Thursday, July 30, 2009

What's The Best Investment In The World?

Here's a timely article from Bo Sanchez on investments. Be inspired.

When I was a kid, I learned that my mother lived during the war. With great excitement, I asked her, “Did you meet Magellan and Lapu-lapu?”

I was disappointed when she said, “No, I’m not 450 years old.” So I asked, “Did you meet Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio?”

That’s when she explained to me that she didn’t live through World War I but World War II.

She’s 84 years old today and I grew up with her war stories.

I remember her stories about the Japanese Peso.

“When the Japanese came, they printed their own money,” she said. “Eventually, we all got used to them. But after many months, the Japanese Peso began to lose its value. Soon, everyone called it Mickey Mouse money. It became play money.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because of the rumors that the Americans were coming back. You won’t believe me, but when we heard over the radio that the American planes were coming, I remember how I had to bring a bayong of Japanese money to buy a bayong of food. One duck egg cost P75…”

My friend, Nanay Coring, Founder of National Bookstore, also lived during the war. She too was a young woman when the war broke out. But unlike my mother, she had business savvy.

With her Japanese money, she bought goods that could be stored until the war ended. Early in the war, she saw what was going to happen. So she converted all her Japanese money to another currency—goods and inventory.

One day, a Japanese officer walked to her little store and asked if she wanted a warehouse filled with whisky. She said, “Yes, I’ll buy it,” not knowing where she’d get the money. She gathered as much Japanese pesos as she could find and bought the entire stock. When the US soldiers came, she sold every bottle to the Americans who paid her in US Dollars.

Mom didn’t do anything. She kept her Japanese money in her bayong. When the Americans came, the money was all burned because it had become useless.

No wonder Nanay Coring now owns 157 branches of National Bookstore all over the country while my mother runs a tiny bookshop in her house!

Why am I sharing this to you?

Question: Are You Business Wise?

When you die, all the money you hold becomes Mickey Mouse money. All. The Dollars, the Euros, the Yen, the Yuan, the Peso…

You know that.

But are you doing something about it?

You need to be business wise like Nanay Coring.

You need to start converting your material wealth into eternal wealth. How? Start giving generously to God and to the poor.

Giving to God isn’t just a spiritual thing. At the end of the day, it’s also the wisest, most practical thing to do. It makes all the business sense in the world.

I know of a lot of very rich businessmen who aren’t giving to God or to others. So their wealth will be very short lived. It will only last until their life on earth.

I strongly suggest you convert your worldly money to the only currency that Heaven will accept. Heaven has only one currency: Love. Loving God and others is really the only thing you can bring with you when you die.

Read carefully what Jesus says. You’ll be shocked:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.[1]

Wow. Can you believe it?

It’s actually possible to exchange what you have for the currency of your future home. While on planet earth, you can actually store great treasure in Heaven.
That’s why I believe generosity is the wisest, the best, the most perfect investment in the world.

How Much Is Your Balance?

Let me ask you a very important question: How much of your worldly wealth have you used to create your heavenly wealth?

How much investments have you already “wired” to Heaven?

When you put your money in the bank, the bank gives you a bank book. There, you find a history of your deposits. If Heaven issued you a “bank book”, how much deposits have you already made so far?

In other words, how much have you loved?

How much have you served?

How much have you used your material wealth to give love?

But Let Me Clarify:
It’s Building Heaven On Planet Earth!

Warning: What I’ll say next will be hard to swallow.

So chew on it. This is definitely not milk for those starting in the spiritual journey, but solid food for the mature.

I’ve met Christians whose only goal in life is to go to Heaven. Their only concern is to guarantee a Heavenly visa. To them, this is what salvation is all about.

Nothing else.

Friend, I want you to outgrow that attitude.

Because I don’t believe this is the point of Christianity.

Think with me: Today, there are 25,000 children who die every single day because of poverty and hunger—and all we can think of is our personal Heaven? Today, there are many people around us who are starving for God’s love—and all we can think of is our personal Heaven?

Jesus didn’t call you to be His disciple just so you can go to Heaven only. Jesus called you to be His disciple so that you can bring Heaven down to earth, specifically to those who are in “hell” right now because of their material, emotional, and spiritual poverty. Jesus called you to be His disciple to love the way He did. Jesus died on the Cross so that you too can die for others.

So what am I saying?

Everytime you’re generous because of love, you transfer your wealth to a particular Heaven that starts now, right here on planet earth. And it’s not a personal Heaven, but a Heaven for others.

I’ve got one last thing to say…

Among These 5,
Who Are You?

When it comes to managing money, there are five kinds of people in this world. Who are you?

#1: Gloria Gastadora:
Gloria Gastadora lives on 100% of her income. Sometimes, when she borrows money, she lives on 120% of her income. She’s never absent during Midnight Sales. Her credit cards are faded due to overuse. Even if she wants to give to God or invest in her future, she cannot. Obviously, after all is spent, she has nothing to give to God except her loose change. In Church, Gloria Gastadora isn’t a tither, but a tipper.

#2: Kunat Kuripot:
Kunat is a frugal and fearful fellow. He lives on 80% of his income, because he saves 20% or more for his future. He lives in fear. He feels safe only when he knows he’s got lots of money in the bank. It really seems safe, except that he doesn’t know that putting his life savings in the bank isn’t such a wise idea at all. When he retires, Kunat will realize that his savings isn’t enough. And like Gloria Gastadora, Kunat Kuripot can only give his spare change to God—because he’s always afraid of his future.

#3: Bertong Bulag:
As a kid, Berto was a financial whiz. Upon graduating from college, he already opened a mutual fund. He also started investing in a blue chip company in the stock market, putting small amounts of money every month. He also started a business, and it has done very well. Berto has become wealthy. The problem is that he still cannot give to God, because he sees it as an expense, like it was a luxury he can’t afford. He doesn’t realize that giving to God is also an investment—the most secure and long-term investment of them all.

#4: Wally Waldas:
Wally has no problem giving to others. He is very generous to others, but he isn’t generous to himself. Because he doesn’t invest for the future. Wally just likes giving his money away to people who end up abusing him. His close friends tell him that his giving is no longer helping others, because they have become parasites. But he’s blinded by his need for their attention. Wally, in the long run, cannot even give to God, because his money will be long gone.

#5: Manny Mapagmahal:
Manny gives to God, gives to others, and gives to himself. After receiving his income, the first thing he does is set aside 10% to God. The second thing he does is to set aside 20% to put in investment vehicles—such as funds, stocks, businesses, and real estate. He also has set aside an Emergency Fund—3 to 6 months of his salary in the bank. The third thing he does is to limit his expenses to 70% of his income.

