Saint Augustine’s View on Sexuality

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Saint Augustine’s View on Sexuality The famous bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine, is claimed as a cornerstone of Christian theology by both Catholics and Protestants. Many of his views are regarded by Christians as authoritative interpretations of the Bible because they have withstood heated debate throughout the centuries. Christians ought to ask, however, whether such allegiance is justifiable in all cases. Augustine's idea of sex after matrimony, for example, is very narrow, restricting actions and emotions married Christians today consider part of the beauty of intercourse. A logical assertion then, is that Augustine's view of sexuality, as delineated in many writings, is a response to his life of sensuality prior to salvation; therefore, his idea about the intent for sex within marriage stems more from his former sin than from Biblical perspective. St. Augustine's sordid lifestyle as a young man, revealed in Confessions, serves as a logical explanation for his limited view of the purpose of sexuality in marriage. His life from adolescence to age thirty-one was so united to passionate desire and sensual pleasure, that he later avoided approval of such emotions even within the sanctity of holy union. From the age of sixteen until he was freed of promiscuity fifteen years later, Augustine's life was woven with a growing desire for illicit acts, until that desire finally became necessity and controlled his will. His lust for sex began in the bath houses of Tagaste, where he was idle without schooling and "was tossed about…and boiling over in…fornications" (2.2). Also during that time, young Augustine displayed his preoccupation with sexual experience by fabricating vulgarities simply to impress his peers. In descript... ... middle of paper ... ... Anderson, Douglas L., ed. Augustine. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1979. Augustine. The Confessions of St. Augustine: Books I-X. Trans. F.J. Sheed. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1942. Babcock, William S., ed. The Ethics of St. Augustine. Atlanta: Scholars P, 1991. Battenhouse, Roy W., ed. A Companion to the Study of St. Augustine. Grand Rapids: Baker,1955. Halsall, Paul. "St. Augustine: From 'On Marriage and Concupiscence.'" Internet Medieval Source Book. Oct. 1998. 3 Nov. 2000 <http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/aug-marr.html>. Hooker, Richard. Early Christianity: Augustine. 6 Jun. 1999. 3 Nov. 2000 <http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/CHRIST/AUG.HTM>. Oates, Whitney J., ed. Basic Writings of Saint Augustine. 1948. 2 vols. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980. Rist, John M. Augustine: Ancient Thought Baptized. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
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