“Don’t tell anyone about this. It just really embarrasses people and they are uncomfortable with this topic. Also, when we talk about it instead of saying masturbation just use the phrase ‘acted out.’ Masturbation just sounds so icky”.
This is what I was told when I opened up about my sexual issues to the first counselor I worked with. In her defense, she meant well and felt that she was saying what she did for my protection, and I honor her for that and the many other things she did for me during that season. However, as I grew in my recovery, I came to realize she could not have missed the mark with this advice any more than she had.
Scripture is full of admonitions to walk with one another and help one another when it comes to sin. As a matter of fact, there are so many references I am not even going to attempt to write out the verses here. Instead, I will provide just a few of those references. (You can see them at Galatians 6:1-2, James 5:16, I Thessalonians 5:11, Proverbs 27:17, and Ephesians 4:25, as a start.)
If accountability is important for the average Christian, it is even more important for the Christian who struggles sexually. Real change didn’t happen in the area of my sexual struggles until I incorporated structured accountability. Accountability is important for the sexual struggler for so many reasons, but let me give you my top two reasons. First, and probably most obvious, it provides a deterrent from our acting out behavior. It suddenly becomes a little less appealing to slip when we know someone is going to routinely asking us about it or will be getting a Covenant Eyes report outlining (with screenshots) our online activity!
Secondly, accountability adds a deep relational aspect to our lives. Sexual struggles are very often not about sex, they are about a misplaced need for intimacy and relationship. This is true for both men and women. However, when you think of emotions and deep relational intimacy and staying up giggling and talking all night you usually don’t pictures guys doing this! That is why it is so important, ladies, that we do not miss out on this component of our healing.
Accountability to God
This area of accountability is perhaps the most important. We need God intricately involved in our process. Sex was His idea, so these struggles do not embarrass Him. As a matter of fact, there are areas of your heart concerning this struggle that He is not waiting for You to invite Him into, He is already there inviting you to come meet Him. Don’t be afraid to talk in detail to Him about your struggle. Keep short accounts of your sin with God. Instead of running from Him after slipping, know He desires you to run to Him.
Accountability to Self
One of my favorite chapters in the book Boundaries (Henry Cloud and John Townsend) is the chapter that encourages us to set boundaries with ourselves. We don’t just set boundaries with ourselves to discipline ourselves. We do so out of love for ourselves. Think about your sexual behavior and ask yourself if you would allow a child that you love and are responsible for to engage in those behaviors. If the thought of allowing a child to damage themselves in that way is unthinkable to you, maybe it’s time to ask yourself why you aren’t loving yourself enough to offer yourself that same protection.
One way to increase our self-accountability is to ask God to show us how valuable we are. Also, a great place to begin this discipline of valuing ourselves is to be diligent about paying attention to our unhealthy behaviors.
Accountability to Others
Interestingly enough, it seems that we seem to struggle most with this type of accountability. We have little problem involving a pure holy God, but are shy to involve impure people. I have found that most people intuitively know that accountability to others is valuable but don’t fully understand how to best utilize it. So, here are a couple of tips to get you started:
1. PRAY for the right person.
Be open to the Spirit. Very often God may not select for you the person you would select for yourself.
2. Have a plan in place when you go to them.
Let them know exactly what you’re looking for. Tell them that if they can’t commit that is no problem. You would rather have them be upfront than find out later.
3. Accountability can be simple but MUST be structured and detailed.
For example: “I will text you every Monday, Wednesday, Friday evening around 8 with a thumbs up indicating I haven’t slipped. If I do not text you please call me the next morning. When I am tempted to slip I will reach out. If I do not reach out and I tell you I slipped please show me grace but also make it uncomfortable for me by asking me why I didn’t reach out telling you I was tempted. I will not text you if I slip, I will call you so that we can talk. I commit to contacting you immediately when I slip, and will not wait until my normal check in so that I don’t continue.”
4. Try to have foresight and eliminate any potential problems.
For example, if the person says to contact you any time, choose to believe them. If you fear your texting/calling at a late hour will be burdensome find out what their boundaries are around that.
Our walk with Christ began with God’s part, our part, and the part of others. Every aspect of our journey with Him involves the same components. That includes your recovery! Could this be the component your missing? Give it a try, you won’t be sorry!