July 24th, 2013
04:13 PM ET

XXX Church pastor: Weiner is an addict, not a joke

Opinion by Craig Gross, Special to CNN

(CNN) - There are still a lot of details to come out, but here’s one thing we know about Anthony Weiner: He is not a punch line; he is an addict.

I would assume Weiner has always had an uphill battle against being the butt of someone’s joke, just by the nature of his last name. Immaturity has always reigned supreme, and now in the days of Internet memes and Twitter zingers,  Weiner seemed ready-made for a scandal.

And yet he managed to get elected to Congress and once had a respectable appearance on "The Daily Show." He was on the rise, a politician ascending.

And then he got busted by the media for tweeting pictures of parts that should remain private to random women.

Shamed and chagrined, Weiner resigned and promised to get better. Things were looking up again for him when he entered the race to become the next mayor of New York, and he assured everyone that all his sexting and scandals were in the past.

And now, “Carlos Danger.”

Calls for 'Carlos Danger' to withdraw pour in

That is, apparently, one of the pseudonyms Weiner used last summer when he engaged in an illicit sexting relationship with a 22-year-old woman.

These are not the actions of a clown.

This is not something to make fun of.

This is a serious, family-wrecking, soul-crushing, career-destroying addiction.

Here’s what I would hope for Anthony Weiner: I would hope that he’d take himself out of the public eye, get back into counseling and put some concrete boundaries in place regarding his technology use.

And most important, I want him to get accountable.

Timeline: Congress, lewd photos and NYC's mayoral race

As the leader of XXXchurch.com, I work with a lot of sex addicts - people who can’t stop using porn or people who feel trapped in making it - and the biggest key to breaking out of the cycle of addiction is accountability.

Accountability is not prevention. You know the term “yes men,” when people - especially politicians like Weiner - surround themselves with others who will just automatically agree with them?

Most people think of accountability as surrounding yourself with a group of “no men,” who will always tell you what you can’t do.

That’s not it at all. Accountability is about having people around you whom you are intentionally open and honest with, people who will consistently challenge you to live up to the standards you’ve set for yourself. It’s about helping you to make good choices and live a freer, richer life.

I’m not going to point a mocking finger at Anthony Weiner. I can’t pass judgment on how he got to this point, because I don’t know him.

But I can say that being accountable to others is not just a way of battling your addictive demons; it’s a way of putting a positive spin on your life to create times where you don’t hear the demons at all.

There are millions of us working through some kind of something. For some, it’s drugs. For others, it’s alcohol. For still others, it’s an eating disorder or trying to quit smoking or being in financial disarray.

For Anthony Weiner, it’s “Carlos Danger” and all that symbolizes.

Whatever you’re working through, don’t do it alone.

You don’t have to.

Craig Gross is founder of XXXChurch and author of “Open: What Happens When You Get Real, Get Honest, and Get Accountable.” The views expressed in this column are solely those of Gross. 

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Opinion • Politics • Scandal • Sex • Sexuality • United States

soundoff (382 Responses)
  1. Catherine Mccloskey

    This one very sick man I agree but what in the world is wrong within enabling wife

    September 2, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  2. Gene

    Maybe he's an addict. But he's definitely a joke. Let's say he's both.

    August 4, 2013 at 10:05 am |
  3. ddos vps

    When I initially commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service? Many thanks!| ddos vps http://bleacherreport.com/users/1924408-hoyt-fulton

    August 4, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  4. fsjunkie

    "Addict" may be the trending excuse word for falling public figures, but i'm not buying it. In my opinion, this guy has a need for a certain kind and certain amount of attention, he's selfish, and DENIES self control. We're seemingly ok allowing people to hide behind the word "addiction" until they cross some undefined and ever-changing societal or legal line. I agree he's no joke...this is no laughing matter. It's disgusting that he has the nerve to continue seeking public office. Usually people make decisions about ordering the main feature based on the previews; you would think that the message would be more loud and clear from the people of New York City that they don't want this guy coming near their sensitive city government.

    July 29, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  5. pete

    I'd agree. he has all the signs of an addict. addicts partake in destructive and irrational behavior...even when they know it's crazy...because they are powerless to their addiction. I would guess weiner knew how risky this behavior was, but he just couldn't stop. he can deny he has a problem, but addiction is almost never cured by "will power" ; he'll likely need a 12 step type program to address his issues

    July 29, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  6. Dylan Rainwalker

    "And then he got busted by the media for tweeting pictures of parts that should remain private to random women."

    So, the pictures should have remained within the privacy of random women? Maybe that sentence didn't mean what it sounded like in my mind.

    July 28, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Merrillee

      It is a very poorly constructed sentence, I agree!

      July 29, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  7. 66Biker

    If you grew up with a name like "Weiner" you might have a problem like he does too. But then again, I don't know as I would want my last name to be Gross either.

    July 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  8. Fr33d0mhawk

    Weiner needs to step out of the public light. Those with closets full of skeletons should mind their closet and not try to become Mr. Popular. The fastest way for Weiner to cure his addiction is to drift into obscurity, because right now, Weiner thinks he is too cool to follow the societal norms, cut from a different cloth. Embarassment is probably the best medicine right now, and I think being dragged into divorce court would probably help as well. Once Weiner totally ruins his career and his hopefully soon to be ex ruins his financial life, then Weiner can begin the path to healing. It will be hard for Weiner to feel like a big stud once he is applying for a Walmart greeter position.

    July 28, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • pete

      i'd agree. most addicts need a "rock bottom" to recongize just how unmanageable their lives have become. it's only after acknowleding the powerlessness that some of the work toward humility begins.

      July 29, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  9. Reality

    From CNN Headline News:

    "Identifying herself as a Democrat and retired New York City Department of Education employee, Peg Brunda told Weiner she spent 21 years as a teacher and then nine as an assistant principal. As a city employee, "had I conducted myself in the manner in which you (Weiner) conducted yours, my job would have been gone," Brunda said."

    July 28, 2013 at 8:15 am |
  10. Rocket surgeon

    No he IS a joke.
    He needs to go away, and stop inflicting this crap on the American people.
    The sooner the better. He has no chance.
    He has nothing to offer.
    If he's bored, that's his problem.

    July 27, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    July 27, 2013 at 6:37 am |
    • Fr33d0mhawk

      Thank you! I have been telling Evangelicals for years that they need to evangelize animals. Think of how many cows, pigs and chickens go to slaughter without ever knowing the word of Jesus. Maybe you can change all that by refocusing the effort on saving factory farm animals before they are sent to hell. Its every Evangelical's God given mission to save every animal bred for slaughter, and once the save every animal, then they can work on saving humans, who have the capacity for reason and have the freedom to seek out a church of their choice. Factory farm animals have no such luck, they are not allowed to go to church on Sunday, probably a liberal plot to destroy Christmas.

      July 28, 2013 at 9:09 am |
      • Terri Baker

        OMG. I'd starve to death. I like my Christianity medium rare with ketchup and mustard. I don't think that Inviting the neighbors, family and friends over to share in the evil beef at a barbeque will send everyone to hell unless it's at Ted Haggard or some other equally perverted evangelitical's house.

        July 28, 2013 at 10:44 am |
        • Lisa

          I think the meaning was save their souls, not their lives. You'd just be eating meat whose soul is in heaven instead of the pitchfork-poking place.

          July 29, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • pete

      prayer changes little to nothing on it's own. recovery is done in coordination with one's higher power, but ultimately it's up to an addict to do action in their own recovery. same goes for the rest of life...one may be inspired by their spiritual beliefs, but miracles simply do not happen

      July 29, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  12. Reality

    As my Dad told me many times, se-x CAN be an addiction so be very, very careful.

    July 26, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • Justine

      "The addiction scenario is a cop-out just as it was with Tiger Woods!!!"

      Make up your mind, flippy. Is he addicted or not?

      July 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Reality

      My Dad was pre-internet and bred, born and brainwashed in the RCC. He confused the se-x drive with addiction and was unaware of the methods of modern self-control such as Far Eastern mediation and safe se-x methods/release such as masturbation.

      July 27, 2013 at 7:18 am |
      • Justine

        What the hell does that have to do whether the addiction is valid or not? You said below there was no such thing, and now you're saying it is, flippy.
        Tantric has nothing to do with Weiner, either. Focus here, flippy.

        July 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  13. Ann

    He needs to drop out of the mayoral race so he can concentrate on running for President in 2016 - with Eric Holder as his running mate.

    Who wouldn't want THAT bumper sticker??

    July 26, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  14. newton

    I do hope he can get some help that will last!

    July 25, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  15. Reality

    Once again:

    Self-control apparently is not in Weiner's vocabulary. The addiction scenario is a cop-out just as it was with Tiger Woods!!!

    Weiner is a cheat and liar and should never be considered for a leadership role.

    And add significantly stupid to the mix !!!

    July 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • AE

      So, you want to do the things that Weiner does, but don't do those things, because you have self-control?

      July 25, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
      • Mary

        AE, reality NEVER answers direct questions. He thinks he's above that.

        July 25, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • Reality

      Dear Mr. Weiner,

      See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-control to get some pointers on self-control to include the references included.

      July 25, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
      • Jubilee

        You seem very churlish and condescending. Glad I'm not within your sphere of influence.

