I came across this great resource, http://newcovenantsoulcare.com/articles/Transparency.pdf that deals with the issue of accountability. It is only three pages long, and I really encourage you to read it. It deals with moving beyond the concept of accountability (rules, and such) to transparency (willful disclosure of your life). It makes interesting reading. The writer goes on to describe the accountability type relationships between men, in particular when dealing with sexual addiction, and he bemoans the KGB/interrogator approach of the relationship, where one person is deemed to “addicted” and the other “healthy” and concludes that this kind of accountability relationship is not actually healthy and can be a disservice to the very intent of the relationship.
The writer gives a very vivid example of how this kind of accountability becomes a vehicle of destruction when it works itself out by its very design. He says, “I once had to console a man who was dumped by his partner because he wasn’t “serious.” Certainly there are two sides here, but what killed it from the start was the lack of mutuality and its unbalanced nature.” This is the problem in “accountability” relationships, the very need for mutuality and balance, and thus the need for what I call “authentic friendship” where the friendship, and the resulting sharing, loving and grace filled relationship then becomes more of a catalyst for transparency.
The writer gives examples of a lack of confidentiality and how it destroyed some marriages because accountability partners shared confidential information with the spouses, and the need for mutual trust and strict confidentiality between those who choose to walk this close intimate relational and transparent life. People who embrace transparency are most vulnerable to betrayal and the resulting carnage of their other significant relationships. Men choosing to walk in transparency need to count the cost of that kind of friendship, and need to really understand how important confidence and trust are, and how the very lives of their friends could be at stake. We have no right to play God and judge those who are trusting us. We have no right to arbitrarily pass on information to a spouse when the information was given in trust. We need to model a respect for boundaries and a respect for the other person and the trust they have placed in us. To pass on this kind of information is not only destructive but completely a betrayal of what it means to be a friend. If we cannot handle what is being shared, we need to be real enough and tell our friend that they need to disclose this with their spouse, and/or seek professional counseling about this particular issue. We need to guard our hearts and our mouths and remain true to our friends.
I was encouraged by the writer of this short article, for he gave a lot of reasons for hope. He states:
“Still we can do better. Accountability partnerships based solely on asking the hard questions cleans only the outside of the cup. Jesus said, “First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:26 NIV)
“I suggest caution before we move into accountability relationships. We can seek out men who are also in recovery, who have had their lives broken, who are not spiritual superstars, but who will sit with us through our worst storms. We need partners who will love us even if we mess up and act out. Such men should earn our trust, and we theirs.
“I suggest an even higher standard. How about “transparency partners.” – men with whom we can walk in the light together, experience mutual Godly fellowship and not demand an immediate external fix? God heals in our openness. We already know that (1st John 1:7). Still we must discern the wolves out there hiding in sheep’s clothing. With a transparency standard we can be mutually open, and move beyond our false selves, see the dirt inside each other’s cups, and celebrate together as God begins to clean those cups.”
By Mark D. Sellers, M.A., LPC
So, Mr. Sellers says is plainly here. We need authentic and transparent friendships based on mutuality, and trust in God and confidentiality, where we explore God and our own lives together, absolving from judgment and quick fixes, trusting God alone to do what only God can do. Sounds good to me. I am thankful that I do have that kind of circle of friends, who walk with me, and we mutually love and care for one another, and have confidence in each other, and have a lot of trust in one another, a lot of respect and love for one another. I think if more men had such relationships, a lot of their problems would begin to become solvable and not as overwhelming as they currently are. I thank God for my friends, Doug, Claude, Dave, Richard and Perry.