There are those who believe that anything that is battery-powered does not belong in a married couple’s bedroom. Then there are those who say that sex toys have saved their marriages. Among Christians, there is a fierce debate about whether the use of sex toys are okay or not. Marriage Capsule decided to investigate…

A lot has changed since the days when women’s “hysteria” was “cured” using a steam-powered contraption, which turned out to be the predecessor of the first electro-mechanical vibrators that saw the light in 1884!

Today, sex toys come in every color, shape and size. From jagged little black numbers with studs, which would freak out any conservative Christian woman, to the innocent duckling, butterfly or rabbit.

Over the past few years, people’s attitudes towards sex toys have also become very relaxed, to the point where it is now almost normal to discuss these around the dinner table. However, this doesn’t mean that the controversy surrounding the subject has completely disappeared.

NO! Sex toys are still taboo

Do sex toys break the unity between husband and wife? Will they eventually become a substitute for your sex partner? For many Christians, sex toys are completely off-limits and not something that can reconcile with their faith.

Well-known speaker, Gretha Wiid, wrote a few years ago on her personal Facebook page that she believes the greatest gift that God gives people in terms of sex is not a wonderful orgasm, but the gift of intimacy. She made it clear that she was not a supporter of vibrators and also referred to her husband, Francois’ DVD called Sex that Destroys.

Gretha is convinced that one can bring lust into your marriage and that even though certain things might be acceptable to both partners, they should not necessarily become permissible. She believes that nothing should take a husband’s or wife’s place. One must also guard against the desires of the flesh and rather obtain divine intimacy in your marriage, she believes.

“Unnatural assistance does not belong in a Christian marriage”

Dr Stella Potgieter is a pastoral counselor who conducts research into sexually deviant behaviour. She also lectures to graduates in order to equip churches to help people. Stella says: “Sex toys are aids used for sexual stimulation to promote intimacy. Intimacy, on the other hand, is a process through which two people, who love each other, freely share their feelings, thoughts, and actions. Through sex, we seek intimacy. Someone to belong to. As is often said: ‘God equips us with all the right tools’ and we do not need ‘help’ of an unnatural nature,” Stella explains.

“Among others, God has given us sex to enable us to become one. What happens between two people when they have sex is a deep mystery and a meeting of two souls. While the human body is temporal and spatial in its physicality, it must be seen and treated as a bodily space for the care of intimacy and bonding, for the body accommodates the soul.

“When penetration occurs, an encounter takes place, yes, an encounter with the other, but also an encounter with the OTHER. The deeply mystical sexual union takes place in God’s presence. This is when husband and wife become one. When sex toys are used, this meeting does not take place.”

“Sex toys can become addictive”

The use of sex toys can, according to Stella, also lead to people losing their passion for sex and/or looking for more and more stimulation in unnatural ways. “Sex was given to man by God to enjoy (Proverbs 5:18). Because the sexual intercourse between two people is the deep mystery of the encounter between two souls, sex toys weaken the power of this encounter. “

She adds: “The trend in society is that there is increasing freedom with regards to sexual practices, orientation, habits and desires. Pornography as a sex toy is also used by some as a stimulant. In such cases, the result is dullness and boredom, which in turn leads to the search for stronger stimuli and more blatant aid forms. Those involved become caught up and are deprived of true sexuality in a normal situation.

“It is like a door to temptation”

Juané, a Marriage Capsule member, and her husband are both opposed to using sex toys. “First of all, from a Christian point of view, the Father gave husband and woman to each other. He also instructed us not to give in to temptation. Temptation usually comes in through a door that was deliberately left open. It may start out as innocent fun for many people… until it’s not enough anymore.

“My opinion is that it is like a drug. And that is precisely where the temptation door is opened up wide and pornography, strip clubs and who knows what else, start to emerge. So, my advice is to enjoy each other and find precious love. I don’t think sexy underwear, however, has such a big influence. After all you want to look good for your husband. And it only stays on for a while, not so? I just think that, as soon as you become dependent on something, it may have to be viewed in a different light,” says Juané.

René, a visitor on Gretha Wiid’s Facebook page, comments: “I don’t believe there were vibrators and toys in Paradise and my husband is all I need, thank you. A husband and wife make a covenant with God every time they have sex, and where does plastic toys fit in with that?” Although on the other hand, people might argue that there was also no Lindt chocolate and bubble bath in Paradise, but that we have the opportunity to enjoy these little pleasures today!

