In Confessions, Saint Augustine tries to understand the complexity of God’s work by narrating his ascent to God through numerous anecdotes of his life. Throughout his biography, Augustine constantly questions the reasoning behind God’s work and repeatedly falls into sin. However, he slowly begins to realize that God works in strange ways. Through his confession to God and to his readers, Augustine comes to the conclusion that through sinning God has opened up Augustine’s mind and body to the light.
Augustine begins with the sin of his body and the craving for physical desires. He tries recalling his earliest memories, but settles with observing other infants and concludes that “none is pure before you [God], not even an infant of one day upon the earth” (9). He realizes that as an infant, he succumbed only to his external desires, trying to fulfill his most basic needs. He witnessed babies in tears “trying to obtain what it would have been harmful to get…and attempts to strike them [parents] and do as much injury as possible [with] never an obligation to be obedient” (9). Augustine reasons that since it is not acceptable performing those actions at his current age, it is not acceptable during infancy either. He then questions where this evil came from, the same evil that allows a baby “pale with jealousy and bitterness glare at his brother sharing his mother’s milk” (9). He believes that he has committed sin from the beginning and that his very nature is corrupt.
One sin that repeatedly occurred and stuck fast to the moment right before Augustine’s conversion was his craving for sexual exploits. At an early age he made company with peers that boasted their lustful deeds. Moreover, they “derived pleasure not merely from the lust of the act but also from the admiration it invoked” (27). His lustful encounters carried on as he moves to Carthage and starts teaching rhetoric. There he found a woman in “his state of wondering desire and lack of prudence” (53). He kept her as a concubine and although he stayed faithful and had a child with her, Augustine did not marry her. Even with the opportunity of transforming his sinful desire into one that is lawful and God-abiding, he remains in his pit of sin. Augustine’s effort in trying to reach God is muddled as he was “caught up to you [God] by your beauty and quickly torn away from you by my weight” (127). The sheer burden of his sins has caused Augustine to fall away from the sanctity of God. However, Augustine does not realize that he asked for this punishment himself.
As a young man, Augustine knew what was right, but knowingly prolonged his belief in order to indulge in the wrong. He prayed to God that he receives chastity, but was afraid “that you [God] might too rapidly heal me of the disease of lust which I preferred to satisfy rather than suppress” (145). Augustine had let his body take control instead of his will and God is letting this punishment be a sign that he is on the wrong path. God...