Configure your browser for battle

In our day it is very easy for us men to defile our eyes. It takes constant vigilance to avoid such defilement, and if you let your guard down for a minute, suddenly there was another image that just got past your defenses and is now in your mind, telling you lies about your wife, about the sisters and daughters the Lord has called you to protect and lead.

Yet we treat firing up a web browser as if it’s safe–recreational, even. What fools we are.

When you fire up a browser you are entering enemy territory. We should keep this in mind and prepare accordingly.

Here are nine suggestions things you need to do to honor God and keep your purity.

1. Turn off images

This is the most basic thing. No matter what you’re searching for, the search engines show images for it and for “related things”, and they don’t care for your soul.

When I’m searching the web for something or checking web mail, I turn off images (Firefox has an Image Show-Hide add-on that helps with this, or I can just go to Tools -> Options -> Content tab -> and uncheck Load images automatically, which after I do manually once sets the Content tab as the default tab and after that I can toggle the setting with Alt+T, o, Alt+I, <Enter>).

This is a setting I toggle often, because it’s too dangerous to search with images on, yet once you arrive at a site, it is often difficult to make sense of it or get around without the site’s navigational images. I tend to search with images off, then go to a site and, after a quick check that I didn’t land on some decoy site, I turn images back on and reload the page (<F5>).

2. Turn off Flash/Silverlight

I use the Firefox FlashBlock add-on for this. I have written about this before. Install it and you get a gray button instead of the Flash, and you get to choose whether to view the animation or not. You can whitelist sites you trust.

3. Turn off Javascript, at least the Change Images option

Even with images turned off (item 1), websites and search engines can use Javascript to load images anyway. By disabling Javascript, at least during your search, you can avoid having images appear in search results such as Google Images. You can defile your eyes so quickly.
I have used the Firefox Javascript Options add-on for this, which lets you disable just Javascript’s power to change images. Regrettably, Javascript Options is not available for newer versions of Firefox yet, but it looks like you can go to about:config and double-click on the dom.disable_image_src_set setting to change it to true. (Note: sites such as Google Maps won’t work until you change it back).

This issue hasn’t bit me as often and in consequence I’m not as regular with this setting as with the others. I think Google must be honoring the browser’s “Don’t load images” setting and not loading them with Javascript these days. I still commend this as a tool to have available if the need arises.

4. Use the search bar

Google has a simple search home page (but also at one time was the worst about automatically bringing up images using Javascript even when images are disabled), but most of the other search engines have a bunch of gossip and garbage on their search home page. By using your browser’s search bar, you can use such engines without exposing yourself to such worldliness and defilement. On Firefox, Ctrl+K puts the cursor up in the search bar, and you just type in your search and hit <Enter>. While you’re at it, click the down-arrow on the search bar, go to Manage Search Engines, and uncheck Show Search Suggestions. Those search suggestions are a danger and a trap to you and are not worth the risk. Turn them off!

5. Be ready with the <Esc> key

Often once I land on a web page, I turn images back on and reload the page (F5). Sometimes I then go to another web page without disabling images. Often the ads are blinking or there will be images that change to others (animated GIFs, etc.) after a time. This is a dangerous place. You don’t know what that next image is going to be, and too many times it’s a bad one. Get quick at hitting the Escape key. That stops some of those images from proceeding on to the next one and can buy you time to get up there to turn images off and reload the page.

6. Don’t be stupid

Web browsing is a tool of my job as a programmer. I generally deal with server-side stuff, web research for which is generally much safer from a purity standpoint than research for visual or graphics work. But the other day I was looking for an icon of a mushroom to use as a joke for a discussion at work. I naively searched around on various icon collection boards, and zappo! Suddenly there was skin. Arghh! What an idiot. Why was I surfing around a bunch of graphics sites without taking care, without even thinking of the danger…!

Don’t be stupid. Don’t go there.

7. Look away!

Get quick at realizing you’re seeing skin. Look away, NOW! Close that tab. It doesn’t matter if you were in the middle of a search. Lose a minute starting over rather than letting those lies come into your mind. Don’t wonder if it was what you thought at first glance. It was. I can’t exactly describe what I saw when I was looking for that mushroom icon, and that’s good. It was bad.

8. Cultivate vomitousness

Closely tied to #7, learn to feel dirty when you see that stuff. Cultivate that sick feeling in your stomach when you stumble on filth and lies. Shudder. After you close that tab, recoil from the computer. Pray to God. Tell your wife. Vomit. Have this totally break up what you were doing. What if this were the day you stopped fighting for your purity and succumbed to this hateful trash? What if you started believing the lies, and turned your feet to the broad path to hell? This is the the evil you were just presented with. It should shake you.

You’ll only be able to cultivate this visceral feeling of revulsion at defilement if it is rare. For instance, if you watch TV, you’ll never be able to cultivate this as your mind is constantly being defiled by the commercials.

9. Unplug the TV

I don’t know how any man can watch television and stay pure. When I am in a room with a television that is on, I am constantly tense because it draws your eyes to it, but the commercials are not safe. They flash seductive images too fast to avoid. (Soap commercials alone, ugh!) Yet in every case Christian men who are used to watching television seem not to notice. Turn it off, men! You are compromising your purity. For what eternal end?

Or what good will it do for you to configure your browser for battle and keep out the filth there while it pours in from the TV?

Conclusion

The above is what I do. It’s how I browse the web. (As I said, I haven’t found #3 as needful as the others.)

You may have your own ways of avoiding defilement when browsing. Fine.

But do you keep accidentally stumbling on those images? Do you hardly notice because your conscience is seared from watching TV all the time?

Brother, for the love of God, flee from all this. Love your wife and children and the Church of Christ, and take care for your own soul.

Wake up, sleeper!

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