How To Keep My Family and Myself Pure on The Internet

GUEST ARTICLE

HOW TO KEEP
MY FAMILY AND MYSELF
PURE ON THE INTERNET

[The following article from a Baptist writer is worthy of reading.  As I looked over this, I became aware again of the extreme danger the Internet actually is.  I can understand how some of the men I know are utterly opposed to having a connection to the Internet.  If you do have such access, we would recommend using a highly-filtered server.  Check out the information we have included on our Links page.  Also, it would be advisable to not permit children to use the internet, at least without parental presence.  Remember that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one—Satan.  1 John 5:19.]

 

As a pastor I am being asked more and more concerning the Internet from families in our church. As a bit of a tech nut (other guys go fishing) I have been using computers and the various aspects of the Internet for some time now. Our church has a Web Page and I use e-mail as a means of communication quite often. I am fascinated by the technological wonders. But I am also scared to death of some of the darker elements of all this new advancement. My purpose in this little piece to give some basic information concerning the Internet and to give some practical, common sense ideas at safeguarding my family and families in our church from the snares of the wicked one.

WHAT IS THE INTERNET?

I am not even going to try to wax eloquent on this topic. There are many, many articles — secular and religious which deal with all the “ins” and “outs” of the Internet. Let me simply say that the Internet is a system by which my computer can access, over a telephone line, literally millions of other computers around the world. I can gain access to the information on them and I can communicate with the owners of those computers via e-mail and other means.

In order for me to access to the Internet I need several things. Obviously a computer and that computer then must have in it a modem – a device which enables me to connect to the world via the phone lines. I must then sign on with an ISP (Internet Service Provider) — this is where you get to pay money! There are many different ISPs out there. The proprietary ones: Prodigy, CompuServe, America Online, etc., and also a myriad of local ISPs. In certain areas, such as a larger, metropolitan centre like Vancouver, there are literally dozens to choose from. As far as software is concerned I will need a browser to access the Internet itself — the two main contenders are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator. I will also need an e-mail program for sending e-mail. Although both the above named browsers have built in e-mail programs, some of us prefer a separate program for our e-mail and yes, I have a preference: Pegasus Mail 3.01 — a great program and totally free! Go to (www.pegasus.usa.com) to download it.

WHAT CAN I DO ON THE INTERNET?

One of the wonderful aspects of the Internet is the ability to e-mail. That is, I write a letter and send it over the telephone line to another person with an e-mail address. It is sent immediately and I often get responses within a day or even hours. I can communicate with several of our missionaries – Brazil, Germany, Philippines, Ireland and Belarus. I have family and friends scattered across Canada and the USA with whom I can write quickly, easily, and I can even type my replies within their original letter to me and send it back.

The other main aspect of the Internet is browsing and accessing Web Pages. The Internet or World Wide Web offers an overwhelming amount of information on just about any and every topic under the sun. I can check the weather anywhere in the world, read newspapers from every major world city, search for medical information, find good Christian literature, and yes, fill my computer screen (and mind) with pornographic images. Hence, the delight and danger of the Internet. Not all of it is bad, we have recently been in touch with a young woman in Croatia who is anxious to know the difference between her Catholic church and Baptist churches and how can she become a Baptist. She wrote me because of our Internet Web Page. But there are many evils lurking out there that I believe can be combated by a few simple, common sense tactics that will go a long way in preventing a slide into the filth of the Net.

Some have likened the Internet to a bookstore. There are good books and bad books, you just have to be discerning. The analogy works to a point; what makes this “bookstore” so different is that there is no one else around.  I have the store to myself. Would you take your children into a large store of which one half is filled with interesting, clean magazines and the other half with pornographic magazines. Then saying to them, “I will leave you alone in here for an hour; be sure to stay away from all those bad magazines.” By the way, there is no store staff and no other customers. Would you leave them there? I sure wouldn’t! It is playing with fire and I don’t want my kids to get burned.

So it is with the Internet and that is why I wish to leave you with a few simple ideas that can help you keep yourself and your family pure while venturing on to the Internet.

KEEP YOURSELF PURE

Software Helpers — there are a number of software programs available today that will help you to screen out the kind of Web sites you wish avoided. This is not an extensive list but there are programs like CyberPatrol or Net Nanny which you actually install on your computer which catch certain key words that alert you to the wrong kind of sites. Microsoft IE also has a built in screening filter, but it is only as effective as the sites identify themselves and many porn sites do not have these identifying markers. Another possible help is to actually connect to Web sites that do the filtering for you.  Now, all these tools are a help, but I am convinced that with a few basic practices, you can do much of the protecting yourself.

COMMON SENSE HELPERS – here is a list of a few tactics that will strengthen the resolve of everyone involved to succeed in remaining pure on the Internet.

1. Keep your computer in a public, open room. This is so simple! In a room that you can pass through at any time without warning will keep everyone on the right path. Having a computer in a bedroom with the door closed (when there is an Internet connection available) is not a good idea. Remember the bookstore. Your family needs to understand that you have a right to see what they see on the Internet.

2. All ISPs require a password for account security, etc. You will need a password to connect to the ISP (and the Net) from your home computer. DO NOT give your children the password! This will ensure that they will only have access to the Internet while you are at home with them. If you are already “online” and they have access to the password, change the password.

3. Set a strict time limit. I believe that the longer we wander around on the Internet the more likely we are to get ourselves into trouble. Setting limits – 15 minutes, half hour, etc. will greatly reduce the temptation factor. We have recently signed on with an ISP that has time limits built in. It automatically disconnects us after fifteen minutes. We can reconnect again, but it certainly helps us know how long we have been online. (It also greatly reduces our cost as well) I mean, how long does it take to find out today’s baseball scores?

4. Keep at check on where you kids are going on the Internet. Exactly what is it they are looking for?  Sports scores, a school research paper, or the Spice Girls. I would like people to know that every piece of information that comes to you over the Internet is stored on your computer until you remove it. From a practical sense, you are filling up your computer’s hard drive every time you browse. (Some time ago I helped a friend remove 130 Mgs of information he did not know he still had!) It also allows you to go over some of the sites visited from your machine. (A US study of computers at work found that the most visited site on work computers was the Penthouse site — a pornographic magazine)

5. Never forget we have an adversary without and we have an old nature within. I want to trust my family, I want to trust myself, but I am foolish to do so. It is far better for me to flee youthful lusts than to think I can handle the temptations.

Well, there you have it. I hope that believers will take seriously the concerns of the Internet, yet I also think that with a little common sense and a great dependence upon the Lord we can use the Internet safely and keep ourselves pure.

Pastor Gordon Conner
TABERNACLE BAPTIST CHURCH
4440 Victoria Drive Vancouver, British Columbia V5N 4N6
Phone 604 874 7400 / Fax 604 874 7478

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