Today, Manny is prosperous. He now gives 20% to God, invests 30%, and lives on 50% of his income. In his old age, he’ll continue to be even more generous. (If you’re interested to become like Manny Mapagmahal, join my TrulyRich Club and get trained in the principles of spiritual and material abundance. Log on at now.)

Among these 5 people, who are you?

May your dreams come true,

Bo Sanchez

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Financial Literacy 101

Last Sunday, Bro. M gave a wonderful talk on financial literacy and taught us very important lessons on managing our finances well. The talk made me realize that life is not all about SSA. There are other things as equally important that we need to attend to – and one of them is finance. Bo Sanchez has said it very nicely in one of his books: “Money is not the most important thing in the world, but it affects every other important thing.” How true this is. As long as I am in the world, I will need money at least for my basic needs like food, shelter (rent and/or utilities), clothing, and of course cell phone loads!

Why am I bringing up this topic by the way? Well, partly because I think this is a special concern for us people with SSA. Apparently, there are some gay men who lavish money on wrong priorities including but not limited to their ‘boy toys’ and paramours. Many end up broke in the end – both financially and emotionally – because as soon as they are no longer capable of providing support, they are all by themselves, feeling used and abused.

In the meantime, here are the possible worst case scenarios to think about:

Case#1: What if I live long enough, say until 80 years old and still a certified bachelor, how will I be able to support myself financially beyond the age of retirement? Social security? You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t think the pension from my social security will be enough to cover all of my basic needs including my medicines. It’s ‘mabuti lang sa wala’ but then is that the kind of life I want to have in my old age? Good thing I’m still young now and I still have time to save up for the rainy days. Can you count on your siblings or relatives to take care of you? Forget it. You might end up as a charity case.

Case#2: What if I die too soon and I am the breadwinner in the family, who will sustain my family’s needs? Who will continue to provide for the responsibilities I leave behind? Whenever I watch the news about a tragedy, most of the time the survivors are weeping bitterly not because they miss their loved one, but because they are left with the heavy responsibility of feeding the family and raising the kids the breadwinner has left behind. Even the cost of dying and providing a decent funeral is beyond the reach of many, most especially the poor.

Case#3: What if by some misfortune I contract a debilitating disease or suffer from an accident that will require long-term health care and render me invalid for the rest of my life? What now? I have seen this type of cases in nursing homes where their family/relatives have abandoned them because the cost of providing medical care is simply too much for them to bear, and it is really tragic because now they cannot do anything but to accept their fate.

As morbid as my case scenarios are they can happen to anyone. It can happen to you. On our part, it is our responsibility to know the ways and means that are available to us to improve the current state of our financial health. The bottom line here is what kind of life do you want to lead when you retire? Basically, the lessons I learned are:

1. Save, save, save. This is a matter of discipline for many of us. You may complain that what you’re earning presently is just barely enough. Well, try to do this simple exercise. Track your expenses for a month or two and then at the end make an evaluation report. You might be surprised to find how much money goes into your “trivial spending list”, which you could have saved instead. I tried doing this for a month and guess what’s on my top list of expenses? – FAST FOOD. By the way, you can use the Expense Manager feature of your cell phone to do this. Just give it a try because this will give you a graphic representation of your monthly expenditures and where you can cut down if you want to save more. Again, it’s not really how much you earn that matters; it’s how much you save.

2. Eliminate debt. Fortunately, I don’t have credit cards because if I do I would be drowning in debt neck deep by now. It’s just too tempting to spend the money you haven't even earned yet on so many things including the useless ones. If you can do away with those credit cards I highly advise you to do so.

3. Invest. Do you know how banks profit from the money you deposit in your account? While you earn a measly interest of 1% per annum, they earn many times over by investing your money at 10% to 12% interest! In effect, they are profiting more on your own money than you do. What is worse is that the value of your money depreciates over time due to inflation if you just let it sit in the bank. Therefore, it is wise to find avenues where you can invest your money and earn at a higher interest rate.

4. Insure yourself. This is related to case#3 above. Sadly, this is not so popular among Filipinos. Life is full of uncertainties, but just in case of any eventuality would you not feel relieved that you’ve got yourself covered and your hospital bills paid?

5. Increase your income. Times are hard and the income from your regular full-time job may not be enough especially if you are raising a family. Find a part-time job. Turn your hobby into an enterprise. Upgrade your skills for better paying jobs. Sell something. Etc, etc.

Apart from all the things I have mentioned above, I believe that the most important step is to educate yourself on financial matters. There are many excellent financial books out there, but I recommend reading Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad series and Francisco Colayco’s Wealth Within Your Reach. On the internet, you can also visit a number of blogs but I recommend Fitz Villafuerte’s blog Ready To Be Rich and Frugal Pinoy .

I hope my post today has made you realize your money’s worth. This has nothing to do with being materialistic or greedy. This is a practical lesson on financial stewardship. You are doing this because you want a better life not just for yourself and your loved ones, but also because you want to be a blessing to others as well.

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, July 26, 2009

News & Commentaries

1. Pope Prays for Dying Filipino Leader [weblink]

2. "It Is Never Enough, Until We Give It Away" - Biblical Reflections for 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time B [weblink]

3. Ethicist Hopes New Breakthrough Will Eliminate 'Need' to Destroy Human Embryos [weblink]

4. Media Almost Outnumber Protesters at Anti-Mormon 'Kiss-in' at San Diego Temple [weblink]

5. Role of Gay Men in Spreading Virus Is Ignored in Africa, Study Finds [weblink]

6. Commentary: Countering The Lies of Same-Sex Attractions [weblink]

7. Canada Court Rules Marriage Commissioners Must "Marry" Homosexuals [weblink]

8. Episcopal Bishop Rejects Homosexual Marriage, Ordination of Practicing Homosexuals [weblink]

9. Lawsuit Challenges Wisconsin Same-Sex 'Domestic Partner' Scheme [weblink]

10. Actress Uma Thurman to 'Become' a Nun [weblink]

Quote for the week:

"Lord, make me chaste but not yet." - St. Augustine

(Don't you love that quote? I do.)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On Toxic Shame

Let me share with you some excerpts about shame from the book Healing The Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw. It's the most comprehensive book I have found (online) so far dealing specifically on the topic of shame and I hope to find a copy of this book soon. At this point, I think it is worthwhile to examine ourselves if we are living in toxic shame. Many of us have done 'very bad things' in the past and the memories of those events still continue to bring about feelings of shame and guilt in us. This I believe can present a significant challenge for us in moving on with our life. John Bradshaw calls this demon toxic shame, the shame that binds us all.