“You’re not making love to your husband”

Sheila Wray Gregoire, author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Sex, is equally opposed to sex toys. According to her, sex toys emphasize physical intimacy over spiritual or emotional intimacy. She is worried that people will become too dependent on sex toys and the pursuit of an orgasm rather than the expression of love. She also believes that many (although not all) sex toys are a form of masturbation. Even if your husband uses the sex toys on you, he is not the one you are making love to, she believes.

Some people end up using sex toys so much that it is no longer their partner, but rather the toy that makes them feel good. When you start relying too much on sex toys, you lose the closeness that sex can possibly bring. Sex is not supposed to be just about one person, it is supposed to be mutual, Sheila says.

She also believes that sex toys can have the same effect as pornography, by recreating body parts that create unrealistic expectations and which can ultimately result in your spouse no longer being “good enough” or sufficient to satisfy your needs.

YES! Sex toys saved my marriage

About eight months after she got married, *Charmaine Williams discovered with a shock that she had Vaginismus. Sex with her husband was almost impossible – every attempt was more painful than the one before. Her husband tried his best to be supportive, but Charmaine was terrified that her marriage would eventually break up because their sex life was limited to mutual masturbation.

She eventually gathered the courage to visit a gynecologist. Although she was relieved to receive a diagnosis, she also realized that it would take time before she would ever be able to have “normal” sex.

“One of the suggestions made by my therapist was to use sex toys to ‘train’ myself for sex,” Charmaine says. “I was really terrified of sex because I didn’t want to experience that pain again. Using a vibrator, I was able to discover myself bit for bit without feeling traumatized.”

Charmaine and her husband now incorporate various battery-powered devices into their routine to relieve the pressure of penetration. “It is no fun for any newly married couple to struggle with sexual problems – what a disillusionment!” says Charmaine. “I even told my husband, after a painful session one night, that I would understand if he didn’t want me anymore, because I felt like half a woman. However, thanks to sex toys, we can now sexually interact with each other. It saved my marriage!”

*Name changed

“A vibrator can be an aid”

Dr Ettiene Kok, a sexologist and urologist from Pretoria, points out that a distinction must be made between sexual aids and toys. An item used by one person simply for kicks, may mean the difference between an orgasm or no pleasure at all for another person.

“In my book, a vibrator is not a toy, but rather an enhancer that can help many women discover themselves and their own sexuality, but it can also be used together, as part of the game of love and the process of making love,” says Ettiene. “It is from this point of view that I would suggest to a person in therapy or a couple to purchase and use a vibrator. The same goes for the use of lubricants.”

But where does one draw the line? Are beautiful underwear, feathers and chocolates not also toys? “Soft” toys such as chocolate, body paint, feathers and so on can help to spice up people’s sex lives. “Here, the biggest stimulus doesn’t come from the toys anyway, but rather from a good relationship with respect, trust, openness, communication and “I like you”-feelings!” says Ettiene.

What about “hard/rough” toys such as handcuffs and whips? “I don’t think there are room for these in a marriage,” he says. “For me it is on the same level as sadomasochism and the Fifty Shades of Grey idea, with which I have a big problem. Things that hurt and cause pain are not supposed to be erotic!”

“If it leads to mutual enjoyment, why not?”

According to Dr Johan Nel, a pastoral therapist from Bloemfontein, there is not much written in the Bible about sex toys. Song of Songs does however lead us to understand what an essential and enjoyable ingredient a good sexual relationship is within marriage. Beautiful and sensual underwear/sleepwear is acceptable within the limited space of spouses’ love game. So are aromatic massage oils and scented candles.

“It is good to feel sexy – it builds self-confidence and self-esteem. If it can contribute to mutual enjoyment, it can’t hurt,” he says. Johan also agrees that vibrators fall in a grey area when it comes to the distinction between a tool and a toy.

“A vibrator is sometimes more functional than erotic, as it is a tool for people who find it difficult to get an orgasm. Its use is common, and it is often recommended by sexologists and therapists. There are situations where penetration cannot occur, and then a vibrator is very useful. It is also helpful in cases where the woman, for example, takes longer to reach climax. As long as the partners focus on closeness, romance and mutual considerate action to deepen the relationship, there is my view, no problem.”

