God Vibes: The World of Christian Sex Toys (Pt 1)
Are you a Christian?
Are you a Christian who’s interested in purchasing some sex toys, but who first wants to know whether your purchases are honoring God?
Book22 is a website founded by Kevin and Joy Wilson, who are dedicated to their Christian Mission of providing “Intimacy products for married couples.” In other words, they sell sex toys for Jesus. (I mean, not for him to use. But in his name. Come on, guys! It’s a Mission!)
According to an interview with NPR back in 2008, as well as the “About” section of their own website, the Wilsons created Book22 because they wanted to spice up their marriage and have sexy fun times (I’m paraphrasing) without having to face down the array of “inappropriate” and “pornographic” images that graced sex-toy websites. They wanted to pursue new angles in their sex life, but were concerned about maintaining the “sexual purity” referenced (fairly vaguely) in their Bible.
The concerns that the Wilsons express on their site are echoed in a number of other places around the Christian blogosphere. There are countless resources on the web for Christians concerned about what is and is not okay in the bedroom when you’re under God’s watch. And for good reason. Part of the difficulty with discussing what is and isn’t okay (at least in Protestant versions of the religion) is that the rules in the Bible are actually pretty vague, very minimal, and mostly open for interpretation. Different churches – and even different individuals – have different ideas about what is permissible in the bedroom.
There are, for Biblical literalists, a few outright rules. We all know about the verse in Leviticus that feeds the anti-gay bigots. And there are verses admonishing believers against incest, bestiality, and adultery. Oh, and let’s not forget “fornication.”*
But for the most part, Christianity has a lot of wiggle room when it comes to sex. And I’m going to argue that oftentimes that’s not such a good thing.
In their “about” section, the Wilsons state that every toy sold on their site – particularly the toys in the “Special Order” section – are toys that they chose via prayer. They asked Jesus before posting any new items to the site. So my question is: why is Jesus okay with dildos, but not with anal beads? Why is he okay with condoms, but only if they’re advertised as aids for premature ejaculation or for “women’s discomfort during sex”?
Over the next month or so, I’m going to do the occasional post analyzing the Christian sex toy and Christian sex advice industry, starting with a post tomorrow about some of the wares on Book22. Because while I initially thought that a Christian sex industry might be a step in the progressive direction, I’m quickly learning that it’s merely a new tool for passing judgment and limiting choices – a way for Christians to maintain a moral high ground by claiming that their activities have been stamped with Jesus’ approval.
We’ll be starting, tomorrow, with this abomination.
*I recognize that even these terms require some interpretation. But my investigations of Christian websites seem to indicate that most conservative Christians interpret these terms in approximately the same way. For the purposes of this post, I’m taking them at their word. Perhaps I’ll save the breakdown of the terminology for a later post.