Sat, Oct 22, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Puritans embraced sex more than many people think: expert


A leading expert on the Puritans says their letters and sermons show they embraced sex within the confines of marriage more than many people might think.

The excerpts were provided by Francis Bremer, a professor emeritus at Pennsylvania’s Millersville University, who is presenting research on the Puritans’ sexual sensibilities next week in Boston.

“Being filled with the joy of thy love, and wanting opportunity of more familiar connection with thee, which my heart fervently desires, I am constrained to ease the burden of my mind by this poor help of my scribbling pen, being sufficiently assured that although my presence is that which thou desires, yet in the want thereof these lines shall not be unfruitful of comfort unto thee,” former Massachusetts governor John Winthrop wrote in a 1618 letter to his wife, Margaret Tyndall.

“The man whose heart is endeared to the woman he loves, he dreams of her in the night, hath her in his eye an apprehension when he awakes, museth on her as he sits at table, walks with her when he travels, and parlies with her in each place where he comes... She lies in his bosom, and his heart trusts in her, which forceth all to confess, that the stream of his affection, like a mighty current, runs with full tide and strength,” wrote Thomas Hooker, founder of the colony that would become Connecticut.

“It must be performed with good will and delight, willingly, readily, and cheerfully... As the man must be satisfied at all times in his wife, and even ravished with her love; so must the woman,” English Puritan William Gouge wrote.

“Joy and delight in her. ‘Rejoice in the wife of thy youth: let her be unto thee as a loving hind, and the pleasant roe: let her breasts or her bosom content thee at all times.’” wrote Puritan clergyman William Gataker, quoting from Proverbs 5:18 to 19.

“No fitter comparison to set out my love by, than to compare it to a golden ball of pure fire rolling up and down my breast, from which there flies, now and then a spark like a glorious beam from the body of the flaming sun,” Puritan pastor Edward Taylor wrote in a 1674 letter to his intended.

“I long for that happy hour when I shall see you and enjoy my sweet and dear husband,” Tyndall replied to her husband Winthrop.

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