Moral agency is limited to the requirements of the biblical Covenant.
Targeted Readership: Men
Theme: Female Agency and Accountability
Author’s Note: This post is based on Catacomb Resident’s post, Moral Agency (2022/11/3) and has been expanded in a joint endeavor with the blessings of the author.
Length: 1,350 words
Reading Time: 7 minutes
Do women have moral agency?
First, let’s take a step back to see the larger picture. In our fallen mortal form, humans have only limited moral agency in the first place. Not every moral issue we might grasp is within our control. For example, we did not choose to be born as fallen fleshly beings. We had no control over the Fall as individuals, yet we bear the Curse of the Fall.
Further, I contend that we do not have moral agency to choose eternal life. Romans 8 and 9 squash that idea. It’s portrayed as asking the wrong question. The right question is whether you will embrace what God offers you while in this life.
True Morality Supports Covenant Life
The whole question of moral agency lies in our choice of whether to conform to the requirements of God’s Covenant while we live on this earth. Any choice made to debase or neglect that Covenant is a lack of moral agency in God’s eyes. Any debate surrounding the question of moral agency hinges on a matter of conviction, not intellect and not our humanistic concepts of morality. So it is not surprising that we’ve seen so many different takes on this topic, all having some areas of validity.
It becomes necessary to address this question because western minds tend to view things in binary, or in false dichotomies. Moral agency is not a matter of either/or. It’s not absolute. It does have distinct limits, and our duty before God in our current condition is to seize the opportunities within the limits God offers them.
Now that we have that laid out in clear view, the fundamental question is better phrased as, Just how much agency did God grant females, particularly in the context of God’s distinctly patriarchal revelation?
On this, I agree with Thedeti’s take on female moral agency, and I’ll emphasize that it is limited to the requirements of the biblical Covenant. Women express moral agency when they choose to conform to those requirements. They fail when they do not. God holds women accountable for their own decisions, not men. Men are held accountable for implementing the structure of the Biblical covenant in which his wife and family can fit into and thereby conform to the Covenant Life.
The Moral Frailty of Women
Given the moral weaknesses inherent in women — the ignorance, deception, and temptation that Donal Graeme observed, the solipsism and vanity Deep Strength wrote about, and the strong inclinations of the fleshly nature that Rollo described — this naturally entails that they should be restricted and restrained from acting in ways that contradict the requirements of the Covenant Life. They need to be protected from themselves, from bad influences, and from predatory individuals. They need guidance and teaching. They need to be held accountable. As Thedeti and others have said, they are to be regarded as beloved children in terms of moral agency.
On this, Deti mentioned several things we might do to limit women.
- They must always live under the authority of a man: First her father, then her husband, then her son(s).
- All of her interactions with non-relatives must be under her father’s watchful eye.
- They must always be chaperoned in public.
- They must never be allowed in the company of men unchaperoned until they are married.
- Women cannot be trusted to select their husbands. The men of her family must pick her husband or at least approve of her choice.
- A woman’s husband will have absolute authority over all aspects of her life.
- A wife may not divorce her husband, but he can divorce her (“put her away”).
- They cannot be trusted to make any decisions on their own.
- They must never be allowed to handle money, own any property of any consequence, operate any machinery, vote, or have any voice in public affairs.
- They can work to earn money, but only at menial tasks and only if her father or husband allow it.
- All of her earnings are the property of the male authority in her life, whether that be her father, her husband, or her son(s).
- They most certainly must not be allowed even to speak in church, much less teach nor have “ministries.”
- College education does little to fulfill a woman’s role in Covenant life and should not be prioritized. Most women do not need any education at all beyond high school and her mother’s training to be a wife.
- Living on her own or with other women does not fit the Covenant model. She should live at home with her parents until she is married.
I’m not sure if this is part sarcasm, but in fact, Thedeti is outlining the Covenant’s restrictions on women. The Covenant stipulates that women are happier and better off that way, although they may be slow to realize this.
If we apply the revised question to individual women, it’s still not a question of whether a woman has moral agency, but how much. Granted, there may be some women who have a considerable amount of agency and can be trusted to fulfill her obligations to the Covenant without some of the restrictions outlined above, but those are uniquely special cases indeed. The Manosphere calls such women “unicorns”, and they do exist. (I have one myself.) The older women who are charged to teach younger women in Titus 2:3-5 should be “unicorns”. But it would be a grave mistake to assume that any woman has personal agency without her first demonstrating a long track record that she can be responsible in upholding Covenant Life.
Yes, God has granted women some moral agency. He does hold them accountable for their sins. Yet He has tasked His Covenant people with building an atmosphere to account for the differences between female moral agency and that of males. God holds men accountable on a different level.
The Bible says women are not morally interchangeable with men. The Bible also rejects the notion that discrimination — the habit, custom or policy of treating people different based on various identity factors — is wrong. Indeed, God commands us to discriminate between men and women. He also commands us to discriminate between folks inside and outside the Covenant. Further, He demands that we discriminate between folks who hold to the different cultures and traditions. That this last discrimination carries a high correlation with ethnic identity is not really the point, but it’s certainly something we have to accept, lest we defy the God who made us.
The single greatest lie of Western Civilization has always been that there can be no divine moral agency in the universe. That is, everything about our world comes down to a matter of biology, chemistry, and physics and that everything is inherently discernible with the five senses or else can be apprehended with the rational mind. The second greatest lie of Western civilization is that women are free moral agents which is interpreted to mean they can do all things of their own volition. According to God’s Covenant, they cannot. God’s covenant living is a higher calling that women are bound to, whether they agree with it or not.
Even within the church, there is a doctrinal assumption that, sooner or later, all things must be discerned and decided by human agency, cast under the inscrutable label of “free will”, and at times, legalism. When anything is inexplicable by that approach, various brands of mysticism and Gnosticism creep in, like those described by Dalrock and Deep Strength. The only free will we have, the only agency we have, is whether to conform to the dictates of conviction within God’s Covenant order. All other differences are a matter of culture, tradition, and faith.
If the God of the Bible commands us to walk in His Covenant, and both government and society call it a “sin”, what does that suggest about how much separation we should seek from them?
- Σ Frame (Jack): Do women possess moral agency? (2022/11/2)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Donal Graeme on Female Agency (2022/11/3)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Rollo Tomassi on Female Agency (2022/11/4)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Dalrock on Female Agency (2022/11/7)
- Σ Frame (Thedeti): Deti on Female Agency (2022/11/8)
- Σ Frame (Deep Strength, Jack): Deep Strength on Women’s Agency (2022/11/9)
- Σ Frame (Sharkly, Jack): Sharkly on Women’s Agency (2021/11/10)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Artisanal Toad on Women’s Agency (2022/11/14)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Jack on Female Agency (2022/11/23)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Kyojiro Kagenuma on Women’s Agency (2022/12/5)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Zippy Catholic’s View of Female Hypoagency (2022/12/12)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Bruce Charlton on Agency (2022/12/13)
- Σ Frame (Red Pill Apostle): Red Pill Apostle on Women’s Moral Agency (2022/12/15)
- Σ Frame (Jack): D. Bradley on Women’s Moral Agency (2022/12/16)