Rel 1024: Essay #3
February 23, 2012
“St. Augustine saw marriage as a necessary evil.”
Throughout his life, St. Augustine struggled with the reality of sexual lust and how it relates to the concept of marriage and of the purity of the first marriage in the Garden of Eden. Set in a period of conflicting teaching, Augustine first had to wrestle with the choice of either following the world or following Christian doctrine, as his mother strived to bring him towards. As he wrestled with this topic over his lifetime, as documented in his writings, he beat out an understanding of this topic which was eventually accepted by many Christians. This, in turn, has continued to influence Christian doctrine throughout the eras.
First, let us look into how St. Augustine views “original sin,” as passed down from Adam and Eve after their fall in the Garden:
“The life which we live here has its own peculiar attractiveness because it has a certain measure of comeliness of its own and a harmony with all these inferior values. The bond of human friendship has a sweetness of its own, binding many souls together as one. Yet because of these values, sin is committed, because we have an inordinate preference for these goods of a lower order and neglect the better and the higher good – neglecting thee, O our Lord God, and thy truth and they law.” (Confessions, chapter V)
Here, Augustine states that humans fall into the trap of craving and loving the pleasures of the creation instead of loving and craving the very Goodness of the Creator. Humans, in our depravity, “miss the mark” sort of speak. We easily focus on the physical and the “now” instead of the holy, quiet, and eternalness of God. Thus, Satan uses the pleasures of the world as opportunities to entice us away from unity with God.
Augustine also looks at himself as a young man and is confused and appalled, not only at the simple desire to sin, but the very nature of the desire: