A Strange Week

by Reggie Osborne II
Follow @reggieosborne on Twitter, friend me on Facebook or Google+. Listen to my sermons here or subscribe to my blog by Email.

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:

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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.

33 COMMENTS

  1. I love knowing the back story on this! Thanks for sharing. I publish a family values oriented family magazine in my neck of the country, and I read a lot of articles and blog posts. I truly loved yours. It was honest and it was far from holier than thou. I frequently share information about the dangers of pornography, our modern media and the commercial over-sexualization of our kids. I get the fewest responses when I do. Hard to shine a light on that particular moral issue. I applaud your courage to put that out there and I appreciate your response to the critics. I’ll be on the lookout for more good stuff from you!

  2. I totally geeked out at the Reinke tweet. Pretty excited about “discovering” you! Thanks for being willing to take the leap w/ us at ForEveryMom. Your words meant to much to so many and I pray all 200k+ take them to heart.

  3. The people who gave us the culture that has now degenerated to the point where non-consensual sex is apparently common are the same people who gave us the values that brought it all about. And they accuse you of some wrong. I have no faith in the current crop of sex educators because they are the heirs and drink from the same well as the free-love folks that started all this in America in the first place. The women who are so angry with you over the original article should be angry with those folks instead. The current solution of affirmative consent will solve nothing.

  4. I loved the article!! The only thing that I would have changed was that I personally think education is the key. But not in the way that many people think. Educate girls to love their bodies, to understand that they are wonderfully and fearfully made. Educate young men to respect their bodies as well as the bodies of the young ladies they are interested in. Sex is not something to be spontaneously given away like chewing gum. It should be a deeply personal, deeply private act reserved for the marriage bed.

  5. I’m so thankful you wrote this!!! We need people to talk about this more. Reading your “She Only Said Yes Once” article made me feel like I was part of a tribe. People who see what is happening to our kids and refuse to go down without a fight. Waving a flag. Saying look over here!! We have kids drowning in a sea of deceit. Your post was brilliant. Inspired. And deserved the attention it received. Way to live with courage!!

  6. From one pastor in obscurity to another, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter; with the internet and social media you just never know what could happen. As I’ve preached to my church; God loves using “nobody’s” from “nowhere” to accomplish His will, and what a great article for Him to use. As the lead pastor/youth pastor/worship pastor/whatever else the church needs pastor, I will be referencing your article in the near future. I’m currently taking my kids through curriculum dealing with “meaning” and “morality” and your article will fit nicely.

    I’m glad to hear you don’t take all the “comments” concerning your post to heart. Honestly, I rarely read the comments section to posts like yours because most people come with presuppositions that they filter everything they read through and do not really deal with the points of the article, but simply find an outlet to share their own poorly conceived ideas on the matter (the blessing and curse of the comments section on the internet).

    By the way, I came across your article because it was shared on my denominations “pastors facebook page” so I know others will be benefiting from your well thought out insights on the state of our culture and an extremely important issue our kids our faced with daily. Keep up the great writing, I’m confident there is another good one in there somewhere…now, back to finishing my sermon.

  7. I just read the article because someone posted it on FB. I thought it was brilliant and will be sharing it on my FB business page. We homeschool our children and although I know I can’t shelter them from the world I do think I can help them get a better understanding of relationships and sex than what they would get from school sex ed class or from their peers. I already see children as young as kindergarten talking about crushes (not just friend crushes) and I wonder what it will be like for them by the time they reach middle school.
    Thanks for putting your thoughts into words. Obviously, it’s a topic parents are pondering and consider important in light of what is happening in society.

  8. What you’ve written and shared with us is God’s truth. Thank you for following God’s lead and writing what the Holy Spirit prompted you to and for not being afraid, as it tells us 365 times in the Bible, once for each day! 😉 I love Jesus dearly, I love singing “Jesus Loves me this I know” to my granddaughters, they love Jesus too. I pray for you to continue you gift of writing and reach more people. This world in which we live in of same sex unions (as it is not marriage), and as I read yesterday, a 51 year old woman and her 34 year old son are having relations and want to get married….God help us, Jesus come quickly! And taking Jesus out of everything in our country, but always using His name in vain. As you wrote about, yes, Marriage is Sacred, it is a Sacrament, not a game of tennis with many players and many partners. Thank you and may God continue to bless you in your writings, and also in your ministry.

  9. Great post…found you after a fb share from my wife. My only challenge for you is…why shouldn’t this be taught from the pulpit? Why would you gave to leave something out that speaks to your heart. I “know” why you do it…but that’s almost as sad as the sex education thinking. All of us need to be challenged in our faith. You’ve gained another viewer of your blog…great work.

  10. It is really wonderful to know that many are still thinking that sex is not immoral but a gift given for men and women in marriage. I may not be married but i’m one of those that are patiently waiting for the man that is created for me.
    The other great thing about this is these are words from a man… thank you so much

  11. “Obscurity in the world is not obscurity with the Lord.”

    Good grief that’s SO good. Both of your articles (this and the one that spawned it) are genius. Just look at how God has allowed such an audience to stumble upon you! Great stuff…But that quote right there…I’m taking that one with me.

    God bless ya, Reg.

    -Toby (a new subscriber)

  12. This is so encouraging, your blog as a whole i mean, i particularly enjoy you’re writing style and i guess it’s because it just comes off that you’re really enjoying it too and not trying to over polish it, i’ll be checking out more of your content!:)

  13. Thanks for the clarification. My view of sexuality is not the same as yours, but it’s always good to learn, when you read something that could be interpreted badly, that the speaker did not mean it to be as bad as it might sound. I’m glad you weren’t advocating spousal rape, or trying to say that consent doesn’t matter after the marriage ceremony.

    I also agree with you that consent is really important. But I actually think we’re getting better on that count! Maybe I’m wrong, but, as terrifying as the 1-in-7 figure is, I strongly suspect that in the 1970s things were worse (if nothing else, spousal rape wasn’t illegal back then, and I’m sure that didn’t help). My mother was poor, and pretty, and left home very young in the 1970s. When I was about 20 I told her I was afraid no-one would ever want to have sex with me and she stared off into the distance for a moment and then said “Yeah, I guess that’s kind of hard for me to empathize with, because when I was your age I had been, well, basically raped, at least twice.” I’ve heard 1-in-3 figures for rape in the 1970s, and though I haven’t investigated the details in depth, I definitely find it easy to believe that it was worse then than it is now.

    I agree that consent should be intuitive — but I do think we have to teach that intuition. It’s kind of like how stealing should be intuitive, but personal property is actually a fairly complicated concept, it’s just that we’re taught from birth what we mean by “mine” and “yours” and “free to take” and “requires money to buy.” Even then, you still get roommate disputes over eating each other’s food and so on! But at least we all get taught a baseline. Parents should be teaching that, and media needs to do a better job of teaching that, and while we’re at it I don’t think there’s anything wrong with schools helping out.

    Even if you believe only in sex after marriage, consent still needs to be taught. Men and women who have never been able to have sex, and have only had limited exploration of their own sexualities to date, might not want to have sex immediately after being married. I mean, if you’ve never even been kissed, surely you’d want to work up to it? I think I would. So yeah, if I believed in no sex before marriage, I’d tell my kids “No sex before marriage, and even after that, sex is complicated. Take time to learn it, feel free to go as slow as you want, and don’t make your spouse get into it faster than they want to.”

    After all, I’m married, and my husband and I still care about consent. Your wife may have only said “yes” once, but I think of my own “yes” as a continuous process — a continuous process that is allowed to pause or even stop whenever I want it to — and communicated in a thousand small and varying ways.

  14. Thanks for the clarification. I’d join GemmaM in considering education to be key though: after all, an important reason we don’t teach it’s wrong to shoot people in the face is that we can assume the parents to already have taught it. Not so much for sex ed, so schools better help out.

    • I think I made it fairly clear in my follow-up that when I say we all bear responsibility, I mean in terms of what we celebrate and condemn in our culture. This is not the same as saying that we are all guilty of rape, which is absurd. I have noticed in the past year a tremendous propensity for some people to see statements on sexual morality in the worst possible light, almost as if they are intentionally looking for something to condemn. Thankfully, this is a small minority and most readers are fairly gracious in considering the author’s intent.

      Once again, I’ve never suggested consent isn’t important. The case I’ve made is that the need for consent should be obvious, and it’s a tragedy that it’s not obvious to so many.

  15. Yes, things have gotten to the point where children need to be taught that it’s not ok to rape people. I don’t believe, however, that this is a problem to which we’ve only recently gotten.
    For example, you used the phrase “spousal rape” in your clarification post. Only a few generations ago, that phrase didn’t exist, covered instead by the twin concepts of a “husband’s rights” and a “wife’s duty”. The fact is, someone had to recognize that there was a problem, educate people, and then wait long enough for the idea to filter down to a generation that would grow up embracing the concept. We’re at the very beginning of reforming consent, but I think that’s more indicative of a new solution than a new problem.
    There has long been sexual abuse, aggression, and assault in even the strictest, most religious, most carefully proper societies.
    Entertainment, the media, and even science are shining a giant light on the cultural attitude, and good people are fighting hard to look the problem in the face and educate their children, but those are the only things different about this generation. Rape culture is not new, it’s newly studied, newly discussed, newly realized.

  16. When you read these two articles together I don’t think there could be any question as to what you intended. Hopefully it will help parents get the courage to talk about it with their kids. I think the earlier the better to start teaching them the realities (age appropriate of course).

  17. I truly enjoyed your articles and understood what you were saying. I was one of the teens pressured into sex in high school. My first marriage was to a man who believed that marriage gave him a right to my body when he wanted. I am now happily married to a man who respects my wishes when I am not in the mood, just as I respect his. While sex is an important part of our relationship, it is only one facet of it. Each part enhances the others. May God bless and keep you and your family.

  18. Thanks for the great thoughts on your site. You are gifted as a writer. Thanks for using God’s gifts to bless others! 🙂

  19. Hey Reggie! I read your original article quite a while ago and was very challenged and encouraged by it! A friend re shared it with me today, and it was just as excellent as I remembered! Thank you so much for your stand for the beauty of God’s created order, for your passion and willingness to speak a complicated truth. I had my own (much smaller) version of the 15min of fame, and I wanted to say also how encouraged and personally challenged I was by your incredibly gracious and gentle replies to some pretty awful comments! Your writing has been such a blessing to me, and I know many others, and I pray that you are encouraged in your day by day mission as a nobody serving a Somebody who loves you dearly – and as a precious brother in Christ to your wife, your church there, me, and thousands of others who have been touched by you one way or another. 🙂

    I also wanted to just say thank you for the inspiration to look to God’s perfect plan and uphold passionately what He has called good. It is sweet to my heart to feel the deep mystery of Christ’s relationship with us, of the relationship He created between husband and wife, and of the joy of love, whether in giving ourselves to God or to our spouse. Truly, all His ways are perfect!
    May God bless you,
    Carrie

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