Question: Doug, what should I look for when choosing an accountability partner?
Answer: The first thing to look for in a good accountability partner is someone who is regularly available for you. No matter how great someone is, if he can't get together or return phone calls, then he is going to be of little help to you. Second, find someone who will keep your talks focused on "accountability." So often these discussions evolve into "How are the wife and kids?" breakfast meetings. Keep questions about masturbation, pornography and lust in the forefront of the first few minutes of your meetings.
Finding a guy who is straightforward and willing to be brutally honest with himself is also critical. I've found that guys who are soft on themselves tend to be soft on others as well. Last, look for someone who does not need to be liked by you. If he needs for you to like him or if he fears rejection, then he will be less effective as your accountability partner.
As men, accountability partners are essential to our Christian walk. I so appreciate the guy who has served me in that role for the last eight years. A man who will hold you accountable can help you with parenting, marriage, money, business, relationships, sexual integrity and other issues in your life.
Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author and therapist and the founder of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. This article was orginally in New Man eMagazine.
Question: Doug, what can I do to kick this hunger for pornography? I'm so ashamed and frustrated. Seems like my life would be much less complicated if I didn't have a sex drive.
Answer: You asked the right guy. I have been clean from pornography and self-sex behavior for more than 18 years. I remember feeling trapped, hopeless and overwhelmed. You too can get free your entire life, but you are going to need to make behavioral changes. Here's how to kick porn:
Question: Doug, I'm starting to worry about when to have "the talk" with my son. I want to do it before he finds out somewhere else, but I don't know if he's old enough. When is the best age to talk to him about sex?
Answer: This is a great question. The age of adolescence is definitely moving downward, so you can't assume that your son will reach puberty when you did. Generally, subtract about two years from the age you hit adolescence to figure out when he will.
The biggest lie I have heard among Christian men about their sexual indiscretions is that "it's not hurting anybody else." Nothing could be further from the truth of God's Word or His heart. Your choices about sexuality affect everybody in your life, either for good or bad. How many of us have felt pain or sadness over Christian leaders, singers or speakers who went sexually astray? They damaged not only their lives but also the lives of their spouses, their children and, often, those they were sexually involved with.
I want to show you how your sex affects others. I believe within every man is a God-given disposition to protect. A man cannot stand by and allow an outsider to hurt anyone he truly loves. This is exemplified in the relationship between a man and his daughter.
What if it were possible to travel back in time to ancient Jerusalem, where Jesus made His triumphal entry into the city? Or to take Holy Communion in the Garden Tomb where Christ was once buried? For many Christians, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is only a dream. But it doesnt have to be!
I was an outcast in the 6th grade. I've told more than one person that I wouldn't go back to that time in my life for all the money in the world. That was the year my classmates got downright mean. We've all heard the old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," but many of us know from personal experience that they can. Words can wound our spirits and create fear and isolation. Some of the 6th graders in my class knew this all too well and used it to their advantage.
One day after school, I boarded my bus and was waiting for it to take me home. There were around 20 other busloads of students waiting to do the same thing. One of my classmates leaned out his window so hundreds of kids could see and hear him. He started speaking in a mocking, effeminate manner that was clearly meant to emulate that of a "gay" person's voice. He then called out my name, waving and pointing. The message was clear, "Alan is gay." My entire bus just looked at me. Kids on the other buses did the same. They began to point and laugh. I endured more incidents like that than I care to recall.
As I transitioned to junior high and high school, I did a lot to repackage my image and worked hard to overcome anything that would hint that I might be gay. I'm not sure I did a great job, but most of my classmates finally decided they liked me. In my early adulthood, I began to seriously consider how to deal with my struggle with same-sex attraction. The world around me was shifting. The culture's beliefs and attitudes about homosexuality were changing. What had long been the position of Hollywood started rubbing off on Main Street. Eventually, after trying it I decided that Hollywood's views were based on the illusion of a contented gay life that conflicted with my deepest beliefs. I turned to the ministry I now lead, Exodus International, for support and they helped me unravel scars from the past and inspired me with hopes for the future.
It was during this time of transition that one of my classmates told me that the leader of the cruel attacks I endured in 6th grade had come out as gay himself. I did feel some empathy for him, but the fact that he was launching an all out verbal assault on me while he was struggling with the same issues was tough to reconcile. He was the most popular, accepted kid in our class and could have used his popularity to help me, a "geek," but instead shunned me and encouraged others to do the same. I guess insecure people often displace their insecurity by demonizing others.
Fast-forward more than 20 years later to now—where the social climate as well as the opportunity for rejection is still changing and evolving. We now have various social networking sites such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. For those of you who aren't familiar with Facebook, you have to send or receive a "friend request" in order to connect with someone. I've sent and received many from old classmates—good friends and casual acquaintances.
One day as I was perusing my list of friends, I noticed that two of my good buddies from high school had all of the sudden disappeared from my "friend" list. I wondered if it had anything to do with my "controversial" life or my "controversial" career. So I emailed them and asked. My suspicions were confirmed. Talk about hypocritical. I have 1,300 friends on Facebook (sarcastic "Woo Hoo!" to follow) many of whom by no means live moral lives, vote the way I would or even believe in God. I know several who are openly gay and others who outright reject my faith. I choose to befriend those who are diametrically opposed to the life I have chosen to live and yet I am rejected for my "bigoted" and "intolerant" views.
People of faith who choose to surrender their sexuality to Christ and who choose to live their lives in a way that is different than the culture's new normal are now the new social outcasts. It's obvious that people of faith in general are in the same category. I was just reading that California's Prop. 8 opponents are now circulating maps identifying the personal homes of individuals who financially supported Prop. 8 in order to harass their families and shame their views! Unbelievable.
Many students will risk the rejection of their peers and subject themselves to outright discrimination on April 20 to stand up for biblical truth on campuses nationwide on the Day of Truth. This annual event originated five years ago to affirm every students' constitutional right to free speech and to provide an opportunity to have an honest conversation about sexuality. These students will courageously join their voices with the more than 13,000 others who in years past have done just that. I stand with them as someone who has experienced the freedom truth brings and I am reminded that we are in good company. Jesus was a social outcast. He told us we would be too in 1 John 3:13, "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you," and in John 15:18, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." He considered us worth the rejection of the world. May we consider those who reject us worth the same.
Alan Chambers is the president of Exodus International, the largest worldwide Christian outreach to those dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction and the author of two books: God's Grace & the Homosexual Next Door and Leaving Homosexuality. www.exodusinternational.org