Evangelicals have gotten into the sex toy game and it's just as bad as we imagined. Join us as we explore church-approved dildos, Christian "erotica," and the company with the worst sex advice on the planet... Apparently, Jesus is a bit like Santa Clause. He sees you when you're masturbating; he knows when you watch porn.
PSA: Please talk to a sex therapist or watch videos on sex ed rather than getting information about sex from any of the sources listed below, this is more a reciepts list than a list to find accurate sex information. Let’s Talk About It is a great resource if you’re looking for where to start for Sex Ed. When shopping for sex toys, make sure the toys are body-safe without phalates.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Transgression as addiction: religiosity and moral disapproval as predictors of perceived addiction to pornography by Joshua B Grubbs 1, Julie J Exline, Kenneth I Pargament, Joshua N Hook, Robert D Carlisle
Jey: Clint, we've talked about this. I did look at some of the porn links that you shared. I couldn't really get into the Pirates one. It just seemed too straight and hetero.
Clint: I agree. You requested the Pirates one. I was not going to send that to you.
Jey: I just wanted to see the most high-budget, like, porn.
Clint: Well the production value was top-notch.
Jey: Was it? It was not. They just spent money on like, a few ghost ship scenes. I did not watch the whole thing. I did watch the “Christian porn” that you recommended, which is not a porn.
Clint: Well, it's erotica
Jey: Is it?
Clint: Well, not to me, but to some people apparently, judging by the audience reviews.
Jey: Yep. Yeah. Uh-huh. Okay.
Clint: But from what I’ve learned researching this episode, I think it would do Evangelical couples good to watch the pornographic film Pirates 2: Stagnetti’s Revenge instead of Redeeming Love. They might learn a thing or two.
Jey: You got to know how to have sex to have a good sex life, honey. So that's what we're going to get into today, is Christian sex toys and erotica, which I'm really excited about.
Clint: And don’t forget the Evangelical sex seminars and self-help books.
Jey: There are courses that you can take for married couples, specifically married couples. You're supposed to take them together and they're supposed to teach you-
Clint: Do you have to, like, bring your marriage certificate?
Jey: Probably. I don't know. I saw one that was like, here's a vibrator course 101. We got to teach you how to use vibrators, all the different ways to use it. It's weird how they talk about sex without using a lot of the words.
Clint: Yeah, they’re very uncomfortable with sexual vocabulary, even scientific terms like penis or vagina.
Clint: The best thing I’ve found in that realm is a vibrator shaped like a rubber duck.
Jey: Oh, no, oh.
Clint: It’s called “I Rub My Duckie” which is perfect because “duckie” absolutely sounds like a word church ladies would use to refer to their vagina.
Clint: Hello everyone and welcome to How Gay Thou Art, a comedy podcast about growing up queer, Christian, and hella confused. My name is Clint Keller, he/him.
Jey: I’m Jey Austen, they/them.
Clint: And today we’re discussing Christian sex toy companies like Covenant Spice and Married Dance, a new Christian erotica called Redeeming Love, and the Evangelical sex coaching company Authentic Intimacy, which is led by former Focus on the Family affiliate Dr. Juli Slattery. I use the term “doctor” very loosely.
Jey: As we look at some of the Christian sex toy websites, it's really interesting because you'll see a lot of talk about “we sell sex toys that don't have any connection to pornography.” I thought that was really interesting because there's such a religious stigma against porn. I found some studies that were talking and it was basically about sex addiction and one thing that I found that was really interesting about the study is there is no connection between religious devotion of the participants and how much porn they actually viewed. However, stronger religious faith was linked with more negative moral attitudes about pornography, which in turn was associated with greater perceived addiction. So basically, these people are thinking that porn is a problem, therefore they think they're addicted to it.
Clint: So basically, Christians watch the same amount of porn as everyone else. They just feel much worse about it.
Jey: Yes. So there isn't a correlation between how much porn Christians watch and don't. It's just Christians think that they're addicted to it and it's wrong and everyone else is just like, nah, it's porn. Like, I just need to jack off.
Clint: That’s definitely reflected in the coaching and self-help material too. In almost every piece of content I reviewed - books, videos, everything - the guy in the relationship is portrayed as being addicted to porn. But to them, any amount of porn watched constitutes an addiction. Like, a husband would watch porn once every six months when his wife was away on a business trip and it was a marriage-rupturing problem.
Jey: Absolutely. And one thing that I found that was really, really funny to me was that there are sites that help women learn how to have sex and stuff like that. But it's all because it's assumed that your husband already wants sex. And it'll be called “Authentic Intimacy.” And when you go to their FAQs, it's like, “I wish there wasn't an Authentic Intimacy for men.” And the site goes to a site called “Be Broken: Helping Families and Individuals.”
Clint: Oh, my God. We haven’t talked about this. Okay, so I also came across this organization - Be Broken. What kind of name is that? The way they approach sexuality for men and women is so fucked up. In their world, women only have sex out of obligation and men are ravenous beasts whose depravity knows no bounds. Men are portrayed as inherently sexually broken. And it’s all built on shame. Where does that even come from?
Jey: The basis for Christian sexual shame stems from many verses, particularly Matthew 5:28 from the Sermon on the Mount that states “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” and in the Ten Commandments it says, “don't commit adultery.” So it's considered like a huge sin. So it's like you're never going to be good enough, because even if you look at a woman that's sinful.
