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Innocent Ecstasy, Updated EditionHow Christianity Gave America an Ethic of Sexual Pleasure$
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Peter Gardella

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190609405

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190609405.001.0001

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Redemption through Sex

Redemption through Sex

(p.126) 7 Redemption through Sex
Innocent Ecstasy, Updated Edition

Peter Gardella

Oxford University Press

In the birth control movement and among early psychologists, redemption from original sin was translated into sexual terms. Margaret Sanger (1879–1963), the nurse who invented the phrase “birth control” and founded Planned Parenthood, combined Catholicism and evangelical Christianity. Raised Catholic and devoted to the Virgin, she was sent to a Methodist college by her free-thinking father. There she spoke in chapel and read textbooks teaching that passions could be sanctified. Meanwhile, psychologist and Clark University president G. Stanley Hall (1844–1924) invited Sigmund Freud to lecture in 1909. Hall ignored the tragic side of psychoanalytic theory but accepted the centrality of sex. A former candidate for the Congregational ministry, Hall wrote Adolescence (1904), a study that described puberty as the key period in religious life. Both Sanger and Hall presented sexual fulfillment, especially female orgasms through intercourse with considerate men, as capable of redeeming the human race from evil.

Keywords:   birth control, psychologists, original sin, Margaret Sanger, passions, sanctified, Freud, G. Stanley Hall, adolescence

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