Gee as in “Gee Whiz.” Or, “Gee I never knew.” Maybe, “Gee Willikers, Look what came in the mail!”
We did it. Our small town made someone’s Top 50. Not just made it into the Top 50 but hit Number 1.
The Oklahoma Gazette reported, according to an online seller of adult materials, Tuttle residents purchased intimate adult products at a rate 13 times the average city in the Unites States. Facebook responses ranged from “Wow,” to “This is funny.” Some even remarked how hard it would be to look someone in the face at the Post Office at the sight of a brown package. This is surely an indication that Fifty Shades of Grey will do well in Oklahoma.
What Makes This Interesting
Our small town is home to at least eleven churches within the City limits with a population of just over 6000, according to the 2010 census data. That is one Christian church for every 550 people. (The area covered in the Gazette story likely covers the entire 73089 Zip Code that entails a larger population density as it includes unincorporated areas not included in the census data for the City limits. This also means several churches are not included in the tabulation. The ratio would not be appreciably different.)
By comparison, one study suggested that in 2004 the ratio of churches to population for the United States was 11 churches for every 10,000 people. Southern Baptists offer statistics for the number of Southern Baptist Churches to population by State. In their most recent report Oklahoma has a ratio of 1:2083. The United States has a ratio of 1:6194. Within the City limits of Tuttle there are four Southern Baptist Churches indicating a ratio of 1:1500.
In short, while many Tuttle residents travel to other metro locations to attend church, of any denomination, the City of Tuttle is a very churched small town.
One would expect the influence of these churches on the local population would show up in different ways.
This is not a post to prod a return to a bygone Victorian Era. The secret is out that prohibitions force people underground, or online.
This is not a call to a new Puritanism. Attempting to replicate a bygone era as a solution to the problem in a new context ignores all contributing factors related to both time periods, the then and the now.
Instead, the aim to suggest something more startling, “Why so surprised?”
What Is It With Conservatives and Sex?
Studies indicate higher incidence of pornography use and teen pregnancy in the more conservative South than other locations, with perhaps Utah as an exception. Oklahoma ranks high in both categories. Certainly the anonymity of the Internet and the promise of discreet brown package delivery lessen any stigmatism for those searching porn sites and purchasing their fantasy wares through online stores.
What complicates is the conservative nature of Oklahoma. We are the Reddest State in the Country. One would expect with such a significant presence of conservative churches these numbers would be different. One would expect that the presence of the largest Christian Youth Camp in the Country combined with one of the highest ratios of churches to population would be evidenced in a lower incidence of pornography use and a lower teen birth rate.
Despite expectations to the contrary, the way we talk about sex and sexuality in more conservative locales proves the rule of the prohibition. Admit it. The more you are told, “No,” or “Don’t,” the greater the intrigue in the thing prohibited. Consider the appeal of the fruit in the Garden. The drive was contained in the prohibition.
What Do We Do with Tuttle’s Gee Spot?
Here are some possibilities.
First, we could double down on the prohibition. Many will accuse local pastors of being soft on morality, particularly sexual morality. The prescription would be for an immediate series on the ills of lingerie and the host of adult products available at the click of a mouse.
Second, we could amplify the shame. You may be sure this news stirred suspicions. Quiet conversations will take place as ne’er do wells speculate as to who helped put Tuttle on the map.
Third, we could create new paths of guilt. Deny those human impulses. Isn’t that what Jesus meant when he said to deny self?
Or, maybe we could follow a different trajectory.
What if we decided once and for all that we would have and encourage open discussions about sex and sexuality in the Church? Get past the blush.
What if we determined to cultivate the fruit of self-control rather than create a new legalism? Get past a prohibition only plan.
What if we delve into the modern phenomenon of arousal? Here we would explore not just what stirs our intimate passions but also those pursuits that point to the sense that one is only really living when any human emotion is aroused.
What if we displayed grace in the face of human desire rather than make guilt and shame our first priority? Get past the need to control.
And, what if we admitted that some things are in bounds within the context of a mutual, loving relationship. What adolescent has not blushed at their first reading of the Song of Solomon?
Maybe there are other ideas. What does not seem to be working are those practices and patterns that arouse the drive of the prohibition. It only seems to intensify the desire.