Clint: More like Sermon on the Mount and do me, am I right?
Clint: God, that was so bad. So it’s also worth mentioning here that the word “lust” in the context of the Bible is about possession, not sexuality. It’s about wanting to own what someone else owns. So there’s a dual thing happening with Evangelicals where they’re misrepresenting what the word means on one hand, but implying that women are under the ownership of men on the other.
Jey: Interesting to note about all of this as we talk about it is sexual shame caused by the church is never addressed. It's just assumed that you have sexual shame because you're part of the church. But the church is the one causing it.
Clint: Yeah all of sexual hangups Christian adults now have, even within the context of marriage, is a direct result of the church and the purity culture they’ve perpetuated for decades. But the only solution they offer is more church, more Jesus. It’s like, that’s what got you into this position. It isn’t going to get you out.
Jey: The church is the one that produces sexual shame. And then they're like, “But everyone experiences sexual shame and this is how you get over it.” But the church is the one causing the shame, not the one that's actively helping me get through it.
Clint: That’s the craziest part. They try to convince people that sexual shame is normal and even healthy. It’s insane. Also, when we reference purity culture, we’re essentially talking about waiting until marriage for sex, or intimacy of any kind really. There’s more to it if you really dig in but we’re doing a full episode about that movement in a few weeks. So back to the porn - why do Evangelicals hate dirty movies so much, Jey?
Jey: So Concerned Women for America, they're a conservative group. They oppose gay marriage. They oppose abortion.
Clint: Also trans athletes, critical race theory, Target, Disney, you get the idea.
Jey: But the reasons that they disagree with porn are oddly, really feminist compared to most of their anti-feminist stuff, because they're like, “it's demeaning to women” and stuff like that. They assert that pornography is a major reason why men harm women.
Clint: I'm skeptical that there's any evidence to support that. Statistically, more men watch porn than perpetuate violence against women. Evangelicals often have difficulty with correlation vs causation though.
Jey: Well, they cite Christian anti-porn site Covenant Eyes. “Covenant Eyes, an online filter software, states that 88% of porn films contain acts of physical aggression and 49% of scenes contain verbal aggression.” It was from an article talking about the things that I wish I hadn't learned from porn.
Clint: Even if that’s true, it doesn’t mean porn is causing real-world violence. It feels like kink shaming, really. They like to say that it’s fine for husbands and wives to get weird in the bedroom, but not too weird apparently.
Jey: Yeah, it was kink shaming. And it's like, well, you got to remember that a lot of those people are consenting adults. And yes, there is some male gaze involved with that. But some people like being thrown around and if everyone's consenting to it, it's totally fine.
Clint: For a group of people who insist women are subservient to men, they have a really hard time understanding dom/sub dynamics.
Jey: And what I found out was really interesting about this is that the group was founded in San Diego in 1978 by Beverly LaHaye.
Clint: The fucking LaHaye’s. I think her husband Tim has come up in every episode we’ve done so far.
Jey: He comes up every episode. It's the same ten people controlling like Conservative Christian American thought. And it's all the brainchild of a few people, like putting out all of these publications.
Clint: I’d like for the LaHaye’s to be left behind, know what I’m saying? So Evangelicals hate porn pretty much without exception. We haven’t found a single instance where it is given a pass, even for a husband and wife to watch together, but what about porn’s best-bud - masturbation? How do they feel about that?
Jey: The church is basically still against masturbation. Personally, I think it's used as a form of control to go against your natural urges. You'll never be good enough. Shame cycle, repeat.
Clint: Absolutely. They like to demonize things everyone does because it reinforces their doctrine that everyone is inherently sinful, inherently broken. The majority of people are going to masturbate at some point in their lives. The majority of people are going to find someone sexually attractive at some point in their lives. It’s natural. It’s human. But they want you to feel bad about it. And I know there are lots of wonderful asexual people out there who this doesn’t all apply to, but spoiler, Evangelicals think you’re sinful too because confusingly, it’s also wrong to not want to pro-create.
Jey: Other things about Christianity and masturbation - so the Southern Baptist Convention, David Platt declared that “masturbation goes against the design of God and God designed sex to be relational; masturbation is lustful.” So that's like the SBC’s view. And I thought it was really interesting, I found an author, Mike Major.
Clint: Oh yeah, I’ve seen this guy pop up on Christian socials.
Jey: Says that “female masturbation is a direct path to Satan” and came up with this whole Facebook post of kind of rustic elements that look like dicks. I don't, I don't know, like lawn ornaments that are rusty.
Clint: Are they dicks? Are they lawn ornaments that are supposed to be dicks? Because I'm looking at the picture on his post right now and I don't know how they could have intended for this to be anything other than a dick.
Jey: I think that this person just wanted to find a picture of something vaguely dick-like, but that if kids saw it, they wouldn't know what it is.
Clint: When I was a kid, I would think that's a dick for sure.
Jey: Okay. Fair.
Clint: I don't think there's ever been a time in my life that I could have looked at that picture and not thought, “that's a dick.” We’ll post a screenshot on our socials. Let us know what you think. Is this a dick or not?
Jey: He warns that dildos are used in demonic sex rituals, so it straight up says “too many Christians are losing their salvation because they masturbate. Dildos and all of those other sex toys have been used for thousands of years in demonic sex rituals. It's one of the main ways ancient pagan societies worship their demonic gods. Masturbation is a direct path to Satan. There's nothing normal about it. And shame on any Christian that says so.”