Shame As The Core And Fuel Of All Addiction

Neurotic shame is the root and fuel of all compulsive/addictive behaviors. My general working definition of compulsive/addictive behavior is “a pathological relationship to any mood-altering experience that has life damaging consequences”.

The drivenness in any addiction is about the ruptured self, the belief that one is flawed as a person. The content of the addiction, whether it be an ingestive addiction or any activity addiction (like work, buying or gambling) is an attempt at an intimate relationship. The workaholic with his work, or the alcoholic with his booze, are having a love affair. Each one mood alters to avoid the feeling of loneliness and hurt in the underbelly of shame. Each addictive acting out creates life-damaging consequences which create more shame.

I used to drink to solve the problems caused by drinking. The more I drank to relieve my shame-based loneliness and hurt, the more I felt ashamed. Shame begets shame. The cycle begins with the false belief system that all addicts have, that no one could want them or love them as they are. In fact, addicts can’t love themselves. They are an object of scorn to themselves. This deep internalized shame gives rise to distorted thinking. The distorted thinking can be reduced to the belief that I’ll be okay if I drink, eat, have sex, get more money, work harder, etc. The shame turns once into what Kellogg has termed a “human doing”, rather than a human being.

Neurotic Syndromes of Shame

"What is the shame that binds you? How did it get set up in your life? What happens to healthy shame in the process?

Toxic shame, the shame that binds you, is experienced as the all pervasive sense that I am flawed and defective as a human being. Toxic shame is no longer an emotion that signals our limits, it is a state of being, a core identity. Toxic shame gives you a sense of worthlessness, a sense of failing and falling short as a human being. Toxic shame is a rupture of the self with the self.

It is like internal bleeding. Exposure to oneself lies at the heart of toxic shame. A shame-based person will guard against exposing his inner self to others, but more significantly, he will guard against exposing himself to himself.

Toxic shame is so excruciating because it is the painful exposure of the believed failure of self to the self. [selves to selves too we believe] In toxic shame the self becomes an object that can't be trusted, one exeriences oneself [selves] as untrustworthy. Toxic shame is experienced as inner torment, a sickness of the soul. If I'm an object that can't be trusted, then I'm not in me. Toxic shame is paradoxical and self-generating. There is shame about shame. People will readily admit guilt, hurt or fear before they will admit shame. Toxic shame is the feeling of being isolated and alone in a complete sense. A shame-based person is haunted by a sense of absence and emptiness..."

Shame as an Identity - Internalization of Shame

Any human emotion can become internalized. When internalized, an emotion stops functioning in the manner of an emotion and becomes a characterological style. You probably know of someone who could be labeled 'an angry person', or someone you'd call a 'sad sack'. In both cases the emotion has become the core of the person's character, her identity. The person doesn't have anger or melancholy, she is angry and melancholy.

In the case of shame, internalization involves at least three processes:

1)Identification with unreliable and shame based models
2)The trauma of abandonment, and the binding of feelings, needs and drives with shame
3)The interconnection of memory imprints which forms collages of shame

Internalization is a gradual process and happens over a period of time. Every human being has to contend with certain aspects of this process. Internalization takes place when all three processes are consistently reinforced."

Shame as Self-Alienation and Isolation

When one suffers from alienation, it means that one experiences parts of one's self as alien to one's self.

For example, if you were never allowed to express anger in your family, your anger becomes an alienated part of yourself. You experience toxic shame when you feel angry. This part of you must be disowned or severed. There is no way to get rid of your emotional power of anger. Anger is the self-preserving and self-protecting energy. Without this energy you become a doormat and a people-pleaser. As your feelings, needs and drives are bound by toxic shame, more and more of you is alienated.

Finally, when shame has been completely internalized, nothing about you is okay. You feel flawed and inferior; you have a sense of being a failure. There is no way you can share your inner self because you are an object of contempt to yourself. When you are contemptible to yourself, you are no longer in you. To feel shame is to feel seen in an exposed and diminished way. When you're an object to yourself, you turn your eyes inward, watching and scrutinizing every minute detail of behavior. This internal critical observation is excruciating. It generates a tormenting self-consciousness which Kaufman describes as, 'creating a binding and paralyzing effect upon the self.' This paralyzing internal monitoring causes withdrawal, passivity and inaction.

The severed parts of self are projected in relationships. They are often the basis of hatred and prejudice. The severed parts of the self may be experienced as a split personality or even multiple personalities. This happens often with victims who have been through physical and sexual violation.

To be severed and alienated within oneself also creates a sense of unreality. One may have an all-pervasive sense of never quite belonging, of being on the outside looking in. The condition of inner alienation and isolation is also pervaded by a low grade chronic depression. This has to do with the sadness of losing one's authentic self. Perhaps the deepest and most devastating aspect of neurotic shame is the rejection of the self by the self."

Shame as False Self

Because the exposure of self to self lies at the heart of neurotic shame, escape from the self is necessary. The escape from self is accomplished by creating a false self. The false self is always more or less than human. The false self may be a perfectionist or a slob, a family hero or a family scapegoat. As the false self is formed, the authentic self goes into hiding. Years later the layers of defense and pretense are so intense that one loses all awareness of who one really is.

It is crucial to see that the false self may be as polar opposite as a superachieving perfectionist or an addict in an alley. Both are driven to cover up their deep sense of self-rupture, the hole in their soul. They may cover up in ways that look polar opposite, but each is still driven by neurotic shame. In fact, the most paradoxical aspect of neurotic shame is that it is the core motivator of the superachieved and the underachieved, the Star and the Scapegoat, the 'Righteous' and the wretched, the powerful and the pathetic."

Shame as Co-Dependency

Much has been written about co-dependency. All agree that it is about the loss of selfhood. Co-dependency is a condition wherein one has no inner life. Happiness is on the outside. Good feelings and self-validation lie on the outside. They can never be generated from within. [until one begins to recover] Pia Mellody's definition of co-dependency is a 'state of dis-ease whereby the authentic self is unknown or kept hidden, so that a sense of self...of mattering... of esteem and connectedness to others is distorted, creating pain and distorted relationships.' There is no significant difference in that definition and the way I have described internalized shame. It is my belief that internalized shame is the essence of co-dependency.

Functional Autonomy

Once internalized, toxic shame is functionally autonomous, which means that it can be triggered internally without any attending stimulus. One can imagine a situation and feel deep shame. One can be alone and trigger a shaming spiral through internal self-talk. The more one experiences shame, the more one is ashamed and the beat goes on.