        July 25, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • Athy

      Doesn't matter if he's addicted or not or whatever his problem is. We hold our leaders to a higher standard than our neighbors. He's unfit for any role in which he can affect our lives. Why take the chance by electing him?

      July 26, 2013 at 12:12 am |
      • lol??

        The original point of american gubmint was to have the Public Servants be followers of the Masters, not leaders of a MOB.

        July 26, 2013 at 11:10 am |
        • Anita Dollar

          You have absolutely no clue what you're talking about, do you?

          July 26, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Reality

      As my wife's aunt used to say:

      "If you can't control it, put it in a window and slam it shut. "

      July 26, 2013 at 8:08 am |
      • Anita Dollar

        Well, how very nice for you that you are the perfect specimen of a human being. If you can control you patronizing attitude, that is. Have your wife's aunt slam your head in that window, ok?

        July 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Reality

      How in the world do we get this situation under control?

      A pill to temporarily eliminate the s-ex drive would be a good start. (Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes, 4/18/2010 described them as anti-desire pills).

      And teenagers and young adults must be constantly reminded of the dangers of se-xual activity and that oral s-ex, birth control pills, and chast-ity belts are no protection against S-TDs. Might a list of those having a S-TD posted on the Internet help?-Said names would remain until the S-TD has been eliminated with verification by a doctor. Lists of s-exual predators are on-line. Is there a difference between these individuals and those having a ST-D having s-exual relations while infected??? One wonders if Weiner is on any of these lists?

      July 26, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
      • Kerry

        YOU wonder if he's on any of these lists. Given your propensity to research other people's sex lives, I wonder how many YOU are on.

        He gets into treatment for OCD. Long term therapy.

        He hasn't committed any sexual crime, doof. He's unsavory, but then, so are you.

        July 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • Mary

        Do you think he put on a condom before sending the pix, Reality? Would that satisfy your burning need to know?

        Get a hobby.

        July 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Reality

      And one assumes Weiner and his kind also fall into the following but then again maybe he is all talk and text:

      The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from an agnostic guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

      Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

      The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

      : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

      Added information before making your next move:

      "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."
      See also: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/26/opinion/bolan-se-xual-health/index.html?hpt=hp_t4

      And from:
      "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about (even though is becoming a major cause of throat cancer)," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (Maybe it should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

      Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

      The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

      – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
      – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

      Followed by:

      One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
      Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
      The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
      Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
      IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

      Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

      July 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
      • Kerry

        Man, you are way into other people's sex lives, aren't you? You seriously need to take up a hobby that doesn't involve other people's naughty bits. Mething you're just as obsessive as Wiener is.

        July 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
      • Jase

        Glad you enjoy it. Wonder how much your partner does. If you have a partner, that is. You sound boring.

        July 26, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Reality

      Obviously, some failed to read the following i.e. why everyone needs to pay attention to practicing safe s-ex considering the huge costs in time and money.

      Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."
      See also: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/26/opinion/bolan-se-xual-health/index.html?hpt=hp_t4

      July 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
      • Jubilee

        Obviously, you need help with your inability to take criticism, Reality. Perhaps you can ask Wiener where he goes for his OCD therapy; you seem to have a compulsion of your own, and are quite obsessed yourself.

        July 26, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • Carlos Danger

      Guys, don't bother answering "Reality". He is a vanity writer who is the c/p king of pseudo intelligence. Best thing to do is not encourage his "the more you know" moments by not answering his tripe. In other words, ignore. He adds nothing to any topic. Trust me, even though I'm anonymous...

      July 26, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • pete

      an opinion spoken by one unfamiliar with addiciton. he is most definitely and addict. if you are truely addicted to something, it's no longer a matter of will power to refrain from it.

      July 29, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  16. OTOH

    Perhaps Mr. Weiner can use his education and experience to contribute to society in the future as a consultant or researcher or some other post which doesn't involve wisdom in decision making. He has shown that he should not be elected to any political office.

    I wouldn't be surprised if he goes silent for a while after this election and then comes back as some kind of TV commentator.

    July 25, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Carlos Danger

      I thought I might try to get out more. Maybe an escort service...

      July 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  17. Rio Dio

    While his wife forgives and takes him back, New Yorkers need to focus on the best candidate that can represent the city as its Mayor.

    July 25, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
  18. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    He may well be an addict (as the evidence suggests).

    He made himself a punchline and doubly so, given his name.

    July 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  19. Alias

    Does this mean that the regulars on this site are addicted, and should stop?

    July 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • A regular reader

      I never thought of it like that before but yeah probably. Addiction is what people do to relieve anxiety so...

      July 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Jubilee

      Dunno, Alias, are you addicted?

      July 25, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.