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If the title wasn't enough to tip you off, this post is rated PG-13
This post by a writer and thinker I respect really got me thinking today.
This is one of those cases that shows the absurdity that lies at the heart of too much of evangelical culture.
Somewhere along the line we, as evangelicals, got the idea that we needed “Christian” versions of everything in the world.
A Christian publishing industry and music industry.
Christian euchre (called “Rook”).
Christian athletic teams at churches.
Christian amusement parks.
And now, apparently, Christian sex shops?
The idea is, if a song is made by a Christian, it must be a Christian song, or ought to be, in some blatant, particular way, such as the number of times Jesus is mentioned in the song, or the extent to which it overtly preaches Christ in the lyric.
Therefore, if a dildo is made, or sold, by a Christian, then it must be a Christian dildo? Does that follow? Is it supposed to?
And of course the raison d’etre behind it all: Christian songs are “safer” and therefore “better” than non-Christian songs. Christian dildos are “safer” and therefore “better” than non-Christian dildos.
But there’s no such thing as a “Christian” dildo, in exactly the same way there is no such thing as a Christian song. There are just songs, and sex toys, that people either do or do not enjoy. That’s it.
You might say, “But the words in Christian songs lift my thoughts toward God.” Good for you. That’s a reason you prefer certain songs, but it doesn’t make them “Christian.” Songs are songs.
Dildos, no matter what you think about them, are dildos. Nothing more, nothing less. What you’re going to do with them is neither sacralized nor hedonized simply because of where you bought them.
Furthermore, there doesn’t need to be, even shouldn’t be an explicitly consecrated purpose for everything.The idea that there must is perhaps where the deepest division lies right now in the church. Between people who see all of creation as holy, or at least potentially holy, and people who see the entire creation as depraved and fallen. If this view is true, then the world is dangerous and dirty, and thus there is a need for sterilized, “Christian” versions of everything the world offers.
This is where evangelicalism shows how completely broken is our sexual vision. We claim, over and over again, that God created sex and that therefore sex is good and healthy, and that whatever husband and wife choose to do in the privacy of their bedroom is good.
But I’ll bet many suspect that if they’re going to be sexual in certain ways (such as using sex toys), they’d better do it on the sly and seek that all-important Christian/corporate blessing over their activities.
[“But,” you object, “this way I can go into a sex shop with my spouse and not be bombarded by pornographic images.” To which I reply, “The same argument could be used for constructing “Christian” streets, since it’s not that unusual, in some of our big cities, to see homeless adults masturbating beneath cardboard or newspapers. We could disallow all homeless people on those streets, which surely would, from a Christian perspective, be a cruel irony, but that way we wouldn’t have to be exposed to masturbation.]
This is a shame, and reveals how unclear the church’s teaching has been on sex. And I don’t mean the teaching we actually teach, I mean all that ends up being taught by omission, by fear of saying certain things and going into certain difficult areas.
It seems that somehow it isn’t enough that sex was created by God. I think there are many who really can’t be okay with creative expressions of their sexuality until they are able to buy sex toys at Family Christian Stores.
Somehow those corporate structures, dubbed “Christian” this or that speak very powerfully to many Christians about what is and is not Christian. This is certainly unfortunate for me since I teach a vision of Christianity that has nothing to do with 90% of what is sold in most “Christian” bookstores.
Do you think the Christian world needs Christian sex shops? Maybe what the world really needs is for Christians to engage the world — its music, its entertainment opportunities, its books, its news, its ideas about sexuality — in a thoughtful and deliberate way, instead of building an alternative culture for ourselves.
Otherwise we might end up with…exactly the current state of things. Where we build church and “Christian” versions of every conceivable thing, and then offer evangelism classes where the first thing we say is, “Get out there in the world and build integrity friendships with people who see the world differently than you.”
The very people who, of course, we spend our lives seeking to avoid in our Christian ghetto.