Why the Internet is Full of Temptations (and what we can do about it)

By Luke Gilkerson

How many times have you heard a story about an Internet-related problem in the past few months? I’m not just talking about things like identity theft or cyber crime—I’m talking about all the poor uses of the Internet that seem to ruin lives and dissolve our most important relationships.

  • Headlines speak of the latest Internet predator caught in the act of grooming a teenager.
  • New reports come out weekly about how slanderous words exchanged over e-mail or Facebook lead to broken hearts or shattered reputations.
  • More and more studies show modern families are becoming engrossed in technology, so much so their face-to-face relationships are suffering.
  • Literally millions of websites with graphic and degrading sexual content are available to see at the click of a mouse, and this doesn’t even include all the “grey areas” of temptation and titillation.

The common thread

What is the common thread for all of these problems? Some want to blame the technology itself. The Internet has given us a level of accessibility that, perhaps, many people are not ready to have. While this is one common thread, I don’t believe is it the most important one. I believe the problem is not mostly technological, but relational.

One of the more insidious common threads that runs through Internet-related dangers is that of anonymity. The Internet gives us the ability to experience, explore, and express ourselves in total secrecy. Knowing no one has to know what I do, what I see, or who I talk to often lowers our defenses and removes our inhibitions.

Many times, this cloak of secrecy brings out the worst in us and exposes us to the worst in others. We are like Gyges of Lydia (mentioned by Plato), who found a magic ring that could make him invisible. Intoxicated with his new power, this once-humble shepherd snuck into the palace, seduced the queen, plundered the palace, and assassinated the king. In a similar fashion, today we hide behind monitors and smartphones so we can be seduced by flickering pixels, squander our time in endless amusement, and slaughter one another with our words.

Accountability vs. anonymity

In our always-plugged-in culture, the battle must be waged on two fronts.

The first front is the gate of our own hearts. Try as we might, we cannot blame technology for corrupting us. Technology has only exposed how easily corruptible we really are.

The first front, therefore, is our accountability to God Himself. We must admit to ourselves and to God our weaknesses when it comes to living lives of faith in the Information Age. We must train ourselves and our children to recognize that, despite the apparent anonymity of the online world, nothing escapes God’s penetrating gaze. He is always present.

The second front of the battle is our connection to other people. Despite the fact that much of our time online is private time, we should not be seduced into believing what we do online does not impact others.

The second front, therefore, is our accountability to each other. We must live transparent and open lives before those we trust. Doing this shatters the strong illusion of anonymity, which stops temptations and traps before they start. For the sake of ourselves and our children, we must counter the culture of secrecy with a new culture of accountability.

A tool that makes the job easier

The reason I’m so passionate about this is because I’ve spoke to countless people who have experienced the dark side of the Internet. I’ve listened to wives cry over their husband’s raging porn addictions. I’ve seen fathers bury their heads in anxiety over the photos their son saw online late at night. I’ve spoken with young women who, in their teen years, were seduced by men three times their age online. I’ve spoken to people whose reputations are shattered because of the vicious words shared the Internet.

I’ve also spoken to many people whose lives have been changed by Internet accountability. This is why I love my job at Covenant Eyes.

For 11 years Covenant Eyes’ goal has been the same: provide people with practical tools that encourage accountability online. Over a decade ago we pioneered an Internet accountability service, providing people with easy-to-read reports of how the Internet is used in their home so they can be transparent with others. Over the years, and with the help of hundreds of thousands of comments from our members, these reports have gone through many evolutions.

The most recent evolution was a brand new web rating system. Many people benefit from rating systems for other forms of entertainment—like movies or video games—and yet the Internet is one of the primary sources for entertainment and information today. Why not rate the Web too?

This is exactly what Covenant Eyes does. When you use Covenant Eyes on your PC, Mac, or mobile device, every web address you visit is catalogued and rated according to six age-based ratings (like T for Teen or M for Mature). All of that information is put into a report and e-mailed regularly to a friend, mentor, spouse, parent, or anyone else you want to see it. The Web ratings make the report easy to scan for relevant information.

Plus, the reports are totally customizable. Perhaps you’re a parent who wants to see what your 10-year-old does online: you might want to see when Teen websites are accessed. Or perhaps you’re a guy who is holding your friend from church accountable: you might want to see only when Mature or Highly Mature sites are accessed. It’s entirely up to you.

The reason for all this detail is simple: Covenant Eyes knows the most important element of accountability is conversation. If a report is too cumbersome, includes too much or not enough information, or doesn’t highlight potential problems, then informed conversations don’t happen.

