Religion Versus Program

When I joined the SA fellowship, I was afraid that it may have been a sect and incompatible with my faith. I wanted it to be a fellowship endorsed by the Church to which I belonged. But I saw members around me who were sober and that was what kept me coming back to meetings. I said to myself that if I was to leave SA, it would be because of something that was in opposition to my faith and / or the Church to which I belonged.

While I was working on Step 2, I had a relapse. It wasn’t triggered by lust (that I can recall), but mainly because of self-pity, judgmentalism and anger towards my sponsor. The disagreement was mainly concerning my definition of God but thankfully we were able to resolve this.

Subsequently, I participated in a workshop and a ski break with SA members. There, an oldtimer from Ireland talked about how faith and the Program fitted into his life. Subsequently, I got to know this member better and since he belonged to the same church as me, I felt safe with him and asked if he would sponsor me. He declined and said that it would be better to work with someone from Slovakia who could help me with the Steps in person.

The turning point was when one member read the following quote to me: “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance — that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” (SA 59)

It made me quite angry, even though I didn’t want to show it on the outside. That quote was, and often still is, about me. All my life, I thought I was right about everything and I never made the connection between “my truth” and the conflict I had with others.

Another thing that helped was my sponsor saying that I am free to put either the Program or my personal faith as my first priority. Before that, I had the impression that the fellowship was telling me that I had to have the Program as my utmost priority. This made me defiant, because I had believed my whole life that God should be my top priority. Now, I see that the Program actually suggests the same thing: “So, we used sex or lust or relationships to satisfy this drive, letting them take the place of God as source of our lives. Idolatry.” (SA 55) I also saw that I didn’t really have God as my highest priority, I just thought I did.

I am grateful that in Step 3 I have surrendered my life and my will to the care of God as I understand Him. And thanks to that, I have been experiencing not only my longest period of sobriety but also the happiest period of my life. I thank God for keeping me sober. I am grateful for my parents, fiancée, family, all members of the Slovakian fellowship, members from abroad who visit us, all oldtimers who have been with us, and for the whole SA fellowship with whom we connect via teleconferences. I am glad to be a member of this fellowship.

Today, sober in SA, I find no contradiction between the Program and my faith tradition. In fact, I am learning to practice it better now than I did back when I was active in my lust addiction!

Peter T., Slovakia

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