Puritans get a bad rap. Many people really believe that Puritans thought sex was evil, and to be avoided by all means. Now that I think of it, many people still think that about Catholics. Funny though, that Catholics, old-order Mennonites, and other stereotypically “puritanical” groups of people tend to have double-digits of children…maybe they’re into sex after all.
Sometimes they’re criticised for having lots of sex, because people think that this means that even though they think sex is evil they’re doing it all the time anyways, making them huge hypocrites. Actually, Puritans were pretty big on sex – but here are some things that they’re also big on: modesty, temperance, self-control, and family. They don’t cover all of their skin because sex is evil, but because modesty is good! They don’t approve of extramarital sex because they value things like family and loyalty, and they disapprove of premarital sex because (they know better than anyone) that’s how you have kids, and kids are best raised in a family. They preach against lust because it necessarily leads to issues of modesty, self-control, and premarital or extramarital sex that’s damaging to the family. So really, Puritans (and all Christians) LOVE sex…in a context that also upholds all of our other values. Because trading many things you hold dear for a good lay just isn’t practical.
Proper context for sex is key in the biblical texts regarding it. People you’re not supposed to have sex with are: people you’re related to (note the value of family) or people married to people you’re related to (family again) or people other than your spouse (yup, family values again) or people of the same gender (but that’s another post) or animals (I don’t think I need to clarify that one). It’s really not that the Bible is somehow prudish; it just makes sense to put your family before your hormones, especially in a tribal culture in which EVERYTHING centred around family.
If ever you want proof that the Bible is pro-sex, simply consider that in the Old Testament, amidst the books talking about momentous historical events, miracles, judgments, wars, famines, plagues, deliverance, and worship, there’s an entire book of nothing more than erotic poetry. Any notion of “puritanical” prudishness on the part of Christians comes more from a cultural misconception that Christians think sex is evil that has become so common place that many Christians have actually begun to believe it themselves.
I’m sorry if Christians led you to believe that sex is evil; we actually like it quite a lot. And now, a theological sex joke: