Accountability Doesn’t Work

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Growing up in the church, I learned that any problem with lust, porn, or masturbation could be alleviated with good accountability. The primary reason I remained entangled by these sexual vices was that I didn’t have enough accountability in my life. The more accountability I had, the more divine freedom would be made available to me through my accountability partners.

According to this system, these accountability partners would pray for me day and night to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to resist evil. They would always be there for me to call upon when I found myself entrenched in sexual temptation and needed help finding the way out.

I believed this was a good way to fight for purity, so I sought accountability partners for years. I had several men set up to hold me accountable. Sometimes we held each other mutually accountable, and other times it was one-way — with me as the one needing the help.

Sometimes these guys called me on the phone to check up on me and ask how I was doing with “it,” whatever “it” was we’d agreed I needed help with. Sometimes I called or texted them when I knew I was in a dark place.

We met together regularly, we prayed for each other, and we tried to be totally honest with each other — to encourage each other, to offer advice, to remind each other of God’s unconditional love and grace, no matter how many times we or I fell into sin.

These guys helped me to the best of their abilities, and I am grateful for their efforts to walk with me through some hard issues. Through these journeys, we got to know each other deeper, and I always felt loved and accepted by them. These accountability partners are some truly great men.

With all that said, however, I must be honest and tell you that I have grown to detest this kind of accountability. I think it’s a religious, man-made attempt to achieve holiness. After much experience, I have come to conclude that there is almost no real value in this kind of accountability.

The basis for most of these accountability partnerships is fear and shame.

Some guys are totally up-front about that. They feel ashamed for struggling with a particular sexual sin, and they’d be even more embarrassed if they had to confess their sin to another flesh-and-blood human every time they gave in.

So, they use this shame and embarrassment to deter themselves from giving in to their sin again. Every time they feel horny or tempted, they think about how awful it would be to have to admit to masturbating or watching porn to their accountability partner, and the fear of that is supposed to shame them into compliance to the rules of holiness.

My first objection to this accountability system is that it usually doesn’t work very well or for very long.

Anyone who has had any experience confessing the terrible truths about himself to others knows that, with time and practice, it gets easier. Our shame weakens, our nerves calm down, and eventually confession becomes as mundane as discussing taxes.

At least, that’s been my experience.

This whole YOB ministry is dedicated to showing others that it’s okay to be honest about your junk, because we all have the same junk. And we can talk about it without shame.

If shame is supposed to deter us from doing sinful things, it won’t work more than a couple weeks — tops.

My second objection to this accountability is that it places shame where it doesn’t belong.

When are we as Christians ever supposed to be ashamed? If we are forgiven through Jesus Christ, there is no longer any condemnation for us (Romans 8:1). Why then do we willfully put shame back on ourselves and carry it around until we meet with our accountability partners again?

This kind of accountability is wrong because it often places man above God.

Yes, we are supposed to confess our sins to one another so that we may be forgiven, healed, reconciled, and all that good stuff. But I’ve known many guys, myself included, who’d carry around condemnation for their sin until they could confess to their accountability partners and receive their forgiveness.

There is no direct relationship with God through Jesus Christ in this system. There is a relationship with the sufferer and his accountability partner, and then with Jesus, as if the partner were the mediator between God and man for the forgiveness of sin and banishing of condemnation.

As far as I’m aware, that’s a job for Jesus only.

But perhaps my greatest objection to this accountability is that I never see shame and fear being used as a justifiable means of deterrence from sin in the New Testament.

Just the opposite: we are taught that shame and fear of man have no place in our lives, for any reason. What is this modern idea of accountability partnership but approval of shame and the belief that the fear of man, fear of man’s disappointment in us, fear of his rejection of us, fear of his shame of us, are good things for us?

We are never told to be motivated by shame or the fear of man. We are never to be afraid of the true nastiness of our fleshly nature being exposed for what it is, allowing that to manipulate our behavior. Instead, we are to expose it gladly, bringing it into the light without fear or shame, and be forgiven and gloriously redeemed by Jesus Christ.

Of course, other people might not accept us once they see what has remained hidden in the shadows for so long. But we are never to alter our behavior to accommodate other people’s shame of us; on the contrary, we should aim to become even more undignified.

With the basic premises of this accountability system exposed as worthless religion, how are we to confess our sins to one another and help each other overcome sinful habits?

The same way Jesus does.

With love and grace.