“It can be part of a Christian marriage”

The website, aimed at married Christian couples, interprets the term “sex toys” as a poor description for items that enhance sex. “Anything that is not part of our bodies, and which we use to improve sex, can be deemed an item that enhances sex. In Proverbs 7, the Bible mentions herbs and special sheets to make sex more enjoyable.”

Similarly, there are also items that can be used today to make sex more enjoyable for a Christian couple, they say. These include “tame” aids, such as satin sheets, scented candles, mirrors and lubricants. Then, for the more adventurous couples, there are fragrant powders and oils, such as honey and chocolate. Underwear also fits in this category. The website argues that the Bible does not forbid sexual aids like these and they can therefore form part of a loving sex life within the boundaries of marriage.

“But these items can also be the source of distraction, arguments and hard feelings. Many Christians are still struggling with the rules and restrictions they learnt in the past and sexual items may make them feel confused or uncomfortable.” The most important thing for you and your partner is to agree on using aids and not push the other one if he/she is uncomfortable with it.

Johan agrees with this last point and says that toys can become a problem if, for example, the man insists that his wife satisfies herself with the vibrator because it is exciting for him, but she does not like it. “Or if one mate wants the other to use the vibrator anally while there is no agreement. Here it comes down to a lack of love and sex that blurs to a mere act.”

He warns that any Fifty Shades of Grey-type toys rather not belong in marriage. “The Bible rates the love game, with the emphasis on love, very high, in fact, it is said that one should not unnecessarily refuse each other intercourse. Where’s the problem with rough toys? Some of the practices become violent, and that is not the intention of the gift of sex.”

Toys galore

The term “sex toys” is not limited to only dildos and vibrators. According to sexologist, Elmari Mulder-Craig, the publication of Fifty Shades of Grey has led to the sales of sexual aids, especially vibrators, increase threefold. “Sexual aids include lubricants, vibrators and penis rings, among others. Also remember that your whole house is full of sexual toys, such as velvet items, silk scarves, cream, massage oils and more.”

According to Mohamed, a salesman at Adult World in Vredenburg in the Western Cape, poppers and erection pills are their best sellers. A vibrator that stimulates the clitoris is the most popular item among married people. “Married couples usually visit the store together looking for something to spice up their marriage.”

Who buys sex toys?

Michael Brauer, of a company selling sex aids online, estimates that at least 50% of their clients are couples. “We can see in the nature of an order whether it is a couple buying. For example, they buy items for both her and him (in other words, a bit of everything), or the husband buys something for his wife – the order is placed by a man, but it’s a vibrator or lingerie, usually a gift from him to her. We have realized that many couples together search for what they want online,” Michael adds. “Then it is most often the man who places the order (and pays for it!).

“We often get inquiries about what couple’s toys are recommended. We have a whole range of toys specifically designed for couples. Couples usually start with items that they can use during foreplay. If they like it (which is almost always the case!), they try out other things as well. We have couples who have been buying from us for years and regularly try something new. It’s wonderful that people are realising more and more that sex and fun go together.”

Michael says that vibrators remain the most popular item. The sales of sex toys among couples are certainly rising. “People are becoming increasingly ‘open-minded’ and the Fifty Shades of Grey books have also helped to break down stigmas. “

What can you do to stay safe?

Elmari says: “Buy a good quality vibrator recommended by a sexologist. Visit the leading sexologists’ websites in South Africa for guidelines. But when one of the lovers prefers using a sexual aid rather than being intimate with his or her partner, the alarms should sound. This probably indicates underlying dynamics in the relationship that need to be dealt with. Communicate about this. It is not true that you will never again be able to reach an orgasm naturally once you have become used to a vibrator. One can certainly not get addicted to it either.”

Elmari’s tips:

  • There is no recipe that works for everyone. We all have different needs and preferences. Sexual aids are not a prerequisite for good or interesting sex.
  • Ultimately, the love game is about intimacy, sensuality and mutual satisfaction. A vibrator is just a sexual aid.
  • As a woman, you do not have to be ashamed for using a vibrator. You are part of the only species on earth with a clitoris, which consists of about 8 000 nerve endings and which was created exclusively for sexual pleasure.
  • Make sure that you know what each one’s likes and dislikes are, and respect your partner’s boundaries at all times.

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