Timeless Rock and Christian Sex


First, the timeless rock of Stryper (“Salvation Through Redemption, Yielding Peace, Encouragement, and Righteousness”) Jesused-up power cords. Then Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ put a Christian stamp on the sort of gratuitous violence normally reserved for Governor Schwarzenegger’s films. Now, thanks to book22.com, we have Christian sex toys. NPR interviewed the site’s founder on Valentine’s Day and had this written summary

Joy Wilson went looking for something to spice up her marriage without compromising her Christian beliefs. Finding nothing, she founded her own “sin-free” sex toy business. Book22.com caters to the Christian community with books, toys and occasional advice. The name refers to the Song of Solomon, the extended love poem that forms the 22nd book of the Bible.

Wilson says that after the birth of her first child, she had trouble rekindling her desire for intimacy. She and her husband went looking for marital aids, and found that Internet searches for products as tame as massage oil led to sites with pornographic images. “I was really surprised that it was that bad,” she says.

She and her husband talked it over and decided that there must be a way for conservative people to add a spark to their romantic lives. She says their site steers clear of certain types of sexual activity that they believe are unholy. And they carefully consider which new products to add.

OK, I’ll admit it…this surprised me. But as Amy DeRogatis explains in “What Would Jesus Do? Sexuality and Salvation in Protestant Evangelical Sex Manuals, 1950s to the Present” (Church History, March ’05), folks like me are profoundly misinformed. She writes…

The growing awareness since the late 1950s that sex is more than one specific act has led many people to question whether sex as we learn it from our parents, teachers, clergy, friends, books, and science is “natural” (a matter of biological response) or socially constructed (a matter of cultural control). Opinions vary, tempers flare, and the mountain of sex advice manuals available at local bookstores attests to the U.S. public's insatiable appetite for knowledge about sex.

It might be surprising that evangelical Protestants have been among the most vocal participants in this ongoing definitional debate. Contrary to popular stereotypes that characterize conservative Christians as sexually repressed, Protestant evangelicals did not turn away from the sexual liberation movement begun in the 1960s; they have simply made it their own, publishing sex manuals, running sex workshops and holding counseling sessions to instruct husbands and wives on the best techniques for a sexually satisfied marriage.

DeRogatis goes on to note that “marital aids” (sex toys) are one of many debated sex topics in the evangelical community. I would scan book22.com to determine how Joy Wilson and her husband support their side. But I’m at work, where the Internet police may show up at any minute. I’m not betting that they are subscribers to Church History.


Kelly J. Baker said…

This goes along quite well with a Newsweek piece I read about how sexual aids have found their way to the big-box stores, and it seems made the spokespeople for Walgreens and others quite reticent to speak to the press. (They fear they might offend their conservative as well as religious consumers.) Here's the link:http://www.newsweek.com/id/110965

What a fascinating post!
Tim Lacy said…
Great post. Although I'm Catholic, I was an Evangelical. I regret that my current cult finds it more difficult to talk about this subject, both historically and today, than my old one. The comments here should be interesting. - TL
Good post! I was just talking to a pastor friend of mine on this topic. There seems to be a growing need for the"what is holy sex" discussion within the Protestant churches. According to many pastors/councils in the church, the overdone-"sex is evil before marriage" teachings has spread into the "sex is evil during marriage," unless it is time to reproduce. This has caused a profound affect on my generation, oh lord of mercy I am getting old, and it is a situation that needs to be addressed by the church.
Amy said…
Help me with future research! I have finished an article on demons and sexuality, now I am looking for any references on "date nights with Jesus" or romancing Jesus. Thanks to anyone reading and thanks to Art for citing my article.

Amy DeRogatis
DEG said…
Re: Stryper and evangelical culture, I'd suggest Eileen Luhr's essay "Metal Missionaries to the Nation: Christian Heavy Metal Music, 'Family Values,' and Youth Culture, 1984-1994," American Quarterly (2005). A keen look at how the evangelical urge to shape sexual politics often results in unintended consequences, as shown by the spandexed career of Stryper and other Christian hair metal acts.
Art Remillard said…
Anytime I see a word like "spandex" turned into a verb, I know it's going to be a good day... Outstanding stuff.

RE: Catholics and sex. I was raised Catholic, and rarely saw it discussed. And when it was, it was OH SO uncomfortable. I always thought this was due to clerical celibacy. In other words, it's hard to take sex advice from those have (ideally) forsaken sex for a "higher calling." It's like getting running advice from someone who has never run a step, but has read a lot about running, thus making him/her an "expert." A point to ponder… Now I’ve gotta Google “date night with Jesus.”
Kelly J. Baker said…
Art et al,

Leslie Tentler's _Catholics and Conception_ delves into how terribly awkward it was for Catholic priests to talk to parishioners on sexual matters. Her work provides a nice look at how the priests understood themselves as advisers to the bedroom.
Unknown said…
Those days are gone. A Christian Philosophy of Education demonstrates why public schools could not be trusted even in 1946, for there can be no neutrality in education. Christ said, "He that is not with me is against me." Professor Clark explained why it is necessary to have a worldview, and even more important to have the Christian worldview, and what Christians must do to re-establish a Christian educational system in the US, from Kindergarten to University.

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Anonymous said…
Such a breath of fresh air to see this subject discussed. My husband and I are Christian, blessed with six children and much exhaustion When we realised that sex in our marriage had been very much put on the back burner, we tried discussing the situation with suitable Christian friends and even pastors only to discover that most still preferred to keep the subject under wraps as though something to be ashamed about. In view of this we searched for appropriate reading matter but found the majority of 'advice' books to be somewhat pornographic in content. It comes to something when loving married couples are unsure as to whether their love making is acceptable to God, especially if there is little provision for discussion.


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