Last week I put a question out, in the form of a survey, in response to an email I received, a criticism in fact. Is this blog informative, or erotic, or somewhere in the middle? Have we strayed from our mission? Have we crossed the line on what is acceptable and godly… While it would be easy just to shove the question aside, to rationalize my own writing (correctly or incorrectly), or claim “we’re doing God’s work, so we must be right”, I believe in the counsel of many, in wisdom of godly people, and while I don’t know of the individual relationships between our readers and God, I trusted that if there was rebuke to be had from God, He would convict me, through the voices of many, even if it was a single comment. Because, I believe this is one way to grow as godly writers.
I posted the survey preparing for criticism. I braced myself for rebuke. I expected to have to adjust my thinking, and prepared to accept it with humility.
What we received instead was an overwhelming wave of support, the likes of which we never expected. We received 186 responses to the survey, 82 of which contained comments. We also received a few comments on the blog post itself, A few comments were short, but the majority were paragraph size. Their contents?
Stories of marriages that have been helped through God working through us.
Some just telling us how much they love our blog.
Some saying how our posts are conversations starters in their marriage (I love these!).
Some sharing what posts specifically helped in their marriage bed, or activities they tried and loved.
Some were other bloggers sharing how they’ve had the same questions about their own writing.
Many just wanted to say thanks for our ministry.
Quite a few wanted to clarify that while they indicated that they found the posts erotic, it was only because they were thinking of how they could implement this in their own marriage bed.
Others were harder to hear: Readers sharing about how our blog is sometimes difficult to read, because it highlights how damaged their own marriage is. About sexless marriages that have lasted months, years, decades… About spouses that have called us pornographic, immoral, and ungodly. But, even in these comments, they urged us to continue in our mission.
A small group shared some criticism, some was given lovingly and cautious, some were blunt, and some were just rude. But all were received, believing that if the rebuke was godly, then it was from God. This is what I heard:
While many love the blog, want to hear more and are never offended, there are a few who do feel uncomfortable at times with the content we write about. Not because the activities are ungodly or sinful, not because we are too blunt in our use of language, but because we give a glimpse into what our marriage bed is like. And for some, that feels uncomfortable. For some it causes a sinful reaction, or at least threatens one, or tempts them.
And as much as I’d like to focus on the encouragement, on the warm words, stories, thanks and blessings, I find my thoughts overtaken by this minority. What if God is trying to tell me something? After all, history has proven that, particularly when talking about following God: the masses are not always correct. In fact, it’s generally a remnant that holds true to God. That said…I think our readers are already a remnant…
Still, I wonder. I don’t think I have an answer today. I don’t know how we’re going to proceed exactly. I know we’re going to continue to write. I know we are going to “stay the course” as so many of the comments pleaded us to do.
But, I do think we need to be more conscious about how we discuss our marriages. Not only my wife and I, but also you, our readers. Because together, we contribute to this body of work. Sometimes there are comments I feel are crossing the line. But, its easier to judge other people’s writings. So, I’m sure that there are a few instances where my own writing might have crossed a line or two as well.
So, I think, for the most part, we will continue, as we have been, but with eyes more open, more aware. Hopefully, this awareness will help guide our words, to make them more…palatable to a greater audience, without losing any of the informative nature of the blog.
We’re going to continue to write about physiology (since apparently this in high demand), but also theology and psychology. As much as I can, anyways, being self-taught in all three. As I constantly feel the need to remind people: I am neither doctor, psychologist, nor pastor. Do your own research, make your own decisions. I am not legally qualified to offer prescriptive advice. Only to ask questions, do analysis and give a perspective. I counsel you in the same way I would a friend, bother or sister (if they ever asked about sex). And yes, I know, you all would have liked an “I want more of all three” option, but then everyone would have picked it and I would have learned nothing and it would have been a waste of a question.
We’re also going to keep pushing the envelope on taboo subjects. Every time I hit “Publish” on an “edgy” post, I worry about who I’m going to offend, but I don’t worry too much, because with each successive post, we get a new influx of people telling us how much it has helped their marriage. Our various social communities continue to grow, and traffic keeps increasing.
Believe it or not (I have trouble believing it), we’re going to hit 1,000,000 hits within the new 2 weeks if traffic patterns continue. This is absolutely astounding to me. Christina hasn’t really accepted it yet, I don’t think. It’s too surreal.
Oh, and I’m sorry for calling the one side of the spectrum “Tame”…I couldn’t think of another word. I wasn’t trying to equate it with boring. Nothing wrong with vanilla/missionary position sex…once in a while. If you have a better word, let me know.
I’m also working on two or three larger projects, in an attempt to help even more people in the community.
One is a book. I don’t really have a title yet, and, I’m going to hold off on sharing the specific topic. I hope it will provide a practical action plan for a certain segment of marriages for which the marriage blogging community typically has no answer for, or at least no satisfactory one, because, frankly, I think it’s too large an issue to tackle in a series of blog posts. But not a week goes by that I don’t hear of a marriage in this situation. So, I’m going to try to help.
The other two projects…well, you’ll just have to wait a bit. I might make an announcement for our 1,000,000 hit celebration about one of them.
Lastly, I just want to say thank you.
Thank you for the comments.
Thank you for the emails.
Thank you for the survey participation.
Thank you for re-tweeting our posts, quotes, announcements, surveys, etc.
Thank you for liking us on Facebook, +1’ing us on Google+ and pinning us on Pinterest.
Thank you for being willing to grow your marriage, so you can model to the rest of the world what Christian marriages should be like.
Thank you for reading and being a part of this ministry.
3 thoughts on “How we grow as godly writers”
Hi Jay Dee,
As an author of Christian fiction I also walk constantly on that edge of being offensive to some and a source of encouragement to others. I think you and your wife have done an amazing job with this site and its content. I think your poll and this follow up post only echo the seriousness of your heart to follow God and not to be a distraction off the straight and narrow for those who come here. That said, if I could share something with you it would be that your poll other than being informative of what others are thinking(I’m glad it was so encouraging for you) it was in the end not needed. Early on in this post you mention that if you were to get negative feedback that you would change the way you do things. If you’ve cleared yourself with God and welcomed His Spirit into your work then you’ve already gotten all the poll results needed. Your writing shouldn’t rise and fall based off what the people want for then you may do God a disservice from not being the voice in the wind that He set you up to be. If I had to go off some of the negative responses to my writing I should have quit by now, but there not who I write for. You can’t please everyone so don’t try, just remain faithful to God, prayfully consider ever typed word and hit the post button if you still have peace that you’ve done what you’ve felt called to do. Above all don’t give people ammo against you by saying you may have gone over the line a time or two, when in your heart you don’t think so and if you did my opinion of you judging from the heart I see in your writing would be that you would give it all up in terms of this website. I think the Bible says it best in that we are not to be, ‘pleasers of men’, so write boldly what you feel God leads you to and nothing but and let comments fall where they may. Thank you for helping my marriage bed.
P.S. If you get your book written I’d like to take a look at it and help you promote it.
I’m sorry, I think I was unclear on that point. It’s not that I believe I should change to be acceptable to men (in place of God), but rather…I believe there is wisdom in asking people for counsel, that sometimes they help the Holy Spirit convict us, when we are blind to it ourselves. I’m sorry if I was vague on that. I won’t be changing merely because people are upset. Frankly, I get enough upset people that the blog wouldn’t exist if I did that…but I check their reactions and comments against what I find in scripture. If someone brought forth a point that I could not refute biblically…then I would know I was in the wrong and might have to adjust.
I very much appreciate the vote of confidence though. And I agree, God should be our only judge. But Proverbs constantly tells us that getting counsel is wise….so long as the counselors are wise. On a blog with a community, this is harder to gauge, but I believe it is still possible.
And I’ll definitely get in touch with you about the book. I’m glad we can be of service to you and your wife.
As I’ve been considering our site, I’ve been avoiding more “provocative” language. It feels clinical to me, but maybe it’s for the best.