Sunday, 26 February 2012

Use of a church for a meeting

Is it permissible to step into a church building for support group meetings?

by Dov (See all authors)

My wife (the wife of an addict) was referred to go to a group whose meetings are held at 'Church basements'. Is it permissible to step into a church building? I saw the quote of R' Shmuel Kamenitzki, but he's talking of the addict himself - and this is the way he express the 'Heter', but what about the wife? Thanks in advance for this and for all your work


Dov Replies:

The role of wife is not as simple as we tend to think when a husband is a sex or lust addict. Sorry. I know she sees the entire need for her to go to meetings as "finding support to deal with the shock, the pain, etc." but it is very often more than that, really. Often, wives think they can control the guy - or at least help him stay clean - if they learn how to do that from other women married to these types of guys.

But they are wrong. And that is one of the first things they learn in the meetings. They may learn it because they are told this, or they will learn it as a result of seeing the failure of the other wives there who are similarly mistaken.

In other words, the wife often needs to learn that she is indeed POWERLESS over her addict husband. And that is the greatest 'support' she can get, right there. Until she knows that she is powerless over the addict in her life, she will harbor guilt for making him that way, for not being pretty or sexy or religious or good enough. She may feel so depressed about his failures that she cannot let herself see her own successes as a person - not just as a wife. Her 1st step is powerful, her other steps are, too. I have witnessed many women (especially frum ones) who have changed a great deal and grew up a lot in recovery.

So yes, she may be an addict, of sorts. First let her speak to other women, old-timers, in the group she is considering going to. Then let her go, and see if it really is just 'emotional support' that she needs - or if she really needs to learn how to work the 12 steps and become a strong, free woman, for a change. Hashem wants this, to be sure. An eishes chayil, who can find?

She may be in denial about all that. But that is the 'heter' for wives to go to church basements for those meetings. When they eventually discover how goofy (and even treif) their own attitudes are, they will want recovery, just like their husbands, the lust addicts.

Best I can say about it as one standing on the other side looking in.

Hatzlocha,

Dov