So often when we talk about accountability, it is used in the context of “sin management” or in a condemning manner. The common misconception about accountability comes from the negative connotation found among groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. We feel that we have to give people power to lord over us and control us, using guilt, shame, and condemnation to keep us in check, the enemy does that enough to us!
Accountability is more friends speaking into us and our heart than pointing out or misfortunes or sins. Finding people to be in your life for all the nitty gritty dirty details is tough, believe me when I say it has taken a while to find just the right people with whom I can trust my heart to. These men are my band of brothers and we meet frequently as a group, text each other throughout the week, and pray for each other.
Your band of brothers shouldn’t hold your goals, especially sexual integrity, against you if you fail but lift you up with words of encouragement like cheerleaders. By inviting others into knowing your goals, you not only afford them the opportunity to encourage you to achieve them, you also give them the opportunity to learn where they might be struggling and make changes in their lives.
I have spoken to numerous men’s groups about the subject of sexual integrity and have found that most guys do not have someone that they can confide in or they are in a position that doesn’t allow them to entrust their personal lives with. For those men, I often suggest seeing a professional counselor. Professional counselors, like myself, are well versed on confidentiality and take it very seriously as our licenses depend on it. Plus, counselors have the ability to help point out areas where you might need some emotional work to be done that might be hindering your growth towards the integrity you are desiring. The counselor doesn’t necessarily have to be Christian or have a specialty in sexual addiction to help. I would however, strongly encourage seeing a male therapist as we tend to hold things back from the opposite sex regarding our level of sexual deviance and sin.
While being able to talk about what you are going through with someone is vital, we still have to deal with our behavior, especially our sin behavior. Now I know I just previously wrote that accountability is not all about “sin management”, but we do have to work towards being a better Christian man. As a part of the behavior modification, as we counselors tend to call it, one of the first steps towards our sexual integrity is using or employing a porn blocker. I put in one or more of my band of brother’s email addresses for the accountability. That way they will see if I am surfing to places that I shouldn’t be. I have given them an open ticket to ask about anything that might be on the report. If you don’t have anybody to put in your porn blocker for accountability, you can use my email: accountability [at] masculinesexualintegrity.org, please give me a heads up that you will be using it so I know to be on the lookout. Just know that I will personally contact you if I find anything questionable on the report.
Many have questioned this practice as it gives them control over the porn blocker. If you feel that you cannot trust yourself at all, and in many cases when we start out on our journey we can’t, then have one of your band of brothers come over and type in the password as well as being the keeper of the password. This can get tricky if you are married and your wife needs some sort of access. By letting her in on what you are trying to accomplish, she may have more grace for you. But by all means, do not make her the accountability person! If she wants control of the password, then that is okay as long as it is not a control over you issue. She is not to take on your journey of sexual integrity. The porn blocker is not to stop you, but it is a road block that should trigger you to think about the actions necessary to get around it. No porn blocker is full proof! My personal favorite as of late has been using OpenDNS.com which has me change the DNS servers on my wireless router to theirs which are filtered. I know that if I wanted to view pornography that I could go into the router and change the DNS server settings temporarily to get my fix. However, to do that I would have to consciously think about what I was doing. This allows my mind to find an alternative like calling a friend to talk about it (my band of brothers can talk anyone off the ledge). God reminds me that when I’m in that desirable situation, that I need to come to Him for guidance and often solace. When those thoughts and desires come, turn to Him in that time it takes to modify or remove the porn blocker. I will dive into porn blockers in another post at a later date.
Another form of accountability that I have used with some of my clients is negative reinforcement. I know, another counseling term. But what I mean is that I have my client pick a few not for profits that they cannot stand (maybe even a political campaign). If they find themselves viewing pornography or masturbating, they have to make a substantial donation to one of the organizations. This is completely on the honor system, only you and God know what has transpired. But the effects are miraculous. When I say substantial, I mean giving until it hurts substantial. I have one client who donates, to our ministry, gift certificates to my favorite cigar distributor (Cigars International) when he falls short of his goals. Other clients donate gift cards of various sorts to us or help by buying boxes of my book and handing it out to all they meet. Again, this is strictly on the honor system and not for everyone. Also note that this does not excuse your actions and is meant more as a punishment, hence the reason why it is supposed to hurt!
I’ll be going more into accountability in future posts so please stay tuned and keep coming back.