Chapter 3 of Wiley’s book covers St. Augustine and the tradition that followed. St. Augustine lived at a critical juncture in Western history. Between 400 and 700 AD, the sword ended the entire Western world, from England to Persia. Augustine lived at the beginning of the end.
Augustine defined Original Sin. The question he addressed was: “Why Jesus the Messiah?”
His answer, supported by his own life story, was: “To redeem our own moral impotence.” (This contrasted with the Pelagius, who argued, in concert with many Pagan philosophers, that we had moral potency.)
The next question was: “Who is responsible for our moral impotence?” (Because, if we were responsible, then the ‘Donatists’ were right to humiliate those who had wavered in the face of the intimidating yet waning Roman ideologues).
Augustine’s answer was: “Not us. And yes us. Because we share the consequences of Adam’s transgression, we are both not responsible and responsible. We are not responsible for the fact that we need the sacraments. But we are responsible for what we do once we are given sanctifying grace.
Then the question became: “Why do we share the consequences of Adam’s transgressions?”
Augustine’s answer was: “We are descended from Adam and Eve. We are their descendants … er, children.” Here, Augustine proposed an instrumental rather than a formal cause. The instrument was whatever causes descent, er, children.
“Whatever” included copulation, as well as all the seamy machinations that induced the partners to commit the act. How “material” and “twisted”.
Human sexuality is so twisted that the machinations may be more significant than the act itself. Hey, I don’t mean “may be”. I mean “are”.
Some Pagan cults associated sex with “death, ignorance and difficulty” and restraint with “immortality, knowledge, and integrity”. Other Pagan cults relied on ritual sex in order to convert “death, ignorance and difficulty” into “immortality, knowledge and integrity”.
Does this fit the definition of “twisted”?