It is this dead-end quality of shame that makes it so hopeless. The possibility for repair seems foreclosed if one is essentially flawed as a human being. Add to that the self-generating quality of shame, and one can see the devastating, soul-murdering power of neurotic shame.

The reader can begin to see how dramatic it was for me to discover the dynamics of shame. By being aware of the dynamics of shame, by naming it, we gain some power over it."

The excruciating loneliness fostered by toxic shame is dehumanizing. As a person isolates more and more, he loses the benefit of human feedback. He loses the mirroring eyes of others. Erik Erikson has demonstrated clearly that identity formation is always a social process. He defines identity as 'an inner sense of sameness and continuity which is matched by the mirroring eyes of at least one significant other'. Remember, it was the contaminated mirroring by our significant relationships that fostered our toxic shame.

In order to be healed we must come out of isolation and hiding. This means finding a group of significant others that we are willing to trust. This is tough for shame-based people.

Shame becomes toxic shame because of premature exposure. We are exposed either unexpectedly or before we are ready to be exposed. We feel helpless and powerless. No wonder then that we fear the scrutinizing eyes of others. However the only way out of toxic shame is to embrace the shame...we must come out of hiding."

Shame As Spiritual Bankruptcy

The problem of toxic shame is ultimately a spiritual problem. I call it “spiritual bankruptcy”. I suggested earlier that spirituality is the essence of human existence. We are not material beings on a spiritual journey; we are spiritual beings who need an earthly journey to become fully spiritual.

Spirituality is lifestyle – that which enhances and expands life. Therefore, spirituality is about growth and expansion, newness and creativity. Spirituality is about being. Being is that victorious thrust whereby we triumph over nothingness. Being is about why there is something, rather than nothing. Being is the ground of all the beings that are.

And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed - Genesis 2:25

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shame On Me

Any man who has felt deeply ashamed of his own moral failure will be able to relate to this article on the toxic effect unnecessary shame can have on the recovery process.

This article is posted on this blog with permission from Joe Dallas .

"Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."
-Job 42: 6

In January of 1984, I had my crises of truth. I was a Christian who'd backslidden into destructive sexual behaviors, and the conflict between my sexual and spiritual desires reached its peak. That was the beginning of my recovery and - oddly enough, the darkest time of my life.

All my porn had to go, of course. I had my cable service turned off, cancelled my subscriptions to erotic publications, then located another place to live in another city. Only then did it hit me that I'd ruined everything good I'd been given. By indulging in my sins, I 'd abandoned a fruitful ministry, a loving family, great potential - all wasted in a public, shameful way. And the more I thought about it, the more I sank into a bottomless disgust with myself. I began sleeping through the days, then waking up horrified at myself, remembering what I'd done, each time seeing it in a worse light. I'd cry, thrashing around in my bed in fits of weeping and moaning.

The poet Robert Bly wrote:
"Where a man's wound is,
there he finds his genius."

As part of my "penance", I called all my old friends to apologize and tell them I'd repented. I could only find a few, but one of them permanently interrupted the "I Hate Joe" cycle I'd gotten myself into.

When I got him on the phone and told him what was happening with me, the dam burst and I poured out my guilt, the miserable state I was in, and my fear that there was no future for me.

"Don't you think all this energy
you're putting into self-pity could be
put into doing something useful
with what's left of your life?"

"Well, Joe", he said, "if banging your head into the wall is going to build up the Body of Christ, please keep doing it. But if it won't, don't you think all this energy you're putting into self-pity could be put into doing something useful with what's left of your life?

That shut me up.

"And", he continued, "who knows but that someday, after you get through all this, you might have learned something worth passing on?"

I'd been drowning in shame, beating myself up but accomplishing nothing worthwhile in the process. I determined that night to find something more useful to do with my pain. And oddly enough, it was that very pain which led me into my own counseling, and then into a desire to become a trained counselor, and finally into the opportunity to work with hundreds of other men who'd made mistakes so similar to my own.

"Where a man's wound is", the poet Robert Bly wrote, "there he finds his genius."

Be sorry for your sin, by all means. But don't wallow in shame. Instead, take the time to prayerfully consider how God can convert your worst failures into useful opportunities. You just might be amazed at the genius lurking behind the wound.


This article is by Joe Dallas, Copyright 2003

This material may not be duplicated in any form without express written
permission from the author.

GENESIS COUNSELING, 17632 Irvine Blvd., Suite 220, Tustin, CA 92780
(714) 508-6953

Sunday, July 19, 2009

News & Commentaries

1. Benedict XVI Healing From Fractured Wrist [weblink]

2. Jesus, The Compassionate Shepherd of God [weblink]

3. Church Confident to Beat Family Planning Bill [weblink]

4. Anglicans Split Over Homosexuality [weblink]

5. Controversial Homosexual "Hate Crimes" Act Set for Senate Vote Thursday [weblink]

6. Letter to a Critic: Will You Respect and Defend OUR Freedom to Disagree? [weblink]

7. Prominent Homosexual Activists Terrorize Boston Church Sponsoring Ex-Gay Religious Event [weblink]

8. Abolishing Celibacy Would Not Lead to More Vocations, Says Argentinean Bishop [weblink]

9. Abortion Issue Clouds Health-Care Reform [weblink]

10. Global Health Conference Chooses Life [weblink]

Quote for the week:

"The most loving thing we can do for anyone caught in the grips of sexual sin is to help them bring their sin to the Cross of Jesus and there find forgiveness, redemption, healing and hope for a new beginning." - Rev. Mario Bergner

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tell Them That It's Urgent

In followup from my previous post Save Our Children, Fr. Shay is now appealing to the President to certify the Anti-Child Pornography Bill as urgent. At the end of this article, there is an instruction there on how you can help on this matter.

If there is one great thing that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can do with her awesome power in the Philippines, it is to use it for the well being and protection of vulnerable children. All she has to do in her State of the Nation Address on 27th of July to win a place in legal history is to tell her Congress that the Anti-Child Pornography Bill is "urgent". All the Representatives have to do is to vote "yes" and they will save thousands of children from rape and abuse in the years to come.

That alone will be enough for the Congress to pass this Bill, the Senate version has already been approved. It's very shameful that the Philippines, a nation where the vast majority children are loved, cherished and protected by their families that the State has failed in its obligations under international treaties and protocols to protect them by law from the sexual abuse that is inevitable in the making and distribution of child pornography. This is a moral issue of the highest order; the dignity of the nation is at stake before the world.

In most countries with updated anti-child pornography laws, the crime is seen as heinous and penalties can be 5 to 20 years in prison. In the United States, an offender with multiple images in his possession can get life in prison. Most Filipinos have never seen child pornography, if they did and realized how terrible it is, then there would be public outrage and rightly so.

