Losing My Religion - the Step 3 Dilemma
Updated: Jan 14
“Alcoholics Anonymous is a religious program.”
For clarity, that is NOT an accurate statement – The program is spiritual in nature. There IS a difference.
The wording of Step 3 of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step program is as follows: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (God and higher power are used interchangeably in the AA program). Nowhere in the literature on AA is there an endorsed or even suggested version of this higher power. Not the God of the Bible, Buddha, Allah, or any of the over 2500 deities searchable online.
That said, the religious/spiritual connotation is enough to shut somebody down mentally – causing some to head for the hills. We beg you to stick around just long enough to get yourself directionally right on the road to recovery. Stick around for the debate, if you will. Stick around long enough to figure out that it is not about somebody else’s “higher power” that you have to buy into. Stick around long enough to identify with a higher power - your life may depend on your ability to stick.
According to those that have claimed to count, the word “God,” or another version of “Him,” is found in the “text section” of the “Big Book” (the first 164 pages) some 281 times. That is nearly twice per page. That is a lot of God. Just in “the steps section,” God is directly or indirectly referenced in 1/2 of the 12 steps. Don’t get lost in the fact that this “god” is whatever higher power you subscribe to.
Available data supports the fact that many an atheist has succeeded in working the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Many more have succeeded by making others in the program, or their therapist, etc., their higher power. This is a challenge as, in our opinion, humans are fallible, and where life hangs in the balance, one must be in the best position not to be let down.
Important note: Nobody suggests that AA is the only way to get sober, as we know many people who achieved sobriety through other means. We are simply suggesting that there is an opportunity before us that has worked for millions of people.
This is what “we” know: our thinking, abilities, and powers were not enough to beat off addiction. We have proven that point time and time again. We needed something greater than ourselves, richer than human power.
Again, nobody demands that you distinguish or declare your source of hope in step 3 - It may boil down to willingness.: willing to be open-minded and to make a decision.
The question we asked ourselves was: are we willing to find a way to make the higher power thing work for us? We answered yes and thus began a less stressful and more meaningful life experience.
Are you willing?
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from sober.coffee podcast #3 Titled: “Step 3 - Made a Decision” The podcast dropped on 4/21/2021 click here to hear the podcast
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication, nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be thought of as a substitute for advice of healthcare professionals. The authors advice and viewpoints are their own.