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The City of God a Book of Christian Philosophy Written in Latin



Religious Studies and Theology

Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo) wrote The City of God Against the Pagans after Visigoths had sacked Rome in A.D. 410. It is worth noting that he rebukes the pagan belief that Rome was taken over because most people had abandoned their traditional Roman religion and embraced the Catholic religion. He affirms that the City of God is far much better than the City of Man that is full of sins. He believed that human beings should be looking forward to the kingdom of God rather than focus on earthly politics. In fact, Augustine’s reference to Lucretia’s suicide serves the entire argument he makes in diverse ways. The reference to Lucretia’s argument serves the whole argument by highlighting the difference between Christian and earthly morality.

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More so, the reference to Lucretia’s suicide serves the overall argument by indicating the sins that humans are likely to commit in the world at the pretense of trying to run away from the shame imposed on them by the world. He emphasizes that people must be patient in the world instead of taking a decision to punish themselves for what they might not have committed. Additionally, the reference to Lucretia’s suicide serves the overall argument by championing his assertion on Christian chastity. According to Augustine, it would have been prudent for Lucretia not to commit suicide in instances where she had believed that she was innocent after being raped by Servius Tarquinus. The reference to Lucretia’s suicide plays an instrumental role in conveying Augustine’s understanding of the relationship between faith and reason. One of the key ways in which this relationship is conveyed is that faith and reason are essential together; faith underlies reason and has a capacity of addressing issues that lie beyond the scope of reason.

This essay explicates Augustine’s reference to Lucretia’s suicide and its contribution to the overall argument and Augistine’s position on the relationship between faith and reason.

How the Reference to Lucretia’s Suicide Serves the Overall Argument

Augustine’s reference to Lucretia’s suicide serves the overall argument by highlighting the difference between Christian morality and the morality held by the outside world. According to Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo) (1871), Lucretia was forced to engage in sexual activities against her wish. She was raped by Servius Tarquinus and did not take part in this activity in line with what she wanted. This points to the overall argument because it helps reveal the perceptions of pagans toward morality and the perception of Christianity in terms of morality in the society.

In tandem with Christian morality, Lucretia can be perceived to have committed adultery by indulging in forced sex. Christian morality takes this as harassment against the individual hence eliminating any instance of sexual harassment against the individual. On the other hand, worldly morality points to this act directly as an adulterous act. Therefore, she had to commit suicide to show the world that she was innocent of the sexual injustice that had been committed against her. This serves the overall argument by highlighting the fact that what might be perceived immoral in the world is moral to God. It is up to individuals to weigh the situation and understand the moral issues that lie behind it.

Augustine tends to emphasize the view that individuals should always be ready to stick to Christian teachings instead of following what the world says about them. Morality is not about convincing the world that one is innocent, but it is about living in tandem with the moral principles asserted by God through religious teachings. This means that her actions to commit suicide were not justified, as she had not gone against any Christian moral standards by engaging in forceful sexual activities. There was no need to move ahead and commit this unfortunate act in the form of suicide. He goes ahead to affirm that Lucretia could not have committed suicide in instances where she was sure of her innocence. Therefore, her commitment of suicide is an indication of the view that moral standards set by the world are different from those provided in Christian teachings in some instances.

Additionally, his reference to Lucretia’s suicide serves the overall argument by indicating some of the additional sins that human beings are likely to commit as they try to please the rest of sinners. He adds up to the overall argument by affirming that the commission of suicide was indeed an extra sin in instances where Lucretia believed that she was guilty. It was not necessary for her to commit suicide because it was only adding to all her sins that were committed during her life. It could have been more prudent for her to think about this matter before deciding to move on with her mission of committing suicide.

Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo) (1871) reveals the view that pagans would try to justify their innocence by committing an extra sin. This is not required in the Kingdom of God because it does not add up to the required living among individuals. Augustine also compares the act of suicide to Judas’ suicide after he had betrayed Jesus. He affirms that this is directly related to Judas who slew himself after betraying Jesus. It would have served better for him in instances where he could have decided to repent of his sins. Therefore, the reference to Lucretia’s suicide serves the entire argument by affirming the positions taken by pagans in handling their matters. They believe that the best thing to do is to die and prove their acts of innocence to others.