The developed countries are offering training in computer forensics to Philippine law enforcers to enable them to detect, identify abusers sending illegal images over the internet once the law is passed and the guidelines for its implementation are published.

Last week, two journalists were visiting the sex capitol of Central Luzon, Angeles City. Foreign and local sex tourists flock there to abuse women and children with impunity and the blessings of the politicians who issue operating permits to the sex clubs. They must be held accountable too.

The journalists were offered a DVD with the title "child abuse", "that's for free", the pimp told them, "maybe you want the real thing too" he said offering them a 15 year-old child for as little as twenty Euro( US$28 18GBP). They took the DVD and disgusted, declined the offer of the child. Not far away, police looked on unconcerned. But the journalists learned just how prevalent is the trafficking and selling of young girls and child-porn on the streets of many a Philippine town like Angeles City with a thriving sex business.

This is the shame that all decent Filipinos don't have to live with before the world. Rather than hiding in shame, we have to step forward, take a stand for the dignity of Filipinos everywhere and speak out against crimes against children. Not to do so is a form of silence that is consent.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has yet to support this important bill and urge the president to mark it as urgent. I have every confidence they will. Then, when passed, the abusers can be brought to justice. The video taken by the journalists showed a Caucasian 10 year-old blond girl being sexually-abused, they reported. This kind of child pornography entices Caucasian sex tourists to seek children to abuse in their home countries. In another clip, they said, an Asian child was being abused by a Caucasian man with a British accent and he is fully recognizable.

It is a crime that has life-long consequences as it played over the internet to a worldwide audience. A child abused at an early age and now 15 said. "Knowing that some sick person is looking at me on the computer every day in a way that no child should ever be looked at . . . makes me feel violated (again). It makes me want to throw up."

So we desperately need the President to certify the pending anti-child porn law as urgent and together we can save thousands of children from abuse.

Whatever you can do, please do it. Write P.O. Box 68, Olongapo City, Philippines. Email:

Visit for more related articles.


This is Fr. Shay Cullen's open letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appealing for the decalaraton of the Anti-Child Pornography Bill No.684 as urgent.

July 2009

Dear Madame President,

At no time in the history of the Philippines has there been a greater opportunity for the President to act decisively to protect Filipino children at grave risk than the present historical moment. Thousands of Filipino children are damaged for life when abused in the making of child pornography.

The abuse continues when the images of the sexually abused children are spread around the world through the internet and are availbale on the streets of the Philippines for all to purchase with impunity. They are shown to other children as training videos to seduce them into becoming Commercially Sexually Exploited Children and they too are abused and damaged for life.

By immediately certifying as "urgent " the anti-child pornography bill pending before the House of Representatives, House Bill No.684 entitled "An Act Defining the Crime of Child Pornography, Imposing Penalties Thereof, and for Other Purposes" you will save thousands of children for years to come.

The Philippines needs this law urgently to protect children and to fulfill the nations international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international protocols undertaken by the State on behalf of the Filipino People.

The passing of House Bill No.684 at your behest will be a proud historical legacy and provide protection for children for future generations.

We the concerned citizens, representatives of agencies and organizations working for the protection of the dignity of the Filipino people and the rights of the child strongly appeal for you to act and announce the bill as an urgent priority.

Please copy this and send to the following e-mail addresses (updated list):

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Save Our Children

Below is a newsletter article by PREDA (People's Recovery, Empowerment and Development Assistance) written by Fr. Shay Cullen exposing the horrible reality of child pornography and abuse in the Philippines. Fr. Cullen is a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and missionary priest from Ireland and a member of the Missionary Society of St. Columban. He has worked in protecting women, children, and human rights in our country since 1969. At present, he is actively lobbying for the passage of House Bill No. 684 or the Anti-Child Pornography Bill. I hope that our Church leaders will throw their full support behind this initiative to help rescue vulnerable children from sexual predators and pedophiles.

Pornography and especially images depicting children being sexually abused and exploited are available on DVD's under the tables of most street-side vendors in the Philippines and other Asian countries. The absence of a strong specific law that makes it illegal to make, copy, distribute or possess such materials damages the lives of thousands of children. Such images are evidence of horrific crime against children and that's why in all civilized countries where the rule of law prevails, child pornography is anathema and violators get lengthy prison sentences. But not yet in the Philippines.

Not only are the children abused in the making of the videos, but thousands more innocent children are corrupted and led into perverted sexual acts with small children after viewing such materials. What 12 year-old Jopin did to a six year old, who can't be named, is extremely shocking. He learned what sex acts to do from a pornographic video that was left in the video machine by a visiting relative. Jopin secretly viewed the pornographic video and soon after he tried out the perverse acts on a six year old. It had tragic consequences for the child victim and Jopin.

Child pornography has spread across the world through the internet and so as the advertising and promotion of child trafficking and sexual exploitation. Every time children and minors are used in the making of the perverse videos, they are violated and damaged.

The revelation on YouTube and copied to dvd's and cell phones of a sexually explicit video of an actress and a doctor performing before the camera with mutual consent caused public debate in the Philippine these past weeks and was subject to a Senate Hearing. Many Congress people and civic leaders expressed disgust, shock and even outrage. Much of it is pure hypocrisy considering that there is a thriving child sex-trade in the Philippines with alleged official approval. However with child pornography, things could change soon.

In the Senate, Senate Bill No. 2317 entitled "An Act Prohibiting Child Pornography, Imposing Penalties for the Commission Thereof and for Other Purposes" passed the Third and Final Reading last November 24, 2008. All Senators unanimously voted for the approval. Two days after, the Bill was forwarded to the lower house requesting for concurrence. In the House of Representatives, House Bill No.684 entitled "An Act Defining the Crime of Child Pornography, Imposing Penalties Thereof, and for Other Purposes" has passed First Reading and has been forwarded to the Committee on Justice, Committee on the Welfare of Children and Committee on Appropriations for review and amendment. Once the lower house version has passed Second and Third Reading, a bi-cameral session will be held to come-up with a consolidated version of the Senate Bill and House Bill.

That's why it is of utmost importance for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to certify as urgent this important bill. The protection of vulnerable children is of the highest national importance and the presidential certification of the bill as urgent will guarantee its swift passing, that will be a crowning achievement. So readers of this column are asked to write to the president at Malacanang Palace, Manila and encourage her to make it so.

