Saint Augustine on Sin

The sin of Adam in the narrative of the Bible to a critical mind like Augustine far outweighs the symbolic representation of eating fruit. The weight of condemnation and the generational consequence that it manifests in perpetuity always leaves one wondering what exactly could have been the nature of Adam’s sin. The Bible records sin as eating a fruit of both knowledge of good and evil. To a critical mind, the problem is not so obvious but symbolic, for the nature of the fruit is a situation where there is a simultaneous possession of both sudden awareness of right and evil, which is paradoxical to a critical mind.

This paradoxical complexity formed the background of Augustine’s thinking as he turned sixteen. At that time, every adolescent usually demonstrates rich self-awareness and challenges the popular thoughts of the generations that preceded them. Augustine saw very close similarities between the allegory of the forbidden fruit and the sexual drive that was dominant during his youthful days. The adolescent stage, as it was with Augustine, is usually characterized by burning sexual desire and a longing to be with the opposite sex that cannot be genuinely distinguished, whether it is pure affection or an unholy passion. The epiphany that Augustine had regarding the fundamental nature of sin is such that it depicts a close connection with sexual drive and its pervasive use.

In an attempt to understand the working nature of sin, Augustine drew a parallel analogy of a pear tree laden with fruits, not out of genuine hunger or poverty but for the pleasure of partaking of something that the owner forbade, which was an indication of the depravity of his soul. “A soul ready to fall away from security in God to destruction in itself. Seeking nothing from the shameful deed but shame itself.” Though very attractive, the pear was not a problem for Augustine because it was a beautiful work of creation. The main challenge for Augustine concerning the pears was gratification. This challenge also plays itself out in the case of the original sin (sex) and its attendant perversity. The pear wasn’t the problem, but the act of eating it. In the same manner, sex in itself isn’t the problem, but its pervasion and the theft of it at the most unwanted time.

Augustine showed his clear understanding of the workings of evil with the analogy of the pear. He sees the sin of sexual immorality as a sin of shame, and despite the guilt that accompanies the act, Augustine still discovers his own wretchedness in loving it. Another paradox of sin is that it is usually committed with another companion. Without the companion, Augustine felt, he would have been probably free from it. He illustrated this with his pear analogy that the pleasure he got was not from the pears; instead, it was in the theft, which was further enhanced by the companionship of his fellow culprits.
This scenario really created a dilemma for Augustine; he wondered if any man can ever unravel and comprehend the complexities of the nature of the original sin, which is sexually oriented in his understanding as he critically reflects on his life upon reaching the age of sixteen.

In my next article I will attempt to resolve the problem of original sin extensively by using the work of Augustine and Calvin as my guide.

If you are passionate about writing and understand the power to shape culture through writing, please contact us immediately, and our representatives will walk you through how you can join our team of writers at the Africana Leadership Digest.

Olusegun Osineye
Author: Olusegun Osineye

Olusegun Osineye earned his Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in Transformational Leadership from Boston University. He's passionate about creatively adding value to the black race by utilizing life's simple philosophy for their flourishing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Article

The Paradox of the god of Gold and a Theological-Ethical Analysis of the Song of Solomon

Next Article

Resolving the Problem of the Original Sin Using the Work of Augustine and Calvin as a Guide.

Related Posts