An article on Jewcy about Christian sex toys caught my eye this morning. I highlighted some of the more interesting parts. Who knew that God could also take the form of a nerdy, uptight version of Dr. Ruth!
According to NPR, one Christian woman went looking for a way to add a little spark to her waning marriage “without compromising her Christian beliefs.” The result was the creation of this website, which sells all sorts of sex toys and other “intimate” products, but only for married couples.
And, apparently, the people who run this site are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, and not because they actually need to use any of these products: ” Wilson says she and her husband are blessed with good health, but that God has shown them that other couples might need help from a particular toy.” That is very good to know. So how do they know which products to include?
“We pray about things before we add them to our site,” she says. “We live our lives very openly in front of Jesus, so we just kind of pray for direction about which way he would have us go, and I have to be honest with you — he’s really surprised us. … Almost our whole entire ‘special order’ page has come about from that.“
Of course I clicked on the “special order” page. Wouldn’t you be curious about which products Jesus “surprised” the couple with? She says their site steers clear of certain types of sexual activity that they believe are unholy. Hmmm . . .
I’m not married, and so technically I shouldn’t be browsing this site that exists for “married couples” only. But it was difficult not to be curious about what constitutes “sin-free” sex toys as opposed to . . . well, that’s just it—as opposed to what? Sinful sex toys?
What I discovered, however, is that apparently any sex toy can be “sin-free” as long as it’s used by a married couple. It’s unclear whether the pleasure device retains its “sin-free” status if enjoyed by a married individual by him or herself. But since we all know that masturbation leads to blindness, one imagines that it’s best not even to experiment with this idea.
I’m not slamming the site. So many religions—or at least the more orthodox manifestations of various religions—define themselves more or less on what they do not do, as opposed to what they do, in fact, do. In other words, it’s not uncommon to hear a religious mother say, to a child who has questioned an unquestionable tenet of the said faith, something along the lines of, “We’re Christians. We don’t engage in premarital sex,” or, “We’re Jews. We don’t eat pork, and we don’t drive over Shabbas.”
If only we defined ourselves according to our actions, rather than our inactions: “We’re Christians/Jews/Muslims. That means we love our neighbors.”
But, back to this scandalous Christian sex toy site. Maybe, I mean to say, this site is a positive thing. Maybe it’s positive because it’s as if they’re saying, “We’re Christians. We have good sex,” instead of, “We’re Christians. We don’t have certain kinds of sex and you shouldn’t either.”
What I can’t quite figure out is this: Are they using Jesus to sell sex? Or, are they using sex to sell Jesus? Is this a really creative attempt to proselytize? Either way, I’m sure it’s a win-win situation—as long as you’re married, that is.
The question at the end of the article, whether or not this is a creative attempt to proselytize, is a good one. This sounds very similar to (oh so creepy best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life/pastor) Rick Warren, whose is always telling anyone who will listen that God wants us to be wealthy. So, by extension, I guess God wants us to have the best and loudest orgasms we can. Now, I’ve read enough of Zizek to understand that we subjects of capitalism find ourselves compelled to enjoy, whether that means a purpose driven life or why not, orgasms. Hey, you want all this, no problem, buy some Christian sex toys! You too can do it like porn stars (well, married Christian porn stars)! Now, the problem of this, once again to cite Slovenian hero Slavoj Zizek, is that the “injunction to enjoy” is actually the best way to prevent us from enjoying. When possibility is an open sea, e.g. when we can do anything we want and have anything we desire, to be able to determine what will make us happy and provide us with the most fulfilling orgasm becomes terrifying. What if I didn’t buy the right sex toy? What if this sex toy isn’t even Christian? The “Purpose Driven Life”and other such quasi-Aristotlean Dr. Phil types of books promise that we can change our life when we accept the specific rules of conduct they lay out. In this case, uncovering and accepting God’s purpose as laid out by Rick Warren, who tells us that hey, follow my plan and you can enjoy all sort of things (although his schtick seems to be “Hey, good wants you to prosper, God wants you to live in a 5 bedroom house, drive two $40,000 SUVs,” to which I would like to ask, “Does God want my home to be foreclosed?” But Warren is too clever, just stick with me, God has a plan, God wants you to succeed, he says, put the money in the coffers and you can get anything you want. You just have to be patient and hold firm to my plan during the storm.
Perhaps I’m being too cynical, whether or not this is a type of proselytization (one can only imagine missionaries with a dildo in one hand and the bible in the other!) or not, as the author points out it’s win-win for married Christians . Yet, if we take the Slovenian hero’s tack, it seems to me to be yet another form of regulating our relationship to enjoyment. Or, maybe a little repression is good, I’ve seen Dirty Dancing, I’ve watched Lambada, I’ve seen Flashdance, we all know that the Hollywood version of the lambada is such a great dance only because its the forbidden dance! Or, perhaps we all should have all just listened to the diminutive Dr. Ruth, who reminded us (in a Mikhail-like accent), “If it feels good, it is good, so screw it.”