Rewinding the tape to Sunday, November 25th, it was a 45th birthday that I will never forget. I awoke to a text message from a friend saying, “Your article made CNN.com’s headlines! You’re second on the page! SO proud of you!” We went to the website to behold the blog post – an article entitled Searching for God, Settling for Sex.
But we were soon flabbergasted by what we read. The response comments, primarily from agnostics and atheists with tagline names such as “ihategod” and “endreligion” were absolutely, positively searing. Over 300 of them. And as the hours rolled by, the number climbed to over 1,000 – some affirming comments from Christians saying how much they agreed with and appreciated the article, but mostly naysayers questioning how on earth I could dare say that “sexuality and spirituality are two sides of the same coin.” They obviously interpreted it to read, “If you don’t know God, then you’re not having the BEST sex!” (a sentiment I actually wholeheartedly agree with now that I think about it!)
I confess, the crudeness and rudeness of so many of the comments kept me in tears most of the day. It ruined my birthday, until I pulled myself together at 5 p.m. to go celebrate with my family in spite of the emotional hurricane that just blew in.
But I love the saying, “What a difference a day makes!” because it’s very true. Just four days later, I’d actually become THANKFUL for the “Hurricane CNN” experience, and oh-so-pleased with what all had transpired as a result of the CNN blog activity. It was a stunning portrayal of Romans 8:28 – “God works ALL things together for GOOD!”
A Note from M&M Public Relations:
The CNN Belief blog post (last Sunday) stirred up more than 1600 comments, a lot of them pretty trashy. But the editor is very happy with the piece, and it was picked up by several news aggregators. As you can see on the article page, more than 2200 folks have recommended the article on Facebook — the editor considers anything more than 1000 to be successful. He most often looks to the Facebook recommendations as a gauge of success. So thanks, Shannon, for taking a few on the chin for writing this article! It reached a lot of readers.
Not only has the article reached a lot of readers, we’ve also received several new media interview or article requests, many email inquiries about marriage/relationship coaching, multiple book orders through the website, etc. And as the week progressed, I also began receiving far more positive emails and reviews than negative (praise God!). Here’s one (unedited) example I received from a gentleman, for which I’m SO grateful:
Hey Shannon, I just read your CNN article ‘Searching for God, Settling for Sex’ primarily bc it said ‘sex’ in the title, hoping for something juicy. Instead, the Holy spirit showed up, and thank God. You said, “My counseling experience has shown me that we often seek healing for our deepest wounds via sexual encounters.” I could not identify more with this. From an emotional affair, to a physical affair, to porn, to random hook-ups, night club dancing and masturbation, I was looking for:
— validation: ‘you have what it takes, T****. you’ve got ‘it.’ you are strong, good man.
— to be known: “i see you in the deepest parts of your heart, and you are good, special, and unique. and i get you, i relate to you, i understand you.”
— to be respected: “you are worth being respected. i value you; your talents, your gifts, your personality, your body of work.”
— adventure: to be a part of something exciting, cutting edge, risky, bigger than me.
And none of it worked, not really. It did for a time, the affairs filling my longings the longest. But they all left me feeling shameful, tired, and empty.
Thanks for writing truth – don’t see that much on cnn.com. Appreciate you fighting for people’s hearts.
respectfully, T.S., USAF
And another review (edited for length) from a reader skeptical about The Fantasy Fallacy at first…
While reading The Fantasy Fallacy by Shannon Ethridge, I felt inside myself a complex mixture of emotions stirring. Among them was skepticism, interest and a certain uneasiness or anxiety on how I was going to be able to write a review about a book I could not articulate my feelings on…
I felt doubtful of a book less than 300 pages that would examine these questions with a satisfactory amount of thoroughness and as a skeptic to religion, I felt like this book would be a chore to finish.
I was shocked to realize I was considering the religious aspects of the book just as seriously as her arguments related to fantasy and an “overly sexualized society”. I feel like this book enlightened me and has helped me begin a very necessary spiritual journey to find a relationship with God.
This book has left me feeling very confused about my previous dispositions in life and has encouraged me to do some personal reflection. I am indebted to this book for this reason alone and encourage others to read it in case they find similar enlightenment.
(read full review here)
It seems we’re experiencing a bit of a paradigm shift as a result of The Fantasy Fallacy. For the past 15+ years, I’ve been trying to inspire Christians to embrace a healthy sexual lifestyle by presenting it through a spiritual lens. And for the most part, I haven’t gotten a lot of flak (not nearly as much as one might think!). Christians get it when you take the time to explain it. And perhaps I’ve been preaching to the choir…
However, now I sense God using this ministry to try to inspire people to embrace HIM by presenting the concept of healthy spirituality through a sexual lens, because that’s what people are so used to looking through (as evidenced by “T.S.’s” email and the review above). The thing is, agnostics, atheists, and skeptics aren’t nearly as easy to convince about embracing GOD as Christians are to convince about embracing SEX!
It’s been a challenge to encourage people to consider “sexuality” and “spirituality” as “two sides of the same coin.” No doubt this challenge will continue… and that’s okay. I’m happy to let God use this ministry whichever way He sees fit, mainly because I know I’m being surrounded in prayer by my Christian brothers and sisters, and we can’t thank you enough for your loving support.
Appreciating you a ton,
Shannon, Greg, & the staff of Shannon Ethridge Ministries