The Sex-toy Olive Garden

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:

Covenant Spice.

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.

About Tom Allen

The Grey Geezer Dauntless defender of, um, something that needed dauntless defending. Dammit, I can't read this script without my glasses. Hey, you kids, get off my damn lawn!
This entry was posted in Culture, Fetish & Kink, Sex Toys, Sexuality & Relationships, Shopping. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Sex-toy Olive Garden

  1. Tomio Hall-Black says:

    Great post, Tom!

    I grew up in a very conservative Christian area, and inside of a rather conservative denomination of Christianity. I received a LOT of mixed messages – including the idea that sex is a beautiful gift of God to bond a man and a women (only that combination!). It’s supposed to be fun and fulfilling. Yet they pretty well shunned any kind of book or video that would actually SHOW someone how this was possible. Plus the whole idea of watching someone else have sex was considered sinful.

    In my professional life, I talk about the intersection of religion and politics. I keep insisting that if liberals want to actually build a consistent majority, they have to learn to talk to people of faith (all faiths). This is, as you might suspect, a very steep uphill climb. It’s nice to see someone else offer that same argument in a non-political setting.

  2. Lily says:

    Tomio, I used to feel the way that you do, until I realized that people on the left — and queers and perverts — were the only people who were being required to be polite and “engage in the dialogue.”

    I no longer want to talk to right-wingers. The homophobia, misogyny, and racism of the Republican party repels me and should repel any person of character.

    I don’t want to have them over to dinner. I want to defeat them at the ballot box, full stop.

    • Peroxide says:

      I feel compelled to mention that “people of faith” does not necessarily equal right wing. (nor does being religious mean you can’t also be a pervert or queer.)

      I’m not sure which I like less, having my faith co-opted by homophobic, misogynistic, and racist politicians and public figures, or being conflated with the same by otherwise tolerant and open minded folks.

      It’s hard enough for the “christian left” to exist with the loudest and most visible “Christian” voices pulling for the right-wing. If the left doesn’t learn to reach out to religious liberals, moderate republicans are gonna keep getting their votes.

      • Tomio Hall-Black says:

        I belong to the Episcopal Church – where we have long allowed both gay persons and women full equity in the clergy. At our last diocesan convention, we approved statements that affirmed a woman’s right to control her body, condemned torture as a violation of human rights, and asked the state legislature to pass full marriage equality for same sex couples.

        But more people know Jerry Falwell than John Shelby Spong. There’s a fairly large community of liberal and moderate people of faith…but it can’t grow with the right attacking its beliefs as ungodly and the left attacking its public stance as unamerican.

    • Tomio Hall-Black says:

      Actually, I find people on the left every bit as narrow-minded and judgmental as those on the right – it’s just on a different scale. If I had a dime for every time a liberal questioned my reasoning ability or my right to speak publicly because I admitted that I believe in God, I could retire today. I’ve been told to my face, “You seem to be so smart, how can you fall for that mythological man-in-the-sky stuff?” This, of course, is long before they ever bother to find out what I actually believe.

      Everyone is entitled to decide who they want at their dinner table, and I understand the Paradox of Tolerance (that tolerance cannot tolerate intolerance or it loses its character). But if you want to beat someone at the ballot box, you need to understand why people vote against their self-interest. And that isn’t going to happen so long as the prevalent attitude is, “What a bunch of morons!”

      The only people who have to engage in a dialogue are those who want to convince enough people to support a policy that it becomes law.

    • Tom Allen says:

      It’s a little bit too easy to get into an “us vs them” mindset on this. As Peroxide mentions, most conservatives do not have the same mindset as the ones that make headlines. Similarly, you couldn’t say that the Greenpeacers or PETA represent all liberals.

  3. Ranai says:

    Interesting. These sorts of articles are always a window into a different culture for me.

    Around here, public prejudice draws more from the ideological history of medicine and psychology to pathologise sexual minorities: ‘They are sick!’. Or it’s just ‘different ergo shameful’ without bothering to provide any reason at all: ‘Hahaaaaa, those masochists, ridiculous!’. Using religious justifications to rail against various sexual minorities in public is less fashionable here at present than in the U.S., though it exists. Any ideological excuse will do for those who want to oppress people.