The internet is the international channel for the proliferation of child pornography. Thousands have been arrested worldwide for downloading the illegal images, but the server corporations make billions of dollars out of facilitating the evil trade, that's the one reason they do not want to install anti-child porn filters and set-up an independent monitoring group that finds the source and either blocks the offending website or helps police identify the offenders. If all the server corporations agree to do it then no one would have advantage over the other. But they can't agree. The new law must make blocking mandatory for all, voluntary self-regulation should never be a substitute for the law. So let's write letters and send e-mails, WE NEED THAT LAW CERTIFIED AS URGENT! It will save children from abuse and will help us rescue and give them a new start in life.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

News & Commentaries

1. Benedict XVI Offers Commentary on Encyclical [weblink]

2. Pope Benedict Spoke to Obama on Right to Life, Freedom of Conscience [weblink]

3. Jesus Sends Us to Teach And Heal [weblink]

4. Mindanao Bishop is New CBCP Chief [weblink]

5. Mike Heath Predicts Victory for Traditional Marriage in Maine [weblink]

6. Sign a 'Gay Marriage' Bill, Lose Some Luster [weblink]

7. India Supreme Court Accepts Challenge to Legalization of Homosexual Sex [weblink]

8. Sotomayor Supported Censoring Biblical Verse on Homosexuality from New York City Billboard [weblink]

9. Redeeming the Rainbow: A Christian Response to the 'Gay' Agenda [weblink] - A powerful new online book by Dr. Scott Lively on defeating the gay agenda. You can download the entire book or by individual chapters in PDF format.

10. Same-Sex 'Marriage' and the Persecution of Civil Society [weblink]

Quote for the week:

"It's true he was a sinner. But don't pass so final a judgement. Have pity in your heart and don't forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity." - St. Josémaria Escriva

Friday, July 10, 2009

Approval Versus Affirmation

I got this short article by yet another unknown author which made me realize something about myself. All my life it seems I have 'tried' so hard to be the best that I can be only to gain others' approval and mistake it for the 'real thing' which is love. I have only myself to blame. I think that seeking other's approval has a lot of narcissistic elements into it because we want to be noticed, admired, needed, and accepted. It's all about me really. Never mistake affection for true love.

I recall exactly where I was standing some years ago when an extremely simple, yet profound truth suddenly dawned on me as I said to myself, "The reason I felt empty inside is because I am."

Like thousands of other kids I grew up suffering from love-deprivation and for a big part of my life worked tirelessly to gain approval, not realizing that I was substituting this for the love I yearned for deep inside.

Approval can look very much like love. It can be given in love but it isn't love, and when substituted for love it never satisfies.

Approval is based on what we do, but we need to feel loved and affirmed for who we are. Approval is a good thing when given and received for the right reasons, but when substituted for love it can become another addiction to anesthetize the pain of not feeling loved. It can be like a drug. The more we get, the less it satisfies, so the more we seek after it.

Affirmation is based on who we are apart from what we do. And only when we feel affirmed, can we get off the merry-go-round of doing all sorts of things to get approval.

More than anything else we need to know God the Heavenly Father's love and affirmation at the very core of our being. This, I believe, is one of the greatest needs of every human heart without which we may believe in God with our head but still feel disconnected from him in our heart.

And how can I know God the Father's love and affirmation at the core of my being? First, by believing that God loves me because his Word says so and taking this by faith. Second, by sharing my total self over time (especially my dark side) with one or two safe, trusted friends who will love and accept me just as I am—warts and all. As they do this for me, little by little I come to love and accept myself and in so doing I feel affirmed and open myself to accepting God the Father's love and acceptance through them.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me a friend or two with whom I can be totally open and honest, friends who know me and will love me still, and through whom I can feel and know your love and affirmation at the very core of my being. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, Amen."

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness" (Jeremiah 31:3, NIV).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lessons From a Conference

This is a short letter by a medical doctor who attended a conference conducted by the The Catholic Physicians Guild of the Philippines (CPGP). The theme of the conference was The Family: Seedbed of Love and Communication and one of the topics discussed was about homosexuality which was facilitated by Bro. Rollie.

Dear _____,

Thank you very much for inviting me to a very spiritual and morally uplifting event yesterday. Yesterday's discusion was very infomative, from the seriousness of Dra. Edna's topic on marriage, Mr. Rolando's topic on homosexuality, and Drs. William & Salve's What Children Need from Their Parents to the funny and entertaining lectures of Mr. Edgardo and Mr. Edwin on SAFE and Growing up with Dad.

Although I still don't have my own family, yesterday's conference taught me on things to watch out for in the future. Dra. Edna's lecture on marriage gave me insights on why marriages last and why they fail. And knowing the Three Principles in Marriage by heart would constantly remind us during times of despair in married life, why it is important to love each other more.

My eyes have been opened to issues I was not even aware of, especially the one on Homosexuality by Mr. Rolando. I found it very interesting that they have identified the stages of the development of persons with SSA (same-sex attraction) through 5 stages. The stand of the church on homosexuality was revealed to me yesterday and I found that very enlightening as well. Before that discussion, I didn't even know that there were homosexuals that strive to be chaste and even revert back to heterosexuality and even help other homosexuals as well.

I am truly honored to be part of such a wonderful event and I hope I can help in any way to support your cause.

Attached to this email is my essay on "How do you measure love?".

Once again I thank you very much for your goodness. May God bless you, Dra. Edna and your family and I also pray for the success of the Catholic Physician's Guild of the Philippines.

Yours truly,

Dominic N. Velasco MD

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Final Letter of Alessandro Serenelli

Yesterday, July 6, the Universal Church celebrated the feast of St. Maria Goretti, virgin and martyr of purity, a remarkable girl who chose death rather than to give in to the advances of her murderer, Alessandro Serenelli. She is a stark contrast in our time where promiscuity seems to be the norm and chastity is held with so much contempt and ridicule. Much has been written and known about this saint and model of chastity, but we must also remember that Alessandro, though a confessed murderer, led a life of repentance after his conversion through the intercession of St. Maria Goretti.

I do think that little attention is paid on the saint’s other outstanding virtue which is charity. There is something so heroic about how she practiced this virtue that is not too common among children of her age.

First, Maria Goretti’s charity is supernatural. Maria steadfastly refused the advances of Alessandro protesting that what he wanted to do was a mortal sin and that it would bring him to hell. Even in a dangerous situation like this, Maria gave more importance to the soul of her attacker rather than her own safety. She did this out of her great love for Jesus and fidelity to His commandments. I do think this speaks volumes about Maria's level of spiritual maturity at such a young age and it definitely speaks praises of her parents who instilled in her these godly virtues. Secondly, while she was dying in the hospital, Maria expressed forgiveness for her attacker and stated that she wanted to have him in heaven with her. Now, this is really something. Who among us can offer forgiveness so readily when even feelings of resentment seem too hard for us to let go at the slightest injury or contempt? The story does not end here. Some time after her death, Maria appeared to Alessandro, offering him 14 flowers – representing the number of times he stabbed her – and consequently this vision made a huge impact on Alessandro's disposition, who during his period of imprisonment was unrepentant and uncommunicative. Even beyond the grave, she was thinking and praying for Alessandro’s conversion. Indeed, she practiced the virtue of charity to the highest degree, for what can be any greater act of charity than to desire the salvation of the soul of your enemy?

On the other hand, Alessandro asked for forgiveness and lived a life of repentance as a Capuchin laybrother until his death in 1970. I think we can all relate to this man in his struggles. His life is a message of hope to all of us especially to those who feel they have done so many "unforgivable" sins in their past. The good news is that there is redemption and that it is never too late to do what is right. Below is a short letter he wrote on his deathbed that I want to share with you all.

"I'm nearly 80 years old. I'm about to depart this life. Looking back at my past, I can see that in my early youth, I chose a bad path which led me to ruin myself.

My behavior was influenced by print, mass-media and bad examples which are followed by the majority of young people without even thinking. And I did the same. I was not worried.

There were a lot of generous and devoted people who surrounded me, but I paid no attention to them because a violent force blinded me and pushed me toward a wrong way of life.

When I was 20 years-old, I committed a crime of passion. Now, that memory represents something horrible for me. Maria Goretti, now a Saint, was my good Angel, sent to me through Providence to guide and save me.

I still have impressed upon my heart her words of rebuke and of pardon. She prayed for me, she interceded for her murderer. Thirty years of prison followed. If I had been of age, I would have spent all my life in prison. I accepted to be condemned because it was my own fault.

Little Maria was really my light, my protectress; with her help, I behaved well during the 27 years of prison and tried to live honestly when I was again accepted among the members of society.

The Brothers of St. Francis, Capuchins from Marche, welcomed me with angelic charity into their monastery as a brother, not as a servant. I've been living with their community for 24 years, and now I am serenely waiting to witness the vision of God, to hug my loved ones again, and to be next to my Guardian Angel and her dear mother, Assunta.

I hope this letter that I wrote can teach others the happy lesson of avoiding evil and of always following the right path, like little children. I feel that religion with its precepts is not something we can live without, but rather it is the real comfort, the real strength in life and the only safe way in every circumstance, even the most painful ones of life."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

News & Commentaries

1. New Encyclical Out July 7 [weblink]

2. Is This Not The Carpenter, The Son Of Mary? [weblink]

3. CBCP Pleads to Catholics For More Prayers to Halt RH Bill Passage [weblink]

4. Bishop Prods on Schools to Teach 'Proper' Sex Education [weblink]

5. Pope Accepts Resignation of Bishop Involved in Homosexual Encounters [weblink]

6. 'Stonewalling' by Obama [weblink]

7. Obama Hopes to Persuade All Americans to Accept Homosexuality [weblink]

8. Obama Assures Homosexualist Leaders He's a "Champion" of Their Cause at Private White House Reception [weblink]

9. The Wages of Sin Taxes [weblink]

10. WATCH IT: Video and Transcript of Obama's White House Speech Celebrating 'Gay Pride' Month [weblink]

Quote for the week:

"In relationships we have to recognize that love may start off as a feeling, but it isn't going to remain that. Love is not a feeling, it's an act of our will." - Rev. Andy Braunston

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dynamics of a Support Group (Part 2)

How to Support Each Other in a Group

The Bible exhorts us to bear one another’s burdens (see Galatians 6:1–2). We also read, "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up" (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10).

The men in my support group were able to give me a lot of support and help. They understood my feelings and helped me find solutions to my problems. When I felt vulnerable, I called them and they talked me out of desires to act sexually. They were genuinely concerned about me and I was genuinely concerned about them. I relied on them many times. I never would have made it without the love and support I got from my friends who were always there when I needed them.
The following suggestions can help you have effective relationships in your group.

Be a consistent support to others in the group. Make attendance at the group meetings a matter of high priority. Consistency is very important both for your own progress and that of other participants.

Be honest with yourself. The controversial nature of same-sex attraction encourages people to keep it hidden and festering. Many of us have felt that we were the only ones to have these feelings. Admitting a problem to yourself is the first step to recovery. The next step is to decide what you intend to do about it. What is your purpose in joining a support group? Do you really want to overcome these thoughts and behaviors or are you just looking for justification?

Be honest with others in your group. Admitting your problems to others in the group can help relieve feelings of isolation. As you openly explore your feelings in regular meetings, you can get much needed support from those who have experienced or who still experience struggles, and you can acquire a sense of accountability to each other. The group will teach you how to disclose and be honest with others in the group. It is not easy to disclose things that are deeply disturbing and personal, but it is the first step in healing. You will discover that there is no need to lie to others in the group or cover up the way you feel about things. They will understand your troubles and be willing to share with you the solutions they have found. By asking a lot of questions, or even just by listening quietly to what others say, you will begin to understand how this process works.

Confront and challenge other group members. Sexual activity thrives in secret and the group can be a place to bring it into the light. Group members can confront each other kindly and respectfully when they see rationalization or denial. In the beginning, this kind of total honesty can be difficult, but if you are sincere in your desire to make changes in your life, you will welcome it.

Respect the rights of others. Respect the right of others to have opinions different from yours. No one should ridicule or belittle another participant, even jokingly, nor should they be judgmental or critical of others or their situation. Like you, they are struggling through difficult circumstances.

Recognize that group members are on different levels. One night in the group meeting, Bill talked about the group and the way we did and did not support each other. He had felt at times that the group brought him down. For example, when he slipped up once he almost felt a cheer from us. He felt us say "Hurray! Bill is human." Although we didn’t want him to fail, that was the message he felt. At times, I felt like I wanted to be on the same level as the other guys. As strange as this sounds, there were times I felt I wanted to be as messed up as Alan so I could feel I fit in completely. It is important to recognize that each member of the group is on a different level and that is okay as long as each works and progresses from where he is.

Give equal time. Don’t dominate the discussion time, but allow others the chance to express themselves as well. Allow equal time even to those who appear not to want to talk. You have a responsibility to help them feel comfortable and bring them out of their silence.

Have a proper spirit in every meeting. Although the meetings don’t need to be somber, they should have a tone of respect for each other, for the difficulty of the process of change. Every meeting should begin and end with prayer to invite the power of the Spirit to guide you through the process. Watch your conversations so they don’t drive the Spirit away.

