ANONYMITY, AUTONOMY, ACCOUNTABILITY
There are certain basic principles which all of us must follow if H.A. is to do its job of helping people find freedom from homosexuality. Three important ones begin with the letter A.
Anonymity: Our twelfth tradition reminds us: “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” There are two levels at which anonymity must function.
On the personal level: We know that the social stigma of homosexuality is often a factor in a person’s decision whether or not to seek help. Therefore, H.A. members recognize that a firm assurance of confidentiality is imperative if we wish to succeed in attracting and helping other people wishing to find freedom from homosexuality. H.A. promises personal anonymity to all who attend its meetings. First names only are used. If a new person wishes to give out personal information, he or she is free to do so, but should not feel pressured to give it. Personal information shared during any meeting is treated as confidential. Some people experiencing freedom from homosexuality are eager to share the good news of their H.A. affiliation with family, friends and other support groups. Such disclosure is their own choice.
On the public level: Anonymity does not prevent H.A. members from following the biblical call to testify from their own experience. We can speak of our recovering experience in Jesus and our association with H.A. to family, to church, to a university audience, or at any gathering where the press, radio, or television are not present. But when the media are present, or where we choose to go to print, H.A.F.S. urges that we either use only first names and last initial and allow no photographs, or testify under full personal identity without referring to our association with H.A. Fellowship. When H.A. is covered in the media, it is the Christ-centered principles of the Fellowship by which men and women are finding freedom from homosexuality that should be referred to. The principles rather than the individual personalities are the key when it comes to H.A. media coverage.
Adhering to the principle of anonymity protects both the individual and the Fellowship.
The individual is protected from identification as a homosexual and, should he or she have a setback in the recovery process, from being held up to public ridicule by those who seem to desperately eager to prove that freedom from homosexuality is impossible. The Fellowship is protected from anyone who might otherwise exploit their H.A. affiliation for personal gain or glory.
Autonomy: Those of us who have experienced homosexuality have known powerlessness. That often creates an unhealthy desire for control in one or two ways.
In some, being out of control has created a terrible thirst for power and an inability to distinguish between pulling one’s own weight and throwing one’s weight around. Because we have been unable to manage our own lives, we may think we must dominate others.
Fearful of others, we seek to dominate them; or, frightened of our own weakness, we seek someone else to control us. Either way we perpetuate the forces which feed addiction. We are caught in that “dominance over people” or that “servile dependency” from which we have pledged to break free in Step 12. If we are ever to become mature, we must cast off our longings to be the tyrannical child or irresponsible infant!
To help us in this process, our Tradition Two, Four, and Seven state: “H.A. Fellowship recognizes the final authority of the loving Creator-God as He expresses Himself in Jesus Christ through the Word of God to our group consciousness. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.” “Each chapter should be autonomous (electing officers from its own local membership), except in members affecting other chapters or H.A. as a whole.” “Every H.A. chapter ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.”
Not only are these principles psychologically sound, they are eminently practical. They allow men and women seeking freedom from homosexuality to help start new groups and help build better ones.
Alcoholics Anonymous would not exist today had it waited for approval from others to begin its work. H.A. is where A.A. was in the 1930’s. Some churches’ faith in the Gospel as “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes” (Romans 1:16) has been dimmed by the pronouncements of some psychologists and the propaganda of the militant gays who say it is futile to look for change in people with a homosexual struggle. Weak faith hobbles rather than helps those who would reach out to the sufferer. A counseling ministry, though it names the name of Him who “made Himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7), can be more concerned to protect its reputation than to set captives free. When this is the case, it too will hinder. At H.A. we thank God for the churches and counseling ministries who have stood with us, strong in faith. We desperately need, earnestly seek, and deeply appreciate the prayers, counsel, and support of all God’s people. Since not all have strong faith, we maintain the principle of autonomy lest anyone strangle us in the sea of red tape and many who might otherwise be saved perish!
The principle of autonomy not only protects us, it protects our friends. H.A. is a pioneer ministry, and the history of A.A. (not to mention the book of First Corinthians) shows that the early days of such a work can be difficult. Sometimes people who would not think of closing a church where the choir director ran away with the first soprano are all too ready to disband an H.A. chapter where there have been relapses. Some who can be patient with a struggling alcoholic can be very harsh with those who are struggling with homosexuality. We do not want pastors to lose church members or counselors to lose supporters because of us. We maintain the principle of autonomy so that our friends will never be forced to choose between hurting their ministry and injuring us. If need be, they can quietly hold us up in prayer while they wait for the proper time to be more open in their support. Meanwhile, we can go about our business of personal recovery and helping others find freedom from homosexuality. Thus, in maintaining the principle of autonomy, we are saying, “We need help, but we do not want to cause anyone harm.”
We who are in H.A. also know that people in Reading [the city where the previous headquarters of H.A. were at who were now moved to Houston, Texas] or on the Board do not have all the answers either. The principle of autonomy allows each H.A. chapter the freedom to experiment. If something you try fails, we trust that you will have the humility to admit it so we can all learn from your mistake. If something works, we urge you to let us know so that we can pass it on to others and all of us can improve. Healthy trial and error should always have a place in H.A.
Not only is the principle of autonomy psychologically sound and eminently practical, most important of all, it is thoroughly biblical. It is based on the teaching of Scripture concerning the priesthood of every believer (I Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6), the responsibility of each to bear his own burden (Galatians 6:5), that we are all brothers under one Master, Christ (Matthew 23:9-12), and the godly leaders are servants (Mark 10:42-45) who guide by example rather than by force (I Peter 5:3).
Please understand what autonomy is not! It is not the illusion of infallibility. We recognize that we will make mistakes and need God’s grace (Psalm 19:12). It is not pride. We know that we must seek counsel and do need help (Proverbs 11:14). It is not an uncooperative spirit. We understand that we are to work with others “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). It is not a call for individuals to sever relationships with other groups or ministries. We thank God when someone gets help from counseling. We rejoice in what the Spirit gives others (Romans 12:3-5). H.A. autonomy must never be used to subvert personal accountability. It is not rebellion. We recognize the Lordship of Christ and the authority of the Word of God (Romans 10:9,10; II Timothy 3:16,17) and seek to follow the Bible as God enables us to understand it (Psalm 119:18).
Autonomy is simply taking proper responsibility for ourselves and for each other. By it we say that we need and welcome advice and assistance, but we decline control. We will be responsible to start our groups, elect our officers, solve our problems, and keep our group well and strong so that we may grow well and strong. No one must be allowed to take this from us. Scary? Yes! Necessary? Absolutely!
Accountability: Accountability cannot be demanded but must be given by every person if he or she hopes to find freedom from homosexuality. There are many levels of accountability. All of us are accountable to God. Every H.A. member is urged to be accountable to his or her church, to family and friends, and to others in his or her support system. Every member should be accountable to the local H.A. chapter.
We owe our H.A. chapter openness and honesty about where we are and how we are doing. Our H.A. chapter owes us concern enough to encourage, challenge, and, when necessary, confront us with the truth. That kind of “tough love” will help us follow after freedom or cause us to choose to leave if we are not really serious about finding it. It is the duty of the group itself and cannot be pushed off on any leader, board, or ministry.
Of course it takes time, patience, wisdom, and prayer for this to develop. It is frightening at times and it takes faith in God’s almighty grace. But we are called to live a life of faith and must do so or we are doomed to fail in whatever we seek to do for Christ.
To encourage accountability, we urge each chapter to give every member the New Member’s Card and explain it to them. We suggest that each group discuss the matter of boundaries. Encourage each member to talk about areas of struggle which are contrary to the will of God. Urge them to renounce such practices in faith, reaching out to others in time of temptation and reporting back to the group regularly on how the battle is going. The group must teach that support, not condemnation, will help win the victory. Correct the behavior; affirm the person.
Celebrate anniversaries! Applaud the person who can say, “It has been ten months since I have acted out!” Cheer the one who reports, “It has been ten weeks since I have been to a porn shop.” Encourage the individual who says, “I am struggling with masturbation and I fell this week. It has only been three days since I slipped.” Give group recognition to those who are trying. God rejoices and so should we! Thus many who have utterly despised themselves can recover a proper self-respect.
Someone may ask, “What if a chapter fails?” God lives! Each chapter is accountable to and dependent on Him. If it is not faithful, He may withhold His blessing and the group will sicken and may die. If the members repent, He will restore them. If not, He will replace them. Our faith must be in our heavenly Father who knows all things and who alone has the wisdom to know what should be done in every case. Can we not look to Him?
And there is another safeguard in this manner of accountability. We who were once trapped in homosexuality know that our H.A. group is one of the strongest means preventing us from going back into bondage in a time of discouragement, stress, or loneliness. Here are men and women who understand what we are going through and can help us. We are not fools! We want to safeguard, not undermine, that which safeguards us. We know that homosexuality is not a way of life but a way that leads to death—emotional, spiritual, and often physical.
God has said, “I call heaven and earth to record this day…that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: choose life…” (Deuteronomy 30:19), We want to choose life but know we cannot do it alone. We need the grace of God and the help of our fellow sufferers. Therefore we stand by these principles of anonymity, autonomy and accountability and pledge to do all in our power to make H.A. strong that it may help us and any others who want freedom!
(Taken from the "Homosexuals Anonymous Policy and Advisory Manual"
You are worth something! Don't let anybody tell you you are a good-for-nothing! Your potential is way beyond what you might possibly imagine! God gave you passions and emotions for a reason. Find out what you are passionate about - and go for it! Don't be scared to accept challenges on the way - they only help you grow. Whatever your life experiences may have been - you are loved so much by God He sent His only Son to die for YOU! Let that love fill your heart, grow in you and bear rich fruit. Pass it on to others. God told Adam it was not good for him to be alone. Neither is it for us. Seek the company of others. Life is not about following somebody else's plans, but the one God has set out for you by the way He designed you! Learning and growing does not simply mean passing on traditions and learning things others experienced by heart (that is how our school system works), but helping light the fire in us that brought forth all cultural and technical development. You are never too old to study and grow, neither do you lack the talent for it. All it takes is for you to fell the love - His love - and accept this adventure called life!