Augustine has an extraordinarily poor reputation when it comes to his understanding of sexuality; being quickly labeled by modern scholarship as repressed and repressive. more ambitious freudians then go on and attempt to diagnose the source of his frustrations, conjuring out of the mist of his personal history all kinds of scandalous speculation.
it is true that Augustine did not espouse the permissive ethic of our day, and if one considers the permissive ethic of our day to be normative, than without question he is at fault. but if we are willing to consider that we are perhaps the ones with the strange attitudes about sex, we may have a thing or two to learn from Augustine still.
for those who are eager to easily write off Augustine’s views out of hand, thinking him to consider sexuality evil and innately sinful, this particular quotation (from On Genesis, IX 8.13) will give some helpful perspective.
We might ask what help the woman would have been made to provide the man with, if they had not been allowed to mate in Paradise. People who hold this opinion may perhaps assume that all sexual intercourse is sinful. It is indeed difficult for people who shun one set of vices for the wrong reasons not to fall into the contrary set. Thus someone horrified by miserliness becomes a spendthrift, horrified by extravagance becomes a miser; you reprove him for indolence, he becomes restless; for restlessness he becomes indolent; on being reproved for daredevilry he begins to hate it, and takes refuge in timidity, or in his effort not to be This happens when people assess wrongdoing by opinion, not by reason. In the same sort of way, when [people] are ignorant of what it is in adultery and fornication that is condemned by divine law, they execrate conjugal intercourse even for the sake of procreation.
indeed, it seems Augustine himself would counter the repressive misreading of Augustine too often held up as his teaching.