Marriage and Virginity
About the book
This volume presents new translations of five of Augustine’s works: The Excellence of Marriage, Holy Virginity, The Excellence of Widowhood, Adulterous Marriages, and Continence. These works discuss marriage, sexuality, procreation, and virginity (or celibacy) and their place in Christian life and salvation.
As is often the case, the specific content and direction of these works is guided by Augustine’s desire to address and correct what he saw as errors propagated among Christians at the time. Some of these errors promoted marriage over celibacy; while others insisted celibacy is the superior path to holiness. Overall, Augustine strove to highlight the goods of both states of life, and to emphasize that while celibacy might be the “greater good,” practicing it does not automatically make one a better person or Christian than someone who is married.
Augustine’s opinions and beliefs on these subjects changed over the years before, during, and after his conversion. Presenting his works in chronological order in this volume, therefore, allows the reader to follow the development of his thinking.