Should Christians use sex toys? The question came to me from a reader who is unsure of how to feel about the use of sex toys between married couples. This is another topic often skirted past by women's ministry leaders, pastors, and bloggers but it is a valid and important question to explore.
Much like self-pleasuring, using sex toys is a complex concept that isn't spelled out in the Bible. If we looked at scripture and found, “Thou shall not use vibrators, rings, cuffs or other sex toys” we'd be in good shape. The Bible, although eternally truthful, was not written in 2016 but long before battery operated anything was even a concept.
In fact, sex toys, namely dildos date further back than you might suspect. Dildos have been found in ancient civilizations such as Greece, Rome, and parts of China. They were used as medical aides, self-pleasuring tools and yes, for religious ceremonies.
And, odd as it sounds, the fifth patented electrical home appliances was….the vibrator in 1902 produced by Hamiton Beach.
Woah. (I found myself saying that often when doing some research on this.)
You see, back in the day women went to the doctor for vulvar stimulation which had nothing to do with sex but with curing so called “female hysteria.” The stimulation resulted in orgasm which, as you probably know, took time and well, that was some doctors didn't have much of. So an electrical device was created in 1883 to help these doctors get their job done more efficiently. (Woah, again)
Why History Is Important
You might think that little history lesson doesn't answer the question at hand, should Christians use sex toys, but I think it gives us a glimpse into something bigger. We are familiar with Sodom and Gomorrah but then our timeline flashes forward past June Clever to the sexual revolution. The truth is, through distorting sexual pleasure, feminism, and medicine, the bond of sexual intimacy between man and woman has been under attack for centuries.
The Sexual Intimacy Triangle
As we seek to answer the question of Christians using sex toys we need to remember the larger picture: sexual intimacy was designed to be shared between one man and one woman. Not one man and a vibrator ring or one woman and a dildo.
Biblical sexual intimacy has three main facets: physical, emotional and spiritual. When these three come together in the marriage bed (or on the marriage couch, or marriage back porch) we experience a holy and pure intimacy found nowhere else.
When we separate these three facets we bastardize the God-designed plan. But when we stay inside this triangle of sexual intimacy we're actually free to enjoy foreplay, flirting and sex with our spouse in many different ways.
Should Christians Use Sex Toys
My opinion on this might not be what you think. You see, in my mind, there is no one clear answer. Whenever I'm faced with a question like this I hold it up to the 3-question test. I can't take credit for these questions, Juli Slattery speaks of them in her women's study, Passio Pursuit and discusses them at her seminars as well. The questions help you walk through any sexual scenario or question you have. They are:
- Does the Bible say no?
- Is it good for my spouse and I?
- Is it only us?
So in the case of using a sex toy – let's say a vibrator, a quick flip through scripture doesn't yield us the aforementioned, “Thou shalt not use sex toys” scripture. You can read about what God does expressly say no to in this post.
Question two is tricky. It actually brings up more questions that we must deal with. When we talk about something being good for us we aren't talking about pleasurable. The reference for this is 1 Corinthians 10:23, 24:
Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person. (HCSB)
The King James reads:
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.
These are important verses when we talk about what is good for us in the area of sexual pleasure. The word expedient, sumpherō in the Greek, means to bear together, contribute, conduce, advantage. And the word edify, oikodomeō in the Gree, means to build, construct, embolden.
The use of sex toys in a marriage must be something that is beneficial for both spouses and be something that would build up the other spouse, be non-habit forming, and help to bring about (conduce) a part of the love triangle we discussed earlier.
If the idea of using a sex toys is for solitary self-pleasure I caution you to pray about how conducive it is in bringing you closer to emotional, spiritual or physical intimacy with your spouse. On the other hand, if husband and wife are using sex toys as a way to enhance their time together and there's no dependence on the toys for orgasm then this is something they could be considered beneficial. I lay out two scenarios in this post that you'll want to consider.
Is it Only Us?
Sex and intimacy are reserved for one man and one woman in a marriage covenant. So when we bring in sex toys are we bringing in another to our marriage bed? That depends. Vibrators are certainly not another person yet if there's a dependency as we mentioned above, it can detract from your partner and take the focus off intimacy them.
Dependance Vs Addiction
There's the notion among conservatives that sex toys lead to addiction. Addiction is a scary thing, especially when we consider the ripple effects of misfortune when it comes to an addiction such as pornography, drugs or gambling. Addiction, as defined by Webster is:
a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)
an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something
A harmful use of sex toys would mean it is interfering with regular life like needing to use your vibrator in the grocery store restroom or not being able to get ready for your day without masturbating with your vibrator. What most people are afraid of is not an addiction to sex toys but rather a dependency on them meaning they cannot orgasm or enjoy sex without them. Dependency can mean the state of addiction but it also means the state of needing something or someone else for support, help, etc. Dependency on sex toys for that physical orgasm makes sex all about the Big O and less about the intimacy. And when sex is all about the big “O”, we miss what God intended.
There's little evidence, even in secular circles, that shows sex toy addiction but there are many reports of dependency which is often championed by the world as empowering. The ability to reach ultimate sexual pleasure without a man is a feminist nod. If you're using sex toys in your marriage, this is something to prayerfully watch out for. What might start as enhancing pleasure for one partner could emotionally hard the other.
If you're still unsure if you should be using sex toys, good. I am not being mean but using sex toys is not something I can answer for you with a firm yes or a firm no. This is something that must be prayerfully considered with your spouse. One thing I can say with certainty, if you are using sex toys without your spouse's knowledge I think it's wrong. There's a total lack of intimacy and honesty which is not healthy for your marriage. Enjoying sex, taking some risks and stepping outside your comfort zone are not bad things. Since God does not expressly object, it's up to you and your spouse. If one of you feels it is morally wrong, then I suggest not using them. But if you are in agreement, your sexual communication is thriving, there is emotional and spiritual intimacy than give them a try if you'd like.
I don't think we should shun physical pleasure as Christians, I do believe we must guard physical pleasure with emotional and spiritual intimacy. The world has lost focus and tossed the spiritual and emotional pieces to the curb. We know better, so we do better. We can have better sex than the world by keeping our “love triangle” intact.