April 15, 2007
Stan and Stella open a sacred sex store:
Stan Hegarty was outside—painting the decking, no less—when God spoke to him. He ran indoors to tell Stella, his wife of ten years, what God had said.
… “He came in and said God had told him that we should open a sex shop,” she recalls.
“He said it wouldn’t be
a sordid thing but a Christian sex shop, aimed at married couples. It would stock sex toys and, you know, ‘things’. But nothing too offensive.”
Still, Stella was unim-
“Well, frankly, I thought he was bonkers. Barking mad. I told him so. I said: ‘Stan, don’t be so ridiculous’.”
By next morning, however, Stan—and God, she believes—had caused her to change her mind.
… “Sex is a huge part of marriage, and to simply ignore that is asking for trouble. By the next day, we were talking seriously about it. Now here we are.”
Here we are indeed, three years on, and well down the path that God supposedly suggested. The stockroom of Wholly Love—the Hegartys’ rather unholy business venture—is filled with boxes of things called Please Teasers and Wiggle Wands. The place is awash, so to speak, with Lust Dust and Candy Panties and kits that promise ‘screaming orgasms’.
… While none of the merchandise is exactly hard-core, neither is it the sort of stuff you’d be happy to brandish in front of the vicar. Clearly, though, the Hegartys’ vicar is made of strong stuff.
“Oh, he’s incredibly supportive,” says Stella.
… Wholly Love, which is purely an internet venture, is billed as Europe’s first Christian sex shop, but its products are routinely sent all over the world.
… Stan and Stella insist that there are strict moral guidelines which govern exactly what they will and won’t sell. They claim they have gone to great lengths to make sure their website does not cause offence.
Long nights have clearly been spent poring over the Bible, noting exactly who said what about tricky little subjects like onanism.
… Still, their stock is less seedy than it could be, they stress. A team of advisers, including members of the clergy, comments on each product before it is included for sale, which must make for interesting forwardplanning meetings.
“We have very strict rules about what we will and won’t stock,” Stella points out. “We don’t do pornographic products, or sadomasochistic ones.”
“We’re actually very strict with the rules. We don’t even allow nudity on the site—we will simply not use some of the images on the packaging—because we feel that nudity should be something between a man and his wife.”
“Naturally, sometimes our customers get confused. People come to us and say they’d like to buy some nice pink fluffy handcuffs and can’t understand why we say no. But our thinking is that you have to have very strict limits about these things.”
… Why, you can legitimately ask, does God have a problem with fluffy handcuffs in the marital bedroom, yet is apparently fine with see-through negligees and edible undies?
The answer is that it is all down to personal moral judgments. Perhaps for the first time, the Hegartys explain, they themselves had to work out where they stood morally on a whole range of sex products.
“Before, I would have said that I thought things like vibrators were wrong, pure and simple,” admits Stan. “But the more I thought about it, the more I found myself asking: ‘Why are they wrong?’”
… His wife adds, somewhat curiously: “People say to me that it isn’t natural. Well, we use batteries for a lot of things that aren’t natural either, like electric shavers, for example. What’s the big deal?”
I am not making this up.
[Recycled post: I’m traveling. Originally published on February 3rd 2007.]
TrackBack URL for this entry: