MADELEINE BRAND, host:
This is Day to Day from NPR News. I'm Madeline Brand. Coming up, Mexican workers in Seattle travel north to Canada looking for work.
First, here in Los Angeles, Pastor Carnell Borden has a secret. He leads a church in south L.A., but he also has a side business, and we're not going to reveal it just yet. Let's just say when you think of his first name, Carnell, it's no accident that the word carnal comes to mind. Independent producer Jessica Alpert has the story.
JESSICA ALPERT: Carnell Borden is senior pastor of Bethel Church of Holiness. Congregants stand in their pews, follow his words, nod their heads yes, and sway deeply in prayer. It's a perfect scene of congregational unity.
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ALPERT: He doesn't talk about his secret website here, but feels more comfortable discussing it in his living room 45 minutes away in Pomona.
Rev. CARNELL BORDEN (Senior Pastor, Bethel Church of Holiness): We do have this secret because we made a choice early on that we didn't see how it served anyone for us to sort of come out with this knowing that there would be quite a few people who just wouldn't understand.
ALPERT: Here's the secret. The Bordens, Pastor Carnell and his wife, Angela, run thepurebed.com. It's a website dedicated to strengthening the Christian marriage, and the inventory, it's locked away in the Borden's spare bedroom.
Ms. ANGELA BORDEN: I have some of our toys here, oils and bubble bath stuff, bed of roses, candles, some perfume that we have also. Over here, our lingerie.
Rev. BORDEN: The traffic that we get to the site are not just people who are looking to purchase, but we are getting just questions about everything from, why would someone want to use a lubricant to, is oral sex OK for a Christian?
ALPERT: He says it is OK and quotes from the Song of Solomon as a proof. The Bordens explain that thepurebed.com exists in two kingdoms, half ministry and half business.
Rev. BORDEN: As a business, we go into ThePureBed because we see an underserved market. We found Joe and Susie sitting in their home going, look, I'd like to buy this toy, but I don't feel comfortable going into the adult store to get it because I don't do porn, and they want to be able to access those things without having their hearts and their eyes bombarded by pornography.
ALPERT: The Bordens see a problem. The goodness of sex in marriage and the desire to delight in your spouse's body clashes with the exploitation they see in today's sex industry. The Bordens make it clear that their website ministry is geared to married couples. Pastor Borden believes that Christian leaders and clergy have a place in this very specific conversation.
Rev. BORDEN: We talk about everything else. We talk to people about how to keep their blood pressure healthy. We talk to them about their sugar intake. We talk to them about how to manage their finances. We talk to them about how to be parents. We talk to them about how to communicate to their spouses. Why do we stop at the bedroom?
Ms. VIVIAN MELENDEZ: We're, you know, very dedicated to God and all and the church.
ALPERT: Vivian Melendez(ph) has been a customer of thepurebed.com for the past six months. She says she feels more comfortable buying these intimate products from people who share her values.
Ms. MELENDEZ: I believe we're not looking for anything that had to do with anything that would break the rules of the church or the rules of the Bible, rather.
ALPERT: One lifelong member of Bethel who has also shopped at thepurebed.com is Precious Michaels(ph). She's the church's music director and one of the few congregants who knows about the pastor's side business. She strongly believes the Bordens are doing the right thing and says this openness isn't so rare. In fact, a respected female elder brought a surprising gift to her bridal shower.
Ms. PRECIOUS MICHAELS (Music Director, Bethel Church of Holiness): I opened the gift, and I was expecting this flannel gown or, you know, or some pajamas or something from - especially from Sister Duncan, very modest woman. And when I opened it up, it was this nice negligee. When I looked, I'm like, oh my God, I was so embarrassed. And I looked at her as, I was quite surprised. I said, Sister Duncan! She said, no baby, we're supposed to be excellent in all things.
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ALPERT: Precious Michaels really does take the Bordens message to heart. Through their work both as entrepreneurs and as Christian community leaders, the Bordens want to make sure she is not the only one. Thepurebed.com proclaims some very good news that a healthy, happy sex life can be holy after all. For NPR News, I'm Jessica Alpert.