In Defense of My “Shock Jock” Literary Hooks

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THE WINNERS OF THE FREE BOOKS FOR THIS POST HAVE BEEN RANDOMLY SELECTED ALREADY, BUT FEEL FREE TO JOIN IN THE RIVETING CONVERSATION• I warned everyone. From the very first sentence of What Are You Waiting For: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex, I was clear that I wouldn’t shy away from “the words”. For crying out loud, I even produced a video to pre-promote the book that warned I’d used “the words”. I thought long and hard before I decided to use them. The decision wasn’t made without prayer, the advice of an amazing advisory team including theologians, and ultimately the methodical dissection of an entire team of seasoned editors. In the end, we felt it wise to take on the challenge to dissect issues like masturbation, oral sex, and porn—something just a few Christian books targeting men have done.

I thought I had thick skin, but—while the vast majority of blogs, reviews and comments about the book are overwhelming full of the word “WOW!”—I still feel the need to defend myself when I read the ones that shut me down for my decision. Here’s one:

While reading the first chapters of this book, I was turned off by the sort of “shock jock” literary hooks and emotional chick flick definitions of romance.  So I put my super critical glasses on and prepared to deal with whatever horrible theology was about to be thrown my way.

I’d like to explain my decision to include what she calls “shock jock” literary hooks. And if you’ll give me the courtesy of hearing the two simple reason why, I’ll kindly pay you back for your time with a chance to win a copy of my chick-flick-of-a-book!

First, I want to emphasize what I say on the first page of the book: “I find a more poetic, subtle approach to sexuality  more romantic. Not to mention tasteful. It seems to me that the Bible—while not lacking in sexual instruction, ethic, and purpose—often presents the subject in veiled terms, leaving us unblushed by its modest references to a gift so tender.” Even with this personal preference, I felt called to a more explicit writing about sexuality (targeting older teen and college-aged women) for two reasons.

Two Reasons Why I Used “The Words”

Reason Number One: I’ve been counseling teen and college aged girls since the year 2000 when my first book, And The Bride Wore White, was released. (Incidentally, we broke some ground with that book, too. No one was taking their masks of perfection off to talk about their own sexual sin and God’s incredible power to heal and transform a sinner before I penned that book. Turns out a lot of people needed to know they weren’t alone.) Here’s one thing I know about counseling pastor’s daughters, missionary kids,  home schooled teens, Christian college students, and the rest of the cream of the crop out there: they know “the words.” They use them. (And often their more crass euphemisms.) I once caught a pastor’s kid as she fainted from the physically manifestation of shame while confessing to me her long-lost battle with masturbation. I held and comforted a home schooled college girl who was having sex with her boyfriend even though she was under her parents strict courting regulations. I tried not to blink from shock when the brace-laden 13-year-old youth group cutie told me she was “giving [oral sex] to pretty much everyone.” (It’s never the act of sin that shocks me. It’s the euphemisms.) Last year I was ministering at a gathering of some of the most theologically conservative women on the planet—pardon the hyperbole, but it’s practically true—when a missionary kid approached me asking how to overcome her addiction to porn. You see, I didn’t decide to use “the words” because they know them. I decided to use the words because they DO them. And their hearts are broken by it. Someone has to stop that!

Reason Number Two: In light of the fact that they’re doing “the words,” I have to wonder what moral value has been assigned to them. These are often the cream of the crop Christian kids coming to me for healing from sexual pain. How is it that they “didn’t know?” I recently met a 25-year-old girl who grew up in the Church, was active in her youth group, and experienced a radical encounter with Christ as her Healer when facing a life-threatening illness as a teen. She has more sex partners than she can count. As she cried with me, the pain of the sin having caught up with her, she said: “I didn’t know sex was such a big deal. No one really told me it could hurt, and the world made it sound so good.” You see, no one IN THE CHURCH took time to assign moral value to things like masturbation, porn and oral sex. The culture, however, attempts daily to make acts of sexuality morally neutral. The culture’s very loud, daily assignment of value easily trumps the ever-so-infrequently whispered assignment of value from the Church. (So, in the case of my 25-year-old friend, crossing the line to give up her virginity “just happened naturally as a progression from those other things.”) I decided to use “the words” because the moral value assigned to them must be informed by The Word of God.

Let me get all this useless blogging about my language in the book out of the way by just saying it like it is. There are 41,404 words in my line edited manuscript of the book. The word porn is used 67 times in the body of the book. Masturbation shows up 21 times. Oral sex shows up 8 times. Orgasm shows up 8 times. If that offends you, you should not read What Are You Waiting For. (Now I feel like I’m writing a movie review. Speaking of which: How many of you saw “The King’s Speech?” I didn’t even use that word and you heard it more times in :45 seconds than I will my entire life! Were you shocked? Or did you laugh?)

And there we come back to the real world. I’m not a spiritual monk. Those who are—and like it that way—will continue to write bad things about my book. Case in point:

Now that I’ve read it, I’m at a loss for how to discuss it. Because yes, I choose to be very discrete when it comes to the topic of sex….I become incredibly uncomfortable around people who discuss any aspect of it in the same manner as if they are talking about making pancakes. Prudish? Some would say so. I choose to use the word discrete and like it that way.

Just for the record: I used more than 128 Scripture verses—averaging twenty words per for a total of 2560 words— from The Word to assign moral value to “the words.”

If you want to know how far is too far, why sexual sin hurts so much, if masturbation is a sin, how to talk about the GLBT issue, whether or not to dump a guy who is using porn, or how to know which guy is the right guy…read my book.

If you want to read about how to make pancakes…don’t read my book.

Leave a comment below answering the following question and you’ll be entered into a random drawing to receive one of ten free books to be shipped next week. (Sorry pancake-eating-monks, the book is What Are You Waiting For.) And the question is: Should the Church be talking more bluntly about the issues of pornography, oral sex, masturbation, homosexuality, and other difficult sexual issues?