    I didn’t find any chastity devices, which really is a bit ironic

    Heh. Going off on a tangent here. The reason why I’m not personally into using the word ‘chastity’ (Keuschheit) is because I don’t associate ‘chastity’ with lovingly surrendering sexual control to another person. I associate the term ‘chastity’ with monks and nuns, several centuries of anti-sexual doctrine and social control – rather a turn-off. In English, I prefer ‘orgasm control’ or ‘sexual control’ for the stuff Ms Edge and you do. Though I do see that some people who are into chastity as a fetish don’t actually want to give control to another person; unlike yours, their fetish seems to be more ‘me being chaste’ for certain periods of time. If the other person is optional / doesn’t get to decide stuff anyway, ‘orgasm control’ would be misleading.

    Tom, your images of people in shiny clothing certainly reach their specific appreciative demographic. How about the readers who are into seeing Tom? Do you need us to click a ‘Yes please!’ button somewhere?

    • Tom Allen says:

      Ranai, we use the word “chastity” because is has a connotation of being more of an externally imposed sanction; the corollary would be “celibacy” which has the connotation of being more of a personal choice. Chastity – that is, a circumstance that is imposed by another’s control, or by a device – is just a bit more kinky-sounding.

      And yes, I’m sorry that I haven’t posted many HNTs in a while. But spring is around the corner, and I’ll be biking more often, so I promise to post some eye candy of me, that is, if you don’t mind seeing a 50+ year old guy in spandex shorts.

      • Ranai says:

        Sounds like a successful appropriation then. Very possibly chastity/Keuschheit would be mainly kinky-sounding to me by now as well, if it were a major fetish of mine too, and I had by now spent considerable time hearing and reading the term in this very context.

        It may be something to keep in mind for people doing the ‘Hey I have this interest, would you like to…’ talk: The person they are addressing may already have come across the term chastity, but in a context of history, or ecclesiastic and monastic thought. So, early on in this sort of talk, a clarification what sort of chastity is proposed may be in order, to make it quite clear that it’s about an interactive sexual kink, and not about a vow of chastity for example, or chastity as defined by a catechism.

        Aw, no need to say sorry. I’m looking forward to whenever you feel inspired to pose in a HNT again. The 50+ year old man resident of the edge of vanilla is exactly the one I’m asking about. By popular demand and all that.

        • Tom Allen says:

          The idea of a “chastity belt” (albeit for women) is already well established in English. I really have no idea what would make for a less threatening way to ask for orgasm control; it’s an odd dynamic, and it needs a lot of open communication right from the start. In general, men spend their lives trying to *have* them in or on women, so asking to *not* have one is already a bit odd, especially within the context of wanting to have sex while doing so. Adding a quasi-religious spin to it might work for some people, but when you add in the idea of wanting to wear a device, then it just gets weird.

          Oh, and right after my last comment, I threw on some clothes and went for the first bike ride of the season. Unfortunately, I was just wearing jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt, so nothing exciting enough to show off.

  4. I’ve heard of Christian sex toy sites before. I love the idea, if only because – from what I’ve heard – they focus on showing pictures of the items themselves, without the usual pouty greased-up naked ladies holding them. I’m sure they only do this because they don’t want married dudes ogling women other than their spouses, not for any of the more practical and obvious reasons , but still.

    And it makes me happy that there are people out there who’ve figured out how to balance religion and sexuality. As far as I know, the Bible never says that sex is bad or wrong – only that you should wait ’til you’re married. And in fact there’s at least one passage specifically stating that spouses are obligated to please each other in bed. Why do so many Christians miss that?

    • Tom Allen says:

      …they focus on showing pictures of the items themselves, without the usual pouty greased-up naked ladies holding them

      Ugh. And don’t forget the expressions on their faces, implying that they are about to have an orgasm just from holding the items, never mind using them.

  5. Great post! I really enjoyed it.

  6. Hedone says:

    “Microsoft Work”
    Whew! buwahahahaha!

    Seriously, I laughed ’til I cried.

    Okay, okay. Let me pull myself together and finishing reading…

    -H

    • Tom Allen says:

      Actually, I loved the early versions of Microsoft Works, and I ran my office on them for quite a few years, starting with the DOS version.

      Don’t get me started on how much of a PITA the latest version of Office has become, though.

    • Hedone says:

      Great post. Yes, lets be glad that some parts of the Christian religion are loosening up and enjoying sex without feeling guilty while still feeling as if they are following “the word”. Baby steps, baby steps.

      Did you look at the list of books available on the site. Okay, I’ll stop there.

      -H

  7. Pingback: A Non-Snarky Review of Christian Sex Toy Store « The Sex Reports

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