Shame and fear aren’t very good at actually preventing sin. They’re weak and don’t last very long, and usually we just start sinning in other areas. But if we know true love, and if we are aware of how much grace has been given to us already — both by Jesus Christ and our Christian brothers and sisters — we won’t want the refuse of sexual sin.

We will want to abide in the love of God more than we will desire sin. I firmly believe that our struggle with sin directly correlates with how much we love and know that we are loved. What we need to do then is pursue love and a lifestyle abiding in God’s love beyond a lifestyle of immorality.

If we want any true accountability in our lives, any special partnerships, this must be the objective: to spur one another toward love and good deeds, not just the absence of bad deeds.

How can we spur each other toward love and good deeds and out of sinful habits? With intense, white-hot love. We must love and keep on loving. Forgive and keep on forgiving, knowing one another more and more deeply, becoming more and more vulnerable and intimate, loving and forgiving more and more each day.

This kind of love is much more difficult to live out day-by-day, but the rewards are better than anything fear or shame can give us.

Talk about your experience with accountability. Has it worked long-term or not so much? Do you think modern accountability partnerships have any merit?

* Photo courtesy paolodeangelis, Creative Commons.

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  • jeffnkr

    I hear what you’re saying. I don’t feel shame, however, when I reach out to other brothers, and ask for prayer. We should not try to fight spiritual battles alone. Romans 8:1, which you cited, is a good verse for all Christians to memorize: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” There isn’t any condemnation to those who walk AFTER THE SPIRIT. There IS condemnation to Christians who walk after the flesh. Being tempted and feeling the old desires does NOT mean one is walking after the flesh. It means that we are walking after the Spirit, and the enemy is taking note, and attacking us. Shame is a powerful weapon! The enemy uses it on all of us. IMO, one who refuses to obey James 5:16 because of shame is guilty of PRIDE.

    Last week, I had a hard time. I was strengthened by the prayers of brothers on whom I knew I could call, and ask for help. I can think of five times in which I had the chance to give oral sex to other Christian brothers. (that’s right; other CHRISTIAN BROTHERS) Two of them came right out and asked me to do it. In one instance, I was extremely depressed about homosexuality and had decided to lay down in front of a train, and end it all. Instead, I called a brother, who talked with me. He said that anytime I felt the desire I could come “do” him. I did not do it, in either of the five times, but I wanted to. Last week I mentally role-played, actually doing it. I asked some other brothers for prayer. God showed me that had I followed through, and had actually done what I was tempted to do, the results would have been terrible, on each one of us. To the best of my knowledge, each of the five brothers do not know about the other four. They are all forgiven. They are men who are imperfect, and need what God wants to give all of us: His exceedingly abundant love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

    We still must obey James 5:16: Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

    Again, your point is well-taken. I’m sure that many accountability groups have failed, because people have seen themselves accountable TO THEIR BROTHERS OR SISTERS IN CHRIST, not to Christ. Accountability groups, when done the way that God intends, helps rid us of pride. The flesh-and-blood person across the table from you or on the other end of the phone line is a person who is just as vulnerable as we ourselves are. I think the ideal accountability relationship is TWO-WAY accountability: each person accountable to the other and each one confessing sins to the other. If one’s accountability partner is one’s pastor, that can work, but there are many things the pastor should not reveal to a lay person.

    • Kevin Frye

      Yes, I agree with you. Thank you for sharing. I knew before this post even went up that it was inadequate, but I didn’t know how to improve it at the time. I’ll respond with what I’ve shared on other comments here and which I probably should have included in some way in this post itself:

      I’m not against accountability. Accountability should exist quite naturally in the church and within any good friendship. But the relationship should come first, then the accountability. If two guys get together and talk for the primary sake of accountability, not because of love or friendship, then the relationship and even the accountability break down. Accountability is great! But that must not be all there is to the relationship.

      See, there are “accountability relationships”, if you want to call them that, which are very good. I think good accountability comes naturally in any good friendship. But when accountability is the basis for the relationship and the reason for the regular contact, it falls apart. I know that good accountability partnerships are out there, but I just don’t think they follow the typical model that we know so well.

    • opinionmaker

      I’m glad you’re having a good experience with an accountability relationship. However, some people have had a bad experience with accountability relationships. James 5:16 promises that we will be healed not forgiven. Forgiveness is already ours In Christ.

