Honesty is the expectation in all 423 Community groups, and yet we know that addicts lie...
By minimizing their sin (“It’s not that bad. Everyone does it.”)
By refusing to believe their sin is really a sin (“I think God approves, so it’s okay.”)
By omitting key details of the story (“I can’t remember anything else.”)
By giving themselves reasons to lie (“I don’t want to hurt her/him.”)
By categorizing their sin as accidental (“I was not aware. It caught me off guard.”)
By making ‘un-keep-able’ promises (“I won’t do it again. That was definitely the last time.”)
No man or woman lies to others without first lying to themselves. Self-lies are accomplished in one of two ways:
- By convincing oneself that a lie is true, or
- By deciding it is permissible to tell a lie.
Both are lies.
My son-in-law is an excellent attorney and one of nearly sixty outstanding leaders in 423 Men and 423 Women at A Jesus Church network. He explains a self-lie in legal terms. “Plausible deniability” refers to the lack of evidence necessary to prove an allegation. The typical addict is an expert at this legal game which he plays in his own head. He becomes adept at plausibly denying to himself an allegation of sexual misconduct even though it is true. For example, if I pick up a travel magazine in the dentist’s office, I may hope (at a level of conscious awareness I wish to ignore) to catch a glimpse of girls in bikinis on a boat in some exotic location while I nonchalantly flip pages. This practice is called “trolling.” When I find what I was really looking for, my denial sounds plausible, even to me: “I was just waiting to have my teeth cleaned and casually perusing a magazine in the lobby. How could I possibly know what I would find there?”
When the addict ‘innocently’ scans a magazine, channel surfs with his TV remote, checks out the latest and most popular YouTube videos, or indiscriminately previews movies on Netflix, the question is not, “Did I know what I would see there?” to which the technically correct answer is “No.” When the erotic image appears, as it always will if the addict continues his media exploration long enough, his “plausible deniability” argument kicks in: “I did not know what I would find there.” The statement is true, but laughable. The real truth is the addict did not want to know what he would find there and purposely placed himself in a position where he might get an ‘accidental hit’ from his sex drug while telling himself, “It wasn’t my fault I saw a naked woman!”
Actually, it was his fault because the addict did not want to get real with himself. He chose not to reach to a deeper level of awareness and ask the more telling question: “Should I have known?” or “Could I reasonably have known what I was about to see there?” The obvious answer is “Yes,” if a little investigative due diligence had been pre-applied to his media viewing habits. Telling the truth at this level requires a man or woman to stay awake and remain attentive, anticipating sexual temptations before they present themselves. It’s far too easy to click into ‘zombie mode’ and sleepwalk through daily life, allowing ourselves exposure to high levels of porneia we would otherwise consider to fall below our sexual sobriety standard. This is the ‘power of drift’ in action.
Don’t be a drifter, zombie, or sleepwalker. Stay awake. Be attentive. Remain vigilant. “Plausible deniability” allows a man or woman to justify small doses of porneia without having to take responsibility for their misconduct. Recovering addicts who lie to themselves in this way will eventually come to admit the truth if they consistently listen to the stories of their sisters and brothers in recovery and the voice of their own conscience.