Remember last week when the internet went crazy because a 85+ year old woman wrote a great restaurant review about the new Olive Garden that opened in North Dakota? At first, a lot of bloggers were laying on the snark, but after a few days the normal people woke up and realized “Hey, *I* go to the Olive Garden!” and came to her defense (not that she needed any, since she barely uses email). The point here is that it’s easy to snark on something that you think is behind the curve. Those of us that live on the internet tend to get news more quickly, and probably become a bit jaded.
So, here’s something that could easily become a snark target, but I would hope that it didn’t:
For those who haven’t clicked on the link, here’s a snippet from their home page.
Welcome to Covenant Spice! We are a Christian sex toy shop and romance site for married couples, offering high quality, feature-packed products that enhance lovemaking — at unbelievably low prices. Our goal from our inception has been to offer Christian sexual aids that help foster intimacy and strengthen relationships within the bonds of a healthy marriage.
And I have to admit that when I ran across this, my first thought was “Christian sex aid? Is that like Jumbo Shrimp, or Microsoft Works?” So, I spent a few minutes exploring the site with the intention of making a bit of a joke about it. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I do most of my online adult shopping at the Stockroom, Blowfish, and Extreme Restraints; Covenantspice, in my mind, was only one step above those stupid adult shops that you see that sell jelly dildos and plastic “luv cuffs”.
But looking around for a bit showed me that the purpose of this shop isn’t to sell sex toys. Rather, it’s to help consenting partners enhance their intimacy. And isn’t that what I’ve been writing about for the last umpteen years — enhancing intimacy?
I didn’t find any chastity devices, which really is a bit ironic, but I did find a surprisingly wide array of vibrators. No dildoes or strapons, but interestingly enough they had sleeves for men (for those times when your wife isn’t available). No hand cuffs or restraints, but they have a respectable line of lubricants.
I’m not sure I understand how the toys were selected for taste and propriety. The lack of insertables for women was pointed up by the availability of several models of the Aneros prostate massager, and a number of different sleeve style toys. However, the handful that they did offer for women seemed to be the more quality, higher end toys that I see other bloggers reviewing.
The ambiance, er, I mean the site colors were light and friendly, making this the kind of website that your mom would feel comfortable with. Should you, umm, you know, need to suggest it.
And now, here’s the part where I’m going to be not snarky.
Religious folks in the West, and specifically in the US, have a difficult time reconciling sexuality with what their church seems to teach. Every day they are exposed to media images that suggest that sex is healthy, normal, and sometimes even fun. Unfortunately, they often have to view this from inside a paradigm which tells them that sexuality is a negligible, if not an actual sinful part of human nature, that is should be reserved for marriage, and that it is so sacred that one shouldn’t mess it up by involving toys, kink, or anything that makes it overly lustful – lust being a sin, and all that. Back some decades ago, many Protestant denominations loosened up and tried to remind their members that sex was a loving, sacred act to be enjoyed within the bonds of marriage. Unfortunately, many churches misread the memo, and focused on the “sacred” part, and had no idea of how to get people to understand that it’s enjoyable. This led to a generation of church goers who grew up confused as to how to remain pure, sacred, and sexual. Simply telling them that they need to lighten up isn’t going to work.
Sometimes people in the kink-friendly or sex-positive community forget that people who live a religious life have parameters within which they are obliged to live; they do not feel comfortable just picking and choosing some proscriptions and ignoring others. And since most people living religiously feel enriched by doing so, it’s not inclusive nor positive when the rest of us poke fun at them for the few, little steps that they do make.
In a way, this reminds me of the Christian Nymphos, the small group of women who are trying — within the parameters they have — to let God-fearing women know that it’s okay to be sexy and seductive for their husbands. Or of the handful of other Christian bloggers (men and women) who have surprisingly large followings (and in some cases, syndicated columns) writing about how to follow their religious principles and still have intimate, sexual lives.
North Dakota now has an Olive Garden. So, instead of insulting the people in that out-of-the way state, let’s be happy that someplace that’s a bit off the normal trade routes is now attracting more mainstream culture. And by the same token, let’s be happy that those people who want to — who choose to — adhere to the principles of their religion can now enjoy some other aspects of mainstream culture that many of us have long taken for granted.
And for those of you who want to avoid feeling lust in your hearts, I’m not putting up a picture of a naked woman. Instead, here’s a picture of a woman wearing clothes — a lot of them, in fact. So, no bare skin, so there’s no reason to feel lustful.
See? No skin. And she looks to be standing near a church, so this is really a very not-lust-inspiring picture. Which you could see on Tumblr if you clicked here.