Avoid inappropriate conversations. Share your feelings and experiences with others, but don’t give graphic details of sexual activities or divulge locations where sex or pornography is available. Don’t assume that everyone knows what you know, but spare them from temptations by not divulging such information. Profanity has no place in the meetings. It is also important to keep conversations about others positive and not let the discussions become a pity party where you devalue other people, but instead encourage each other to get out and build relationships with those of your gender.

Help others recognize and develop feelings of self-worth. Group members should be positive and build each other up and encourage each other in righteousness. Help others see their value as individuals. Always be watching out for others and when it appears they need extra help, do all you can to include them and help them feel a part of the group. In addition to acts of kindness, tell them you love them and appreciate their friendship. Help them see their friendship is of great value to you.

Move to deeper levels of conversation. It is usually easy to talk about surface-level things like the weather, school, work, politics, and other knowledge-based things. Although a certain amount of this kind of conversation is necessary to build a relationship, be sure that you soon move from the knowledge area to feelings. It is when you begin talking about your feelings and emotional reactions to things that you move into the areas that will be the most beneficial.

Be accountable to each other. Group members should hold each other accountable by asking each other to report on their progress each week. During the week, you may want to organize a buddy system so that when you are tempted to do something inappropriate, you have a buddy you can call to help.

Be wise in your activities with other participants. Don’t participate in activities that cause you to be vulnerable, which may arouse same-sex feelings, or include any degree of physical intimacy with others of your gender. Avoid campiness (acting gay) and inappropriate jokes or innuendo. Behave with them the way you would with men who do not experience same-sex attractions. Don’t spend excessive time with any one participant to protect yourself from emotional dependency or from the possibility of sexual behavior. Limit the time you spend with group members. Spending excessive time with them limits your time to associate with others from outside the group, and you should give top priority to those relationships.

Relationships with others in the group. You will develop strong relationships with members of the group and although you will have a lot of clean, wholesome fun, remember that the support group is not a social club. Your purpose in the group is to learn how to relate in wholesome ways so you will have the confidence to relate with others of your gender at work and at church. While the group is a safe place to learn to relate to each other, it should not be the ultimate goal. You should work on making your primary relationships with others outside the group.

Relationships with others outside the group. When you disclose your "dark secrets" to members of the group, you find that they still love and accept you. And although this love and acceptance will be meaningful, the voice of the Adversary will whisper, "Of course they love you, because they are gay themselves." Your next step will be to reach out into the mainstream world and discover that love and acceptance is available there as well. Someone else needs to be allowed into the deepest levels of your life. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to know all about your attractions, but you need to open up and let them in.

The Need for Safety in the Group

Support groups for individuals with same-sex attraction have an inherent risk—the ever-present danger that participants could become involved with each other sexually. This is why it is of primary importance to have controls in place to make the environment safe. Getting individuals together in a support group provides opportunities for growth and the development of relationships which is the key to resolving the attractions, but at the same time, the risks need to be carefully monitored and controlled. It is critical to the success of the group to establish and enforce policies of safety and confidentiality. There should be strict rules of no sexual or seductive conduct with other members of the group. Absolutely none. Never.

Safety Boundaries

In addition to the safety rules of the group, it is important to establish personal boundaries. While the group process is helpful, it can also open you to dangers you need to manage. In the group setting, you experience emotional intimacy with individuals of your gender on levels that perhaps you have not experienced before. Although you do not talk about sexual details, the fact that you discuss sexual problems may put you in a vulnerable state. If your discussions open up old wounds, you may experience anxiety or hurt and be tempted to revert to old patterns of behavior to relieve the pain. Since each person in the group discusses his or her area of vulnerability, others can wittingly or unwittingly take advantage. Therefore, boundaries must be established for the protection of everyone in the group. These external controls are safeguards during your period of growth to prevent you from responding to situations in unhealthy ways.

You will likely need to set personal boundaries on what you will and will not do after the meeting. When my friend Randy first joined his support group, he was so relieved to find other men with similar goals, that he didn’t want to go home after the meetings ended. He would stay in the parking lot talking with his newfound friends for hours. He also discovered he was vulnerable during these late-night chats alone with other men, and sometimes found himself getting intimate with one man. He quickly had to set boundaries to stay out of trouble and committed never to be alone with another man because he knew there was safety in numbers. He also set for himself a limit of thirty minutes after the meeting, at which time he would get in his car and go home. He found that from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. after the meeting he could undo all the good he did from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the meeting. Go home while you are still on a high so you can continue to think through new ideas and keep positive thoughts on your mind. Keep the momentum going and don’t lessen the experience with something less uplifting.

If two members of the group car pool to the meetings, it may be a good idea to hold them accountable each week for the time they were alone together. When they arrive at the meeting, ask them how the drive went, and before they leave after the meeting, ask them if they feel they are vulnerable and what they intend to do about it.

For many people entering a support group, boundaries are nebulous, and while there is room for growth, there is also the potential for sexual problems if it is not managed properly. Watch for people who cross boundaries or don’t set boundaries. Challenge people to look at how they respect themselves, how they set boundaries, and how they maintain integrity for themselves.

Sexual Problems in a Group

An incident of sexual activity among group members brings serious personal consequences and weakens the group as a whole. Are you a highly committed person with a deep addiction, or a person who keeps acting out because you are ambivalent about the healing process? The group can tolerate a motivated participant who is sincerely trying to overcome an addiction, but not one who is just playing games.

Warning Signs

The following are warning signs of sexual activity: seductive behavior, needing undue attention, not willing to work on their own issues, challenging authority, playing the role of the helpless victim, inside jokes, rebellion, resistance, not willing to follow rules regardless of their prior agreement to them, paranoia about being watched, and avoiding another participant (which may indicate shame because of sexual involvement). Those who are isolated and not involved with others may be especially vulnerable.


When group leaders suspect problems, they should confront those involved to determine if there are problems. Such confrontation should not be accusatory, but in a spirit of concern for their welfare and a desire to help them grow beyond any problems. This can be a good learning opportunity for those who may not know how to interact with each other socially in appropriate ways.

If sexual activities occur, group leaders should intervene immediately since sexual activity can quickly destroy the unity of the group. The leaders should confront those involved and discuss the occurrence to help them understand what led to the behavior and to set in place precautions to avoid a recurrence. The leaders should help them understand the consequence and responsibility of what they have done. If sexual activity continues, those involved should be asked not to participate in the group. When a participant is removed from the group, the ultimate goal is restoration. He should not be told that he isn’t wanted in the group, but that he needs more individual counseling before he is ready for the group setting.

"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1).