Today I want to tackle a rather controversial topic. Except “want” is really not the right word. I’d love to run as far away from this one as possible. But I keep being asked about sex toys, and so I thought it was necessary to address whether they have any place in Christian sex.
So here goes: Can Christians Use Sex Toys?
I want to make it clear from the outset, though, that I am giving my opinion. I do not claim to speak for God. When I was researching The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I had to think about this and give my opinion in the book, and I did. So what I have to say has been the conclusion that I have come to after speaking at marriage conferences, reading, and praying.
First, the context.
I believe that God created sex to connect us on three levels: the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual.
And sex works best when all three are involved! That doesn’t mean that every time you make love the earth has to move, but the sum total of your sex life should connect you not just physically, but spiritually as well. You should feel connected when you make love.
But here’s the problem.
You can’t connect on a spiritual and emotional level unless commitment and marriage is involved.
You can’t make love to say “I love you” and “I cherish you” unless you truly do. And in our culture, by and large sex has been removed from that committed relationship. So what does our culture emphasize when it comes to sex? The physical. That’s all they have. And when sex is only physical, and there’s not the high that comes from truly expressing love when you make love, then you need more and more physical things to give you that same high, just like alcoholics develop a tolerance for alcohol and thus need more and more alcohol.
Are Sex Toys Really the Opposite of Intimacy?
I get asked that a lot. But as I shared in my book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, real arousal and real sexual satisfaction come not just from the physical, but from the emotional and spiritual as well. When we feel close to each other, it’s easier to get aroused and sex will feel more fulfilling. When sex is only about the physical, it can feel shallow.
We weren’t made for shallow. But we WERE made for pleasure! And there’s a way that Christian sex can be both hot and holy at the same time.
Find out more in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex!
Hence we live in a pornographic culture, where sex is supposed to involve all kinds of really weird and wacky things. It’s not enough just to make love anymore. We’re supposed to be gymnasts, and we’re supposed to do all kinds of things that a century ago people would have completely balked at.
Now I’m not saying it’s wrong for for christians to have fun, or to stretch your limits, or even to stretch during sex :)! I’m just saying that our culture emphasizes the physical, and misses out on the deep spiritual connection from sex that we should experience.
And interestingly, studies have shown that the people who actually enjoy sex the most, and the women who are most likely to orgasm during sex, are those in committed, religious marriages. Because they’re the least likely to feel divorce is an option, so they’re with this person for life. And commitment is the best aphrodisiac! I had read studies like that before, but when I did my own survey for The Good Girl’s Guide to Sex, I found the same thing. Those who were the most committed Christians were also the most likely to have fun in bed.
That’s the background. Now for the problem. Because the culture emphasizes the physical, it’s easy for us as Christians to start thinking that way, too. And if we’re concentrating just on the physical, it’s also easy for sex to become shallow. Where you don’t feel valued or loved; you just feel used.
It’s like this: we’re SUPPOSED to experience orgasm. But if sex is only about orgasm, there’s a problem.
So now let’s turn back to sex toys. Here are some thoughts:
1. Sex Toys Emphasize Physical Intimacy, not Spiritual or Emotional Intimacy
Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the physical side of sex. Sex is supposed to feel great (and if it doesn’t for you, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex can show you how to MAKE it feel great!). But when we emphasize only that, sex can lose its power to really bind us together. So I’m worried that if people get too into sex toys they will thus get too into chasing the next orgasm, rather than expressing love.
2. Sex Toys Concentrate on Parallel Sexual Experiences, not Mutual Ones
Most sex toys (not all by any means) are really masturbatory in nature. They help you have an orgasm. Even if he’s the one using it on you, then, you’re having a parallel sexual experience, you’re not really making love to your husband.
Now I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with parallel experiences as a whole. If he, for instance, were to tease you non stop for thirty minutes and then bring you to orgasm while you’re doing nothing to him, I think that’s great. So I’m not against the concept. What I am against is that some people start using sex toys so much when they make love that you feel like it’s the sex toy that’s making you feel good, and not your husband.
Yes, God designed us to be orgasmic, but there’s a thread in our culture that says “everybody is entitled to an orgasm”. And let’s face it; if it’s expected that everybody will have several sex partners, then the only constant in your sex life is you. So you have to figure out how you work best, and you have to concentrate on you, rather than on us.
So if, with sex toys, you start to rely on them, whether you’re together or apart, you lose some of the closeness that sex can bring.
But sex is not supposed to be just about you; it’s supposed to be about the two of you together. Sex is supposed to be mutual. And I’m worried that too much we’re feeling like we’re using each other, rather than sharing or experiencing together.
3. Sex Toys Can Recreate Body Parts in Totally Unrealistic Ways
Most guys aren’t that big. And they can’t vibrate like that. Do you really want to get reliant on something your husband can never be for an orgasm? When I get asked at conferences, “can Christians use vibrators”, I always worry a bit, because I’ve received so many emails from women saying, “I can orgasm with a vibrator, but not with my husband.” We train our bodies to respond to the sex toy, and then when we’re with someone who isn’t that big, or who doesn’t vibrate, the sensation isn’t strong enough to bring us over the edge. So, yes, vibrators can make you more orgasmic. But they can also make you LESS orgasmic with your husband.
And isn’t what we really want to experience that WHILE we’re making love, so that it’s a deep intimacy?
Now, these are my objections and reservations. This does not mean that you can’t ever use sex toys. You may be even thinking to yourself, “the thing that I want to use wouldn’t even fall under those categories”. Okay, then. I’m not trying to pronounce a blanket statement. I’m just trying to issue a cautionary warning: remember, studies have shown that what feels the best is two people in a committed marriage making love. It’s not two people doing weirder and weirder things. I truly believe that if we completely jumped in with gusto with all the things that we can do together that don’t require batteries, the idea that we need batteries to spice up our life would disappear.
There is nothing wrong with fun; fun is good. There is something wrong with making sex into something that’s purely physical, or that’s primarily masturbatory. How you find that line is really between you and your husband. But I just urge you to think about those things, and then decide what you’re going to do!
I elaborate a lot more on what I think is okay to do/what’s not okay to do, how to feel really “one” while you’re making love, and how to experience spiritual intimacy during sex, in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex! Don’t miss it!