St. Augustine on Women – Worth a Second Look


Let it not be said that St. Augustine was a misogynist. He thought very seriously about the place in creation of human reproduction–of the male and the female and their particular beauty. Contrary to some contemporaries–mostly Manichees–he saw the female form as a cause of rejoicing.

Now, you may read the following excerpt to your village women’s studies professor. She might react vehemently, “That’s just so weird and sick–who cares about reproductive organs in heaven? Some sicko, that’s who. Some white guy obsessed with sex and keeping women in their place.”

Ignore her. Augustine was African.

Another possible interpretation of Augustine’s thoughts on women is this: Augustine thought seriously enough about male and female reproductive organs to wonder. In his wonder, he could imagine with great reverence what God could have meant when He made us male and female. Far from being perverted, Augustine was able to extract his thoughts from lust for breasts and thighs and hips in order to simply regard them as gifts. I see lots of “free women” exposing female body parts, but I sure don’t see much reverence. The female body in pop culture isn’t taken seriously enough to make the question, what about eternity?, even make sense.
And, when our treatment of our bodies kills all imagination and wonder, when the questions become nonsense, then we have lost our childlike joy and innocence. In a world without questions, we are old and dry and impotent.
But Augustine, that dead “white” guy, is alive, virile, and exciting. His wonder is contagious: here he is on the female body and eternity.”Because of these sayings, ‘Until we reach the perfection of manhood, the stature of the full maturity of Christ,’ and ‘Being shaped into the likeness of God Son’, some people suppose that women will not keep their sex at the resurrection; but, they say, they will all rise again as men, since God made man out of clay, and woman out of man. For my part, I feel that theirs is the more sensible opinion who have no doubt that there will be both sexes in the resurrection. For in that life there will be no sexual lust, which is the cause of shame. For the first human beings, before their sin, ‘were naked, the man and the woman, and they were not ashamed.'”Thus while all defects will be removed from those bodies, their essential nature will be preserved. Now a woman’s sex is not a defect; it is natural. And in the resurrection it will be free of the necessity of intercourse and childbirth. However, the female organs will not subserve their former use; they will be part of a new beauty, which will not excite the lust of the beholder–there will be no lust in that life–but will arouse the praises of God for his wisdom and compassion, in that he not only created out of nothing but freed from corruption that which he had created.”

~City of God,XXII.17


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