In Chapter Five of the AA “Big Book,” we read, “Those who do not recover are incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.” Nothing matters more to recovery than that – rigorous honesty.
Ben Franklin famously said, “Honesty is the best policy.” William Shakespeare commented, “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” And Mother Teresa added, “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway.”
The Bible goes even further: “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy” (Proverbs 12:22).
Unfortunately, we are slow to embrace this message of “rigorous honesty.” A 2015 CareerBuilder survey found that 58 percent of us lie on our resumes. And a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin concluded that 81 percent of us lie about our age, height, or weight.
Honesty is foundational to recovery. Sex addiction experts Matthew and Joanna Raabsmith, founders of Banyan Therapy, have created an “Intimacy Pyramid,” which suggest a five-level pyramid of recovery: honesty, safely, trust, vulnerability, and intimacy.
Notice the first level – honesty.
If you are a recovering sex addict and you want to save your marriage, you must learn to embrace rigorous honesty. Otherwise, your marriage will never fully heal. Let’s consider three reasons dishonesty does not work.
1. Dishonesty triggers relapse.
There is an old mantra in recovery that says “we are as sick as our secrets.” Dishonesty is a precursor to bad behavior. We lie in order to cope with our pain and to project an image of what we want to be. The addict likes to define others by what is real, while defining himself by what others see. This always leads to more cover-up and it puts our recovery in peril.
2. Dishonesty stalls recovery.
One of the cornerstones of recovery is surrender to God. This requires totally honesty. If you can’t be honest with God, you won’t be honest with yourself. Dishonesty led Adam to hide from God. It brought grave consequents to Abraham and deep remorse to Peter. You can move forward in your recovery, but once you understand that any honesty that is less than rigorous is not honesty at all.
3. Dishonesty kills a marriage.
Writing for Psychology Today, Rita Watson identifies the top four relationship desires for men and women. While honesty doesn’t make the list for men, it sits atop the list for their wives. Dr. David Sack writes, “Rigorous honesty means telling the truth when it’s easier to lie and it means sharing thoughts and feelings even when there may be consequences.”
God is the architect of the second chance. He is all about redemption. History is filled with stories of porn and sex addicts who found recovery, and whose marriages survived – and thrived. But this recovery of the addict and his marriage are only made possible when built of the foundation of total, absolute, unbridled, rigorous honesty.