A.A. and the Members Who Have Found Jesus

Submitted by on Monday, October 24, 2005No Comments
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Alcoholics Anonymous Symbol - Cirlce and Triangle - Unity, Service, and Recovery

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. [Copyright by The A.A. Grapevine, Inc.]

It seems, in my experience, that there are people who have gotten sober through A.A.’s 12 Step Program, have found Jesus as a matter of religion, and who now come to A.A. meetings to share their experience on the everlasting salvation of their souls. This is wrong and it may kill some people.

Now, as a matter of personal philosophy I disbelieve in right and wrong but cling to what is. With that said, I may use the term “wrong” as it relates to my own personal code of living and in no way will use it as a reflection of universal truth, as I also disbelieve in universal truth but moral relativism. Necessarily, as we all relate interpersonally we do need laws of conduct which necessitate the use of terms such as “right” and “wrong” but this is another vein of commentary and I will not be discussing that here. What I will be discussing as “right” or “wrong” is how A.A. members carry the message of recovery based on the 12 Steps and Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous – as our primary purpose as a society, if you will, is to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety based on the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions by sharing our experience, strength, and hope within the confines of the steps and traditions.Alcoholics Anonymous is just about as close to anarchy as a subculture can get. We have no “rules” or “laws” but Traditions. We also have a colloquial term for those who attempt to enforce these traditions aka “The Traditions Police.” We have the “Bleeding Deacon” who may be the guy with 10 years sober who thinks he knows what you need to do to get sober “the right way.” And we have my personal thorn, the newcomer who thinks he knows everything at 70 days or 9 months and will share all over the room with the secret message being to share upon the person who just shared by basically damning everything prior person has shared. In a nutshell, we have all sorts of people in all different phases of growth in the rooms of A.A. and there is room for all of us! That’s the amazing way this program works.

You piss me off, I get to look at myself. You get drunk and I get to help you back in. You finally get real and I get to enjoy your change. The meetings get extremely sick and I get to go to another one. Or someone fouls up a message and I get to read it from our basic text. But you talk about Jesus saving your soul and I get to say “Bullshit!”

Step 3: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.” [Although I revise it to the year 2005 and to my philosophy “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.”]

I fired a sponsor when I was going through a life changing episode which would greatly affect and influence many lives when she pointed me to the Bible. I emailed her telling her I would hope she would not attempt to kill other people like she could have killed me. I was not a newcomer but I could have been. I work an honest program, but I could have been just as shaky and lost on my program as I was during this confusing time in my life. The program promises me sobriety – if I take the suggested steps and have the capacity to be honest. It does not nor has it ever promised that I will not have problems or life issues that confuse and confound me. It does simply promise me I do not have to drink over them ever again, as long as I maintain spiritual fitness on a daily basis. [Spiritual fitness: My spiritual self, my unseeing self as I relate to myself. This is my viewpoint of spiritual fitness. Here’s another way to define spiritual: http://www.selfknowledge.com/91463.htm ]

Religion. There is no room for religion as it pertains to sobriety. None. Zero. Nada. If you want religion to save some people and you happen to have gotten sober in A.A. and Jesus worked for you and you’re overflowing with the spirit of Jesus’ blood, go to church and save someone who’s interested and who’s life does not depend on it. If Jesus is your solution to sobriety, good for you – just remember where you came from. Step 3 gave you the freedom to believe that and arrive at that. Show the same respect to the newcomer who has arrived at their first A.A. meeting to hear Jesus shoved down their throat. The Big Book says that many people thought a religious conviction could save them and it failed. [Pg 27: “[…] after all, he was a good church member. This hope, however, was destroyed by the doctor’s telling him that while his religious convictions were very good, in his case they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience.” ]

Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book 4th Edition - The basic text of A.A. are within the first 164 pages - Buy it new or used at Amazon or get it at cost from an A.A. meeting!That one thing that got you sober and is keeping you sober may get someone else drunk or kill them. Pg 93 in the Big Book “[…] make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God. He can choose any conception he likes, provided it makes sense to him. The main thing is that he be willing to believe in a Power greater than himself and that he live by spiritual principles.” [Emphasis in the Big Book.]

