Tradition 6 – United Yet Separate

Tradition Six – United Yet Separate 

An S.C.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the S.C.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

United Yet Separate Peter C. (LA) 

Tradition Six suggests we avoid outside entanglements because it will distract us from our primary purpose-to carry the message to the sex addict who still suffers. Over the years many well meaning members have vigorously proposed association with outside organizations, all in the name of "carrying the message" to a wider audience of potential sufferers. However, in each situation the controversy created by these efforts shifted our focus from helping the newcomer to control and conflict with each other. Here are some of the things that we proposed.

Wouldn't it be great if all the "S" programs coordinated their efforts to carry the message? We thought of the duplication of effort, with each program "reinventing the wheel" by writing the same literature, establishing the same telephone information lines, providing panels to the same hospitals, sending letters to the same courts, and publishing competing meeting lists. We thought of SA, SAA, SCA, SLAA, COSA, S-ANON and even RCA spreading our meager financial resources into the same projects when we could combine our efforts.

Calls were made to other Intergroups, meeting set up to discuss the idea and even weekend retreats scheduled to get acquainted. What happened? Members who had found a solution to their own sexual compulsion became very protective of their program's approach to sexual recovery. Even though we all work the same Twelve Steps and practice the same Twelve Traditions, each program had evolved its own definition of sexual sobriety, application of a sexual recovery plan, interpretation of the Steps and adaptation of the tools for recovery.

If all the meetings for every fellowship were to be published on a joint meeting list, would it confuse the newcomer? They might hear one definition of sobriety at one meeting and a different version at the next. How would the judiciary know to which meetings to send court referrals? Some meetings are for sexual predators to stop their behavior while others are for the victims of sexual abuse. Some meetings are for recovering prostitutes while others focus on recovery from paying for sex. Some are open to anyone while others have attendance requirements or require an introductory telephone call.

Which fellowship would donate how much money? Intergroups and ISO's publish literature, pay for a central office, postage and telephones with proceeds from the Seventh Tradition forwarded from individual meetings. Some fellowships are smaller than others and cannot afford an equal share of these expenses. Should they have less voice in writing the literature, and shaping the message to the addict that still suffers?

What about sexuality? Some fellowships see homosexual behavior as acting out while others are predominantly gay as a matter of choice. If you list a group as "Gay & Lesbian," what about the straight members that attend? Some programs let each member define addictive behavior while others impose a standardized definition. One fellowship sees masturbation and sex outside of a certified marriage as acting out while another argues for moderation in masturbation and many of their members can't legally marry.

Another point of contention was affiliation with hospitals, professional therapist, and popular writers. Over the years, S.C.A. conventions have invited authors in the sexual recovery field to appear as key note speakers, Intergroups have scheduled workshops with professional therapists and hospitals have sponsored seminars in their Sexual Dependency Units. In many cases the name of the sponsoring hospital or the speakers' credentials were included in the information to members. This disclosure became an acknowledgment of their expertise or implicit endorsement of their treatment for sexual addiction.

First, there are no experts in S.C.A. When a sober members shares "how it was," the newcomer identifies with their pain and suffering and become convinced that this is someone who honestly knows how they feel. When the sober member shares "what happened," the newcomer becomes curious to investigate the program of action that worked for them. When the sober member shares "what it is like now," the newcomer gains hope and becomes willing to take the actions outlined in the Twelve Steps.

The Big Book of A.A. advises, "That the man who is making the approach has had the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about, that his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer, that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou. Nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful; that there are no fees to pay, no axes to grind, no people to please, no lectures to be endured-these are the conditions we have found most effective."

Second, many institutions represent complimentary approaches to recovery from sexual addiction that are different from the Steps. It is only natural for a person to speak about their own realm of experience. When professional spoke at S.C.A. functions they have suggested group and individual therapy, prescription medication, positive affirmations, fire drills, journaling, rebirthing, anger work, feelings work, reclaiming your power, reforming family systems, healing your inner child, incest work, survivors work, codependency, counter-dependency and every other modality of modern psychology.

Just what message does this carry to the newcomer? Is S.C.A. a program of education about sexual addiction, a support group for survivors of addictive families and sexual abuse, a therapeutic approach to dealing with your sexual feelings or a spiritual program of action to find God and a Higher Power?

The Big Book of A.A. makes this distinction abundantly clear when it says: "Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this power? Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a power greater than yourself which will solves your problem." Although the Big Book advises us to cooperate with doctors and psychologists, it differentiates the "human based" therapeutic solution from a "spiritual based" solution in God and a Higher Power. 

When we affiliate with related facilities we mix our message of recovery with theirs. This creates conflict and dissension among the membership that distracts time and energy away from helping the newcomer and carrying the spiritual solution to other sexual compulsives. As addicts in sobriety, we share a unique ability to carry a special message of hope to the person who still suffers: "(a) That we were sex addicts and could not manager our own lives. (b) That no human power could have relieved our sex addiction. (c) That God could and would if He were sought."