Four friends from Bielefeld have been running a Christian online sex shop called schönerlieben for more than two years. They refrain from explicit and pornographic advertising of any kind. The aim is to make sex »an open topic of conversation within Christian communities as well«. So far, they have been running the company on the side, as the four of them have not been able to make a living from it – yet.
For many people, the following equation applies: Sex is an expression of love. For many Christians, faith in Jesus is a form of love. And despite this identical equation, Christian religion and sexuality have had a rather difficult relationship with each other for centuries. If the Bielefeld based shop is successful this should change in the not so distant future.
The founders of the shop are Wellington Estevo, Timo Rahn as well as Gerhard and Jonathan Peters, all of whom grew up Christian and in evangelical communities. In an interview, the four of them stated that the idea for their online sex shop came more or less by chance. The mother of one of the four friends worked in the accounting department of a sex shop, and the four wanted to start their own business. The seed for the unusual idea was sown.
The future sex entrepreneurs had no experience in the industry. »We had no idea at all about sex toys,« says Jonathan Peters. »But after some research, we found the idea better and better.«
This certainly had something to do with the fact that the idea is unique in Germany so far. Even today they run the only explicitly Christian sex shop in Germany. And also elsewhere in the world, the business concept is rather rare. In the USA a similar shop exists but a shop in the Netherlands has meanwhile closed again.
Basically the same sex toys are to be found at schönerlieben as at other sex shops. The difference lies more in what the four of them do without. No pornographic representations, no explicit slogans, no sex dolls or strokers in the style of well-known porn actresses and also no BDSM articles. Masturbation is not the subject, even though it is, of course, possible with many sex toys on offer.
Schönerlieben’s focus is on sex within a partnership. Therefore, the offer focuses on vibrators for couples, dildos and other products for mutual stimulation. Also, plush handcuffs can be found in the assortment of the shop.
The entrepreneurs don’t want to exclude anyone, which is why they don’t see themselves as »Christian sex shop« but as »love shop with Christian values«. Peters says: »Our site is open to all.«
In the meantime the site attracts between 3,000 and 5,000 visitors a month, roughly the same number of men and women. So far, the four entrepreneurs have not been able to make a living from their shop. Although some of the four are still studying, in the long run, they believe they can let the shop grow and work full-time for the company. They are currently looking for investors.
According to Peters, there is certainly demand. »I see a great need especially when it comes to youth groups,« says Jonathan Peters. »At first, most people are skeptical when they hear about our offer. But if you explain a little what we do, the second reaction is usually positive.« Seniors and people over 80 are also customers of the small shop.
Among other things, a blog is planned to unite sexuality and the Christian life. From the point of view of the four shop owners, this is not a contradiction, they cannot understand the Church’s fears regarding sexuality: »In the Bible, I read that sexuality is something wonderful that should be enjoyed,« says Peters.
Again and again, schönerlieben tries to find new customers and in 2019 was present with a booth at the Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag in Dortmund. Not all visitors to the Kirchentag were enthusiastic about schönerlieben’s presence. Members of the Mennonites criticized the business concept clearly and uncompromisingly. »For them, being a Christian and running a sex shop do not go together«, said Peters. But such voices are in the minority. Most Christians follow the equation faith = love = sexuality = partnership. So it is a big market to conquer for the four of them.
Here you can find the website of schoenerlieben.