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, if not spelled out enough in Step 3, peppers through the first 164 pages, how clear it is and necessary and vital that religion is tertiary to gaining and maintaining sobriety. Makes it clear a Higher Power is absolutely necessary also, but that that Higher Power comes from YOUR understanding or ability to conceptualize. No one else’s idea will do – not for the long haul. Even if the most simple idea is your beginning [Alcohol ruled me as a lower power, can’t I now find a higher one?] the Big Book makes it clear that one of the three conditions to sobriety, is that “God could and would if he were sought” […not even found! Pg. 60 (c).]

And if your Higher Power is your 1) Sponsor 2) Home Group 3) Enlightened Mind 4) Higher Awareness 5) The Twelve Steps as G.O.D. [Good Orderly Direction] 6) Goddess 7) Jesus 8) Moses 9) Universal Conciousness 10) The Great Reality 11) The Middle Way…etc. WHATEVER. Personally, making your sponsor or HG your HP is a newcomer’s folly, as you will find them to let you down eventually BUT if you continue to seek, it will easily be replaced in time as long as you do not drink. I include those two because it was necessary for my long term sobriety to first have my sponsor as my HP until eventually I replaced it with my HG until eventually it got bigger and now it’s huge and is not a person or a group of people, but something that is with me wherever I go.

The most poignant I can find in the Big Book is page 46 “We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe to all men.”

This is often in direct opposition to what I hear from time to time in the rooms. Recently I heard an “oldtimer” [and I say this in deference for having a decent amount of sobriety but not ever said in the spirit of having “good recovery” because that’s not my business quite frankly and even so, it’s only an opinion or judgement] say that he has known only a few agnostics in A.A. and they did not look happy. He used terms like “Judgement Day” and A.A. being spiritual kindergarten where church or religion is the implied Graduate Program…? The Big Book addresses extracurriculars such as church also and basically, if you are so inclined, have at it!

However. As I expressed to my beloved the other evening after that meeting, that as far as my philosophy or religion goes, it’s a hobby. As they relate to A.A. they are irrelevent, inappropriate, and irresponsible to spread around as a matter of being the only way, with the implied meaning that if you are not with “my way” then though you may be sober, you may not be happy. That’s crap. That’s evangelistic recruitment, using A.A. [last stop on the block for me anyway] as a platform for your cause.

May I remind those who speak this way that A.A. neither endorses nor opposes any causes and has no opinion on outside issues. [See the 12 Traditions] In an A.A. meeting, we are responsible for our words in that they convey our experience, strength, and hope as it relates to our sobriety and the 12 Steps & Traditions. Yes, we share personally what worked for us. But it is irresponsible to judge others’ on what may or may not be working for them and to use your personal religion as the given way to have sobriety. As far as sobriety goes, speaking about religion is about as helpful/harmful as convincing people my higher power is the lawnmower and that the only way to achieve true happy fulfilling sobriety is to ride it every day.

I am Responsible
When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help,
I want the hand of A.A.* always to be there.
And for that: I am responsible.

*Note: The hand of AA. Not the hand of my church, personal religion or conviction.

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  • lynn said:

    thank you.
    I feel the same way you do on this subject and often have a hard time with this. I don’t believe in god but in cause and effect. the question is “how do I want my life to be”? My choices now will effect me in the future, yes, I am responsible.

  • samsara (author) said:

    Lynn, I’m sorry for the hard time you’ve had with this. Know that you have validation – and not just from me. MANY people have commented and discussed with me they feel this way. More of these sorts of people *are* my A.A. friends and they are sober also. :)

    The people I see struggling the hardest in the program, from my observations, are the people who consider themselves Christians. Personally, I think it could be trying to make a Christian HP fit into their ideal that will not currently fit. [They may still see God as a punishing God or …etc.]

    On the other hand, I see oldtimers who are sober and happy who are Christians also. They don’t tend to view God as punishing anymore…but more of the forgiving New Testament [Jesus oriented “Love thy brother” and “Don’t judge”] HP.

