The Urgent Need to Understand Moral Agency


Without analyzing the steps leading to the present condition, I emphatically declare that the search for excuses, reasons and explanations that place human behavior under a cause and effect arrangement is effectively keeping people from a path to actual deliverance and transformation. The desire to find a switch to flick to turn on or off certain behaviors is the result of inappropriately mixing physiology and psychology. The naturalistic worldview of secular, atheistic thinkers has ignored, and even robbed human beings of, moral agency. The fact that one’s behavior ultimately rests in the choices made and that the choices made are not the product of causation is a conclusion vehemently being resisted. Some might respond, “It can’t be that simple.” Let me assure you that moral agency is not “simple.”

As moral agents, we are responsible for analyzing, filtering and processing all of the experiences and information that bombards us from our entry into this realm until the day we step into the unveiled presence of God. [1] This is a complex matter. Yet, the bottom line with which we must wrestle is that each person processes the factors and influences of experiences and information by way of a personal, accountable moral process. We choose to establish ways of responding and reacting to the good and the bad aspects of that which takes place, both, within and without. When all is said and done, the person you become, the character you develop and the behavior in which you engage is of your own making. Yes, many “ingredients” go into this mix but the significance of moral agency is that you create out of all such factors what you choose to create and are therefore responsible and accountable for who and what you become.

The process of change involves learning how to respond in a more reasonable, appropriate, healthy, productive manner to the factors that bombard us. I often tell students, “If you are waiting for things around you to change before you pursue a better path, you will be waiting the rest of your life.” This is a challenging process to be sure. It must be emphasized, therefore, that the first significant stage of change one must make is in reference to their relationship with the one who designed us in His image. We will never effectively honor and fulfill our moral design until we begin to honor the Designer. This change is known as repentance or as a change of heart. Upon this foundation we learn how to use our mind, emotions and will correctly, bringing order to our chaos. Each step in this transformation involves choosing a right response to whatever it is we encounter. God will lead and empower but we must choose to cooperate. We must not assume God will now become the causationof our new behavior, becoming ensnared in the same fundamental error.

Sadly, most “counseling,” psychology and psychiatry (even those that attach “Christian” to their name) has fallen prey to this deterministic, cause and effect thinking. The lack of understanding about moral agency is taking its toll. There is an urgent need to understand moral agency.’

source: Mick Wolfe (Comprehensium).


[1] In other words, if one is abused as an infant, at some point the reality of this experience is part of what we eventually must process.


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