Bible Question:

Is it okay to use marital aids such as dildos or vibrators with your spouse if both are in agreement? The Bible does not speak against it, but they also can be used for evil. We want to know boundaries and we also want to honor the Lord.

Bible Answer:

The Bible does not say anything about married couples using sex toys such as dildos or vibrators. The Bible does not say anything about masturbation, oral sex  or anal sex either. Yet, there are biblical principles that help us to understand that it is best to avoid them.

Sex Toys Masturbate You

Selling of Sex Toys

There are two basic types of sex toys used today. They are dildos and vibrators. Dildos are defined as “an artificial erect penis used for sexual pleasure.”[1] Vibrators are a mechanical method used to cause both males and females to orgasm. There are many different types sold. In 2016 Forbes reported that the sex toy industry would surge to a $15 billion in sales.[2] This means that there is a great sales effort to convince men and women that sex toys are pleasurable, safe and beneficial for individuals and couples. Consequently, there is great effort by the sex toy industry to suppress any suggestion that there are problems with dildos and vibrators. It is interesting to note that 53% of women between the ages of ages 18 to 60 are the primary buyers and users of these toys. Married women use them more than single women.[3]

Hallie Lieberman, author of Selling Sex Toys: Marketing and the Meaning of Vibrators in Early Twentieth-Century America, states,

Vibrators are widely sold today, however, as instruments for masturbation . . .[4]

Sex toys are used primarily by individuals and less by couples. Therefore, the industry is trying to sell the concept of incorporating them into a couple’s lovemaking. Consequently, one can expect that the industry will pay writers to help sell and promote research and write articles that are in their favor. What follows is an explanation of the applicable biblical principles for making a decision about using them and warnings from reputable sources and authorities about sex toys.

The Bible and Sex Toys

In summary, sex toys are a mechanical device that replaces the husband’s interaction with his wife’s genitals and breasts and the wife’s interaction with her husband’s genitals. Sex toys induce an orgasm by masturbating a husband’s or a wife’s genitals using a mechanical method. Consequently, the biblical principles that apply to masturbation also apply to the use of sex toys. Therefore, the reader is encouraged to read several articles about masturbation: “Is masturbation a sin?” “Is masturbation a sin in marriage?” “What does the Bible have to say about masturbation?” and “Is masturbation a sin if I control my thoughts?” The reader will discover that the Bible does not say anything about sex toys per se just as it does not say anything about masturbation. These articles reveal that even though the term masturbation is not stated explicitly in Scripture, masturbation is most likely a sin since 1 Corinthians 7:2 states that if a man is struggling with immoralities or sexual desires, he should marry.

But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 1 Corinthians 7:2 (NASB)

The message is that sexual activity should occur with a wife or a husband and not by oneself or solo. We are not to commit fornication either. If this verse includes masturbation, then solo masturbation and sex toys such as dildos and vibrators should not be used by oneself or solo.

Later the apostle Paul wants a husband and wife to stop depriving one another. That is, if a wife wants to experience lovemaking culminating in orgasm, the husband must not deny her. The converse is also true.

Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:5 (NASB)

In short, this verse reveals that lovemaking is more about your spouse than yourself. Lovemaking is giving of oneself to one’s wife or husband. Sadly, sex toys are often promoted by claiming that husbands cannot help a wife orgasm. The criticism ignores the fact that the porn industry has taught couples that women orgasm by vaginal stimulation, when in contrast Dr. Douglas Rosenau states that the vast majority of women orgasm in response to clitorial stimulation.[5] That is why the vast majority of wives do not orgasm when the couple is engaged sexual activity. The right technique is not being used for most women.

Therefore, does the Bible prohibit sex toys? The answer is the Bible never refers to “sex toys.” Instead, Scripture teaches us that husbands and wives should satisfy one’s spouse. It takes practice to learn how to please one another. Lovemaking is a sensuous act that occurs between a man and wife who who are devoted to each other’s enjoyment. Next, we will explore the dangers and concerns about sex toys that the industry would prefer you not know.

Dangers of Sex Toys

Research has been performed about the safety of sex toys. The first concern is that the data reveals vibrators can sometimes cause numbness of the genitals. In a Psychology Today article, a rhetorical question was asked if vibrators can numb the genitals. The answer that was given is,

Sometimes, but not often. In the Indiana survey, 11 percent of vibrator users reported occasional numbness and 3 percent experienced it frequently. [6]

Additionally, Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, reports that when women use vibrators extensively their genitals can become numbed, losing sensitivity and experience an increased inability to achieve an orgasm. Here is her warning to women.

If you use your vibrator to reach orgasm the vast majority of the time, your clitoris can start to become acclimated to that one particular type and intensity of stimulation. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any conclusive studies that have shown whether or not an actual physiological dependence can develop (le sigh), but many women report that frequent vibrator usage makes it harder to reach orgasm in other ways (like through manual masturbation or oral sex).[7]

Karen Stewart, a psychologist specializing in sex therapy, also comments that there is evidence that vibrators can cause numbness.

There’s anecdotal evidence of vibrator use causing problems: “I’ve talked to many women who have been single for a while and use vibrators by themselves and then have a really difficult time orgasming any other way”[8]

The question is that while women can experience numbness of their genitals, and some experience long term numbness, which women will have this experience?

Dildos can also be dangerous for pregnant women. Gina Brown, M.D. and an ob-gyn and the coordinator of microbicides and women and girls research for the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health, states that using vibrators and dildos during pregnancy can be risky to the baby under certain circumstances.[8]

Some sex toys may not be safe for other reasons. For example, sometimes a dildo or a vibrator that is inserted into a vagina cannot be removed if it slips in too far. The highly respected Scientific American magazine reported in 2011,

But with increased use comes increased mishaps. An estimated 6,800 people showed up in U.S. hospitals between 1995 and 2006 with a sex toy emergency, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy—most often, people in their 30s who needed help retrieving their vibrator or dildo. In 2007 alone about 900 people had injuries severe enough that they were admitted to the hospital to remove a foreign body from their rectums.[10]

Later in the article when referring to external vibrators, not vibrators that were inserted into body cavities, the article comments,

These are not usually an emergency room affair, but unsafe clitoral stimulation is common. A 2009 Indiana University study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 53 percent of all women have used a vibrator, and 18 percent of those have had numbness, pain and other side effects. Known in the occupational-safety world as “vibratory strain injury,” these problems may at first merely frustrate but can develop into chronic conditions.[11]

This article about sex toy safety also provides warnings about the chemicals and materials used in manufacturing these sex toys. The article indicates that they can cause serious problems.

Conclusion:

In summary, the Bible does not explicitly prohibit sex toys such as dildos and vibrators. But there are dangers with sex toys that should not be overlooked in the passion to enhance a couple’s lovemaking. If a couple uses a sex toy, it should be used together if and when a couple engages in sexual activity. God gave husbands and wives genitals for the purpose of enjoyment and procreation. His intention is that sexual activity will occur together and not by oneself. Otherwise, He would have given each of us all the necessary physiological parts. The fact that our genitals fit together perfectly reveals that God designed them to be used together. Therefore, it is strongly encouraged that if the husband and wife are determined to use sex toys, that they be used only when the couple is engaged in sex activity together. Sex toys should not be used by oneself.

Is there a situation where a husband or a wife may not be able to stimulate their spouse using parts of their body? Maybe there is a medical situation of physical defect? Then is it possible that a vibrator may be acceptable in such a circumstance? Since the Bible does not give us guidance, we cannot be dogmatic. Whatever the couple decides, sex toys are not recommended for normal use. God only equipped husbands and wives with hands along with their genitals. We need to remember our Creator’s design. Sex toys cannot replace the thrill of giving one’s spouse a sensuous encounter with a warm, live lover.

Whatever husbands and wives decide, they should seek the Lord’s guidance through prayer. If they decide to use one, it should be with mutual consent. If either partner has any reservations about sex toys, the husband or wife must respect their partner’s wishes since it could be the Holy Spirit causing the reservation.

 

References:

1. Hallie Lieberman. Selling Sex Toys: Marketing and the Meaning of Vibrators in Early Twentieth-Century America. Enterprise & Society. Cambridge University Press. Volume 17, Number 2, June 2016. pp. 393-433.
2. Janet Burns. “How The ‘Niche’ Sex Toy Market Grew Into An Unstoppable $15B Industry.” July 25, 2016.
3. “IU researchers find vibrator use to be common, linked to sexual health.” IU News Room. Indiana University. January 16, 2020.
4. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. vol. 1. 2007, p. 684.
5. Douglass E. Rosenau. A Celebration of Sex. Thomas Nelson. 2002. p.161.
6. Michael Castleman. Vibrators: Myths vs. Truth. Feb 15, 2011.
7. Vanessa Marin. Are Vibrators Addictive or Numbing? Our Sex Therapist Has Your Answer.  Bustle. May 12, 2014.
8. Lea Rose Emery. ‘How kicking my vibrator habit actually led to better orgasms.’ MAY 25, 2017.
9. Gina Brown, M.D., ob-gyn. “Is it safe to use a dildo during pregnancy?” BabyCenter.com.
10. Regina Nuzzo. “Good Vibrations: U.S. Consumer Web Site Aims to Enhance Sex Toy Safety.” Scientific American. May 24, 2011.
11. Ibid.

Suggested Links:

Is masturbation a sin?
Is masturbation a sin in marriage?
What does the Bible have to say about masturbation?
Is masturbation a sin if I control my thoughts?
What is the correct meaning of fornication in the Bible?
How can I stop committing fornication? — I really feel guilty!
Does 1 Corinthians 7 indicate we can have foreplay and sex all night?
Is kissing before marriage a sin? What does the Bible say?