    Either way, the message remains for you Lynn. It’s AA and our HP is personal. Cause and Effect, universal laws of karma…whatever keeps us sober. It’s our choice. The program tells us so and it’s worked for me for a little over 3 years.

    Keep it easy! You sound great! Love, Samsara

  • noprob aka Glen C. said:

    I agree with your statement(s) Digits concerning the newcommer as were anyone to state at the time of my beginning sobriety that I HAD to believe in GOD [to anothers idea] or anything remotley related to such I am most certain I would have done a 180 and continued on the horrible path I was on.
    Thx. for you input.

    Glen C. 05-13-03

  • samsara (author) said:

    Glen- Sorry it’s taken so long to respond. Life. Yes, I feel strongly about introducing religious ideals into A.A. meetings. [Not A.A. one on one necessarily, if the sponsor/sponsee have a meeting of the minds for example, not for any A.A. as a matter of personal conviction or any such thing.] But when it comes to meetings, the traditions are there for a reason – to insure A.A.’s survival…our common welfare should come first as personal recovery depends on AA unity. AA cannot be unified when people share under the guise of their religious conviction.

    Thanks for responding Glen!

    ~ Digits :)

  • Cathy K. said:

    Well said. When I first came around A.A. the word “God” alone would make shivers run up my spine. The nature of the program and the fellowship … our primary purpose … demands that we remain inclusive, and the Jesus-as-personal-savior sharers are some of the scariest AA members I’ve ever come across; they still scare me, after 20 years of sobriety! Thank you for the clarity and strength of your presentation of the issue here.

  • samsara (author) said:

    Thank you Cathy! 20 years sobriety! Wow! Whatever you’re doing you’re doing it! LoL Congratulations and I’m honored for your comment.

    Yesterday I met with a sponsee and she made the comment about her 4th step we’re on. “When we just have to know that the things we did were wrong…” [Imagine my trying to tiptoe around this one with MY philosophy/religion not believing in wrong or right….right?] So I ended up saying, “I think of it as not doing something as skillfully as I could have had I had different tools.”

    She – being a Christian – LOVED it! I was grateful. Then I went on to say “…and this is where we look at our own moral code and see where we fell short.” I told her it didn’t matter if her kids weren’t okay with something she expressed concern over because she was okay with it.

    I couldn’t help but recall this as I read your message based on this post. Feeling like I have to make it clear to people I’m not a “burn yourself in shame Christian.” I think, Cathy, that you have given me another epiphany: That I do not have to make it clear. My actions and words will implicitly reveal me to be who I am. Probably only because I am sober. ;)

    Remember back in drinking telling people who we were because our actions and words were NOT lining up? LoL I think that today I can let go of that old idea…it’s really, for me, a symptom of my past drinking and spindoctoring your thoughts of me. Today I match up for the most part and I thank God and sobriety and AA for that.

    Thanks for passing it on girlfriend!
    Love,
    Samsara

  • fugitive247 said:

    {{{Digits}}} Sis, you never cease to amaze me. Thank you for your tireless, and most fearless honesty. There’s not much I can add as it seems we share similar views. Still, I can’t thank you enough. Namaste, always.

  • samsara (author) said:

    It’s up to us girl! We have to carry the message of truth and we have to carry it with love. We have to.

    My original sponsor, a fabulous woman dedicated her experience and strength to me – taught me to think for myself against what the original homegroup was teaching. As a result, I remain sober and somewhat successful in my spiritual growth and serenity despite my obvious bumps along the way.

    Friends I originally met when I came into AA…and pardon this term but were more AA Nazi’s preaching what you *better* do and how *Jesus* will save your soul and if you didn’t find the God as THEY understood God you would be drunk…

    Well, there is a high turnover rate with those sorts it seems. Of course, I have spoken at length with many of them seeing about Codependent recovery. [As it seems those sorts of people are never more at counterfeit peace than when they are telling other people what they need to do.] :-)

    I love you sis. THANKS for dropping by!!

    Drop by some more k?

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