Recovering Accountability

Oh no, not another accountability pep talk! I know: I can’t fight this battle alone; I’m hiding behind a mask if I don’t tell someone; it’s not surrendering my manliness; my objection is rooted in pride that says I don’t need help. But I think I’m one of the ones that can do this on my own, so let’s move on to something more important like the eschatological implications of the vicarious atonement!

Not so fast there brother. Think about this for a minute. One of our greatest problems in dealing with sexual addiction is believing that we know what is best for ourselves, and detaching from others because we do not want anyone violating our manhood by telling us what to do. So we continue blindly down the same road of destruction that brought us to where we are.

Accountability is not just a suggested weapon to have on hand in case we need it. No, it’s one of the most powerful weapons we have in the battle against sexual addiction. The use of that weapon gets us connected to others so we can fight against something that, at least for a moment is more powerful than we are. Ultimately, it provides support in a battle that simply cannot be fought alone. Do you remember reading somewhere that it is not good for man to be alone?

Let’s look at accountability in terms of connection. Connection with others is a fundamental part of our recovery process because it’s an essential part of our character growth. Whether we like it or not most of life involves people. It’s a reality that we all must face, and one that shapes and tests our character.

The deep desire of our heart is to be understood, known and connected to others, not detached. This is part of God’s created design of us. It’s true whether you’re an introvert or extrovert here. Being connected is about being mutually and emotionally invested in another person. It’s how we started in the world ‘ bonded to our mother and, hopefully to our father. Ouch! That one makes many of us wince.

The sad reality is that many of us choose to remain detached and impenetrable. In doing so we develop too much of a gap for others to bridge to our hearts. Simon and Garfunkel wrote about this in their song, I am a rock, I am an island, which includes these words:

I’ve built walls, a fortress deep and mighty; that none may penetrate. I have no need for friendship, friendship causes pain; it’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain. Hiding in my room, safe within my womb; I touch no one and no one touches me. I am a rock, I am an island; and a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.

This is not the experience of someone whose character is healthy and growing.

God’s design is that we develop deep connections throughout our lives because it gives us a context in which to grow, be secure and able to deal with life. To do this we have to move away from ourselves as the primary reference point and towards knowing and valuing others. If we were in those kinds of relationships most of us would not be in the mess we’re in right now.

So, get connected and recover accountability into your recovery plan. At its root accountability is a simple word that means “the willingness to stand up and be counted as part of a committed process.” If you see it in this way accountability is less something I’m held to, or something done to me; rather, it reflects my personal choice and willingness to contribute to an expressed outcome ‘ my sexual purity and integrity.

For help on this subject please see Every Man’s Battle.

Brad Stenberg

Recovery as Spiritual Warfare, Part 1

The opening scene of Saving Private Ryan was riveting. I had never before seen such a realistic portrayal of men going into battle. The vomiting and praying, tangible expressions of the upset the men were going through, were believable.

As He prepared for the battle of Calvary, the Bible tells us that Jesus sweat blood. He poured out His heart in prayer to His Father. He was prepared for the battle and did not flinch in the face of it.

Examining Paul’s second letter to Corinth can help us better understand how we can prepare for and win the battle before us.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

WE ARE CITIZENS OF TWO KINGDOMS THAT ARE AT WAR

Paul says we are waging war. We live in the world. The majority of you who are reading this are US citizens. But Paul makes clear that we are fighting an otherworldly battle while we are here. By faith we are citizens of God’s kingdom. The battle lines are drawn.

God’s objective is to show His glory by redeeming His fallen creation and fallen creatures. At the same time, Satan’s objective is to obscure the glory of God. Because Christian marriage is a part of God’s creative design, God’s enemies attack husbands and wives in order to divide them and rob them of the joy that results from true intimacy.

Sexual sin is one aspect of the disciple’s struggle. When Christian men are sexually impure, God’s love and grace are obscured and Satan gains a victory in the battle for God’s kingdom. The battle for sexual purity is a battle for recovery from the effects of the sin nature. Recovery is discipleship. Recovery is putting off and putting on.

WE ARE SOLDIERS IN GOD’S KINGDOM ARMY¬†

All who know Christ by faith are soldiers of the King’s army. There are no deferments. There are no conscientious objectors. There is no Switzerland, no neutrality in this war. I am a warrior for God’s kingdom.

Over 2,000 years ago, Sun Tzu wrote the timeless military classic, The Art of War. In it, he challenged: ‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.’

In gathering intelligence about the enemy, we immediately consider the devil and the world. What we often fail to consider is that while I am a soldier, I am also fighting on the enemy side’my flesh is at war with the Spirit’s work in my life. While I am still vulnerable to the evil desires of my flesh, the temptations that this world offers, and the attacks of Satan and his legions, I am not vulnerable as I once was. By faith, I benefit from the indwelling Holy Spirit and the promises of God’s Word.

Further, I can’t win the war by myself. Paul didn’t write, ‘I do not wage war as the world does.’

The Rambo movies were very popular, but not a true reflection of genuine war. My addiction predisposes me to isolate myself from others and attempt to fight the war alone. Wars are a fought on an overwhelming scale and require armies to vanquish the enemy. By faith, I have been placed in a company of those who aspire to do God’s will and do it, though not perfectly.

Just as an individual soldier is trained to fight as a part of a squad, a platoon, a company, etc., so we need training to begin fighting our addiction alongside others. Many of the men who attend the Every Man’s Battle workshop find sharing their stories with others to be freeing. They feel like they have unburdened themselves. However, they often struggle after they return home to unburden themselves with the men they work or worship with. In order to win the battle for purity, I must become we. For the soldier, his training doesn’t end with Basic Training. And so we need training that continues beyond Every Man’s Battle.

See the article Recovery As Spiritual Warfare part 2, where we will consider the objectives and tactics that Paul urges us to adopt in fighting this spiritual war.

Jim Phillis

The Male Wound of Pride

Sam Fraser

C.S. Lewis wrote an article a half-century ago about men and pride. Essentially his point is that the temptation for men is to be too proud to ask for help. Christian or secular it’s a guy thing! Universally, it is the hardest word to speak out loud. Help! It has long been a part of our cultural standard to not ask for help. It is hard enough to ask for directions let alone something so much more intimate. Asking for help is being needy. We receive the message over and over that to be needy is shameful. Admitting that we are not self-sufficient is unspeakable. We learned a long time ago on the playground that expressing certain feelings was not cool. Coupled with no validating adult males growing up to help us understand ourselves, we end up feeling confused and insecure inside. But on the outside we learn to not let it show. Much of our most tender parts gets shut down or buried. We end up loners, isolated hiding behind a false mask called pride.

We hide behind pride when we pretend we don’t need help even when we do. Many of us have male friendships but not so close that we can talk openly about our struggle with sexual integrity.

Learning how to ask for help for sexual integrity is a very humbling experience.

I remember the first time I reached out by going to a 12-step meeting. In those days, as a Christian, there were few avenues available and the church had no clue how to help. I literally stood with my hand on the door fighting with shame to step inside. So much of me wanted to turn and run. My pride won out and I did not go through that door. It was too humiliating to admit I was like all those others guys who couldn’t make it on their own. It was another 12 years until the pain outweighed the fear and I got help. And even then, reaching out was a product of being caught and having my world come crashing down all around me.

One of the defining characteristics of each man that comes to an Every Man’s Battle workshop is trying to fight the battle by himself. Not asking for help, attempting to fight this battle alone, isolated. As men, we experience a lot of guilt and shame because we can’t stop playing with ourselves. I could rationalize it when I was young but not as an adult. And as a Godly man, we feel all the more that we should be able to handle our sex drive. We think that since no other guys are talking about it we must be the only one with the problem. Whoops, got to hide that one!

Since we are not talking about it and for one reason or another seem unable to experience any sustained victory on our own, we end up feeling defeated. Our pride keeps us from confessing this failure in an important area of our Christian walk. We fake that every thing is okay or we avoid others by keeping everyone at a distance to hide the secret.

Pride keeps us from getting the help we need. Our wound won’t let us ask for help.

One of the main features when men begin to succeed is that they get connected to other men. Essentially, admitting the need for help. It takes all kinds of strength and courage to admit the need for help.

The Bible refers to reaching out for help and identifies as humility. Mmmm, humility! When I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:10 ). For many of us God has been very patient in this important area and He will continue to be so. What Christ has done on the cross will always make it true. This issue has been the downfall for many and will continue to defeat us as long as we remain in male pride. It will continue to take us down unless we are humble enough to ask for help and connect with other men for support and encouragement. It is one of the defining moments for every man who attends EMB. It takes a strong man, not a weak one, to admit that. Pride or humility? Your choice.

If you can’t attend EMB, get connected locally. Pray and God will lead you.
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