St Augustine quote about divorce

Could someone please help me out and translate this to more accessible English? I don’t mean literally translate, but just explain it in a simpler way… what is St Augustine saying here? and he is arguing against remarriage, yes? (he was against divorce and remarriage for adultery in other things he wrote so I’m assuming that, but this quote is difficult to understand)

  1. But I marvel, if, as it is allowed to put away a wife who is an adulteress, so it be allowed, having put her away, to marry another. For holy Scripture causes a hard knot in this matter, in that the Apostle says, that, by commandment of the Lord, the wife ought not to depart from her husband, but, in case she shall have departed, to remain unmarried, or to be reconciled to her husband; whereas surely she ought not to depart and remain unmarried, save from an husband that is an adulterer, lest by withdrawing from him, who is not an adulterer, she cause him to commit adultery. But perhaps she may justly be reconciled to her husband, either he being to be borne with, if she cannot contain herself, or being now corrected. But I see not how the man can have permission to marry another, in case he have left an adulteress, when a woman has not to be married to another, in case she have left an adulterer. And, this being the case, so strong is that bond of fellowship in married persons, that, although it be tied for the sake f begetting children, not even for the sake of begetting children is it loosed. For it is in a man’s power to put away a wife that is barren, and marry one of whom to have children. And yet it is not allowed; and now indeed in our times, and after the usage of Rome, neither to marry in addition, so as to have more than one wife living: and, surely, in case of an adulteress or adulterer being left, it would be possible that more men should be born, if either the woman were married to another, or the man should marry another. And yet, if this be not lawful, as the Divine Rule seems to prescribe, who is there but it must make him attentive to learn, what is the meaning of this so great strength of the marriage bond? Which I by no means think could have been of so great avail, were it not that there were taken a certain sacrament of some greater matter from out this weak mortal state of men, so that, men deserting it, and seeking to dissolve it, it should remain unshaken for their punishment. Seeing that the compact of marriage is not done away by divorce intervening; so that they continue wedded persons one to another, even after separation; and commit adultery with those, with whom they shall be joined, even after their own divorce, either the woman with a man, or the man with a woman. And yet, save in the City of our God, in His Holy Mount, the case is not such with the wife. But, that the laws of the Gentiles are otherwise, who is there that knows not; where, by the interposition of divorce, without any offense of which man takes cognizance, both the woman is married to whom she will, and the man marries whom he will. And something like this custom, on account of the hardness of the Israelites, Moses seems to have allowed, concerning a bill of divorcement. In which matter there appears rather a rebuke, than an approval, of divorce.

Thank you!

Is there some particular part of this that you have questions about? It sounds very orthodox to me. He is repeating the teaching of Christ against divorce and remarriage.

In the Bible, we read that, if a woman leaves her husband, she should either not remarry (or return to her husband). But, if that’s the case, why do we say that the husband ought to be allowed to remarry, if the wife should not?

I mean… sure, it’s important to bear children, but ‘marriage’ is of a higher order than ‘being a parent’! After all, a husband’s not allowed to divorce his wife because she’s infertile, so clearly, marriage trumps childbirth! That should be pretty clear, right?

Now, civil law doesn’t recognize the holiness of the Sacrament of Matrimony – after all, it allows both husbands and wives to divorce and remarry. Yet, is that what God wants? We read in Scripture that Jesus says “Moses allowed divorce because ya’ll couldn’t handle the commitments of marriage back in those days.” Yet, Jesus doesn’t approve of this allowance – in fact, He reminds them that God intended for marriage to be ‘till death do you part’, telling them “let no man tear asunder what God has joined.”

Thank you! :slight_smile: for some reason I had trouble following St Augustine’s explanation… I mean I couldn’t understand what he is saying. It was slightly amusing (and helpful) to read the “modern day” translation of the paragraph :stuck_out_tongue: I understand it now.

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