Clint: So clearly lust for people outside of your marriage is a problem but what if you just think about your spouse when you're masturbating? I’ve heard some Christians justify this.
Jey: Well, and that's where it gets confusing because a lot of these sex toys, it's right there like “this is for a husband and wife to use. God doesn't really say anything in the Bible about like what sex is okay within marriage, just as long as it's two people, but don't use these toys for masturbatory purposes.” So like none of this, like clone-a-dick or anything like that, like with your husband when he's far away, like, no, no, no.
Jey: One of the main Christian sex toy websites is called Covenant Spice.
Clint: Genius name.
Jey: Covenant Spice. And it comes from this verse in Song of Solomon and it was interesting to hear two middle aged women talk about Song of Solomon, “That's like the sexiest book ever. Like, of course, God wants us to have sex.” And I'm like, “Oh God.” Some things that I learned about Covenant Space in particular - creator Leigh L.
Clint: Wait, she doesn’t even have her full name attached to this company? What is this, Grindr?
Jey: I think she wants to keep her identity kind of a secret because she doesn't want Christians to harass her.
Clint: Well at least she has some self-awareness about her clientele.
Jey: But she used to be a missionary and her husband was a computer engineer and went and got her like a vibrator or something, some sort of sex toy at an adult store. And she got really offended and threw it away, but not because he went out and bought the gift for her. She was pro sex toys. She just was offended by the adult store.
Clint: That kind of makes sense. In rural areas especially, sex shops tend to be kinda seedy. The lower end merch has a lot of sexually explicit imagery and stuff. But in major cities, there are sex shops that feel like Apple stores so this is partially a location problem.
Jey: Exactly. And so then she went to a sex toy party.
Clint: Like a Christian sex toy party?
Jey: There are a lot of things called Passion Parties.
Clint: Wait, so is this like Pampered Chef for sex toys?
Jey: Yes, it is absolutely a multilevel marketing for sex toys. You have people over, you have a party. It's not easy peddling dildos in the Bible Belt. I actually went to one in college.
Clint: Oh really?
Jey: Yeah so the company was called Pure Romance. I was invited by my high school friend that I hadn't talked to in five years on Facebook, so exactly how you would get invited to an MLM party. And I was like, “Sure, party for dildos, let's go.” And while we were there, like we looked up Bad Dragon monster dildos and stuff like that, and we were just having a grand old time and I was just bonding. It was so fun. I bought some lube, tried to return it because it was flavored and gross. She did not want me to return it, actually.
Clint: Well, she has to sell at least $250 worth of merchandise to get her 10% discount, right?
Clint: So these aren't explicitly Christian though?
Jey: These aren't explicitly Christian but because of all the sexual shame in the South, that's mainly how a lot of these church women will buy their products. Before the internet, they would do these Passion Parties.
Clint: They're not going to go to a seedy sex store, obviously. And we all know that there's nothing a Southern church lady loves more than a pyramid scheme, so this is really the perfect combination. So Leigh goes to a Passion Party and is inspired to open a specifically Christian online sex toy company. But this constitutes a bit of a shift for Evangelicals, right? The virtue of sex toys is still contested among them and any acceptance is pretty new. But I feel like this is following a similar path to other topics we’ve covered because sex toys and sex positivity have become more mainstream in secular American culture over the past several years. The industry is moving away from the creepy little shops off the interstate and into nice stores in trendy neighborhoods selling high-end products with classy packaging. So once again, Evangelicals are simply following right behind secular culture and doing the exact same thing in the name of Jesus.
Jey: Well, and that's something that Leigh L. said in Covenant Spice is that “men really want women that are engaged.” So she said “they want a woman who's eager, not laying back and thinking of England.”
Clint: What the fuck does that mean? Thinking of England?
Jey: You don’t just-
Clint: Like Buttfuckingham Palace?
Jey: You don’t just, when you’re having sex just like, hope that it's over with, just lay back and think of England a little bit and just take a few pumps?
Clint: Look, I've thought of a lot of weird shit during sex, but I don't think the country of England has ever crossed my mind. It definitely will next time.
Clint: What strikes me as I look at these Christian sex toy websites is that some of them are selling the worst collection of sex toys I’ve ever seen. But I guess if you’re cutting out anything that’s offensively labeled or has any connection to the porn industry or looks realistic at all - I mean, that’s like 80% of the market until you get into the really high end toys, which they also don’t seem to sell. Some of this stuff looks downright sketchy. Like, is this going to break off in my asshole?
Jey: And so that's something that's really interesting about sex toys and sex toy legality is that right now there is no federal regulation on the materials that sex toys can be made of.
Clint: Right. Sex toys can be made of anything and some of them can be downright dangerous.
Jey: Adam and Eve, the brand, has a lot of these dangerous sex toys and a lot of these Christian sites sell Adam and Eve because it doesn't have connection to pornography or whatever, because it sounds biblical, whatever the reason is for selling Adam and Eve, they're selling dangerous sex toys.
Clint: Which feels particularly nefarious because a lot of these companies are specifically marketed to couples who have little to no experience with this stuff. Folks in the sex-positive and kink communities know to avoid things like phthalate and porous materials and jelly but a sheltered Evangelical couple probably wouldn’t.
Jey: And if you have a bad reaction to it, like chemical burns some people were getting.