According to Augustine, it is better for individuals to remain religious at all times instead of being guided by the negative religious views of the world. People should not be forced to commit an extra sin by believing that it would be the only best way to prove their innocence to other people. Christian teachings require the avoidance of the extra sins among individuals by encouraging the correct form of behavior among individuals. Therefore, the reference to Lucretia’s suicide serves the entire argument by pointing out the Romanian traditional view that led to individuals committing extra sins that are not listed in Christian teachings.

More so, Augustine’s reference to Lucretia’s suicide serves the entire argument by replacing the cult of shame with the cult of conscience among individuals. He emphasizes that individuals should not be pushed by the shame they are likely to suffer in the world to act in the ways that are not liked by God. Christian teachings are against shame and the verdict of the society. He points to Lucretia’s suicide to inform individuals of the fact that they must be ready to being guided by their conscience without necessarily being swayed by what other people are likely to think about them.

Christian teachings do not require individuals to commit acts such as suicide because of the pressure they are likely to face from the rest of the pagans in the society. He affirms that individuals must be ready to favor conscience, which comes in line with God’s law instead of being led into sins by what they believe would be shameful to them. The ability of sticking to one’s conscience is reflected in the patience exhibited by individuals when reacting to different issues. For instance, Lucretia could have been a bit more patient to withhold her act of suicide. She could have been patient to ensure that she avoids the act of suicide that was only subjecting her to extra sins.

Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo) (1871) affirms that men must be ready to await the redemption of God instead of subjecting themselves to unnecessary punishment. The commission of suicide is a reflection of an individual’s personal punishment and the subjection to personal punishment. People should not use force to end their lives, but should be guided by the law of God while living their lives in the society. This means that they should not respect the worldly pressures that are not guided by the law of God. Augustine implies that Lucretia’s death through the commission of suicide was not justified because of her lack of patience and the hurry to prove to other people that she was innocent. Therefore, this reference serves the entire argument by revealing the fact that people have a chance to wait upon the law of God instead of succumbing to the fear of shame.

Lastly, his reference to Lucretia’s suicide serves the overall argument by reiterating his position of Christian chastity. Augustine tries to find out the reason that could have motivated individuals to place Lucretia on trial rather than placing Tarquin on trial because it was him who had raped her. As noted earlier, Lucretia did not commit adultery willingly, but she was raped by Tarquin who was supposed to be tried and prosecuted.

He believes that Christian women should also be given the opportunity to defend themselves in cases where they are perceived to have committed sins in the society. This explains why he is against the Roman traditional beliefs that tend to bring out most women as the ultimate sinners. He utilizes his judgment to find the best way, in which women are supposed to be treated to believe that they are also respected in the society. He only wants to ensure that the society is rational about the perception of women in the society. They should not be in line with exclusive rules. They should be given the chance in line with the law of God. Subjecting individuals to pressure and inadequate judgment tends to make them believe they have committed sins even in instances where this is not true.

Chastity in Christianity requires fair judgment of both positions without necessarily looking at one side of the argument. Suicide should not be the sole tactic that raped women should utilize to reflect their level of innocence in the society. Innocence is achieved by waiting upon God and repenting any sins that might have been committed. Therefore, he warns the Romanian authorities against judging women at the first instance. They should be ready to understand the word of God and work in line with the provisions of the law instead of making people engage in extra sins that are bound to annoy God.

How This Conveys Augustine’s Understanding of the Relationship between Faith and Reason

It is worth acknowledging that the reference to Lucretia’s death conveys Augustine’s understanding of the relationship between faith and reason. Firstly, it conveys Augustine’s understanding of the relationship between faith and reason as being essential together. Augustine tends to bring out the view that faith and reason could be essential when working together towards a particular course in the life of an individual.

The essential nature of faith and reason together implies that faith without reason could lead individuals into superstition and reason without faith could easily lead individuals into nihilistic or relative views in the society. Therefore, the reference to Lucretia’s suicide points to the view that faith and reason are only essential when they work together. This implies that Lucretia’s act of committing suicide was guided by reason without faith.

Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo) (1871) reiterates that the only reason for engaging in this act was to convince the rest of the society that Lucretia was innocent and had not engaged into adultery willingly. However, this lacks the provisions of faith in God, which emphasizes the view that suicide is immoral against God. As noted before, suicide could only add to the sins that have already been committed by the individual. The act to commit suicide emanated from the reason of convincing the society that she was innocently being viewed as an adulterous woman. The absence of faith in her reason to commit suicide led her to committing extra sins. It could have been more instrumental for the Roman society to be guided by both faith and reason to ensure that the required moral standards are observed in the society. Faith begets Christian morals that were absent in Lucretia’s decision as she committed suicide. Thus, it would be crucial for individuals to be guided by both faith and reason for the realization of Christian morality.

