Dr. Peter Gay of Yale University has described the Puritans' standard reputation for "dour prudery" as a "misreading that went unquestioned in the nineteenth century." He commented that Puritans were unpuritanical and rather in favour of married sexuality, and opposed to the Catholic view of virginity/celibacy.
Gay, Peter (1984), The Bourgeois Experience: The Tender Passion, W. W. Norton & Company, p. 49, ISBN 9780393319033
Note: Progressive today carries a connotation that is much more permissive than the puritans, but that doesn't mean Puritans deserved the label Prude: Catholics and Victorians could definitely be called Prudes though. Catholics can likely trace their celibacy arguments back to Augustine, while Victorians were strongly influenced by the Enlightenment as the articles in the question mentioned. For their time Puritans could be considered progressive, but in our modern context I would describe them as balanced, which is neither prudish nor progressive.
It is fascinating that the abstinence movement of today mirrors both the Victorians and the Catholics. Puritans would be more likely to advocate healthy sexuality as God's sacred design, which would involve verbal and relational intimacy leading up to marriage instead of saying "sex is bad".
Dualism: the belief that thing of the flesh are inherently sinful while spiritual things are holy seems to be the foundation of the "sex is bad" view.
The following excerpt is from p.48-49 of Gay's book as I found it on Amazon preview.
Heine, self-appointed public defender of the flesh who excoriated "unnatural" Christianity for inventing both sin and hypocrisy, thought that in its beginnings the "Christian-Catholic world view" had been necessary as a salutary reaction against the horrifying colossal materialism that had developed in the Roman Empire and threatened to destroy all of man's spiritual splendour." Asceticism had bee the appropriate antidote to unchecked erotic self-indulgence. "Flesh had become so imprudent in that Roman world that it may have required Christian discipline to tame it." After Trimalchio's dinner, that splendid and horrifying orgy that is the centrepiece of Petronius's Satyricon, men needed a "starvation diet like Christianity."
This, if rather slapdash, is a brilliant intuition. The attitude of Christianity toward sex, after all, was not without its own ambivalent history; some theologians, at least, had defined sensuality, prudently circumscribed as the impulsion to innocent and even praiseworthy activities. Principled advocates of sacerdotal celibacy set the clerical elite who followed the call to self-denial apart from the faithful whose place was in the world, to beget more good Christians. Many chose to remember St. Paul's saying that it is better to marry than to burn; ascetics who thought it better to burn than to marry always remained in the minority. St. Jerome, to be sure, had denounced as an adulterer the husband who has passionate loving intercourse with his wife, and his ferocious pursuit of lust into the very lair of lawful marriage found disciples through the ages. But there is little evidence that it made much difference in the sexual practices of sound Christians. That churches of most denominations reprobated sensuality; even married sensuality, cannot be dismissed as malicious slander spread by disrespecting unbelievers. But thousands of pious men and women seem to have found it possible to combine the most unquestioning submission to religious doctrine with a considerable measure of erotic satisfaction.
This matters to any analysis of nineteenth-century love, for Christian values continued to dominate the lives of millions of nineteenth-century bourgeois. Certainly Christianity found many ways of adapting its ascetic ideals to the exigencies of human nature. The old Roman Catholic belief of Mary's immaculate conception, significantly raised a to dogmatic status by Pope Pius IX in 1854, is a historical piece of denial. It freed at least one woman from the burden of original sin, even though her parents, St. Joachim and St. Anne, had conceived her in the ordinary human manner. Coupled with the dogma that Jesus' mother remained a virgin and that his father was God, these legends clustering around Mary must be the boldest, most picturesque family romance ever concocted. They embody, and deftly elaborate, children's typical refusal to believe that their parents engage in sexual intercourse and their favourite secret fiction that, in any event, their parentage is supremely exalted. Yet secular literature written in the Catholic centuries was often an energetic, sometimes coarse tribute to the pleasures of sexuality. Andreas Capellanus's much0quoted treatise, De amore, which sums up chivalric notions of love, flatly describes the erotic emotions as a physical passion, a keen suffering, generated by looking and thinking about the body of a person of the other sex; Capellanus insists that only those "capable of doing the work of Venus" are fit for love. This was one view, a secular view, characteristic of the French cour circles late in the twelfth centruy; around the same time, Peter Lombard, teh celebrated Italian theolgian, could voice distaste for all, even for married sensuality by echoing the stringent words of St. Jerome: "All ardent love for one's own wife is adultery." (Catholic) Christian reflections on love moved between these two poles (acceptance and asceticism), though there was in the prescriptive literature, unremitting emphasis on the sinfulness of sex. Hence sexuality remained, even for the devout, something of a problem. Centuries before Andreas Capellanus and Peter Lombard, St. Augustine, whom no one would accuse of relaxed morals after his conversion, had argued that sexual intercourse itself has once been innocuous enough, in the Garden of Eden. It was only after Eve's disobedience, with the Fall, that lust came into the world; before that, Adam and Eve had copulated without sin, without any admixture of concupiscence.
Protestants would make their own accommodations. The Puritans, for all their reputation of dour prudery (a misreading that went unquestioned int he ninteenth century) did not frown on married joys; they were not puritanical intheir view of love. "The Use of the Marriage Bed," wrote one early massachusetts divien, Deward Taylor, is "founded in mans Nature"; others, like John Cotton, entheusiastically seconding Taylor, ridiculed the Catholic cult of virginity.
Asceticism had been the appropriate antidote to unchecked erotic self-indulgence (in the Roman Empire).