Personally, I thank God for the reformation and the incredible focus it brought on the Bible as the sole foundation for all theological authority. It brought God’s word to the ordinary man and woman and opened more widely the opportunity for every human being to have a more intimate relationship with God. As a couple grows in the intimacy with God, they also grow in the intimacy God intended for them to share with each other. It’s like climbing the sides of a pyramid. I’m on one side. My wife’s on the other side. God is at the top. We work our way up and get closer to God and at the same time we get closer to one another.

I also thank God for the Reformation because its focus on God’s word as our authority also restored, as one writer puts it, “sexual sanity by celebrating the physical act of lovemaking within marriage.” The Puritans in England, and those that landed on the Eastern Shores of our nation, brought with them a truly balanced perspective of sex in marriage. Because of the criticisms of Puritans we often miss this truth. Ralph Waldo Emerson described them as “great, grim, earnest men.” Many advance the notion that the Puritans were prudish and celibate and severe with regard to all the earthly pleasure of life. But this is simply not true. Several historians have debunked this understanding. One of the more recent writers who have published feature articles in Christianity today on the subject is Leland Ryken. The reformation was the key reason for the emergence in history of the Puritans. Understanding this will, as another write puts it, save them from “mindless caricatures that perversely equate it with Victorian prudery and joyless legalism in policing private morals.”

But according to Leland Ryken (and others), “The Puritan doctrine of sex was a watershed in the cultural history of the West. The Puritans devalued celibacy, glorified companionate marriage, affirmed married sex as both necessary and pure, established the ideal of wedded romantic love, and exalted the role of the wife.” In other words, they promoted a more Biblical view of human sexuality. They understood sex as a wonderful gift from God to be enjoyed in the bonds of holy matrimony without guilt and shame. Another writer on this subject said, “The Biblical view of sex begins with acknowledging our sexuality as a gift from God. After all, the physical union between a husband and wife was God’s idea in the first place. It was part of the goodness of his creation.” At the end of the six days of creation God looked at everything he had made and said “it is very good” (Genesis 1:31).