked. They have a product that hurts people — and they try to get people hurt by it — preferably addicted to being hurt by it — for their own perverse gain. I want to say to any who have in any way or another been caught by this stuff: we as a community want to care for you, help you and protect you from the ‘bad guys’. We do not want to do anything that will make you feel that we are out to catch you or condemn you. That, in my opinion, is not the response this problem needs.
What can we do to protect ourselves and each other from evil people who would harm us in this way? The idea is that we confiscate — as best we can — a critical aspect of the power that the purveyors of pornography have gained since the arrival of the internet, the power of secrecy. We want to take a step that will mean the pusher can no longer make you think that you can secretly respond to his stuff. That simple step, according to much of the research in this area, makes the presence of pornography on the internet considerably less powerful.’
Covenant Eyes is not the only software package available to assist with this problem, but careful investigation of the options identified it as one of the best and it is the one we have adopted here at Moore College. It is not the ultimate solution to the problem. Very often this issue is intertwined with others and they need to be dealt with as well. It is most emphatically not a policing action but an attempt to provide genuine and effective pastoral care in a critical area of concern.
Why am I asking you to be involved?
If you are one of the people who has struggled with internet pornography, I doubt that you will need persuading that this is a good thing for us to be doing. I encourage you to take this opportunity to be strengthened and protected, perhaps decisively. It may be wise for you to seek more help than this, but this may well play a large part in putting this struggle behind you. Others certainly testify to finding it so.
If you are a person who has never struggled in this area, may I suggest that there are two good reasons for you to be involved nonetheless.
First, it would be naïve to assume that temptation will never touch you here.
Second, out of love for others, so that it is that much easier for a struggling brother or sister to receive this help. This program will work best when all of us are involved.
I do not think it is too much to say that if we work together at this there may well be marriages and ministries saved. I hope that you will act as soon as possible.
I hope that we will face the menace of internet pornography, talk honestly about it (without, of course, breaching any confidentiality) so that we can learn from one another, looking not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Involvement in Covenant Eyes is voluntary. No one will be checking who has and who has not joined up. But this is one of the ways we care for each other around here and your participation will be very important.