I’m always hearing about the benefits of “accountability.” Men in particular, apparently, are meant to get together… for accountability. (I think it’s “men in particular” because women already actually share life with each other. Men have to be corralled under false pretences).
It’s not so much that we’re meant to meet for fellowship. Not so much to speak the good news to each other, but to hold each other to Christian standards. We’re being called to mini-communities of law, where a combination of fear, pride and resolve dis-incentivise the appearance of sin. Not “sin” itself. I can easily survive an accountability group while nurturing a love for sin. It’s the “not appearing to commit sin” that counts.
Behind this drive towards “accountability”, so often there’a a vision of the Christian life as sin-management. It’s not even that we’re aiming for Sinlessness. We’re aiming for Sin Less-ness. We’re trying to keep the ‘flagrant transgression count’ down. That way we won’t have to appear before our brothers and sisters as “a sinner.” Phew. That’d be awkward. Having to confess I’m a sinner – Yikes! No, that horrible feeling becomes the dis-incentive to transgress. What’s important is avoiding the need for, you know, confession, grace, forgiveness, the blood of Jesus.
And even as men herd together for accountability – the big issue we’re meant to drill each other on is… the dreaded P word. No, not Pride. How intangible! How can we measure progress in that?! And no, not Prayer. Goodness me – let’s not over-spiritualize things here. We’re after indicators of performance. No, no, every man’s struggle is Porn. Obviously. (Of course with every man who’s ever confessed struggles with porn to me, it hasn’t taken long to establish that pride and prayerlessness are way bigger problems contributing to the mess. And yet, those are problems it never occurred to them to confess. It’s “Porn” that’s the issue, right?? That’s by the by…)
What am I saying? Stop meeting up for accountability? Well look if you’re a guy in an “accountability group” – well done. Everything you love about this group is good and godly and biblical – you enjoy brotherhood, you enjoy sharing life, you enjoy another human being speaking forgiveness and grace into your life. Hallelujah! That’s what fellowship is meant to be like.
But “accountability”? Thing is – it doesn’t even work. But confessing your sins to each other… speaking words of forgiveness in Jesus’ name… opening up to each other as a fellowship of the broken… having a cry… having a laugh… that’s the Christian life. And guess what? It doesn’t have to be gender specific!! Cos, heck, you don’t have to “fellowship” around “men’s problems” or “women’s problems.” You might just be able to, you know, be family together in Jesus.
And at the end of it all, you’ll almost certainly sin less. But that’s not the point. The Christian life is not sin management. It’s life together in Jesus.