The Puritans and Sex by Edmund S. Morgan (1942)

“Another minister stated plainly that ‘the Use of the Marriage Bed’ is ‘founded in mans Nature,’ and that consequently any withdrawal from sexual intercourse upon the part of husband or wife ‘Denies all reliefe in Wedlock vnto Human necessity: and sends it for supply vnto Beastial- ity when God gives not the gift of Continency.’


It’s shocking to believe that these were the Puritans’ beliefs on sex.  They valued it so much, that it could be grounds for a divorce if a wife was not satisfied sexually in her marriage.  Their views on sex are kind of similar to ours.  Even though they (typically) did not have sex after marriage, it was obviously a major part of it.  Although, it was said in Morgan’s piece that sex cannot get in the way of religion.  So things like no having sex when you should be in church.  For some in our society, sex is an important part to a relationship.  For some, if they aren’t sexually satisfied by their partner, they will leave them.  When you are married to someone, ideally, that is the person you will be having sex with for the rest of your life, so choose wisely. 



Sources: The Puritans and Sex by Edmund S. Morgan (1942); Massachusetts Court Cases, 1675-80 from Week 3


7 thoughts on “The Puritans and Sex by Edmund S. Morgan (1942)

  1. You say that this is “shocking” – why? I think this might be an interesting point to explore. Why are we so surprised by these attitudes towards sex? How might the answer to that question help us think more clearly about the past?


  2. Nice start! You could also mention how this view of sex by the Puritans is so ironic given how history plays out, in terms of men’s dominant position over women for some time. In this instance, both men and women had somewhat equal sexual obligations.


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