Differences over the SA Sobriety Definition

Letter to a dear friend who left SA because of differences over the sobriety definition

Thank you for your heartfelt and well reasoned farewell letter. Although I feel sadness at your departure, there is also a sense of relief that the truth is now out. The line has been drawn in the sand and we stand on opposite sides of that line. We have probably both known, for many years, that we were actually on different tracks.

Our much loved Tradition of unity does not stand alone. Though first, it is not foundational. Unity is in the service of truth, not the other way around. If our unity was based on a disagreement, it could be no real unity.

The truth on which SA's unity is built is this: we are a group of people personally committed to no sex outside marriage between one man and one woman. We have chosen this moral ideal for a variety of reasons, which need not be examined here. What matters is that this is the standard to which we wish to adhere and upon which we wish to build a fellowship. It is the basis of our association.

For five years, in another S fellowship, I sat in meetings with people whose moral ideals were different from my own. I  demonstrated my tolerance and broad-mindedness beyond all reasonable doubt. Eventually, however, I changed my personal sobriety definition to "no sex outside marriage". It was shortly after this that I found a whole fellowship of men and women, apparently committed to the same definition of sobriety.

At first I carried over my "5 years of sobriety" from the other Fellowship and called myself 5 years sober in SA. After a year however, I was forced to admit that my SA sobriety did not actually begin until I had personally committed myself to no sex outside marriage (envisaged as between myself and a woman).

Taking my own experience alone, I was not sober by the SA definition until I believed in and personally adopted the SA sobriety definition. I have been continuously sober ever since. In my case that was 3 months before I met my first SA member. 

Beliefs can be defects of character but I do not believe that I could have stayed sober for 21 years without being fully committed to SA's sobriety definition, as clarified at Cleveland. You are one of the few people I know who have done this (and more) but I could not have done it. My mind is just too tricky.

When I committed myself to no sex outside marriage between one man and one woman, I literally felt myself step onto moral bedrock. I have no intention of stepping off it ever again, even to maintain unity with much loved friends like you.

With all love to you, L and A and very best wishes for your future recovery.