  • John

    As someone who has begun the Accountability process 3 weeks ago, this intrigued me. I actually intended on posting about it to share some resources with men who are seeking them. I cannot relate to your experience, so I can only assume the system also varies depending on the environment you’re in. For me, it’s called the Conquer Series (https://conquerseries.com).

    I haven’t found that the system rely on fear nor shame. I mean, as you said, that eventually decreases anyway. Instead, I’ve found that the men in my group are very open and honest about each of their situations. The sexual behavior obviously isn’t encouraged but if there’s any fear or shame, it comes from within – not created by my brothers in Christ. That being said, I don’t ever want to feel too comfortable to the point I embrace my sin as a part of me because then I’d have no reason to seek change and I don’t believe this is what God intended for my life.

    While it isn’t a course meant to “cure” SSA, it can help you understand a lot of the emotional and even neurological reasons behind an addiction. The journey is different depending on each individual’s goal. For me, it’s currently to eliminate porn from my life. I believe that by doing so, it will reduce the amount of sexual thoughts that cross my mind and help me ignore and not act on those thoughts. That, in turn, will also reduce masturbation habits, as it already has. Fantasies that have fed off of images will begin to blur and fade. In theory, it sounds wonderful. It will be a very long and difficult journey, but through Christ all things are possible.

    It’s definitely been very encouraging to hear of other guys’ successful weeks and helps motivate improvement. As artificial as that sounds, being brought together in a group of men who are all struggling in a common area (sexual addiction) – regardless of the specifics – is encouraging in itself. Not to diminish the effort put into this space, for which I am thankful, but it’s one thing to read “you’re not alone” online, it’s another thing to experience it in person. I think the concept is good, but how the Accountability is used will vary from program to program and church to church. Having a real life community is great, and knowing everyone is in a similar boat (sometimes even including the leader of the group!) is quite nice. Of course, sexual sin is just so vast. Know that you may not be able to understand some of the situations the other guys are going through, just as how they might not be able to understand yours, but hopefully others can find a judgement-free place of comfort and support, too. A perfect accountability group may not be found, but I pray that we never settle for the current state we find ourselves in. Big hug to all my brothers in Christ!

    • Kevin Frye

      Well said, John. I agree that face-to-face interaction cannot be replaced by online interaction. Thanks for sharing!

  • Darrek

    Thanks for sharing. I totally get this and feel the same. Accountability can be a good thing, but it generally doesn’t help solve the problem. Again, this has been my experience.

    • Kevin Frye

      Agreed. And you’re welcome!

  • At Peace

    I attempted to do the accountability thing years ago. I was about 3 weeks into and dropped out because I was being bombarded with scriptures and I felt that the written word alone killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. So I left. However, some time after, I contacted my accountability partner and told him that I dropped out, he was not impressed. He told me that i had to stick with the program till the end. There was no grace, no understanding, nothing, just law. Stick with the law till the end. I finally just gave my life up for the Lord to deal with, sin and all. I sinned, but grace kept holding me up. I fell more often then I stood. But grace kept holding me up. Every time, I “tried” to work this out myself, the law was standing there telling me, “If you come this way, I will kill you”. The law kept saying, “Go back to Christ, sit under grace, stay there no matter what happens”. So, I did. No 12 step lessons, no 8 rites of passages, just Christ and Him crucified.

    • bluzhawk

      So good AP. . . only wish I could upvote more

  • bluzhawk

    First time I came out to a Christian brother it was freeing, there was so much relief from the shame I was carrying from hiding it. But I’m glad that SSA wasn’t the focus moving forward. It’s good that you can be open about struggles and unashamed, that’s what church is supposed to be, but for me having SSA or any addiction or sin be the reason you’re together doesn’t end up being helpful and is almost counterproductive. Even being here too much can make me introspective in not a good way. It’s good to know there’s brothers who will be there when you struggle, to know that people love that way, but counting on being accountable to brothers as the answer feels like a tacit admission that I’ve lost what it is to be already accountable to God, and that being in the body of Christ, how I live already affects others and the spiritual health of the body – I’m already accountable.

