“The assembly believed them” Susanna Part 4

The assembly believed them, because they were elders of the people and judges; and they condemned her to death. – Daniel 13:41

Earlier in the story of Susanna, the elders conspired together to gang rape her.  They sneaked into her garden and threatened her.  If she didn’t submit to them, they would say that she was fooling around with a young man.  “Who will the people believe?” they might have asked.  “The respected elders and judges of the community, or a worthless woman?”

Indeed, when they tell the story of what didn’t happen, the people believe them, even though such things were unheard of with Susanna.  These men were in positions of authority.  They were civil as well as religious leaders.

One injustice begats another.  How often in your acting out have you also lied and caused calamity to come upon the innocent?  Has your acting out damaged relationships with your spouse?  Your parents, brothers, sisters, or extended family?  What about your children?  Very likely, some of your relationships have been harmed.

Many sex addicts are tempted to immediately go into Step Nine, making amends.  That is natural.  When we realize that we’ve done wrong, if we are truly sorry, then we should want to make amends.  That’s an important part of penance in the sacrament of confession, too.

However, we must not rush into our amends.  This can make problems worse.  Remember, we may be ready for amends, but the people we hurt may not be ready.  A sponsor can help you know when to make amends, if ever.  Sometimes amends must be spiritual only.

Small amends can be made at any time.  If you are on decent terms with another person, start doing small things for them.  They don’t need to know why.  Just be kind, courteous, and helpful.  If you are not on good terms with someone, make time to pray for that person.  Have a Mass offered for them.  I have had Masses offered for people that I will never be able to make amends for, because they are dead, or doing so will cause more problems than it’ll solve.

Find a sponsor, work with your sponsor, and go to confession!

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“they were watching” Susanna Part 3

Once, while they were watching for an opportune day, she went in as before with only two maids, and wished to bathe in the garden, for it was very hot. And no one was there except the two elders, who had hid themselves and were watching her. She said to her maids, “Bring me oil and ointments, and shut the garden doors so that I may bathe.” They did as she said, shut the garden doors, and went out by the side doors to bring what they had been commanded; and they did not see the elders, because they were hidden. – Daniel 13:15-18

One inner circle behavior wasn’t evident until a therapist helped me see it.

It’s easy to read this story and see the judges’ faults of lust, plans to gang rape Susanna, and lies under oath.

Do not miss their voyeurism. It is easy not to spot it in the story or in your own life.  I spied not how I spied others.

At the beginning of this story, the elders are watching Susanna come and go.  Here, they’re watching her as she goes to bathe.

One behavior led to another. Had the elders practiced custody of the eyes, they would not have lusted to the extent they did.  They would not have turned their eyes from Heaven. They would not have conspired together to sin more gravely.

In my life, I called voyeurism by innocuous names like “people watching” and “curiosity.”  It started as a glance, then a stare, then a peep through closed window blinds.  Next I bought binoculars and a camera.  I took the pictures with me when I was alone, and pleasured myself to them.

I never committed a rape, but neither did the judges.  Why?  The circumstances were not right.  Had things been different, could I have attempted it like them?  Could I have lied in court like them?  Could I have gone through with it?  Could they have?  The answer to all those questions is yes.

God’s grace has pulled me away from this darkness.  I repent and choose to follow Him.

“They confessed their lust” Susanna Part 2

They said to each other, “Let us go home, for it is mealtime.” And when they went out, they parted from each other. But turning back, they met again; and when each pressed the other for the reason, they confessed their lust. And then together they arranged for a time when they could find her alone.” – Daniel 13:13-14

In SAA, it takes only two people and one share to make a meeting.  The meeting between the two judges was definitely not an SAA meeting.

Rather than confessing their lust and repenting of it, rending their garments and covering themselves in ashes, they conspired together.  These wicked men were willing to share her in raping her.

It’s a poorly kept secret that sometimes twelve-step meetings, including S groups, are places that people meet for sex.  I have heard AA members refer to joining an S group as the “13th step” since they learn, through all their AA hook-ups, that the alcohol is merely masking their sex addiction.

S meetings often have a disclaimer that says something like, “meetings are not the place to find a sexual partner.”  It is also advised that you do not choose a sponsor to whom you are sexually attracted.

Earlier in the chapter we read that the judges were full of shame.  Instead of bearing their shame to one another, they buried it.  If we do not bear our shame to one another at our meetings, they can become a dangerous place that lead us to act out rather than recover.

To avoid this, we must commit ourselves to rigorous honesty.  We must be willing to be introspective and find our character defects so that God can remove them, and we must then share them at our meetings and in the Sacrament of Confession!

And they turned their eyes from Heaven: Susanna Part 1

Earlier I posted the story of Susanna from the book of Daniel, usually listed as Daniel 13.  This story is considered canonical by Catholic, Orthodox, and other Christians, but not by Protestants or Jews.  Nevertheless, it is a beautiful story about justice and purity.

I would like to post a few short reflections on some salient verses.  Today, verses 9-11:

And they perverted their minds and turned away their eyes from looking to Heaven or remembering righteous judgments. Both were overwhelmed with passion for her, but they did not tell each other of their distress, for they were ashamed to disclose their lustful desire to possess her. And they watched eagerly, day after day, to see her.

At the beginning of the story we see that the two judges, who were pillars of the community both in legal and religious settings, were gradually becoming infatuated with the daughter of a wealthy and powerful man.  Neither one acted immediately on his lust.

First, they neglected their prayers.  Rather than occupy their minds with prayer, they “perverted” (which means turned, changed, or distorted) their minds.  Once in confession, I mentioned that I committed X and Y sins, and then I stopped praying.  The priest asked me if I was sure it was in that order.  Of course, it wasn’t.  We are much more likely to act out when we stop communicating with God, our Higher Power, than the other way around.

Second, their work suffered.  The judges put their law work aside in favor of their lustful desires.  How many of us sex addicts have acted out at work?  How many hours of productivity have been lost?  How many of us were caught and perhaps even lost our jobs?  We lose sight of our relationship with God, then we lose sight of the important matters of the world.

Third, they turned inward. One of the greatest virtues of the twelve-step programs is accountability.  We share at the meetings.  We call on our sponsors.  We examine our consciences regularly.  Here the two judges became silent.  Their shame drove them inward to themselves.  They didn’t talk or admit their problems.  Instead, they spent the day fantasizing rather than judging, ogling rather than praying.  It drove them to obsession.

Next, as we shall see, the consequences are all-too-familiar.

Susanna (Daniel 13)

There was a man living in Babylon whose name was Jo′akim. And he took a wife named Susanna, the daughter of Hilki′ah, a very beautiful woman and one who feared the Lord.  Her parents were righteous, and had taught their daughter according to the law of Moses. Jo′akim was very rich, and had a spacious garden adjoining his house; and the Jews used to come to him because he was the most honored of them all. Continue reading