Sex toys in the church - Christian leaders address tempting issue
Some of the island's prominent church leaders have acknowledged that members of their congregations are turning to sex toys to satisfy their needs or spice up their relationships, and the pastors are not in any hurry to condemn this practice.
According to the church leaders contacted by The Sunday Gleaner, Christianity does not relieve anyone of their sexual needs and it is not their place to pass judgement.
"For years, I have been addressing this issue. I have had letters and calls from women who say they are Christians and they say they use sex toys.
"I remember receiving a call from someone in the Church of God who wanted my opinion because she uses sex toys and masturbates, and her pastor preached against women in the church who were not having sex with men, but with themselves," said the Reverend Aaron Dumas, counsellor and radio talk-show host.
Using toys for years
Dumas said he believes the story of a 47-year-old Christian woman, who says she has been using sex toys for several years.
"When I went in the church, like most women in there, it was to find a husband, start a family and praise my God. I went into the church with needs and I still have them. Twenty years later, I am without a husband or children. I still have needs, so the forgiving God that I know, is He going to condemn me to purgatory because I use a sex toy? I don't think so," said Marvette.
She argued that more women in the church are using sex toys much more than we would all like to believe, but many don't want to talk about their sexual needs.
"Some of the women say they use sex toys because they don't cheat. But they don't pass on sexually transmitted diseases either. I am a professional. I deal with every case on its merit and I don't condemn anybody.
"If a woman feels she has to use sex toys because she can't do without pleasing herself, I am not prepared to condemn her at all," said Dumas.
He argued that many men in the church have accepted the usefulness of sex toys.
"Men are going away and they make sure they purchase vibrators and leave with their wives and say use this, and whether it is Pentecostal or Church of God, they do," insisted Dumas.
Pastor of the Portmore Missionary Church Reverend Garnet Roper said the subject was not foreign to him.
"Sex used to be a function of relationship of intimacy and commitment, trust, faithfulness and even marriage. But sex is less and less a matter of relationship and more and more of a commodity, like drinking a beer for its own physical satisfaction," said Roper.
He argued that sex toys have become important, as the role of men in the life of women has diminished.
"There is no natural and normal way to relate to a man outside of your spouse, as everything else is risky. The risk of being misunderstood, exploited, or hurt in some way. And with women becoming more economically independent, their own pleasure and demand, is a real option. They can buy it.
"Men for years bought sex workers and they were women. Women bought gigolos. And with all the risk of violence, sexual infections and emotional traps, they are now reducing the thing to the physical stimulation. And that is the context in which sex toys have become and industry," Roper told The Sunday Gleaner.
He said to use words like "sin" is problematic, as it not offending the community.
"Sex, when it is at is best, is often not because the sex was good but because the relationship has the qualities of honesty, trust, respect and concern and consideration. So in the context of a diminished view of what life has to offer you can buy a dildo or whatever else is on the market and pleasure themselves."
Roper said the conversation must be accommodated, and must include the rehabilitation of the image of men in the lives of women.
General Secretary of the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC), the Reverend Gary Harriott, said the topic was not an agenda item at the level of the JCC or even at the United Church.
"If it became a matter of concern, it could come before the JCC, but the times when I have heard of it, not often, is at the congregational level where topics about relationships in general are being discussed. It is a concern no doubt, but has not been presented as a major issue," said Harriott.
It is similar in the Baptist Church, but general secretary the of the Jamaica Baptist Union, the Reverend Karl Johnson said, sex and sexuality are discussed in church.
"It has not been discussed at a national level as a single item in the church. But in our denomination, we have encouraged and facilitated discussion on the issue of sex and sexuality to defrock the taboo of peoples sexuality," said Johnson.
He said using sex toys was an advanced discussion on masturbation which took place when he was a child.
"I don't know of any churches where the issue has been ratcheted up to a sermon. But we are talking about sexuality at all levels, because we are all sexual beings. I really don't think it's our duty to condemn."
Nigel Coke, communication, public affairs and religious liberty director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, said he could not recall the issue being an agenda item in the church.