    It’s not just SSA, focusing on sin as a way of overcoming it never seems to work or get to the heart of things. Looking at my sin almost always ends up looking away from Jesus. Not that there’s no battle, but the fight is a fight of faith. “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,” or, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” It’s positive, not negative. But acting on faith can be hard when sin’s pounding on the door and you feel alone. Still, openness and accountability are no substitutes for living by faith. It’s not just accountability partners, there’s any number of things I’ll put in place of the one thing Jesus calls us to – deny self, take up our cross and follow him so that we’ll find his life in losing ours. Losing your life is neither easy, instant or pain-free, but it’s necessary to find fullness of life in Christ. How great would it be if there were brothers who held us accountable to losing our life for Christ’s sake? Having an accountability partner (or group) is a good thing if it takes you forward on this journey. In my experience it seemed like the best thing at the time and I’m grateful for the guys who were involved, but it ended up not being the answer I was looking for.

    Kevin this is so good: “How can we spur each other toward love and good deeds and out of sinful habits? With intense, white-hot love. We must love and keep on loving. Forgive and keep on forgiving, knowing one another more and more deeply, becoming more and more vulnerable and intimate, loving and forgiving more and more each day.” I keep this verse from 1 Peter at my desk: Having your soul purified in obeying the truth, thru the Spirit, unto sincere love of brothers, out of a pure heart love one another intensely.

    Currently, there’s 4 other guys from church who I communicate with every morning. Each guy picks a day of the week and early morning texts a message/image of whatever devotion they had that morning along with whatever is on their heart and mind. Sometimes it’s a request for prayer but other times it’s a prayer that challenges, encourages and spurs on the rest of us. It leads to other conversations. We’re all different, each facing something, but we point each other to Jesus. We’re meant to have brothers on this journey to help us make it thru.

    • Kevin Frye

      Bravo! Well said! I have nothing to add, but thanks for sharing!

      • bluzhawk

        You’re being kind, it wasn’t that well said, but thanks. Ever since my TBI, it’s a struggle getting thoughts together and out there, it always feels like screwing up trying to say things. I’m glad YOB is a place you can find grace even when messing up. What you write always challenges me in a good way, the thanks are to you brother.

  • Being apart from the church for two decades, I had never heard of accountability partners. I didn’t even start dealing with my SSA issues until January 2016. Even when I started talking about my past, I never asked anyone to do anything except pray for me, as I still find it all to embarrassing about my issues with SSA (this is a very conservative area of Texas). I wound up speaking and then developing a relationship with the Lord, to help me, and He has. He has helped me with my addiction to internet porn and I have only had two relapses since February of 2016. He has shown me that the relapses occur about every four months due to stressful situations (I need prayers because we have entered into that fourth month, and even now I feel the pull).
    As far as being with another man, I have deliberately disassociated myself from anyone who might lead me astray. I am used to celibacy (12.5 years now) and I don’t want to stop now.

    • Kevin Frye

      Ah, my heart goes out to you, dude. It’s a hard addiction to break. It looks like you’re doing great, though! Accountability partners (can we just call them friends?) can be a great outlet for confessing our dirty truths as we pursue transparency and honesty with ourselves, God, and others. Keep up the good fight, man!

      • I prefer ‘friends’, as ‘accountability partner’ sounds so impersonal. A friend is someone who actually cares.

  • The Daily Ground Hog

    The very word, “accountability ” conjures a picture of one keeping the books. It’s as though we are allotted only so much grace, so someone has to help us keep track so that we don’t write a check that will bounce. It is a works oriented word.

    Even so, do we not have an obligation to hold each other to account? Paul says yes to that question at the end of 1 Corinthians 5. There was a man in the church that was sleeping with his father’s wife. The Corinthians were proud of their tolerance and love for this man. Paul was not pleased and said, with such a man, do not even eat. Throw him out.

    And they did. In 2 Corinthians there is evidence he repented and was restored to membership.

    I think serious sins require us to act; to hold each other accountable. We cannot just stand by and wait for God to act. Sin is infectious. It spreads throughout the body. We have to act together to keep the body healthy.

    • Kevin Frye

      I’m not against accountability. Accountability should exist quite naturally in the church and within any good friendship. But the relationship should come first, then the accountability. If two guys get together and talk for the primary sake of accountability, not because of love or friendship, then the relationship and even the accountability break down. Accountability is great! But that must not be all there is to the relationship.

      • The Daily Ground Hog

        Thanks Kevin. My reading comprehension is obviously not up to snuff. I went through and read this again. You are spot on. Accountability partners and friends are any times two different things. I agree with that. I have two friends that have acted as AP’s, but I did not really notice it because they listened, they loved me and they were genuinely interested in me as a man and a Christ follower. They always work to build me up when I need it and knock me off my pedestal when that’s required. They care about me. I think this is the way it’s supposed to be for us. Thanks again.

