Love garden online for Dutch Christians

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

Dildos, vibrators, condoms and lubricant. Pills, potions and creams to enhance your sexual pleasure. It’s all there, available at a new online sex shop. But this is not your everyday internet sex store. Its products are aimed at devout Christians.

Chastity is a prized virtue and pre-marital sex is forbidden for devout Christians, but former pastor and initiator of the webshop Marc Angenent says Christians, too, can enjoy sex.

“This internet shop is also a way of bringing out into the open sexual pleasure as a sanctioned topic in the Christian community.”

Just the person
Mr Angenent is just the person to help Christians enjoy sex. He began his career as a minister before changing track and becoming a sex therapist. Many of his clients are devout believers, and he has seen first-hand the sorts of problems religious people have with their sexuality.

“Christian couples have questions about feelings of shame and guilt, and about how far you are allowed to go in enjoying sex. Given my background, they trust me to help them with these problems.”

Filth free
But in advising couples that it’s alright to enjoy sex, Mr Angenent had difficulty telling them where to go to buy sexual aids. The products may be appropriate for Christians, but the websites selling the products are not. They are too often dominated by pornographic language and images.

So Angenent developed a site that Christians could visit.  Liefdestuin (The Love Garden) plainly states that the viewer will encounter no foul language, nudity or pornographic images. Indeed, the website is as much a Christian sexual therapy resource as it is a shop for sex products.

Bible based
Like all good Christians, Angenent refers to the Bible to back up his views.

“Particularly the Old Testament is full of erotic stories. Within a spiritual context, or course, but eroticism is very present.”

Indeed. Here are just a few examples of erotic passages in the Song of Solomon:

“He thrust his hand into the opening, and my inmost being yearned for him. I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, upon the handles of the bolt.” 5:4

“Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my lover among the young men. I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.” 2:3

“How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice.” Song 4:10

“Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden that its fragrance may be wafted abroad. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.” 4:16

Perversion?
Of course, not all devout Christians are pleased with the new web shop.

Piet Halsma writes on a Christian website, “People should not celebrate sexuality. It has to be experienced within marriage. Sexual desire, perversion, possessiveness, objectification – all of these are destructive characteristics of sexuality when brought outside the context of procreation.”

Another respondent, Mia, writes, “A sexshop is not Christian. A commitment of love is made by two people in love and no sex shop should come between them.”

In its first week online, public response to Mr Angenent’s web shop from the Christian community has been muted. And the orders have started coming in.

Not so new
His is not the first site selling erotic products to cater to devout believers: An online sex shop El Asira aimed at Muslims was launched in Amsterdam two years ago.

Dutch Christians are also lagging behind their fellow believers abroad. Erotic sites catering to Christians have been online in the United States and elsewhere for at least ten years.

So in this aspect of sexual liberation, Dutch Christians are only now catching up to the rest of the world.

(jt/imm)

Please note: the name of the website is in Dutch. If you type Love Garden into a search engine you will find an explicit sex site.