Friendship as adultery

Social Reality and Sexual Metaphor in
Augustine’s Doctrine of Original Sin

Augustinian Studies 23 (December 1992): 125-147.

  • The Death of a Friend
  • Through Death and Friendship
  • Social Transmission, Social Procreation
  • Conclusions
  • Notes


The only joy to be attained had the fragile brilliance of glass, a joy outweighed by the fear that it may be shattered in a moment.

Augustine[1]

For modern readers of Augustine, few of his teachings are more difficult to assimilate than his doctrine of original sin. His pilgrimage of faith may inspire, the acumen of his intellect may surprise, the grandeur of his theological achievement may awe, and his struggle with the problem of evil may wrench from the reader a deep empathy. Yet when these converge in Augustine’s doctrine of original sin, something seems to ecclipse all else — his attitude toward sexuality.

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