  • Dean Samuels

    A-FREAKING-MEN!!!! Thank you for putting this into such a clear post. Thank you. This was awesome. And so true.

    • Kevin Frye

      You’re welcome! I appreciate your enthusiasm, Dean!

  • mike

    “I firmly believe that our struggle with sin directly correlates with how much we love and know that we are loved.”

    My own understanding of addiction type sins (sex, porn, masturbation) is that addiction is an intimacy deficit problem. Something greater must supplant what comfort we get from our addictions. Nothing else will motivate us!
    The intimacy deficit I agree is love. Not living in the Love of Jesus AND not experiencing human love creates an emptiness inside us that we try to fill with our addictions. That’s why we need community whether “accountability” partners or AA sponsors to bring us back to that reality and call us back to Jesus.
    I think your title is too negative. I don’t think you want to intentionally deter YOBers to abandon “accountability” people in their lives but instead to choose the correct ones. We need such friends to prevent us from drowning in our sins especially addictions. I need such friends especially ones like how the Amplified Bible puts Hebrews 3:13 —
    “But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamor of his sin may play on him].” Me, I look for those kind of “accountability” partners in the faith to keep me on the straight and narrow as I wander off too easily if by myself!

    • Kevin Frye

      You make a good point. I’ll respond by simply copying what I’ve said to other comments on this post:

      I’m not against accountability. Accountability should exist quite naturally in the church and within any good friendship. But the relationship should come first, then the accountability. If two guys get together and talk for the primary sake of accountability, not because of love or friendship, then the relationship and even the accountability break down. Accountability is great! But that must not be all there is to the relationship.

      See, there are “accountability relationships”, if you want to call them that, which are very good. I think good accountability comes naturally in any good friendship. But when accountability is the basis for the relationship and the reason for the regular contact, it falls apart. I know that good accountability partnerships are out there, but I just don’t think they follow the typical model that we know so well.

      • mike

        True. In the church WHY the distinction between ‘friend relationships’ and ‘accountability relationships’?
        Because to find a friend who does what Hebrews 3:13 describes is rare. At least it’s been my experience. The North American church unlike elsewhere is lukewarm in that area. In the NA churches friends just want to hang out, watch tv, go to a game, etc. Rarely, do they want to sit down and “admonish”, “urge”, do your spiritual inventory — have you been praying, have you been in the Word, who have you discipled this week, are you masturbating, is your porn filter working?
        Maybe you are finding something different in Japan Kevin. I hope so brother, but here in my city friends are so burned out with life, sleep deprived from work to make ends meet, tired from long communtes to/from work that the last thing they want is to ask me how I’m doing with my besetting sins! That’s why in my church we have designated ‘mentors’ who act as accountability partners for people who have no one. True, these mentors are not one’s friends. Sometimes they click and the friendship grows. But usually not. I agree with you that your ideal would be best. Yet, without the ideal I have to take the real. It’s better than nothing in this real world…

  • The Dunedain

    Accountability is such a joke in the church now that, “I need someone to hold me accountable,” and “Will you hold me accountable to that?” are lines in the “Shoot Christians Say” video on YouTube.

    I briefly attended a small group a few years ago that used accountability as a method for pruning out “less solid” members of the group. Typically, I would stick around and hang out with the group leader and a few others after the rest of the group departed for the evening; inevitably, the topic of the conversation would turn to the people they were holding accountable and how they “weren’t showing enough fruit” (also in the Shoot Christians Say video). Then the rest of the group would proceed to encourage the accountability partner to stop hanging out (“fellowshipping”) with the struggling soul and drop them from support. I did speak up in these moments for the other members of the group, but of course it only made them think of me as less “solid” too. That’s why I said I only briefly attended this small group.

    I hated that the group leaders and their close friends were turning other people into their personal pet projects. When the accountability partner figured out that they couldn’t fix their latest experiment (i.e. transform them into a mirror image of himself), he would save face by declaring that the other person wasn’t spiritual enough or had too many problems. Ultimately, the problem with accountability “partnership” is that it disrupts the equal footing that is essential to good friendship. Unless both parties are mature, the partners, willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly, end up taking on parent-child roles, and that’s a recipe for disaster. I already have parents, thanks.

    We are meant to walk alongside each other instead of one pulling another along.