Clint: The number seven top seller on one site here is chocolate flavored oral sex condoms. I find it hard to believe that a fake chocolate flavored rubber condom is going to taste better than a dick. If that’s the case, you need to talk about hygiene, not choco-condoms.
Jey: See, this is why at the Passion Party, I tried to return the lube that I got, mainly because I was worried that my mom found it because she went through my drawers. I don't know, it was a whole thing, but also it was strawberry shortcake, whipped cream, glitter lube.
Jey: Yeah, never actually used it during sex and told my mom it was a lotion.
Clint: OK, so we mentioned Covenant Spice, but who are the other big players in the Christian sex toy game?
Jey: What we're mainly looking at here are Covenant Spice, Marriage Spice, Christian Love Toys, and Married Dance. These are the four sex toys sites that we are going to review today live on air.
Clint: Wow, the Spice Girl lineup has really gone downhill.
Clint: Let’s start with Covenant Spice then.
Jey: So you first go to their site and of course, it's like a white Christian couple hugging each other right after the first products that they have on the site, it says, “Can a sex toy be Christian?” Which is the question that we've all been wondering.
Clint: There it is again, this obsession with everything being "Christian." Why can't a sex toy just be a sex toy? Why does it need to be sanctified?
Jey: I'm sorry. I just saw the “I Love my Duckie” thing and it is just as terrifying-
Clint: Isn’t that great? “I Rub My Duckie.”
Jey: This is probably made for age play.
Clint: Oh yeah, 100%.
Jey: They don't want their sex toys to be lewd.
Clint: But in trying to avoid naked pictures on packaging, they stumbled into something so much kinkier.
Jey: The first thing that they address is about “can a sex toy be Christian?” But I want to note that there's not actually any Bible verses on this site, which I think is really interesting for a Christian site because they do mention, “The links on our site, the advice, articles, games and more are offered to draw you in closer to your relationship with your spouse and encourage you to be the husband or wife God intended you to be.” But they don't list Bible verses and some of the other sites do.
Clint: Well it’s hard to find biblical support for vibrators, to be fair.
Jey: They do say “We know that sex toys, marital aids, vibrators, whatever you call them, can't themselves be Christian or non-Christian. So what makes us different? Everything that we sell has been extensively researched and scrutinized…
Clint: Yeah I bet.
Jey: …to ensure it is in classy nudity, free packaging.
Clint: This has to be the most Evangelical thing ever. They are more concerned about superficial packaging than they are about the quality of the actual products or the safety of their customers.
Jey: The site is solely for the use of married adults over 18 years of age, so I should not actually be looking at the site.
Clint: Right. We shouldn't even be on here right now.
Jey: And I get it. They're trying to help Christian couples who have been told all of their life that sex is bad, who are finally in married relationships and want to spice it up in the bedroom and are trying to be like, you know what, sex toys are good. But as I was looking on the YouTube to see like the general Christian vibe about sex toys, there are everything from sex toys are totally okay and marriage to sex toys are kind of bring demons into your life.
Clint: Yeah it's not an across the board kind of thing. What are their other offerings though? They do have WeVibe on here though, which is a pretty good brand. It’s on the higher-end of things.
Jey: They do have the rose but it's being sold for way cheaper on Amazon.
Clint: Well everything on here has a hefty markup. Who ever thought you would pay more to see fewer titties?
Jey: There are reviews on here.
Clint: Here’s a review for a horse tail butt plug. Should’ve known they would cater to the Christian horse girls. It says, “Beware. This thing is huge!”
Jey: Not for your beginner.
Clint: Looks pretty average size to me but whatever. Now what about this Intimacy board game they have on here?
Jey: Hold on. In all caps on this, it says “all of the games we carry are from secular manufacturers and may contain inappropriate suggestions or ideas (a card could suggest watching porn together, for example). It is up to you to go through the decks and discard them before playing. If this will be a stumbling block for you, please do not order them.
Clint: The ol’ stumbling block. Classic.
Jey: So they have like PSA’s. They have gone through all of these products that are just like-
Clint: All right. So that's Covenant Spice. Who’s next?
Jey: Our next big player is going to be Marriage Spice.
Clint: Ohhhh Marriage Spice has lingerie. You don’t usually see that. Not a lot, but they have some thigh highs so that’s pretty risque.
Jey: But they have gone through and they make sure that when you click on “sexy wear” like none of it is inappropriate. So they crop everything so that you don't see any butts, there's no titties. It's just…
Clint: It’s just disembodied limbs. Very weird. Oh, but they've got fitted rubber sheets on here. These people are getting wild.
Jey: Married, spice is a little bit fun because they've got like Christian friendly sex position cards.
Clint: Ok, what? What makes a sex position Christian friendly? I just don't- Oh wait, I see. They're like stick figures. The cards are Christian friendly, not the positions. So do they have an “About Us” section or something?
Jey: Marriage Spice is a Christian owned marital aid and intimacy product store run by a husband and wife team who are passionate about helping you make the best love you can make. Our shop is nudity and vibrating things free and includes fast, free shipping.
Clint: Vibration free. That's interesting. I wonder why.
Jey: Why it's vibrating things free? It doesn't actually say why, but when you go to shop it doesn't have “For Her” listed but it does have “For Him” listed. So it's all focused on male pleasure. Like if I didn't know that this was for a Christian marriage, I would definitely think that this would work for gay men because all of this here is penis pumps, penis rings.
Clint: Oh my god, you’re right. They accidentally opened a gay sex shop. Ooh, hold up. We have to listen to their Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast. One of the women hosting this podcast - her name is Gay. Her name is Gay Christmas!
Clint: You can't make this stuff up. I'm sorry. I'm not trying to be mean. But Gay Christmas? I mean, come on. Jesus Christ. Okay, so what about our next store, Married Dance? Okay, now we're cookin’. This is a real sex store. They've got 250 vibrators.
Jey: The groove dildo. It doesn't even look like a dick. It's just got Paisley's on it.
Clint: Oh, they've got Clone-A-Willy on here!
Jey: Oh, they do? Oh, my goodness. Amazing. Pasty glue. I didn't even know you needed pasty glue.
Clint: Well with all their sexual hangups, you know they can’t risk it falling off and exposing their nipple.
Jey: Yeah. Married Dance is one that I feel is, like, the most sex forward out of all of these.
Clint: Absolutely. They've even got strap-ons on here.
Jey: I actually really like Married Dance out of these. “Our view on sex toy usage” - they go into it. They talk about how “almost all Christians accept personal lube as an addition to love. But what if personal lubricant is used to masturbate while thinking about someone else's lube or the act bad? The same can be said about vibrators and marital aids. Using them with your spouse during foreplay and intercourse to enhance lovemaking can be a great thing.
Clint: It's interesting that they would concern themselves with that because if you asked any Evangelical if a gun is at fault when someone is murder, they would say, “Don’t blame the gun. People do bad things, not guns. The gun is just a tool like any other. It can be used for good or evil.” But apparently some of them can’t apply that same logic to a dildo.
Jey: I mean, the amount of things that people have gone to over the years to stop masturbation, like, did you know that cornflakes were literally invented because he thought that they were so boring that they could get kids to not masturbate?
Clint: I did know that. But like, don’t people masturbate more when they’re bored? Some major flaws in cornflake logic there. I just don't know why anybody gives a shit.
Jey: It's about control and it's about being a part of an in-group or an outgroup. The way that these people can just like, keep saying you're at fault so you're not good enough so that you'll keep coming, so that you can try to get better and better and better or whatever.
Clint: Now, see, you're wrong on two fronts. They don't want you to get it in and they definitely don't want you to keep coming. Wrong and wrong.
Jey: They give pastor and group discounts on married dance.
Clint: Group discounts? Like for a play party? Do they not understand the implications they’re making? So what about our last contender here - ChristianLoveToys.com. Their tagline is “We care more about honoring Jesus and your marriage than your money.”
Jey: Yeah. So Christian Love Toys is what I was expecting from all of these sites because they go into so much detail about vibrators.
Clint: They do have a large selection of toys and a large selection of lingerie as well.
Jey: And I would like to note their vibrators are listed in a separate section from their sex toys. So at first I was like, “Oh my God, it's all male centric.” Just like the anti vibration site and then I found vibrators and then it goes into like everything it’s like you want anal, breast, bullet and egg, like butterfly, like classic like it has a whole list and so I was like, okay, Christian Love Toys, you're getting it, you're getting it. “Christ centered, Bible honoring sacrificial love and service for your spouse. In addition to these guidelines, check out our story and those blah blah blah. However, please take time to read through the details on this page and discuss them with your spouse. One: for heterosexual married couples only not singles or dating couples. Two: your motivation matters - sacrificial love and service of your spouse. Three: there is such a thing as inappropriate sex in marriage. The other ones haven't said that so that's interesting, but they don't follow up with that. Four: enjoy toys with your beloved, not alone. Five: never coerce, pressure or manipulate your spouse (to “try something new”). I was really happy that they put that there. I was like, “Yes, spousal consent is important.” And then I saw the (to try something new.)
Clint: So it's okay to pressure your spouse into having sex. That’s their duty. Just don’t pressure them to do anything differently. Got it.
Jey: Six: pray and communicate openly with your spouse. And seven: have fun and lots of orgasms! Then it goes through and explains all of these guidelines in detail. “If browsing this site or trying products leads to you or your spouse's minds or hearts to places of perversion, impurity or inappropriate fantasy, please stop viewing it.” They really, really, really just want you to be about Jesus. And there's so many Bible verses. They don't have a Bible verse to back up the no masturbating thing.
Clint: Because there isn’t one.
Jey: Right. There isn't. But also, “Enjoy toys with your beloved, never alone. Use toys with your spouse. Sexuality is not intended to be experienced alone.” This is why I threw out my vibrator because of my ex. He didn't masturbate. And so he was like, “You shouldn't either, that masturbating is bad, really.” He's the same one that told me that he had two friends overdose and die off of weed, so I shouldn't smoke.
Clint: Ah, so he’s just full of shit.
Clint: So what about this Christian erotica?
Jey: So we watched this movie called Redeeming Love, which has a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes but 95% of the audience loves it.
Clint: This movie is based on a book of the same name - Redeeming Love - that came out in 1991. There was a bit of controversy when it first came out. It was pretty risque, especially for the time. But it has since become a bit of an Evangelical classic. But now, it’s making waves again because it’s one thing to read about this stuff but portraying it on-screen is too far for some Christians. But like you said, overall, audiences are loving it.
The story is very loosely based on the book of Hosea from the Bible. In that book, Hosea’s wife, Gomer, is constantly cheating on him. He’s basically a cuckold. But he keeps taking her back and loves her anyway. And the whole thing is a metaphor for Israel worshiping other gods, cheating on the real god, but god keeps taking them back as his chosen people.
But in Redeeming Love, the woman - Angel - is a sex-worker who was basically sold into sex-slavery as a child. She has sex for money to survive in the American West during the Gold Rush. And the man - Michael-Hosea - is hell bent on rescuing her from this life even though she doesn’t want him to. So it’s really not the same at all.
Jey: It's kind of like how The Lion King was based off Hamlet.
Clint: I actually think that's closer to the original story than this is. What did you think about it?
Jey: I have a few thoughts. First of all, I didn't see character arcs for any of the characters. Yet, there was a stacked cast. There was a guy from Euphoria and there was a girl who was on The Magicians. There were just like a lot of people that signed on to do this movie and it came out this year. So 2022.
Clint: Yeah it has Eric Dane, Abigail Cowen, Logan Marshall-Green, Famke Janssen of X-Men fame. The cast is not the problem. The writing is the problem. The story is incredibly dark and fucked up at times. It’s amazing how Evangelicals love to relish in depravity as long as it isn’t directly portrayed on-screen. There is a whole subplot where in her youth, her dad is drunk and she purposefully has sex with him as a punishment for how he treated her and her mom. Then he feels so guilty about it that he kills himself.
Jey: And then she gets like no characterization. A farmer goes, he buys time, he pays double for the lottery and basically just says, like, each time is like,” hey, you're the woman that God wants me to marry.” And he's like, “I wouldn't even care if you weren't pretty, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
Clint: Yeah she just so happens to be the most beautiful and sought-after sex-worker in town. But he doesn’t even care about that. It’s totally unrelated to his desire to marry her, even though he knows literally nothing else about Angel.
Jey: Yeah. And she's like, ”You just met me this week. You're my fifth proposal this week.”
Clint: That’s the thing. That’s what really ties this movie into all this other Christian sex stuff. It is written to reinforce the idea that you should just see someone, intuitively know they’re the one, marry them, then start your relationship. So he like, “rescues” her from the brothel against her will.
Jey: And she, like, escapes his farm several times and leaves. But then they cauterized her like, stuff. So she couldn't have kids. And at the very end of the movie, like, of course she's pregnant and already has another kid. So it's just like, see, like God gave her babies.
Clint: Marriage and covenant sex magically made her pregnant even though it was medically impossible for her to have kids. Throughout the movie, a woman's worth is consistently tied to her ability to have children.
Jey: Right? Which was not like one of her wants.
Clint: The position of the movie, and the book, is that sex work is the worst thing a person could possibly be doing.
Jey: And there's no one who would do it by choice.
Clint: Despite the fact that there are characters in the movie who are doing it by choice. But they’re shown in a pretty negative light.
Jey: Absolutely. And if you like, study, like how the West was built up, a lot of it was built up by madams and like brothel owners because they were the first banks. The US census actually tracked prostitution as a career in like the 1850s and 1860s and then like stopped doing that.
Clint: What about the production value of the movie itself?
Jey: All of the farmers wore suspenders as well as belts. And it didn't make any sense because belts weren't common until the 1920s, and suspenders were way more practical for farmers. So from a costume design standpoint, it just really didn't hold the test of-
Clint: The anachronisms were constant. From the behavior of the characters to the set design to the plot. Fucking Westworld is more historically accurate than this movie.
Jey: And I was here watching it. Like, you told me that this was going to be a softcore porn and I was going to get to see a side boob, which was true, but I didn't understand. Like, there wasn't really like a love story for me.
Clint: That's the other thing. It's not even romantic. I don't understand the appeal of it on any level. It's definitely not sexy, but it's also not emotionally engaging.
Jey: Michael-Hosea or whatever his name is, he was just like, “No, like, I love you, I care for you. I'm the one that wants the best for you.” Bro, it doesn't matter. Like a week ago, you didn’t know anything about her.
Clint: I feel like it's just reflective of how some Evangelicals view courtship and marriage. And in the movie, when Angel and Micahel-Hosea finally have sex, it’s portrayed as the best sex Angel has ever had, which again plays into purity culture. Michael is implied to be a virgin and you’re telling me that having sex with him is the best sex a professional sex-worker has ever had? It takes practice to be good at sex. And this is the problem Evangelicals keep trying to overcome with all this. You can’t abstain from sex and be good at sex. It just doesn’t work that way. Maybe it’s time to quit flipping through that Bible and put those fingers to better use.
Jey: I want to hear about this book. So I found Authentic Intimacy because I was watching Christian YouTubers and they recommended that you should read Authentic Intimacy before you get married if you're worried about having sex. So this is being recommended as a tool for Christian newlyweds and Christian couples who have grown up in purity culture and followed all the rules. And now they need to know what to do. But they don't want to watch porn and they haven't had proper sex education. So that's kind of the context for the website, Authentic Intimacy and the book that you read.
Clint: Yeah so Authentic Intimacy is a creation of Dr. Juli Slattery, who is a clinical psychologist, but not a very good one. She used to be affiliated with Focus on the Family but now she focuses on her own company. Authentic Intimacy describes itself as “a unique teaching ministry devoted to teaching on God's design for intimacy and sexuality. Our vision is represented by two words that are rarely put together: SEXUAL DISCIPLESHIP®. Practically everyone, young and old, single and married, has experienced pain, shame, and confusion related to sexuality. We want men and women to understand God's purpose and redemption related to their sexuality. As a ministry, we disciple by consistently applying God's Truth to all questions, pain, and joys related to sexuality and intimacy. We believe that God intentionally created us as sexual beings, that every sexual choice is a spiritual choice, that sexuality is a powerful metaphor, and that Satan intentionally works to destroy the holy expression of sexuality.”
There’s a lot to unpack there but what jumps out at me is that she’s also reinforcing this idea that everyone has sexual shame, just like we were talking about earlier. I read her latest, and most popular, book titled God, Sex, & Your Marriage. It was a doozy. And I’m not a psychologist or a therapist, but my partner is a sex therapist and they were horrified at the advice given by Dr. Juli. So please do not read it if you’re looking for help in the realm of sex therapy. Just find yourself a real sex therapist, preferably one without any religious affiliation. And if you see someone else reading this book, take it away from them and throw it in a fire.
As for the actual content of the book and her website, it’s similar to what we’ve discussed already. Porn is evil. Men are all addicted to it. Women only engage in sex as an act of service to their husbands. She even encourages couples to install software like Covenant Eyes on each other's devices so they can hold each other accountable.
Jey: That is actually just a promotion for another Christian company. And I feel like a lot of these things are just secret schemes that are like, “What can we teach the Christians to buy? Buy my books to teach you how to be better and intimate because we've made you feel shame all your life. Buy this thing.”
Clint: Yeah she does that throughout this book. It’s one big sales pitch for her own products and products of other companies that are philosophically aligned with Authentic Intimacy. She does say that masturbation and sex toys are gray areas. Couples should just pray about it together, which isn’t exactly a green light but is a little more forgiving than a lot of other Christian ideas about masturbation.
We won’t spend too much here but we do need to read at least a few excerpts so it’s clear exactly how batshit crazy this book is. I’ll start with my favorite piece of advice - “You might find it comforting to picture Jesus sitting at the foot of your bed during intercourse.”
Jey: What in The Handmaid's Tale?
Clint: “He doesn't leave the room when you and your spouse get naked or even if you look at porn.”
Jey: One time I went to this super secret training, usually for adults, from Bethel, the Christian Magic School. During worship, gold dust fell on me, so I really thought I was experienced and they would have you imagine where Jesus is so I would picture Jesus in a purple V-neck, like white Jesus, you know.
Clint: With like, ripped jeans and J’s on or what?
Jey: Yeah and like long brown hair. And we would just vibe in a Garden of Eden kind of thing.
Clint: Sorry to break it to you but that was just the worship band drummer, not Jesus.
Jey: Yeah, it's like the fifth member of Judah and the Lion or something.
Clint: But yeah, it’s like that. But beyond Jesus watching you, the book consistently eroticises Jesus in a way that’s very unsettling. But here's a fun game. If the Bible could be summed up in five words, what do you think those five words would be?
Jey: Love God, love others, xoxo.
Clint: Okay, that's four words and some nonsense. It's “God wants to marry us.”
Jey: What, what, what? What? Oh, God. Now what? No. Oh, right. Because we're the bride of Christ.
Jey: So I was always taught that there's Jesus up in heaven. And then all of us are going to make up the bride of Christ. So, like, you're like the church's arm and you're the church is leg hair.
Clint: And they say orgies are sinful. Oh, my God. There's this one, one of the case studies, this poor son of a bitch…
Jey: In this book?
Clint: Yeah so throughout the book there are case studies which are basically just interviews with people who have taken Dr. Juli’s in-person trainings so they directly parrot everything she’s writing about. But anyway, this guy is like, “My wife and I have always struggle in our marriage. She’s only attracted to women and has no sexual feelings toward me whatsoever. But that’s just our burden to bear.”
But like, Dr. Juli advised them to stay together and keep trying even though his wife is clearly a lesbian. Sex is consistently portrayed by Authentic Intimacy as a struggle, a battleground, a sacrifice. This book says that sexual incompatibility is to be expected, that it is “baked into” god’s design for marriage, which to be fair, if you think god’s design for marriage is for two people who’ve never had sex to marry before either of them even understand what they want or need, then yeah, incompatibility is probably to be expected.
Jey: Why are they trying to make sex this like they're making it? Y'all are both going to feel shame about it. So they're making it not a gift from God that they said it was and it's just they don't want people to have fun.
Clint: But they already have the shame. That damage is already done. Juli is just trying to normalize it. So now it's just a matter of like, yes, this is going to be a struggle. You're going to feel shame, it's going to be difficult. You just need to push through and serve each other the best you can even if you’re unhappy.
Jey: That’s what I thought. You stay with people that you shouldn't be with because you think, “Oh, this is just part of it, but I'm supposed to marry this person because this is the first person that I've done this stuff with, so I have to.”
Clint: Which is incredibly dangerous. I 100% believe that this book and others like it convince many people to stay in marriages they shouldn’t. It's just so fucking sad, dude. There are countless stories in this book of couples who literally couldn’t figure out how to have sex on their wedding night. Men who thought their dick goes in a woman’s belly button. A couple who thought they could get pregnant through holding hands. These are adults! And they’ve been so sheltered that they literally don’t know where babies come from. And this problem is more widespread than most people realize.
