Fornication as cause for the Fall in Augustine's Confessions?


Hello everyone. I am working on a term paper for a history college course, and wanted to describe prophecies of the communion of Lord Jesus, and consider the expulsion from Eden as one of the most important. Particularly I wanted to integrate an idea I read ascribed to St. Augustine’s Confessions, that the fall had to do with the sin of fornication. My vague understanding of it, is that the seed is “evil,” because it transmits the genome of the fallen humans Adam and Eve, I would suppose one of his proof texts for this is the Flood in Genesis where it describes the fallen angels copulating with human females.

I tried skimming through the last three chapters of the Confessions, but didn’t find what I was looking for, can someone indicate to me specifically where this information is in St. Augustine’s book, because I don’t have enough time to read all of it and complete this paper?

God bless,



The fall had to do with the sin of pride. Our first parents disobeyed the Lord.

The fall had nothing at all to do with the sin of fornication.


After searching the text of St. Augustine’s Confessions, I found nothing about this “idea” that you read. St. Augustine nowhere refers to the flood of Genesis and only once refers to ‘fallen angels’ in book one, chapter 17 #27;

non enim uno modo sacrificatur transgressoribus angelis.
For there is more than one way in which men sacrifice to the fallen angels.

There is nothing on his use of “fornication” in relation to Adan and Eve or of the “fall”.

This is how he uses “fornication”;

Book 1, chapter 13, #21,

quid enim miserius misero non miserante se ipsum et flente Didonis mortem, quae fiebat amando Aenean, non flente autem mortem suam, quae fiebat non amando te, deus, lumen cordis mei et panis oris intus animae meae et virtus maritans mentem meam et sinum cogitationis meae? non te amabam, et fornicabar abs te, et fornicanti sonabat undique: euge! euge!' amicitia enim mundi huius fornicatio est abs te eteuge! euge!’ dicitur ut pudeat, si non ita homo sit. et haec non flebam, et flebam Didonem extinctam ferroque extrema secutam, sequens ipse extrema condita tua relicto te et terra iens in terram. et si prohiberer ea legere, dolerem, quia non legerem quod dolerem. tali dementia honestiores et uberiores litterae putantur quam illae quibus legere et scribere didici.

For what can be more wretched than the wretch who has no pity upon himself, who sheds tears over Dido, dead for the love of Aeneas, but who sheds no tears for his own death in not loving thee, O God, light of my heart, and bread of the inner mouth of my soul, O power that links together my mind with my inmost thoughts? I did not love thee, and thus committed fornication against thee. Those around me, also sinning, thus cried out: “Well done! Well done!” The friendship of this world is fornication against thee; and “Well done! Well done!” is cried until one feels ashamed not to show himself a man in this way. For my own condition I shed no tears, though I wept for Dido, who “sought death at the sword’s point,” while I myself was seeking the lowest rung of thy creation, having forsaken thee; earth sinking back to earth again. And, if I had been forbidden to read these poems, I would have grieved that I was not allowed to read what grieved me. This sort of madness is considered more honorable and more fruitful learning than the beginner’s course in which I learned to read and write.


Catholics need to understand that not every word from the mouth of Early Church Fathers and great Saints automatically becomes Catholic doctrine.

Regarding sources for Catholic teachings, one should check the footnotes of the* Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition*. A handy cross-reference for sources is the Catechism’s “Index of Citations” which starts on page 689 of the book.

In order to understand the use of small print and other points of information, one first has to read paragraphs 18-22, “Practical Directions For Using This Catechism.”

For context-type information, there is The Companion to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, A Compendium of Texts Referred to in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Ignatius Press,ISBN: 0-89870-450-2 (HB) & ISBN: 0-89870-451-0 (PB)

Considering your topic, it would be necessary to study CCC paragraphs 355-421 plus the cross-references in the margins.

Considering that the Fall is one of the most misunderstood events in history, you have my prayers.


Hi everyone.

I tried searching through the Confessions for the word fornication. I think the most relevant seemed to be in chapter one. " For the friendship of this world is fornication against You,"
a variation of James’ letter.

I originally derived this conception from the class textbook, The West in the World, Volume 1: to 1715, by Sherman and Salisbury. I’ll quote the part which struck me specifically.

“The most influential writer on sexuality was Augustine. In his widely read work The Confessions, he described his inability to give up his mistress and his “habit” of lust. As he explained, only with God’s help was he able to summon the resolve to renounce these vices. This experience convinced Augustine that human beings were born with original sin and that this sin was passed to subsequent generations through semen during sexual intercourse. Because of original sin, Augustine concluded, people had to keep constant vigil against the force of lust – even marital intercourse was somewhat suspect.” West in the World, page 169.

I could find no reference in the book’s bibliography to which part of Confessions it’s referring to. However, I suppose I’ll now cite the section of my paper that was submitted yesterday in regards to this consideration, which will perhaps create a more fruitful discussion.

"Astonishingly the Zohar echoes Revelation’s 2nd coming of Christ in several parts. In a complex passage which I’ll attempt to describe… It first describes Adam that he was “…seduced by her, he sinned with that whore of a woman, the primordial serpent.” This reminds one of the expulsion from Eden. Before writing this paper, I’d hypothesized that the Fall of humanity , is a profound parable, indicating perhaps that Adam and Even copulated with Satan. Why? I base this idea mainly on the description of the Flood in Genesis. “…The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh, yet his days shall be and hundred and twenty years.” Gen 6. So this part of Genesis describes that angels took wives of humans, and corresponds to Lord God announcing the dramatic shortening of human life span, from the earlier patriarch’s near-1000, to the post-Flood’s, and more familiar to our own, life span of only somewhat over 100 years. This certainly reminds us of the curse on Adam in Eden. “And unto Adam He said, Because thou… hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, thou shalt not eat of it, cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow thou shalt eat of it all the days of thy life… In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground, for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return. " Gen 3. There seems to be a further description of (fallen) angels copulating with humans in Genesis, immediately after Lord God shortens man’s life. “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them… and God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth… and the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have made from off the face of the earth…” Gen 6. So there is a double curse in regard to (fallen) angels copulating with humans. First, the shortening of lifespan, then, the Flood. I’d read this idea in the class textbook ascribed to St. Augustine, that the expulsion from Eden was punishment from the crime of fornication, yet was unable to find it in the Confessions. The closest example I could find, was where Augustine compared the fall of man, as being like when he as a boy stole pears from a pear tree. After he stole the pears he didn’t even eat them, but merely threw them away. He did it not to eat the fruit but for the thrill of stealing. He then said, the Fall from Eden is similar, because the soul fornicated. The textbook described, Augustine thought human seed became “evil,” and from the above excerpt of Genesis, and from what the Zohar also suggested, I suggest, that the human genome, is a hybrid of Lord God’s genome, Spirit, and Satan’s genome, the flesh. Another part of the Bible which appears to indicate this idea, is what I consider to be one of Christ’s most profound parables. In Matthew 13, Christ describes a field which sprouts both wheat and weeds, and then makes the parable plain to His disciples. “…His disciples came unto him saying, declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that hath the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world, the good seed are the children of the kingdom, but the tares are the children of the wicked one, the enemy that sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, shall it be in the end of this world. The son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of this kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath earth to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13. So Christ describes the saved, as like God’s children, and the damned, as like Satan’s children.”

Part one of my response, part 2 is below since the response is too long.


The above sort of expresses how I look at this consideration. If I were to elaborate, I might first add, that Revelation 14, in regards to the 144,000, expresses that copulation is sinful, because it says it is “defiling,” and virginity is one of the only attributes to the 144,000. Also it expresses that they’re totally obedient to God’s commandments. “These are they which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” Rev. 14. Another saying of Christ Himself which most relates to this occurs in Luke.

“27 Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him, 28 saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man’s brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 29 There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second took her to wife, and he died childless. 31 And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died. 32 Last of all the woman died also. 33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. 34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: 35 but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36 neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. 37 Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.”

I suppose I’ll add, another way I look at this. The theme that we’re far better off in terms of eternity, to not copulate, runs all through the New Testament. My mom often says, “Well, God told Adam and Eve to reproduce…” Orthodox Jews interpret the injunction to reproduce as one of the 613 mitzvot, yet, one way I consider it, which is perhaps idiotic sounding, is “God changed His mind, once He incarnated in Christ.”

The Zohar, is a very interesting book I referred to in the extract from my paper. It expresses several parts of commutation of Judaism and Christianity, seeing that it is officially part of the Jewish Canon. Remarkably it almost seems to quote The Revelation, and John. Yet somewhat cryptically, perhaps they were afraid of being put out of the synagogue, as John expresses the believing Jews


I do hope that readers understand that “fornication per se” is not the sin that was Satin’s temptation to Adam. The actual Original Sin concerned the relationship between Adam and his Creator and was not an act between two human persons.

In addition, I do hope that readers understand that “Original Sin” is not a profound parable.

Original Sin, committed by the real first original human biblically known as Adam, refers to an actual historical event that took place at the beginning of human history according to Catholic doctrines.



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