Why accountability partners don’t work for pornography addiction

Most of the men I work with have a long history of failed attempts at overcoming sexual temptation. One of the most common strategies people in churches use is having an accountability partner. I have nothing against accountability partners … they just don’t work.

Listen to this recording – a short excerpt from an audio program called “The Spiritual Questions and Challenges of Recovery” – to find out why:

Show me a pornography or other type of sex addict who has an accountability partner – and is doing little else for his recovery – and I will show you someone who is struggling. Either acting out with whatever behaviors he’s dealing with, or hanging onto his sobriety with his fingernails and really struggling. Church leaders, spouses of strugglers, parents … please hear me on this … accountability is over-rated! It’s only part of the solution.

If you want to hear more about this and other subjects related to dealing with sexual struggle, check out this audio program

6 thoughts on “Why accountability partners don’t work for pornography addiction”

  1. Thanks for this podcast about accountability. Describing accountability this way, I would agree with you: accountability of this sort doesn’t work. We don’t just need people to commiserate with. We need real help. Too often I talk to people who’ve tried accountability and they either describe the unavailable acquaintance, the passive friend who enables them, the bully who policed them, or the moral giant who couldn’t relate to them.

    I liked your idea of “accountability to a system or structure” as a bridge to talk about real and healthy accountability. Well said.

    As someone who works for an Internet accountability company (Covenant Eyes), I am glad to hear when people use our accountability reports in this fashion, as a structure that helps maintain and develop real and healthy accountability in the context of the church community.

  2. Thanks for the comment Luke. I am a big fan and user of Covenant Eyes, and see what you guys are doing as more helpful than the amorphous “accountability” that’s out there. In actual fact, the concept of accountability does make sense and is helpful **IF** it’s part of a larger program of support and recovery, which is what I’m trying to say in the article … and Covenant Eyes is an important part of that program for many men. Keep up the good work at Covenant Eyes!

    – Mark

    1. Okay Jerry … I hear your opinion. Like everything else, whenever you make a generalized statement, there are bound to be exceptions. But I still stand by my writing here that in general accountability partnerships don’t work — UNLESS the problem is more of a proclivity, not a full-blown addiction.

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