Well, I made it to Friday. And as soon as this is posted, all of my attention shifts to Sunday. But while this week is fresh in my mind, I wanted to write about it. I don’t think there will be another week like this any time soon.
I’m really a “nobody”. I mean, I’m a “somebody” to Jesus, and I’m a “somebody” to my wife and my kids and my family and my church. But outside of that, I’m nobody. I was nobody at the beginning of the week, and I’m nobody at the end of the week.
But this week, I got way more attention than a “nobody” like me is used to getting. This happened because of the article I published on this blog: She Only Said “Yes” Once.
I wrote this article 5 months ago and saved it as a draft. I honestly didn’t know if it was any good, and besides that, no one reads my blog anyway. So posting a provocative commentary on sex in our culture really doesn’t make sense when this website is only checked by my wife and a few of my more gracious friends.
But after five months of posting nothing, I figured…what the heck? You know? I posted it here and shared it on Facebook.
Right away I got Facebook shares from my church family. That’s not unusual. They love me, and they probably feel sorry for me that I seem intent to write things that no one has ever read or ever will read. “Sympathy Shares”, but I always smile at them because they come from love.
That night I got an email from a lady who works for a website I’d never heard of, Foreverymom.com. She was very kind about my article and wanted to know if she could put it on her website.
This was new. To my knowledge, no one who wasn’t already my friend had ever really read anything I’d posted on my website. And the numbers backed that up! I get statistics for how each of my articles are viewed…so I’m well aware of the fact that they’re NOT viewed.
I thought about it and I agreed. I gave her a profile picture. I wrote up a short bio. And I simply asked that none of the content be altered. In hindsight, I should have let her alter it. There were a few grammatical errors that I’m sure she would have caught!
When the article posted to her website, it did well. 50,000 views the first day, up to 100,000 views on the second day, and it hit 210,000 somewhere since then. I don’t know if I can describe how weird that felt. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I usually have to ask people to visit my website when I write something…like, pick up the phone and ask them. As far as the internet is concerned, reggieosborne.com doesn’t really exist.
These views led to many Facebook shares…somewhere around 30K. Last night it started sharing on Twitter. A person who I admire very much, Tony Reinke from DesiringGod read it and tweeted:
Huh? I almost cried when I read that. No one has ever wanted to publish anything I’ve written before. I’m from New Paris, Ohio – population 2,000-something. We’re poor…we’re country…we’re pretty much as insignificant to the rest of the larger world as an American village can possibly be.
This was really strange. I almost became prideful! Prideful about a tweet! That should tell you how little I expect anyone to notice my writing.
On my own website, the traffic spiked for three days…people spilling over from other sites and shared links. I still don’t know what to make of it. As of this writing, the article has been viewed 5,700 times on my little site. To put that in perspective, consider Easter Prayer, a meditation I wrote and cried over last year. It has 1 official view.
Or how about Proof of His Love, something I actually tried to get people to look at! I even created a banner for it and changed my Facebook header!
89 all-time views.
Before this week, the most popular thing I’d ever written was Sadness, Loss, and Hope at Clyde’s Passing, another emotional entry after a dear friend passed away last year. It was viewed 1,037 times. But let’s be honest…those views aren’t mine. Those views are Clyde’s. I wrote it and people read it because of their love for him, not my writing ability.
The bottom line is, if you have a few minutes on the internet at Easter time, would you rather read Reggie Osborne’s “Easter Prayer” or whatever John Piper has posted? Come on…even I would pick John Piper…and I’m Reggie Osborne!
But now this. Viewed at least 217,000 times. This will probably be the most read piece of writing I will ever write in my entire life. I’m serious. That’s really strange to me!
If I ever write a book, 217,000 people aren’t going to buy it. If I pour my guts out writing a sermon…maybe 200 people will hear it.
If you had told me that 200,000 people were going to view something and then asked me to pick something I’ve written to show them…I wouldn’t have picked this! I’d have picked something directly about Jesus.
I guess you don’t get to choose what people are going to like, though.
Or not like…
I should say that when you write something about sexual morality, you don’t find too many people in the middle of the road. What I mean by that is, my article has met VERY strong reactions in the positive and the negative. This doesn’t surprise me, and it hasn’t offended me. Not everyone will agree with me, and that’s okay.
The only difficult part of it is to see the sheer number of people who seem to have read an entirely different article than the one I wrote. There were many people who just assumed I was against sexual education. I’m not (entirely). My article never decries sexual education. Others thought I was actually advocating for spousal rape! I’d rather die than do that. Thankfully fewer people came away with that opinion.
And there were many people who admitted that they didn’t even read the whole thing (not that I can blame them; I’ve never been a man of few words). So they read the part about my wife, they assumed I was just being “holier than thou” and railing against people who have sexual sin in their past, and went straight to the bottom of the page to let me know how they felt about that. (Not well.)
Altogether, though, I’ve tried to respond graciously and thoughtfully and kindly. I’ve posted every reply on my website, except one which was nothing but insults. I don’t have a monopoly on wisdom. If I were a better communicator, maybe that would help, too.
The page views are leveling off. I think this article has about run its course. Normalcy resumes.
So now I go into sermon mode once again, and I have no idea how long it will be until I post something else or write something else that isn’t going to be preached from the pulpit. And whenever I DO write again, I doubt very seriously that more than a handful of people will be reading. I’m okay with that. Obscurity in the world is not obscurity with the Lord.
I am precious to Him. Glory to God.
But before I do, I want to close this out by trying – as simply as I can – to explain what She Only Said “Yes” Once was supposed to be.
When I read about the legislation in California that mandated teenagers be taught to ask for consent…I just found myself asking, “Have things gotten so bad that we have to make laws…just to make sure…that our kids know…that they shouldn’t rape people?”
So I started doing some research. I found the study that showed 1 in 4 female college students claim they were the victim of sexual assault. Then I found where the authors of that study tried to clarify their results in TIME Magazine by saying it was actually closer to 1 in 7.
Going from 1 in 4 to 1 in 7 didn’t make me feel any better. In fact, it made me feel worse that these researchers even assumed that it would make me feel better!
And I thought to myself, “Wow. I guess if I were a California legislator and I was trying to find a way to stem the tide of that kind of sexual abuse in college, I could see myself passing a law that mandated the teaching of consent to teenagers. Because apparently, they don’t know to ask!”
And then I felt sick.
Sex – the physical and emotional union that brings two people together as one – should be intuitively understood to require CONSENT from BOTH people. You shouldn’t have to teach this in a healthy society! You shouldn’t have to make laws to make sure that it’s taught in a healthy society.
I mean, it should be the most basic thing, right? Sex should be okay with the other person!
And to me, the passing of this law was like passing a law that required teachers to tell students, “Hey…it’s wrong and illegal to shoot your classmate in the face.”
To my knowledge, we don’t have any laws that require teachers to tell their students that it’s wrong to shoot people in the face. We expect students to understand this intuitively.
But we have laws that require teachers to tell their students that they shouldn’t rape their classmates. Why? Because it’s not intuitive to them anymore. They don’t get it. I mean, some of them get it…but not enough of them.
Their view of sex is so messed up that they assume a kiss is consent for the whole 9 yards.
As a culture, we have to own that. That’s on us. We are responsible. And that makes me sick.
So I didn’t write the article to rail on sex-ed. I didn’t write it to condone spousal rape. I didn’t write it to tell everybody how holy I am and how bad they are.
I wrote it because we’re all victims and perpetrators alike. We need to take stock of what sex means in the culture around us. We need to re calibrate.
What I wrote was meant to be provocative to that end…to get people to pause for a second of their day and think about sex and culture. It worked. It worked more than I could have possibly imagined. For that, I’m grateful.
Alright…back to normal.