About the Author
Internet Filters: You Can’t Put a Price on Purity
For me, crossdressing comes in waves. Over time, I start looking things up on the web. It usually starts with clothes (dresses and shoes). But at some point those desires become stronger to a point where I begin to use porn and/or dress and masturbate. It’s addictive. Looking items up is such a powerful habit it has hampered my healing for a few years. I just couldn’t shift it. Any time I felt low, or unable to sleep, or just bored, I would look things up and fantasize.
My mind justifies internet searches as “harmless (after all, I’m not actually dressing…)” But that is a lie. It is harmful. It always leads to worse sins because it changes what my heart desires. The initial searches don’t satisfy, so I keep looking, the searches becoming more frequent and less innocent.
But recently, I have been able to break free from this cycle. This is in large part thanks to an internet filter. I first thought of getting one nearly a decade ago. I stalled because of the cost (my wife and I were students), and pride (surely I shouldn’t actually need it?) I look back and lament how long it took me to get one. It comes down to this: we fall into our addictive patterns when our desires meet an ability to act out that desire. The internet filter removes the ability to act.
- This happens in more ways than I anticipated.In setting up a screen allocation time, I have to make a conscious effort to not waste time on my phone. I’m there to do good and useful things.
- By setting up screen free time, I ensure good sleep. My device blocks between about 10.30pm and 6am, at which point I’m just like “OK. Cool. Guess I’ll just go to sleep.” Tiredness feeds into crossdressing in various ways.
- If for some reason I wake up and am tempted, I can’t access anything so… Back to sleep I go!
- Key apps are blocked. I can only access YouTube and Amazon on the web browser. This required thinking through wants and needs. Yes, I want the convenience of both apps, but I don’t need them. Especially since they cause temptation.
- I now have to use Facebook on the web browser. Facebook marketplace was a key temptation place, but Net Nanny can’t read the app. This makes Facebook more difficult to use, unless I’m on the laptop. But this means overall I use Facebook less often, in a more meaningful way.
- I can’t use the internet until after I’ve gotten ready for work. This ensures that my mind is devoted on that single task, which is particularly great for days when I just feel flat.
The filter doesn’t stop me trying to look things up. I do from time to time. That’s the thing about addictions. You never know when the desire will come. It could come from just reading the news, or seeing an advert. But that image doesn’t satisfy, so you open new tab and look something up so that you can see more. That’s been my habit for years. Over time I hope to not even open a new tab. But sometimes I do. But the Internet filter just blocks it. And I can go no further. And I’m like “OK. I guess I’ll just get on with whatever I should be doing.” It disarms that moment of desire. But that is precisely why the filter is so wonderful; our watchful eyes are not enough. We need a back-up team.
Yes, I probably could disable the filter. But that makes no sense to me. I bought it. Seems like a lot of effort considering those searches are just the occasional dart. I really do enjoy the freedom of a crossdressing free life. Plus, my wife has the password and I don’t…
- To demonstrate how powerful it is, consider this:Before the filter the longest I had gone without masturbating (started as a teen 15 years ago) was a couple of weeks. Now, at time of writing? I can confidently say it’s been two months.
- Before the filter, one of the last things I’d do at night was to search through Facebook marketplace, just for something nice to look at and think about. Now? I’m usually reading a short Bible devotional.
- Before the filter, I wasn’t able to focus that well on the laptop. But now that the option of wasting time by looking at that stuff is removed, I am less distracted.
What has amazed and horrified me is that some of the images I used in the height of addiction are so powerful my mind can still wander there and into those images. They are there in my brain. Why, then, would I want to pollute my mind with yet more?
It is so ironic that in seeking freedom an internet filter just seems so restrictive. And yet it is the restriction that gives us the freedom away from that life and addiction and into the new life. I’m reading more, have more energy for exercise, praying more, studying, being the best husband and dad I can be. And I really regret not getting one all those years ago. I urge you to go and find one that suits you. If you’re single, you have the advantage of just going for it without considering someone else, but do read on for more about how I chose mine.
