Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (S.L.A.A.)

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Conference Steps, Traditions, and Concepts Committee: Questions from the Fellowship – Part 4

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The comments below were given by various members of the Conference Steps, Traditions, and Concepts Committee and do not represent a group conscience of the entire committee. The opinions expressed here are solely that of the person giving them. Take what you like and leave the rest.

The Question

The Question:

I am a member of a group that utilizes SLAA literature in our format (the SLAA steps, traditions, characteristics, and signs of recovery).   We have an SLAA speaker share once a month and have monthly group conscience meetings and have contributed close to $500 to FWS.  We also reference the value of an SLAA sponsor, bottom lines, and a dating plan in our format. However, our group was recently ejected from the local Intergroup because, each month, during the non-speaker meetings, we read a 2-paragraph excerpt from the AA Big Book.

The AA Big Book and AA 12&12 are explicitly referenced in our SLAA Basic Text and SLAA was birthed out of our founder (Rich) recognizing the need to apply the 12 steps to his sex and “love” problem. Furthermore, it is our group’s understanding that every group is autonomous and can vote to use whatever literature it wants. I feel that our local Intergroup is not compliant with Traditions One or Four and am seeking input on this issue.  Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide.

Response #1:

In general, this local Intergroup is not compliant with the Traditions nor with the Concepts. The spirit, the direction, and the guidance of our three legacies (Recovery, Unity, Service; that is, the Steps, the Traditions, and the Concepts) aims for open mindedness, tolerance, and flexibility.  Instead this Intergroup is attempting to govern.  This intergroup’s behavior, in this case, is autocratic. 

I avoid using the word “violate” when talking about the Traditions — the Traditions are not laws or commandments — but this Intergroup is clearly not following the guidance of the Traditions. They are governing rather than serving (Tradition Two). They are establishing requirements for membership rather than welcoming all who have a desire to be sober (Tradition Three). They are not being responsible to those they serve (Tradition Nine).

Of course this Intergroup has the right to be wrong. As an autonomous group (Tradition Four, again) they have the right to ignore the Traditions even though in doing so they cause harm to our Fellowship, our groups, and most perilously to themselves

Response #2:

Our local Intergroup has had many SLAA meetings over the years that have read AA literature as part of their format including:   the Big Book, Drop the Rock, AA 12&12 (especially since we haven’t published ours), A New Pair of Glasses, Steps and Stories, The Language of Letting Go, The Steps We Took, Facing Love Addiction, etc.

Our area briefly had a secular meeting which many did not agree with, but they were autonomous and included on the meeting list.  The meeting was attended by sex and love addicts and the core SLAA documents were read in support of a focus for SLAA members.   I am not an alcoholic but the amount of wisdom I have gained from reading the AA books and digesting them with other SLAA members has been priceless to my recovery.

Many of the Traditions apply to this question as I interpret them.

1 – Unity (unity trumps opinions)
2 – Authority (the only authority is a loving God, not an intergroup)
3 – Requirements (there is only one requirement, a desire to stop living out a pattern)
4 – Autonomy (each meeting is autonomous and can read whatever they vote on by group conscience)
5 – Primary purpose (they are still carrying the message)
6 – Endorse, finance or lend (we are a group built on the foundation of another 12-step group. AA and SLAA both follow the 12 steps. I don’t see this as a conflict or endorsement)
10 – We have no opinion on outside issues (I have no opinion on AA or people who work two programs in one meeting)
12 – Principles before personalities (These principles come before what I think about this meeting or the group that started it)

Although combining SLAA with AA may dilute the SLAA message, the message and the solution are still there.

Response #3:

The decision by the local Intergroup to de-list the meeting is in keeping with Tradition Four as the intergroup is autonomous and the decision would not appear to affect any other intergroups.

However, the decision appears to be in conflict with Tradition Five as it would limit the ability of suffering addicts to find the meeting.

It would also seem to be out of step with Tradition Two.  Our leaders are trusted servants, they do not govern.  The decision sounds somewhat arbitrary and heavy handed, both of which are hallmarks of ego based governing.

Tradition One provides some overall guidance as well.  Our common welfare must come first as our individual recovery depends upon Unity.  De-listing a meeting for reading non-conference approved literature is not be a unifying action.

From a personal perspective, I have attended meetings that read other programs literature, and meetings that read literature from self-help authors.  None of it was conference approved, but all of it was agreed upon by the group conscience of the meetings.   Each meeting is autonomous, and the reading of non-conference approved literature seems unlikely to affect any other meetings, so those groups decisions were in keeping with Tradition Four.  None of those meetings were de-listed by Intergroup, nor was there ever any discussion at Intergroup about doing so. 

Response #4:

It may be helpful for this meeting to find another Intergroup to join, as I’m certain many Intergroups would be grateful for their contributions and participation.  Per Tradition Four, Intergroup is autonomous that can make its own decisions, but the individual group is also autonomous and can decide how to run their meeting.   Per Tradition Two, only God is in charge, and no one can force either the Intergroup to re-accept the meeting, or the meeting to change its format. 

Response #5:

Each group and Intergroup are autonomous under Tradition Four.  Each body is free to decide which Intergroup they want to join and concordantly which groups they want to include. If a group is a rejected by a particular Intergroup then it is advised that group “vote with one’s feet” and find an Intergroup that is in line with that group’s values.  No group or Intergroup has the authority to govern each other.  There is no right or wrong in this equation, just divergent needs on the part of the group seeking membership and the Intergroup that rejected it.

Response #6:

In my humble opinion, this Intergroup decision violated Traditions One through Five.

In addition, Page 122 in the Basic Text (Chap. 7 – Starting an SLAA group) reads “First, there was never a doubt, not even at the very beginning, that the principals worked out on the hard anvil of A. A. experience were to be our guiding principles.  These principles had safeguarded the A. A. Fellowship during a time when alcoholism was thoroughly stigmatized in society’s view. We believed that these same traditions would serve us equally well, if we observed them.  We knew that our “condition” of sex and love addiction was no less stigmatizable, in contemporary society, than alcoholism had been in the 1930’s and 40’s.   Nor were we, as individuals, any less ego- driven than the early A. A. pioneers had been.“

I believe the decision made by the local Intergroup is not right and is against the Traditions and spiritual principles.

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The CSTCC is a group of volunteers, some of whom were ABM delegates, and others who volunteered out of interest. We do not represent a group conscience of S.L.A.A., but are committed to bringing thoughtful discussion and study of 12 Step Fellowship literature and experience to the questions that are brought to us. We offer this summary as the results of our discussions. We present the major points of concern in the hopes that wider discussion in the Fellowship will help us evolve our customs and practice of the S.L.A.A. program of recovery to better represent the loving guidance of a Higher Power. Always, we affirm the autonomy of each group and the need for each individual to follow her/his own conscience. No decision of this group, or any other, is ever forced upon another, even when we believe a practice is clearly in conflict with the Steps, Traditions, or Concepts.