How Do 12-Step Groups Deal With Same-Sex Attraction?

Among the secular 12-step fellowships dealing with sex addiction, many hold a broad view of what behavior can constitute sexual sobriety. The literature of one group says, “Our members define their own boundaries with the guidance of their Higher Power, sponsors and other group members. We encourage our members to discover and explore what healthy sexuality means to them.”  If “healthy sexuality” is self-defined, homosexual behavior with the context of a “committed relationship” or gay marriage (in locations where legal) could be accepted as sobriety.

Those in ministry who hold to traditional, biblical teachings on homosexual activity and cohabitation may find it difficult to buy into a subjective sobriety definition. One group (Sexaholics Anonymous), however, does embrace a sobriety definition that is consistent with scriptural teachings many if not most evangelicals embrace concerning sexuality.

Sexaholics Anonymous (SA) is one of a number of 12 step fellowships dealing with recovery from compulsive sexual thinking and behavior.  While other fellowships may make no distinction between same-sex and opposite-sex behavior, SA explicitly defines sexual sobriety to exclude same-sex behavior. Founded in the late 1970s and built upon principles taken directly from Alcoholics Anonymous, SA debated for many years broadening the definition of sobriety to include cohabiting and same-sex couples, but in 1999 reaffirmed a conservative view of sobriety in a vote dubbed the “Cleveland Clarification.”

This unique aspect of SA sobriety has actually drawn many members dealing with same-sex issues to SA.  Surveys of SA members show that something like one in five members have experienced same-sex lust.

At the July 2007 SA International Convention a survey was conducted of 176 SA members. Asked the object of their sexual fantasy and acting out, 23% nominated same-sex and a further 7% indicated both genders. (source)

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