    • Kevin Frye

      I think a lot of small groups and accountability partners have very good intentions and hopes, but are completely misguided in how to get from A to Z. We should also be patient with those Christians, but we don’t have to follow them in their endeavors or think any less of ourselves for it.

      I’ll have to check out that “Shoot Christians Say” video. I always love seeing Christianity’s crap brought into the light.

    • THE DANG VIDEO OF GREATNESS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Dxo0Yjno3I

      • Kevin Frye

        Thanks, Tom! But this video made me want to cuss. It’s a bad habit of mine. Could you hold me accountable?

      • opinionmaker

        UGGGGHHHHH!!! Rolling my eyes toward Heaven.

    • opinionmaker

      You were right in leaving the group. Looks to me that they’ve squeezed out the Lord a long time ago.

  • Daniel Parschauer

    I have been through the same problem of having accountability partners and it just not working, and I totally get where you are coming from. I also totally agree when you talk about spurring each other towards good, not just the absence of bad. The only successful “accountability partner” I ever had was a friend of mine at college who struggled with SSA like me. We would see each other pretty regularly and we’d be honest about how our week has been (good, bad, or ugly…), but we’d also pray for each other, discuss life, and memorize Scripture together. What made this relationship so good is that we understood each other’s struggles and were just there for each other, available to do whatever the other person needed AND we were encouraging each other towards greatness. We weren’t focusing on the sin, we were focusing on life and pursuing Christ.

    • Kevin Frye

      See, there are “accountability relationships”, if you want to call them that, which are very good. I think good accountability comes naturally in any good friendship. But when accountability is the basis for the relationship and the reason for the regular contact, it falls apart. I know that good accountability partnerships are out there, but I just don’t think they follow the typical model that we know so well. Thanks for sharing your experience!

      • Daniel Parschauer

        Yeah dude, and thank you for sharing your’s

  • Matt ‘Ashįįhí

    With the whole “I’m not against accountability. Accountability should…blah…blah…blah” thing, dude I get you! Actually that’s playing out in my life right now, with my best friend right now. But I will say one thing about this whole Accountability Partner friendship thing, if you rely on the accountability partnership to keep you out of your “sin,” and you’re not putting your work in, don’t come crying to me every time you fall into that temptation. Plus, that friendship isn’t always going to be there too! Life moves on, so do people as well! You need to exercise your faith to make it stronger, and be honest with yourself, along with others to say “Hey! I just looked at porn!” or “Hey I just banged some dude awhile ago!” It’s good to start there! Yes, it should be someone you have an amazing connection of friendship with. At the same time, you seriously need to quit being stuck in that mode of “if I keep having accountability partners around me, I won’t sin!” Reality check, you probably will!!! If you don’t want to fall into temptation, dude, you need to exercise your own accountability for yourself! It’s up to you!!! You’re an adult, you can make choices! Your friends aren’t going to hold your hands forever! Metaphorically speaking.

    Oh! And thanks a lot Kevin for distracting from my post I was going to write about! 😛 lol.

    • Kevin Frye

      Good points, Matt. Thanks. And I apologize for distracting you with my post. I’ll be sure to ask you for your writing schedule before I write anything that might be posted within a few days of when you’d like to write something. 😉

    • opinionmaker

      Matt, I have one accountability partner, the only one who counts. His name is Jesus Christ, my Savior, my High Priest, the one who’s promised never to leave me or forsake me. I don’t confess anything he doesn’t already know. In fact, he knows me more than I know myself. He knows me completely, even with my brokenness and sin, yet loves me unconditionally. Any accountability that causes you to lose you focus on Christ and what He has done for you redeaming you is nothing more than a self-improvement program that will fail to last,

  • Daniel Steven

    I am at a school and I am suppose to have an accountability partner. Like I should talk to my director about the struggles I deal with. He gave me a lock and won’t open it until we have become close eneough for him to unlock it (it’s symbolic). But whenever he tries to address my issues, maybe I have said something I shouldn’t have, or I was being too physically touchy with guys, he would feel like he didn’t want to step on a needle to tell me that. I get why we have accountability, so I won’t lose my mind, or feel tempted in my alone time. There’s also a freedom in confessing, but what do I do now? I mean even right now I have things that I need to talk to someone about, but I don’t know if I am talking to the right person. I am from Florida…. West Florida #Biblebelt so “accountability partner” is the only thing these people can grasp, and I myself included.

    • Kevin Frye

      I’m not quite sure I understand your predicament. Do you mean your A.P. doesn’t want to deal with your real issues or talk about them?

      • Daniel Steven

        I mean of course he wants to, but I feel like he doesn’t know how.

        • Kevin Frye

          I’ve been in similar situations myself. I’ve found that it’s sometimes helpful to tell the other guy what I need him to do to help me. If he’s not able to do that, at least there can be an open discussion about what really needs to be done. And it might be on his end; I mean, if he doesn’t know how to help you, maybe he has his own issues that he needs to work through before he’s able to expend himself for another person’s sake. Talking about that as well could be helpful.

  • BR Dude

    Kevin. I have to thank God everyday that I’ve found this site and these brothers.
    I’m just having a problem with accountability partners.

    Yes. At first, the idea of having someone to hold up to or to talk about our sins of flesh seems like a great thing to help us walk the path of the spirit. But as time comes, it gets just as repetitive as office work. You feel like you’ve made one more burden actually, to have this person only to deny me and criticize my lusts.

    I won’t get much into details, but recently I’ve felt/thought the same as you wrote. God knows my weaknessess and my sins, and He is the one to help me leave this dark maze I’m in right now. I’ve got to know some folks who, just like me, are OSA yet feel no shame in discussing about SSA feelings and acts. To be fair, they came at a great time of my life. We talked a lot about religion and lust, and I’ve felt connected with them: just was I was craving for.
    The problem began when I held them accountable for my every sin. Whenever I felt the desire of flesh, I would tell them and secretly wish from some advice, as if they were a diary I kept writing on my every move. Whenever things would hit rock bottom, I’d wait for them, any answer, anything.

    This has harmed me more than it should, now looking back at it. God knows my heart is full, and that my mind may be lost, but I believe in him. I believe we can shine our light without resorting to “saying my wrongs out loud” everytime. I belive Kevin when he says about true accountability: love and keep loving.

    Sorry if I was a little off topic. I just had the feeling I could share my story and maybe even help someone. Keep growing strong, you guys.

    • Kevin Frye

      We’re glad you found us, too, BR! Keep commenting and contributing to this community!

  • Eddie

    Back in my early college years I came out to a guy named Jason about my masturbation habit/addiction, not my SSA. Frankly I didn’t fully recognize my SSA at the time. I was hesistant and embarrassed to tell him, but considering in retrospect that other guys were just as guilty as me I guess I’m in good company and normal in this respect. Jason checked in on me from time to time to “see how I was” and his concern and prayers were genuine yet I don’t think it was enough. Our relationship was tenuous as I felt we never really clicked as friends, but we were never enemies. As time passed, we went our separate ways. Once again relationships change. Plus I don’t think our accountability had a good infrastructure/mechanisms in place to make it work well for the long term. Recently, I have been listening to another podcast recommended to me dealing with addiction and the 12 step addiction recovery process used by Alcoholics Anonymous among others. It is this 12 step process along with new members aligning with sponsers to keep them accountable on their journey to sobriety. In a case like this with solid support foundations and systems in place can “modern accountability” work to its full potential. I don’t know exactly what would work for other uncommon addictions if the gold A.A. 12 step standard needed to be modified to better suit its members. It is a place to start though. Accountabilty is like having the love and emotional support of friends, but when you’re alone you are left to “white-knuckling” the temptation.

    • Kevin Frye

      You make a good point. I don’t think a lot of Christian accountability partnerships or methods are very well defined or organized. It’s like getting into a car and wanting to go to work without knowing how to turn the key. Maybe A.A. has a lot more experience in this kind of program than Christians do, and maybe the Church could learn a few things from them.

      • Eddie

        Exactly, you have the ideal “vision”, but poor, little or no methodolgy to achieve that vision.

  • Bryan

    For the last 3 months I have had an accountability partner for the first time in my life, and I have never felt like the accountability was built on fear or shame. In fact, one of my main goals in having an accountability partner was to reduce the shame of my sin by being reassured and encouraged, and by knowing that my friend is struggling with the same thing. We build each other up and remind each other that God loves us.

    One thing that I think is important for us is that we don’t expect accountability to flip some sort of switch in us and make us never sin again. Rather, when we fall, we encourage each other to be strong. We recognize it’s a process and we try to improve gradually. When we started, we told each other how often we were masturbating or looking at porn. We used that as a baseline and we’ve set goals to reduce that little by little. There is no long-term goal, we are just taking it a couple weeks at a time and trying to get better.

    I think the other key thing is doing something that you said: “We must love and keep on loving. Forgive and keep on forgiving, knowing one another more and more deeply, becoming more and more vulnerable and intimate, loving and forgiving more and more each day.” I’ve definitely grown closer to my friend through accountability, and last month I had the courage to open up to him about my SSA. That was a big step, and one that I wouldn’t have been comfortable with before. We also lean on each other more when we know we’re going to need it. Last time I went on a business trip and stayed in a hotel alone, I told him it was going to be rough and he encouraged me. Last time his girlfriend went out of town, I checked in with him by text a few times each day (especially in the evening) to see what he was up to and how his day was going. For me, loneliness is a major driver to sin, and having an accountability partner can help with that.

    Sorry this is getting long, but one more point… porn and masturbation are sins that are naturally shameful. Most men feel shame for it even without an accountability partner. The devil uses that shame. He tells us we’re no good. He tells us we sinned last night, so why should we try to be all holy tonight? An accountability partner can act as God’s hands and feet in our lives and remind us that we are all broken and fallen, but Christ loves us anyway.

    • Kevin Frye

      Yeah, you’re right-on with a lot of stuff here, man. After thinking about this issue for a long time and writing this post and then reading all of the comments here and thinking about everything again, I have to ask: What is the difference between an accountability partner and a good friend? I think the institution of friendship has taken a real beating and been so warped and forgotten over the last fifty years, and people are now trying to recover what was lost. I think a lot of Christians are trying to jump from where they are now with this twisted, fragmented understanding of friendship to the kind of true, pure, David-Jonathan friendship we hear about as if in fairytales, using accountability as a vehicle to get there. But without going through the necessary steps of recovering each broken piece of friendship and putting them all back together, the kind of relationship people end up with is merely an accountability partnership and not a true friendship. But I think if we had true friendship, accountability would simply be a natural part of that, and we’d no longer have any use for this silly notion of modern accountability partnership that is so prevalent in the Church today.

      • Eddie

        To answer your question what is the difference between an accountability partner and a good friend? It seems the difference lies with what foundations the relationship is established based on what I’ve read here so far. An accountability partner in the best definition/example is someone an “addict/struggler” shares a common “addiction/vice” with and has offered themselves as a mentor/guide towards recovery and long term sobriety. Hang on, I hear Tom in the background: “Connection is the opposite of addiction.” Yes, there is a connection factor at play here. The accoutabilty partner is helping to reconnect the “mentee” back to having connection with their life and loved ones. A good friend can harbor love and support for their “addicted” friend, but may not have the proper knowledge or resources to provide adequate help for their struggling friend like the accountabilty partner can. The accountability partnership can have a rather objective basis while the good friend is more of an emotional or subjective relationship. If someone has a better definition, I’m all ears.

      • Bryan

        Great question, Kevin! I agree with what you’re saying, that accountability can or should be a natural part of friendship. I guess that’s why I’ve had a good experience with it so far, is that my “accountability partner” is also a great friend. I guess the only reason I give him the label of “accountability partner” in addition to “friend” is that we had a conversation specifically about accountability, and we’ve made a commitment to asking each other about this area of our lives and supporting each other. But yeah, supporting each other is just what friends do! I think you’re absolutely right to say that the institution of friendship has taken a real beating, and your point about trying to jump to the “perfect” friendship versus going through the necessary steps to recover each broken piece is really interesting. I will definitely give that some thought with regard to my own friendships, especially with this friend in particular. I’ve enjoyed the accountability relationship with him, but I do think there are ways we can further deepen our friendship, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.

        By the way, thanks for this post, and for your reply on the comments! It’s a great thing to discuss.

  • Alan Gingery

    I agree with all your comments here about shame not being a sufficient motivator. I would never join any accountability group or choose any accountability partner whose method was shame based. I like this definition by Luke Gilkerson, which I read somewhere: “Accountability is not primarily others calling you out on sin, but others calling you up to the person you are in Christ.”

    I think the only lasting motivation that works to change bad habits, end addictions or stop sinful behaviors is the LOVE OF CHRIST. When we focus on His love and sacrifice, that is the motivation that will not fade away. This is focused on our relationship with God. Keep that in front, and the rest will fall behind.