Augustine’s reference to Lucretia’s suicide also conveys his understanding of the relationship between faith and reason in terms of the belief that faith has the capacity to address issues that are beyond the scope of reason. Notably, Augustine’s reference to the commission of suicide by Lucretia brings out the view of his belief that faith addresses issues that could not be addressed by reason alone. This means that faith in God has the potential of covering matters that are beyond the explanation of science and reason. Thus, faith complements reason by assisting it in answering questions that would not have been answered in the ordinary course of life. Faith in God is stronger and has the capacity of ensuring that a person stays on the right way at any time.

The Romans did not have the required level of faith that would have given them an opportunity to answer the difficult questions in the society. For instance, they did not have the wisdom of answering the complex question of who was supposed to be tried. They end up answering the question by believing that Lucretia had committed adultery. They had the reason to come to such a conclusion because they were only being guided by reason. They did not seek the presence of faith to assist them in answering this question. Effective approach to the complex question that led Lucretia to the commitment of suicide was only based on reason rather than faith in God.

Faith in God would have given individuals the opportunity to believe that rape was not a sin. It means that there could have been no need for Lucretia to commit suicide with the aim of trying to prove her innocence. The incorporation of faith in their thinking about Lucretia could have enabled them to understand that a person has the chance of being forgiven by God. This implies that it was unnecessary for Lucretia to commit suicide to show them that she was guiltless of the accusations that had been levelled against her. Thus, Augustine’s reference highlights the view that faith has the capacity to address issues that are beyond reason.

Additionally, it also conveys Augustine’s understanding that faith underlies reason at any given instance. This implies that reason is highly dependent on the faith of an individual. Faith is inseparable from reason in the lives of individuals. They should always be ready to be guided by God’s faith in their lives because it leads them to the required directions in their lives. According to Augustine’s understanding, human beings are only able to think in a rational manner in cases where they are guided by faith because of its power over reason.

Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo) (1871) opines that the Roman society tended to be led by reason alone without understanding of the fact that it is highly dependent on faith. Reason cannot be successful in cases where it is not backed up by faith in God. He points to the act of suicide by emphasizing the view that it could not have occurred in instances where Lucretia could have been guided by faith in God rather than the reason put forward by the world. The presence of faith in God would have enabled her to understand that being raped is not a sin in God’s eyes because it comes about as the application of force on one’s flesh. She could have only sinned in cases where she could have committed an adulterous action willingly without following God’s rules and plans in her life. Her immediate action was only guided by the reason to vindicate herself in the eyes of the public. However, faith could have ensured that she stayed righteous by staying on the right path of life. She would not have gone ahead to commit suicide with the aim of pleasing the society and convincing them that she was innocent. Therefore, the failure to understand that reason is reliant on faith made her rush and punish herself for the sin she had not committed in her life.

Conclusion

In conclusion, The City of God Against the Pagans reveals the view that the Roman traditional culture believed in worldly things instead of putting their faith in God. For instance, they believed that most of the misfortunes that had come around emanated from the waning belief in Roman traditions. They were against the religious views that were being promoted by individuals such as Augustine. One of the key explanations of Augustine points to Lucretia’s decision to commit suicide with the aim of trying to prove to the society that she was innocent even after being raped.

This reference serves the overall argument because it helps with the distinction between worldly and God’s morality. Augustine affirms that God’s morality gives individuals an opportunity to prove their innocence in the required manner. Again, it does not necessarily perceive actions such as rape as sins because they come against the will of an individual. However, human morality tends to force individuals to prove their innocence through methods that might not be genuine. Additionally, the reference to the commission of suicide by Lucretia serves the overall argument by pointing out some of the extra sins that individuals might be exposed to because of the worldly pressures. People have to be prudent to wait upon God’s redemption instead of undertaking the decision to punish themselves.

It is vital to give God the chance of judging the innocence or guiltiness of individuals on the judgment day. It also replaces the cult of shame with the cult of conscience for individuals in the society. People are supposed to overcome the shame that emanates from the judgment of the society because it is not correct. People should avoid being misled by others in the society because they do not know what God has for human beings in the society. Overall, Augustine of Hippo reveals the view that faith and reason are connected. However, faith takes a dominant role over reason because of its assurance in guiding the actions of individuals.

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