Perry Cahall–The Value of Saint Augustine's Use / Enjoyment Distinction to Conjugal Love

Augustine says the “order of love” (ordo amoris) is the “brief and true definition of virtue.” According to this order, the human person must love everything in creation according to its proper relationship to God, which means loving God above all creatures and not inordinately loving any creature as the human person’s ultimate end. Living according to the order of love presents one with “the promise that human life might participate in the very trinitarian life and mutual love of God.”

Augustine also speaks of an “order of charity” that ideally “flourishes between husband and wife.” This spousal love is part of the overarching order of love that orients the spouses toward participating in the life and love of the Trinity. Thus the order of charity that ought to flourish between spouses is one aspect of “believers living as a community of mutual love [who] should themselves be the eschatological appearing of God’s own mutual, trinitarian love in history.” In this article I will apply what Augustine says about the order of love in general to the order of love that he says should exist between spouses to show the validity Augustine’s thought has for living out married life today.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology