This morning, my good friend Monty produced a one-hour open discussion forum on his radio show - Take12Radio.com. The topic concerned when and whether it is appropriate to say of an A.A. sponsee, "Enough is enough. I can't sponsor you any longer."
Half of the program involved an interview with me (Dick B.) asking the foregoing as well as other views about the strength or weakness of present-day A.A. To the discussion, I added when or whether it is appropriate to say of an A.A. sponsor, "Enough is enough. I can't work with you as my sponsor any longer."
My presentation centered around page 29 of Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed. 2001. There in plain and simple terms A.A.'s basic text explains that in the personal stories each individual explains in his own language and from his own point of view how he established his relationship with God. And that means freedom of viewpoint. It means to me that I should avoid passing on what a sponsee does not want. It also means getting rid of a sponsor who tries to prevent a sponsee from expressing in his own language and from his own point of view how he established his relationship with God. Both situations are within the realm of my experience.
In early A.A., Dr. Bob would ask a sponsee "Do you believe in God?" And there was only one acceptable answer. That answer was "Yes." And if the sponsee responded with a "yes," Dr. Bob might comment: Now we are getting somewhere. Get down on your knees. We are going to pray." And the two men did.
Much of today's later revisionist A.A. literature is, for the most part, framed on the idea that you can believe in what you want, or you can believe in nothing at all. You can have an "higher power" that is a tree, a light bulb, a radiator, Gertrude, Ralph, or Santa Claus. But that certainly is not a requirement. Nor is it acceptable to most Christians in A.A. today. Nor to me. We need not believe that way or unbelieve that way.
The bottom line in my radio answers was this: If a sponsee does not want to believe in God; or if a sponsee dumps his relationship with God, I, as a believer, know that this is not someone with whom I care to work. I wish him well, and suggest he go elsewhere for a sponsor. The same was and is true when a sponsor endeavors, as mine did, to prevent me from studying the Bible, leading others to the Bible, or talking about the Bible. I, as a believer, know that this person is no longer a suitable sponsor for me. And I let him go. This is exactly what I did when my sponsor and his sponsor contended that someone who reads the Bible will get drunk.
Love and service do not permit shoving something down someone's throat. The better part of love is to love. The better part of service is to serve something you believe in--especially when that belief is in God--something all the early AAs believed.
I applaud Monty for his continuing valuable radio shows which carry the recovery message far and wide.
Dick B. www.dickb.com