And in a world where sin thrives in the anonymity of the Web, can we afford not to expose these dark places to the light of accountability?

. . . .

Luke Gilkerson is the general editor and primary author of Breaking Free, the Covenant Eyes blog. Luke has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and is working on an MA in Religion from Reformed Theological Seminary. Before working at Covenant Eyes he spent six years as a college campus minister. He is also the author of Porn in the Pews: Teaching Your Church about the Dangers of Pornography. He lives in Michigan with his wife Trisha and two sons, Bradley and Cameron.


  1. Beznuts

    Hey I was reading ur page, and here is what I was thinkin. I’m a male, healthy in every respect. I like porn, everyone does hence why its a multi billion dollar industry still producing more and more each day. So based on stats that’s it’s a loosing battle I think if the Christian communty including myself, should hook up, or create a website to connect those individuals that crave porn, so that no one can point the finger at who’s looking at porn… Wait does that make too much sense! The truth is that men are dogs! We were told to go spred our seed, so it’s in the genes to get tired of a woman after three months. Sorry women yup.. U bash tiger, sheen, and the list goes on and on but the truth is of is can barely keep it in our pants in a relationship, and ask ur man to see what he says,,,, if he doesn’t agree with me he’s lying. Point and case. So if u can’t have an honest man why not watch porn with him and have some hot, nasty, sexy putrid, sweaty, leg stretching, hair pulling, back scratching sex! Just sayin…

  2. I’m really sorry for you, Bez, if that’s all you’ve got.

    I am a former porn addict, with a new lease on life, a redeemed, healed relationship with a beautiful woman who is my wife, we are both 100% faithful to each other.

    And as for sex, we have exactly the sex you were describing, minus the porn, and the words nasty and putrid — because as real Christian men, we believe God created this gift to draw us to our wives, and make us one.

    And God is good. He is very, VERY good. :-)

    My wife rocks, and Jesus is even better,


  3. stunell

    I have a particular problem at work where the programs I install is strictly controlled. I’ve tried installing a web filter (I use the K9 filter at home and only my wife knows the password) but it won’t let me! Sure, the company’s filter prevents pornographic websites, but not Youtube or some other sites. My church has a 12 step pornography addiction recovery group, where we discuss the Gospel of Jesus Christ and study how He frees us from addiction. For the past 2 weeks, I’ve made a promise with God that I will not use the Internet for entertainment, because even innocently surfing benign websites, I’ll get exposed to enough triggers and get numbed to the point that I eventually start subversely looking for pornography. So, I don’t check the news, image or video or book search, no video game sites, no internet radio, and I don’t browse online vendors like amazon. Just email, maps, lds.org and other christian websites, and I will shop if I have already decided what I am going to buy. Otherwise, I’ll just wait till I get home where my wife can do it for me.
    No man can serve two masters, and when my divine nature overcomes my carnal nature in this regard, I will be making myself far more consecrated to the REAL master, the one who makes our burdens lighter rather than heavier.

  4. LR

    I’ve even read that husbands get angry about their wife being addicted to porn and destroying the computer or beating the wife for it and that older women seduce boys they meet online. In addition to that, I learned that single men who join online dating sites get played by women they meet or that the woman they met is married, a lesbian, or in a relationship. The reason why women play games with men in online dating sites, especially in Christian-oriented ones, is because they think men in online dating sites are sexually aggressive predators but then, women who do that wind up being stalked and/or killed for that. It’s dangerous. Men need to know how not to look scary in online dating sites so that way they can find an eligible woman that doesn’t play games with their brains. That’s what women do when a guy is very aggressive. They lead him on and make him feel heartbroken.

    As a girl, I’ve had a terrible habit of that, every time I talk to an unfamiliar guy online, especially if he’s much older. Playing games with him, leading him on, and making him confused and heartbroken because my parents want me to date a guy who they think is perfect enough for me and the family, he comes on too strong, like he thinks he should because he is a guy, I’m working, I’m playing video games, surfing the Web, etc. Usually, he’s thinking, “Does she like me or is she playing games with my brain?” Next thing, you know, the guy turns out to be very abusive and stalkerish because I was playing games with his feelings. It’s the only way girls protect their egos. Even other guys I’ve met complain that girls do this to them as well. Girls often ignore them, check out other guys, etc. In other words, girls in online dating and, are far by the biggest players, compared to guys, from what guys I’ve met online told me. Guys there are just looking for relationships, while girls there are either looking for casual dates or even sex, not relationships, and plus there’s more guys than girls on those sites as well.

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