Jey: Like these baby couples that just don't know anything at all because they've tried to be a good kid their whole life and they've tried to follow every single rule because they thought, if you do break a rule, you go to hell.
Clint: But the problem is that many of them never figure it out. In this book, there were people in their 40’s who had been married for 20+ years and had never really had sex. Or at best, they’d made it work well enough to have a couple kids but never had sex for pleasure because they just didn’t know how. And the author never acknowledges the fact that the church itself is responsible for this. She is responsible for this. No, she says that this is something every married couple struggles with which is just absolute bullshit. But the thing is, when you live in a closed, Evangelical community, everyone you know probably does struggle like this because you all grew up in it. But she insists over and over that you are not entitled to a good sex life. It can be fun, but at the end of the day, god gave us sex for procreation and you shouldn’t expect to have a fulfilling sex life.
It’s just fucking insane. You should have every expectation of being sexually compatible with the person you choose to marry. That is not too much to ask for. If you ask me, it’s the bare minimum. The most unsettling part of all this comes at the end of the book when she disparages real sex therapy and psychology: “Unfortunately, a lot of sources that claim to help us heal actually lead us away from truth. A good example of this is the way secular counselors and self-help books handle the topic of shame. Most will try to convince you that you can self-talk your way out of shame. I'm beautiful, I'm strong, I'm a good person. I'm good. I'm enough. This doesn't work. Do you know why? Because you intuitively know that some of your shame has aspects of truth. Your body is not perfect. You're always beautiful or strong or good. You know that selfishness, lust and evil lurks somewhere in the streams of your heart. Psychological self-talk is ultimately based on faith in yourself. That will only get you so far because you know better than anyone how frail and sinful you actually are. The faith in God stakes your life on believing that God is who He says He is, even when it doesn't feel true. You walk in the confidence that he will be faithful to what his covenant promises.”
Jey: Clint, I think I need to pay you for therapy. The strange thing is after you read that to me and me being like, “Oh, the church is where that comes from. I don't need to believe that about myself anymore. I am fucking hot. Hell yeah, I can self-talk the shit out of myself now. Oh amazing.”
Clint: You can pay me if you want but for the love of god, don’t pay Dr. Juli. It’s just so unbelievably harmful to tell someone that their sexual shame is valid. Especially if you’re a therapist or psychologist. But the thing is, she isn’t here to help people. She’s here to uphold conservative Evangelical ideals.
Jey: Yeah. Because you should feel shame. You should feel bad because we need you to feel shame so we can keep you in the church. If you don't feel shame, why are you coming here?
Clint: Good question. Why am I coming here? Why does anyone willingly subject themselves to this shit?
Jey: Well, they're not coming.
Clint: Right. They're going there. Even after reading all of the bullshit in this book, I was still shocked by that ending. The premise of the book is trying to help people who have been so shamed by the church sexually that they can't even have sex. And then the conclusion of the book is that, yes, you should feel shame and you just need to trust in God. And that's going to help you have better sex somehow. Just picture Jesus at the foot of your bed.
Clint: So let’s bring this home. How does all this come together? Well, the effects of purity culture have hit a critical mass in the past few years. Evangelical leaders are scrambling and backpedaling because it’s becoming painfully apparent that they’ve fucked up an entire generation of Christian couples. Their focus on sexual purity was way too effective and now the people who were raised in it don’t know how to have sex which means they aren’t having as many kids. And that’s a huge problem for Evangelicals because, in a lot of ways, their entire model is predicated on indoctrinating kids. But they don’t know how to fix it. In fact, they’re just making it worse by perpetuating shame and setting the lowest possible expectations for sexual satisfaction. They’ve shifted the goal posts entirely. Purity culture promised us the best sex lives imaginable if we waited until marriage. Now people like Dr. Juli are saying that god doesn’t owe us good sex lives. We’re supposed to abstain until marriage because it’s what we were commanded to do. We shouldn’t expect satisfying sex lives and in fact, we should expect sexual incompatibility. That’s their only solution. Abstain from sex before marriage, lower your expectations for sex within marriage, and power through so you can make a few babies because that’s your Christian duty. What was once presented as god’s gift is now god’s curse.
Jey: May I present the case for polyamory?
Clint: Couldn’t think of a better argument for it, honestly. And these are also the reasons we’re seeing a boom of Christian sex toys and steamy Christian movies - it’s because Evangelicals are doing anything they can think of to get Christian couples to have sex. They’re trying to fix the mess that they made with purity culture. But I’m pretty sure this strategy of throwing more Evangelical fuel on the purity culture fire is not the answer. But anyway, Jey, where can people find us?
Jey: We are at howgaythouart.com. You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, but I don't really want to get on Facebook because then I have to see all the stuff my mom's posting about.
Clint: I did see that you actually sent me a friend request today.
Jey: I did. Um. Yeah, Twitter. TikTok. I should probably start making TikToks.
Clint: We’re also on Patreon if you’d like to throw us a few bucks. You’ll get exclusive minisodes, access to our Discord, movie nights, all kinds of fun stuff. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll be back in 2 weeks to talk about Evangelical summer camps.
Clint: Where is the Sword of the Lord position?
Jey: Oh, goodness.
Clint: How do you do the Body of Christ? The Last Supper. The Great Flood.
Jey: Drink from the cup of my salvation.
Clint: Come thou fount.