Or again, if I had been unable to find tranquility in that way, content to use my sexuality to procreate children as your law enjoins, O Lord since you propagate the stock of our mortal race by this means, powerfully using your gentle hand to control the thorns which have no place in your paradise, for your almighty power is never far from us, even when we are far from you , if, as I say, I could not have found peace in marriage, this at all events is certain, that I ought to have listened more attentively to the voice from your clouds which proclaimed, Those who marry will have trials in their married life; and I would wish to spare you; and again, It is a good thing for a man not to touch a woman; and, An unmarried man is preoccupied with the affairs of God, and with pleasing God; but a married man is preoccupied with the affairs of the world, and with pleasing his wife. This I say by way of concession, however, not as a command. Then the stormy waves of my youth would have finally broken on the shore of marriage" 2. Augustine described this most vividly in book 8 of the Confessions in the memorable chapters leading up to the story of his final conversion in the garden at Milan. Did he believe that "the locus par excellence of sin is sex"? For example, in Against Jovinian Jerome had argued that marriage was only a lesser evil than fornication and that not even the blood of martyrdom could wipe way the stain of marital intercourse. Though Augustine certainly believed that celibacy was the ideal way of life for Christians, he knew that this was not realistic for most people.
It is true that Augustine did warn his listeners not to take these sins lightly simply because they were so numerous ser. Was he guilty of "pleasure-hating fantasies"? For Augustine, the primary sacrament of marriages in the Hebrew Bible was their very multiplicity, a multiplicity that was fulfilled historically in the spread of Christianity throughout the world. In Christian times, by contrast, the primary sacrament in marriage is an indissoluble unity, a unity that will be realized only at the end of time in the City of God. But the former, who act out of the good of fidelity, are without sin because they act out of a virtuous motivation. Because the Pelagian bishop Julian of Eclanum had criticized this point, Augustine became almost obsessed with demonstrating the supposed linkage between sex and sin. In response to this situation Augustine decided to accept the challenge of Jovinian. It is clear, however, that Augustine believed that sex did not in itself disqualify a person from achieving holiness. Neither of us acknowledged that the beauty of having a wife lies in the obligation to respect the discipline of marriage and to bring up children. Augustine never rejected marriage or sex or pleasure. Edited by Paul M. Now in regard to the matters about which you wrote: It is noteworthy that Augustine did not follow this tradition. A second implication of Augustine's emphasis on the social character of humanity is that while sex and procreation are good, they are not ends in themselves; they exist, rather, as the natural means that make possible the greater good of human friendship, which he describes elsewhere as a good to be sought for its own sake. Surely, there is more here than his critics have allowed. De bono coniugali Nevertheless, no one is ever entirely wrong, especially not someone like Augustine, who was such a perceptive observer of human behavior and such a profound interpreter of the Bible and Christian tradition. To cite one somewhat extreme example: This I say by way of concession secundum veniam , not of command. There are also wider issues regarding Church teaching, St. While Ranke-Heinemann's perpectives on Augustine are excessive, they are not untypical of what many contemporary Christians believe about the North African bishop. We simply have to admit that Augustine made some mistakes. There is another feature of marital fidelity that is accented in Augustine's preaching that supplements in a helpful way his teaching in The Good of Marriage. Of course, this is entirely untrue when speaking of the proper confines of marriage - Paragraph of the Catechism says: Here Augustine has stated a theme that is often overlooked by those who see him as entirely hostile to pleasure or sexual activity. Sexual desire, because it operates independently of the human mind and will, became for Augustine a privileged symptom of the sinful human attempt to assert autonomy against God. A sacrament was a "mystery" in the sense of a sacred symbol, and the term was frequently applied to liturgical rites, as well as to the symbolic or allegorical interpretation of scripture.
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