Reviewing one my comments, I never really thought of it as the process of sanctification as grounding moral agency. This in part stems from the previous post as well on Husbands are to improve the moral agency of their wives though sanctification.
“I’ve even come to the conclusion that Moral Agency is what the Bible refers to as Freedom in Christ.”
Interesting way to put it. I’ve said something similar, but not in those words.
I’ve always thought about it being the flipside Paul’s assessment that we once were “slaves to sin” and by repenting and following Jesus we have “freedom in Christ.”
Talked about this in Not Curses but Punishments (Genesis 3) Part 1 (2016/5/28). Not Curses but Punishments (Genesis 3) Part 2 (2016/5/28) alludes to the choice:
“Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve lived in perfect headship-submission in harmony. However, after the fall, Eve gets her just desserts punishment from eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil — the choice to choose between good (submission) or evil (usurpation, rebellion, desire to be like man) in her relationship with her husband. Prior to the fall, her submission was present and easy; after the fall, her choice is more difficult, much like the other punishments.”
Moral agency… the choice to choose between good and evil. Though as sinners without a Savior we were almost doomed to fall to temptation. But Christ brings freedom to go beyond our circumstances there.
I’d also argue that moral agency is a process built up progressively as mentioned in 2 Peter:
2 Peter 1:5
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Faith -> goodness/virtue -> knowledge (of right and wrong) -> self control -> perseverance -> godliness
This is the path that a moral agent should take. The first 3 from faith, goodness / virtue, and knowledge help you to understand right from wrong, and then self control, perseverance, and godliness help you act on that. That culminates in ‘loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself’ with brotherly love / mutual affection and love.
What we have in 2 Peter 1 is the 3 part process of sanctification:
- Moral discernment — faith, goodness/virtue, and knowledge (of right and wrong)
- Moral agency — Choosing right (or wrong) based on moral discernment through self control, perseverance, and godliness
- Mature theosis (becoming like Jesus/God) — brotherly love and (agape) love.
We are all in the process of the spectrum of sanctification in many different areas of our lives.
Like with “natural marriage” as opposed to God’s “covenant marriage,” God has Created human conscious and interactions that those who follow His principles are generally successful (though not always) whether they consciously follow Him or not. This can be seen clearly as societies based around following Judeo-Christian ethics, virginity at marriage, lifelong marriage, and other sexual morality tend to be the most successful over time.
A society with a foundation of Judeo-Christian ethics generally conforms to the first 2 processes of moral discernment and moral agency. This is why both men and women were more mature in the past, yet going away from that over time leads to stunting of moral discernment and agency. This is why we have many men and especially women out there now with grade school, middle school, or high school level of moral agency at best.
Societies that encourage victim-hood or oppressed classes will naturally have increasing stunting of moral discernment and moral agency in those specific classes. After all, if you are a victim you can do no wrong because wrong is being done to you. It is the illusion of “no choice” and without choice you do not need moral discernment or moral agency.
Mature theosis seems to confined to maturity in Christ. The ability to transcend suffering circumstance with joy can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit working in concert with a foundation of moral discernment and moral agency. These are some of the examples:
- For the joy set before Christ (we are that joy), He endured the cross – Hebrews 12
- The disciples being joyful and singing hymns after being beaten and imprison – Acts 16
- Christ’s call for us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us — Matthew 5
Drawing this back to womens’ moral agency, Adam was tasked with being the head of Eve in the garden and failed God by listening to Eve’s voice instead of God’s. Christ renews that with the New Creation in the New Testament with Paul showing us that we should emulate Christ’s example of being a head and loving the Church through the analogy — Christ:Church::Husbands:Wives.
This task bring us to the main 4 points of Jack’s summary on female agency in regard to being wives. To summarize, in my words:
- Women’s capacity in moral agency is more difficult compared to men as they are more easily deceived and tend to be averse to accepting consequences of their actions. Husbands as such must live with their wives in an understanding way showing honor as women are a weaker vessel but co-heirs in Christ (1 Peter 3).
- Women’s and men’s responsibility with their agency is sex specific to the Biblical marital roles and responsibilities. Men are to be the head/lead and love their wives, and wives are to be helpers, respect, and submit to their husbands.
- Women’s agency in full maturity is weaker than men’s, but it still must be led and encouraged through a husband’s emulation of Christ’s love of for the purpose of sanctification. A woman/wife who has been more grounded in the Christian faith and practice will show obvious fruit in how she acts toward her husband and others in her life.
- Women’s culpability in moral agency is still present and active. Eve was held responsible for God for listening to the voice of the serpent and being deceived and eating of the tree. Women are not victims. They have a choice to obey God or not from the beginning until now, and that has not changed.
This reminds me of the differential things we need to do for different scenarios from the Scriptures.
1 Thess 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
Depending on what is happening there needs to be a variable response to the situation. Boys and girls that are growing often need encouragement and help and definitely patience. However, if they are disruptive or idle they need warnings, rebuke, or correction.
The same can be true of a wife — and new brothers and sisters in Christ in discipleship — who may have stunted moral discernment and/or moral agency in certain circumstances to push them on the path to mature theosis. While patterns of behavior (both male and female) show that different frameworks are effective, we must take into account the specific circumstances surrounding the right or wrong and how to lead and teach effectively.
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