By Noah D. Guynn (auth.)
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27 Damaged by Original Sin, man requires divine grace in order to expiate the spiritual failings he lives out in his rebellious body, to gain access to the holy truths contained within Scripture, and to avoid the damnation that results from fleshly error and heresy. Grace can only be bestowed through the agency of the Church, which requires strict obedience both to its own rule and to that of imperial Rome. The invention of universal culpability serves not only to regulate rhetoric and the body, but also to stabilize an established ideological order.
And yet whatever else they signify, words inevitably are also a marker of man’s fallen state, in that they provide only partial knowledge of the divine mystery and can never be purely referential or representational. The truth that is arrived at through 20 ALLEGORY AND SEXUAL ETHICS language is only a partial perception of an essential truth that lies beyond language, and exegesis at some point requires the negation of symbolic codes as vehicles for theological truths. Indeed, if there is no acknowledgment of the limitations of language, signs will yield little more than fraudulent, idolatrous, and heretical meanings.
67 32 ALLEGORY AND SEXUAL ETHICS Augustine thus not only excludes Jews and women from full participation in intellectual and spiritual life, but he also sets up paradigms whereby this exclusion mirrors and legitimates their subordination within the ordo amoris. Augustine’s awareness of the fractured nature of all textual meaning, including that of Scripture, does not yield a hermeneutics or ethics of charitable openness. Love binds the Church to itself rather than calling it to embrace its others.