If you’re married, you should ideally share what you’re doing with your wife. Openness breeds openness and, more importantly in this case, trust; every time we fall into these addictive patterns we break trust. I knew this in my head, but I was still cowardly and took a month and a half to bring this up. Let me explain the circumstances that led to that conversation. My wife found things on my phone in September 2020. We had a few frank and teary conversations. I spoke about the waves; in another conversation I said that healing would take more than a while since it has been a part of me for more than half my life. In another I informed her I would completely delete my Instagram account, which was causing me grief; she politely and wisely told me I would probably find other ways. I got rid of my Instagram account. I thought I would miss it. I quickly found to my joy that I didn’t. I still don’t. But that little line “you’ll find another way” gnawed at me. I knew she was right. I didn’t want her to be. But I did eventually find another way.
I caught myself and realised that one of best things I ever did was to change my ISP to a clean browsing ISP for porn use (I told my wife plainly at the time that I had done that, so casually it implied that we didn’t need to make a big deal of it). I loved the “set it up and forget about it” nature of it. I discovered that the less I looked at porn, the less I desired it, partly because I was able to take joy in good things.
But that filter is not set up for crossdressing – many of the search terms aren’t dodgy in themselves (“dress” is not an obscene term), and many cultures celebrate crossdressing. Logically then why would an internet filter sift it out? It also had no effect when out and about because it relied on my home router. I needed a filter that was customisable and would work wherever I was. I started experimenting. I found a list of top-rated internet filters, read through some (professional comparison) reviews, made a shortlist of ones that would suit me, and diligently set about downloading and trialing these filters over a few weeks. This was done without my wife’s knowledge.
With a certain amount of trepidation, I brought my findings to my wife. Issues of cost (we now have a family to look after) and pride (I should just have self-control) were still present. I spoke plainly. Found a time we were both peaceful. I was supposed to be going to bed, but I came back downstairs before she came up, which signalled that this was needing attention. Opened with “can we talk about purity?” and just talked about the need for an internet filter for those waves; how I felt like it was a lot of money and unloving as I “should” just not desire it. I needn’t have worried. Cost? Not a problem. We reckoned that the price of freedom was worth the small dent in our bank balance. Jesus’ letter to the Church in Sardis (Revelation chapter 3) promises that the one who repents of dead works and “conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life” (verse 5, ESV) and counted “worthy” (vs 4), ready to worship the lamb forever. The implication is clear. Against that, £50 every year for the rest of my life is nothing!
The word “should”‘ is interesting. “I should just not need it.” We do have responsibilities, but when it comes to our sin saying that word makes us forget that we are fallen creatures fighting our old man. My wife recognised this by pointing at herself and saying “yeah, well, I should be using Facebook less.” Where I felt having a filter was unloving, my wife found it very loving because she saw that I was willing to do whatever it takes to keep pure for her.
We agreed that I would buy Net Nanny and give it a go. Annoyingly, there’s no trial period, and it is more costly than others; but the reviews and features I had read have proven true. It has made a laughing stock out of the ones I trialed. In other words, it is pricey, but very good value.
During my experiments I was keen to trial ones that would work for me. This required thinking about how I’m tempted and when I’m most likely to do so. That is hard to do, but in a way I just downloaded them and gave myself a grace period and didn’t try too hard to stop myself trying to see things, seeing what would happen when I tried to do such and such; my normal actions. That doesn’t mean I went specifically looking for ways to break the filter, but just saw how they handled my normal temptations. It took a bit of trial and error to work out the specifics of how to make Net Nanny work for me. But I love it, and it has really helped. It isn’t perfect. It crashes too often for my liking. But in a sense, that reminds me of how God won’t let me go and will finish this good work in me. Likewise, as I’m experiencing more freedom from desires and temptations, I find that even if it does I’m not looking stuff up.
I really would love Covenant Eyes. I gave it a go, but every one of the guys I asked to keep me accountable never asked me. Ever. Even if I find someone who will ask me, I will keep the Internet filter, because temptations come in all sorts of ways, and it reduces those temptations. I urge you to get one. It may cost money, it may cost some inconvenience, but purity is well worth paying for.