I use Covenant Eyes on my desktop and laptop computers, and I agree with Joe that it is outstanding accountability software.
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Fighting Lust, Inviting Accountability, Using Covenant Eyes
Fighting lust is an all-out war. Even though it’s not the only front on which the battle is fought, one crucial strategy for fighting lust is accountability. And even though the Internet is not the only place where a guy struggles with temptation, Internet accountability is one of the most crucial aspects of accountability today.
I’ve used different methods of Internet accountability for the past decade, and in my experience there’s not a better single tool than Covenant Eyes software (CE).
- On my desktops and laptops, I’ve used CE for Windows since August 2010.
- For my Droid I’ve used the CE app since May 2011 (when it was still in Beta).
- Before that I had used the Safe Eyes filtering service on my computers and the X3Watch software (originally called “Double Agent”) on my Droid.
- My wife manages the CE account in our home. So even though she’s not one of my official accountability partners, she has access to all of my reports, and I invite her to look at them or to ask me any question at any time.
I recommend CE to friends and church members all the time. Its primary advantages include its accountability, freedom, and graded reports:
- The first advantage, accountability, seems obvious, but let me emphasize the obvious: CE is great accountability software! Every week my friends get a report of everywhere I’ve been on the Internet. I love this level of transparency. Being open with Christian friends has helped me “make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14).
- The second benefit of CE is the freedom it allows. Unlike my experience with Safe Eyes (which I used for filtering but not reporting), CE doesn’t filter my Internet surfing at all. I don’t ever get blocked from a site I’m trying to access, which hindered my productivity in the past. Yet CE keeps track of where I’ve been, so filtering is unnecessary.
- Third, CE has an efficient reporting system. Unlike my experience with X3Watch, CE doesn’t simply send my friends a list of all the sites I’ve visited—a list that is sometimes hundreds of lines long. Rather, CE sends a report that grades my Internet usage (e.g., “Close Review Suggested” or “Report Looks Good”) and is easy for my friends to interpret in a moment.
As far as I can see, there are only a few disadvantages to CE:
- A few of my friends have dealt with technical difficulties, especially on Apple devices. Most of these have been resolved after a few days, but not without a lot of frustration.
- CE costs $9/month. While you can’t put a price tag on moral purity, the fact that CE ends up costing more than $100/year deters a lot of guys from using it.
- CE is not able to track activity in mobile apps. It reports on the apps that I use each week, but it’s able to provide only detailed monitoring for what I do in one app: my stock browser. (I’ve been upfront with my accountability partners and let them know that they should be concerned if they see that I’ve downloaded another Internet browser to my Droid.)
- The greatest disadvantage of CE is that it can’t change my heart. Any user of any kind of Internet accountability software has to bear this in mind: this software can’t fix my real problem; only Jesus can. And this software helps me only in a limited way: when I’m on the Internet on my computer or Droid. CE is helpful in those situations, but temptations to lust come in a hundred other ways! The fact that my friends know about my Internet usage on my computer doesn’t necessarily mean that my friends know whether or not I’m struggling with lust. The fact that I’m using this software doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m killing my sinfulness in the Spirit’s power (Rom 8:13).
The dawn of the Internet Age hasn’t created my problem; it’s just provided one more way for me to be tempted. I’ve struggled with lust as long as I can remember (even before the Internet). My deliberate warfare against my lustful heart began as I was a young Christian in junior high (when Google didn’t exist). Since high school I’ve used a biblical meditation plan to help me fight. But this meditation plan, helpful as it is, isn’t enough. For the last ten years, I’ve used Internet accountability. But this strategy isn’t the “end all” method for fighting sin, either.
A biblical warfare-strategy against lust is multifaceted. Among other things, a Christian’s mortification needs to include habits of meaningful personal and corporate worship, diligently resisting sinful temptation and “lust triggers” that often include pop media, and transparent friendships with other believers—transparency that includes Internet accountability and openness in many other areas of life. (In his book Closing the Window , Tim Chester articulates this multi-faceted strategy as clearly and practically as anyone I’ve read.)