Sexaholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the SA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
The very existence of SA depends on unity. If we were drawn into public controversy it would likely extend within our fellowship and divide us. To protect SA, we recognize that we are not an authority on community values; we openly admit that the actions of others are none of SA’s business. For if we were to become distracted by a public mission, we would risk our ability to help the person who needs us. We must attend to what we do well and leave to others the luxury of opinions on everything and everyone. We don’t even claim that the SA solution is for everybody, only that it works for us.
It’s plain that the greatest source of controversy is conflicting opinions. We are certain that by barring opinions on outside issues from our meetings and fellowship activities, we will best be able to continue our work. As individuals we may have strong opinions on a variety of issues. Some of us belong to associations involved with issues of politics, public policy, or religion. There is no restriction on the actions of members as individuals as long as they don’t associate their positions with SA.
The risk of becoming embroiled in public controversy is possibly diverting the attention, energy, and money of SA away from our primary purpose. Those suffering sexaholics who might not be served would be the ones to pay for that distraction. We dare not take that chance. Expressing a public opinion is the surest way for us to become involved in public controversy.
Certainly, we may think there are some issues on which SA ought to be able to comment. As an example, consider the pornographer down the street. Isn’t closing down his business and driving his goods out of the community part of SA’s responsibility? Certainly, we think, society would be better off. Shouldn’t SA insist certain offensive books be removed from the library, or that television or movies be censored? Are these examples that compel SA to take a stand? We think not. Is there any issue worthy of risking our survival? No.
We learned that our problems are of our own making. We take responsibility for our recovery by committing to work the Steps and take responsibility for our own actions. We don’t look outside ourselves to explain, rationalize or excuse our behaviors. Taking public positions, even on such matters as pornography, will do nothing to help ourselves or others to be sober.
In meetings, we keep our opinions on outside issues to ourselves. Since we are from all parts of society our opinions will inevitably come into conflict. We may find ourselves judgmental or intolerant towards those of a different viewpoint. In some instances members of one opinion may find themselves filtering out experience, strength, and hope that would be helpful because they are distracted by their conflict over an outside issue.
We avoid public controversy, but we sometimes experience disagreement within the group or fellowship regarding matters of SA structure or direction. Here we openly share our opinions and, trusting God, work the Steps and apply the Traditions to learn to have healthy dialog. We can find unity even in the face of disagreement by relying on God working through our group conscience.
Individually and collectively we do our own work and trust God will take care of the rest. Our unity depends on doing one thing well. We dare not be diverted from our individual purpose to “fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us,”(AA 77) or our group purpose of “carrying the message to the sexaholic who still suffers” (Tradition Five).
On a Personal Note
This Tradition leads us to the option of keeping our own counsel in a dispute. We can choose to be serene rather than “right” in a conversation with our spouse or co-worker. We are entitled to our opinions and we need not swallow them, but we can express them respectfully and not use them to stir up chaos. If we know people who tend to be sensitive or reactive on certain issues we can choose another topic. To avoid unnecessary conflict, many families have an informal rule not to discuss sensitive issues at gatherings. Placing more value on our serenity and sobriety than anything else, we learn to keep the main thing the main thing.
Members of SA Share
I’ve been attracted to my sponsor’s recovery for a while. Recently, I asked him for the secret of his recovery. His secret, he said, was to try not to have opinions on matters that were none of his business.
I came into my first meeting fearful and cautious, with many chaotic feelings and thoughts. I needed a safe place where I felt sheltered from the outside world as I got sober from this shameful disease. I could not have sought solace from a group that actively engaged in judgment about religion or politics, or that might be in the public spotlight. Here, no one told me that I couldn't read my religious texts or have my own ideas or opinions, and they didn’t share their own.
If I express opinions on religion, politics, education, family - anything other than recovery from sexaholism through working the Twelve Steps––I just pull myself away from our path of healing. I dare not contaminate this program by opening up SA to controversy and public scrutiny. When members limit their references to fellowship-approved literature I can be confident that everyone is "on the same page" when it comes to our recovery.
I don’t have to have an opinion on things that don’t affect me today. What great freedom! I have been released from a lifetime of having to know the all the answers. To be able to say, “I don’t know,” or, “You might be right,” or, “I haven’t formed an opinion on that,” is a relief. Less and less do I need to be right or wrong, I just need to be sober!
Near election time one year, a member wore a political button that conflicted with my own preference during an SA meeting. I noticed that I began to judge him silently and felt separate from him. It interfered with our relationship until I spoke with my sponsor. He helped me recognize my resentment and my judgment. I later was able to bring the matter to the member’s attention and admit my disturbance to him. We agreed that it was better not to display our political affiliations at meetings and that Tradition Ten would be a fruitful topic for a future meeting.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (AA)
Tradition Ten 160-65
Long Form 19
AA Comes of Age 123-128
Questions to Consider
1. Do I ever give the impression that there is an official SA opinion on therapy, treatment centers, or other outside issues?
2. How can I express my own opinion on such issues without implying it is the SA opinion.
3. Do I use opinions to create chaos in my group?
4. Am I able to accept being part of the minority in a decision or do I need to be right.
5. What would the fellowship be like without this Tradition?
6. What principles does this Tradition lead me to practice in my daily life?
7. How does this Tradition benefit the sexaholic who still suffers?
8. How does this Tradition promote unity?
9. How do these questions and this Tradition apply to the other groups I am a part of at home and at work?