PURITANS AND SEX
The Puritans attitude towards marriage was contrasted histrionically from the Church of England on that issue as a civil versus spiritual. Puritans did not see marriage as a sacred sacrament but rather as a legal contract distinct to one's beliefs. As a result, the Puritans believed that a marriage should be completed by an officer of the state instead of member of the church. Because Puritans did not see marriage as connected to church, they did not view the end of a marriage as a sin. Rather, they acceptable marriages to be ended. A divorce could take place in some cases that included adultery, abandonment or acts of physical cruelty. Sex was not allowed outside of marriage in the Puritan belief system. The physical distance required during courtship further emphasized this restriction. People who were found to have had sex outside of marriage faced severe punishments, with men facing a harsher fate than women. Any sexual activity besides that of a husband and wife was considered criminal behavior, and for adultery, the punishment was usually a whipping and a fine. Rape was considered adultery. Also, men could divorce their wives for committing adultery. For women, divorce resulted in severe financial loss and often losing custody of the children. A Puritan woman could also pay the ultimate price for adultery. Rape was also described as an offense. Though the law described it as when a man forced a woman to have intercourse against her will, the Rhode Island government also indicated that a man who had sex with a woman under the age of ten, "though it be with her consent," was also guilty of rape. Those found guilty would be put to death, as would a married The issue of firnifications was subject for light whipping. Many puritan youth did engage in premarital sex, and a good portion married when they were noticeably pregnant, generally, as long as the two parents *intended* to get married. It was even suggested that the way to avoid...
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