Augustine had more to write on love, and less on sex than many realize. His concern over obsession was over affections that are good, created by God, but disordered in fallen humanity. In other words I see something of the goodness of something of God's creation and instead of loving it in its proper place, I can begin to make it the center of my affections, displacing the Giver, God. All of God's gifts are to be received and enjoyed, but always with God as the center of our affection. We find out that when we know God's love and return something of that love to God, in other words when by grace we begin to live in God's love, paradoxically we appreciate God's good gifts in a way that actually brings more enjoyment and delight.
For Augustine, and for C.S. Lewis it was never a question of humans having too strong affections, but that they are disordered so that humans obsess over what can't really bring either the lasting or depth of satisfaction that God alone can bring. To begin to really know God's love and seek to live in that love towards God and others will translate into a joy for life, as we appreciate the good gifts from God for what they are. But left to themselves apart from this love of God, all the gifts from God while still good, lose their luster, and besides, none can replace God, since all else is hardly a poor substitute at all. And with that we become obsessed and enslaved to that which is not only not a god, but ends up dehumanizing us in the process.
I have found this so in my life. When by grace I am endeavoring in Jesus to live in God's love, life takes on a new delight. That's when I have to be careful because I can so easily set my heart on something less than God during such times, since I find such delight in God's good gifts. But then what I set my heart on I find to be a poor substitute for God, as I leave "the spring of living water" for "broken cisterns that cannot hold water" (Jeremiah 2:13). In the end we lose out entirely when God is not first in our affections. And we receive all things fully when God is first and supreme in our affections. Either way, that begins in this life, and even has fulfillment here and now.
What thoughts would you add to this? How do you look at this in your own life?
(After reading from The Consolations of Theology, edited by Brian S. Rosner, the chapter, "Augustine on Obsession", by Andrew Cameron.)