Agency: Doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way

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This is an LDS related article, but whether or not you are LDS, I believe there is something for everyone here in the principles I’m discussing. These are my thoughts alone and should not be construed as an official LDS church position.

I’d been thinking about writing this article for a while and then a few weeks ago a friend sent me this quote and that triggered the impetus to get writing. In April 1983 General Conference of the LDS church, President Marion G. Romney made this statement.

“We of this Church can come to a unity and a oneness which will give us strength beyond anything we have yet enjoyed if we will obtain a sounder understanding of the principles of the gospel and come to a unity in our interpretations of present world conditions and trends. This we can do by prayerful study of the Lord’s word, including that given to us through the living prophet.

This is the way to come to a unity. If we will study the word of the Lord as it comes to us through the standard works and through the instructions of the living prophet and not harden our hearts, but humble ourselves and develop a real desire to understand its application to us in our own peculiar circumstances, and then ask the Lord in faith, believing that we shall receive (see Doctrine & Covenants 18:18), all the while being diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord, surely the path we should follow will be made known unto us, and we will be able to face the world as a solid unit.”

President Romney gives a powerful promise toward unifying the church and all mankind as they understand the gospel. I would like to address the most basic tenet of the LDS faith, the foundation principle of all of God’s eternal laws, and the one point of doctrine which I believe if everyone understood and lived would serve to fulfill this statement by a prophet of God. The law is agency.

In the LDS church we often hear the phrase “free agency” in gospel discussions. What does that mean? The term “free agency” doesn’t appear in scripture, so what is agency and is it really free? Can a person be on the Lord’s side if they follow the devil’s means to get to the Lord’s end?

In the LDS theology, we believe that prior to this life we all lived in a celestial state as a giant family (Job 38:7) with a Heavenly Father and Mother after whom our bodies are patterned in their images (Genesis 1:26). We desired to become like them just as children desire to become like loving parents in this life. In order to accomplish that as their spiritual offspring, it was necessary that we leave home and go through a period of mortality (Abr. 3:22-25). The purpose of this probation away from home would be to receive a physical body and be tested to see if we would be obedient to their commandments when our memory of the pre-mortal life was veiled and hidden (1 Cor. 13:12).

Since we knew we would be imperfect, we needed a way to come back into God’s presence in spite of being plagued with sin in this life. Heavenly Father’s plan called for a Savior who would make an atonement for the sins of all mankind (2 Nephi 2:27-28) and the plan would introduce a risk wherein some would not return to God’s presence because of their failure to abide within the law of the gospel. Lucifer, one of the sons of the morning (Isaiah 14:12), a spirit son of God whose name meant “light bearer,” came forward and in his gross pride proposed that he be put in charge of the plan and that he would guarantee every child of God would return to God’s presence. In exchange for doing this, he wanted God’s honor and glory (Moses 4:1-4) to ascend above the throne of God (Isaiah 14:13-14).

The account in Moses 4:3 says:

“3 Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;”

Lucifer was cast out of heaven with a third of our brothers and sisters (Revelation 12:4) who rejected God’s plan to use Christ and desired Satan’s method of accomplishing the goal. In other words they desired security at the price of liberty. Lucifer’s name was changed to Satan, meaning “the deceiver” for the reason that his plan would not have worked. His goal was to destroy agency with the ultimate outcome being the creation of non-thinking slaves and God could not allow this to happen to his creations.

The same war in heaven continues on earth today. In June 2007, the late President of the LDS church, Gordon B. Hinckley, wrote in the LDS church publication the “Ensign”:

“That war (the War in Heaven), so bitter, so intense, has never ceased. It is the war… between agency and compulsion, between the followers of Christ and those who have denied Him. His enemies have used every stratagem in that conflict. They’ve indulged in lying and deceit. They’ve employed money and wealth. They’ve tricked the minds of men. They’ve murdered and destroyed and engaged in every kind of evil practice to thwart the work of Christ.”

It is clearly evident that the struggle for freedom over compulsion exists in mortality just as it did before this stage of existence. The same players are present: the Lord using persuasion and maintaining our individual choice, and Satan directing that we simply be forced into a perfect utopia.

“As important as are all other principles of the gospel, it was the freedom issue which determined whether you received a body. To have been on the wrong side of the freedom issue during the war in heaven meant eternal damnation. How then can Latter-day Saints expect to be on the wrong side in this life and escape the eternal consequences? The war in heaven is raging on earth today. The issues are the same: ‘Shall men be compelled to do what others claim is for their best welfare’ or will they heed the counsel of the prophet and preserve their freedom?” (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1965.)

This diagram illustrates what God’s plan was on the left and Satan’s desired modification on the right, spiritual communism.

Agency vs. Force Flowchart

I draw five conclusions from this chart.

1) Those who follow God’s laws in obedience will achieve maximum liberty as a spiritual man or woman of God because they have proven they will not infringe on someone else’s rights. In the LDS faith, we believe that as God’s children we can eventually grow to become parents like our Heavenly parents and thus this is the only path to that destination because ultimate power can never be granted to people who would abuse it. Can you imagine an all-powerful God that covets? A God that lusts? Such a being would have the power to do and take anything he wanted without restraint. Ultimate power cannot be granted to anyone who abuses power and so God only bestows ultimate power on those who reject compulsion and embrace total freedom of choice with all the negative consequences that can happen because of it.

2) If Satan had been put in charge of the plan, there would have been a total absence of choice and the result would have been a loss of all personal growth. We would have just been slaves always acting in perfect obedience, never developing our ability to reason, never even being able to choose between good things for something better. Our decisions would be made for us as to how much to contribute at church, what occupation we needed to study to have a perfect society, what car to drive, what school to attend and how often, and so on down the list.

3) In following God’s plan, when we disobey His laws, we shift lanes to the devil’s path and enter into spiritual and sometimes temporal bondage (1 Nephi 14:7) because we have proven we are willing to infringe on someone else’s rights so ours must be curtailed to prevent it from happening again. A thief is put in jail by compulsion to prevent another theft. A priesthood holder loses rights to the priesthood (God’s power and authority to act in His name on earth) when he ceases to use persuasion and engages in unrighteous dominion, compulsion, on others. From Doctrine & Covenants (D&C)121:37-38.

“37 That they may be conferred upon us (priesthood rights), it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.”

Unfortunately, the very next verses point out the very thing that causes pride to destroy someone (vs 39-40).

“39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.”

Many are called to do the work, but because they choose to engage in the Lord’s work in the devil’s way, in the end they are not chosen for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14) because they cannot be trusted to maintain the rights and freedom of ALL individuals, even those who choose a path of evil. Therefore they cannot be joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) because they have failed to preserve agency by exercising unrighteous dominion.

4) The only way out of spiritual and temporal bondage is to turn to the Lord, accept his ways, and follow in his supreme law of agency.

5) People on each side of the spectrum desire to bring others to their state of mind. Satan seeks to make men miserable in bondage (2 Nephi 2:27), Christ seeks to give men freedom and joy (2 Nephi 2:25). Socialists and kingmen desire to expand their ranks, just as liberty-loving freemen desire all to come to their position.

So what exactly does “agency” mean? What does it mean to be an “agent?”

The 1828 Webster’s dictionary gives 2 definitions for the term “agency.”

1. The quality of moving or of exerting power; the state of being in action; action; operation; instrumentality; as, the agency of providence in the natural world.

2. The office of an agent, or factor; business of an agent entrusted with the concerns of another; as, the principal pays the charges of agency.

The first definition is essentially what we typically refer to when we discuss agency, that of someone taking action in a given direction. This was a gift we always had, but for a short period of time it was absent when Adam and Eve were in the garden but had not yet partaken of the forbidden fruit (Moses 7:32) at which point agency was given to them again. Until they partook, there was no inherent opposition (2 Nephi 2:11) so there were no moral choices to make where they had a knowledge of the consequences (2 Nephi 2:16). They lived in a state of ignorant innocence (2 Nephi 2:23) until they partook.

So what does the Lord mean when he talks about “moral agency” in the scriptures?

In D&C section 101, verses 77-78 the Lord speaks to those who had been driven from their homes and scattered by the mobs, instructing them to petition the government for a redress of their grievances…

77 According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

In other words:

1) The Lord inspired the Framers of the Constitution for the purpose of protecting all mankind in their rights and freedom.

2) Unrestricted choice for every individual allows individuals to be accountable for their own sins.

3) We have an obligation to act morally and ethically in accordance with what we have agreed to do. We have a duty to discern right from wrong, good from evil, and to use our agency to choose the good.

The second definition of agency is also one with a scriptural basis that puts the notion of agency in a whole new light.

In the professional world, an individual will sometimes hire an agent to represent his or her interests in a business deal such as a sports contract, a real estate purchase, or a publishing deal. The agent is typically bound by contract to represent his client and the agent’s benefit or payment is usually tied to how good a deal is obtained for the client.

The Lord illustrated this form of agency in a revelation to several of the elders of the church. In D&C 64:18 we read:

18 And now, verily I say that it is expedient in me that my servant Sidney Gilbert, after a few weeks, shall return upon his business, and to his agency in the land of Zion;

Sidney’s “agency” was to take care of the Lord’s business within his stewardship in the land of Zion. Similarly, each of us are agents for God, under contract (covenant) to do His will and work here on the earth. The parable of the talents illustrates that when we as the Lord’s agent multiply the benefit to the Lord, the Lord blesses us in turn with a greater reward and responsibility (Matt. 25:14-30).

Agency isn’t just “choice,” it’s a contractual relationship to act in the manner in which the Lord himself would act if he were here, coupled with a power to put things in motion on his behalf.

“Agency requires that we be free to use the power as we will.” (Boyd K. Packer, Our Father’s Plan, pg. 26-27.)

Failure to abide within the contract makes one subject to the penalties of the contract. Exercising the agency contract properly, on the other hand, binds the Lord to honor his side of the agreement (D&C 82:10).

So now that we have established that we have an agency contract that we are morally obligated to abide within, what is the actual contract? Again from the Doctrine and Covenants we read in section 93, verses 31-32:

31 Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.

32 And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.

Here then is the root of agency. We covenanted in the beginning to seek out the same light and truth in this life that we were taught in our pre-mortal home (D&C 138:55-56). When we accept the light of God and walk in the path God himself showed us we should walk in, we are justified in God’s eyes and receive the blessings that come by obedience to law (D&C 130:20-21). When we reject the light that is made manifest to us in this world, or do not follow God’s plan in His way, we are under condemnation.

One form of rejecting this light is trying to accomplish the Lord’s work in the devil’s way. We cannot force people to heaven through programs of social justice or any other activity that removes the freedom to choose to do good or evil. Those who engage in such activities do not understand the war in heaven.

In D&C 104:15-18, the Lord said:

15 And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.

16 But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.

17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.

18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.

We see here that the Lord specifically says that things must be done “in [his] own way” and that his way is for the rich to willingly give to the poor or else they will necessarily have an unfavorable judgment day. If that is the Lord’s way, then we cannot presume to think we have a better plan and put ourselves ahead of God and try to change the program because we see injustice in the world. In the words of a great hymn:

1. Know this, that every soul is free
To choose his life and what he’ll be;
For this eternal truth is given:
That God will force no man to heaven.

2. He’ll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.

3. Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then?
Mere animals, and just as well
The beasts may think of heaven or hell.

4. May we no more our powers abuse,
But ways of truth and goodness choose;
Our God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love.

Know This, That Every Soul Is Free, no. 240, LDS Hymn Book

We also see in section 104 above, one of a few locations in the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord says we are “agents unto [ourselves].” Another reference that helps shed light on this is D&C 29:39 which states:

“39 And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet-“

It is apparent here that in order to be agent unto ourselves we must be tempted and that is the purpose for which Satan was cast into the earth. What does the devil tempt us to do? Entice us to sin which causes us to enter into both spiritual and temporal bondage, which in turn makes us desire to get others in that position as well so they can be equally miserable. He wants the elimination of freedom and the reign of compulsion. As agents representing God, we are free to determine if we will fulfill our obligations and promote the gospel in the Lord’s way, or if we will be persuaded by the devil to do it in his way.

As an agent, our past performance cannot determine our future destination. We must be looking for opportunities to actively use our agency to build the Lord’s kingdom. This is powerfully explained in D&C 58:26-33.

26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

30 Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?

31 Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?

32 I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.

33 Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.

The Lord states here that he has left us as agents unto ourselves, wherein we must choose to act. We were created to act and not be acted upon (2 Nephi 2:26). We must choose to be anxiously engaged in many good causes to promote the Lord’s plan. The Lord isn’t going to dictate all the things we need to do as his agent. He has commanded us to seek out opportunities to do good. In D&C 64:29 we read:

29 Wherefore, as ye are agents, ye are on the Lord’s errand; and whatever ye do according to the will of the Lord is the Lord’s business.

When we know in our heart and mind that there is a good work to do, such as caring for the poor, or promoting freedom issues, we should prayerfully consider what our role is in that endeavor and move forward with the blessings of the Lord on our side. He will open the way for us to do it. It’s his work. If we have to wait to be commanded or if we do receive a direct command and then neglect it or treat it slothfully, we lose our reward and the promised blessings which could have been obtained under the contract (covenant).

So what is the way for us to fulfill the Lord’s plan in the Lord’s way?

After explaining that those who engage in the Lord’s work in the devil’s way will ultimately prove themselves unworthy of glory in the Celestial kingdom of heaven (D&C 121:37-38), the Lord reveals his path and mode of operation. From D&C 121:41-46 we read this counsel.

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile-

43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.

46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

I love this ending. When we do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way, and do not use our authority to oppress and force others into action, acting by persuasion instead of compulsion, in the end, authority and power in the spirit will flow to us naturally without any compulsion. What makes God, a God? He is so loved because he persuades his creations that his purposes are righteous and asks them to obey. The waters part, the body mends, and the dead are raised. Some rebel against his persuasion, but the righteous who follow his example of persuasion receive power from God’s creations in the same way those creations honor God (D&C 29:36).

We should be anxiously engaged using our freedom to do good and persuade people to do what is right. Persuasion isn’t weakness. It doesn’t mean you don’t stand for proper principles or that children don’t face consequences for disobedience. However, we’re no different than Satan himself when we engage in robbing people of the chance to choose to do good of their own free will, or naturally suffering the consequences of choosing evil. Those who risk trying to enforce the Lord’s plan by compulsory means will find they have destroyed the Lord’s work and perhaps in a measure taken upon them the accountability and salvation of those whose free will they have forcefully supplanted.

If people of all faiths understood this one central, eternal law of freedom, I am confident we could achieve the unity President Romney spoke of in the quote I started this article with. We would cease to try and do the Lord’s program in Satan’s way. We would lift up the banner of our Constitution for preserving the rights of all mankind. We would not impose laws that force people to a set of actions, even if we think they are for the greater good such as providing for the poor. Force creates bitterness and hatred and spawns further laws as people rebel against the unnatural feelings they have at being forced to do things they might naturally do on their own out of true love of God and love for His children.

I hope this article has been useful in some way, but regardless of whether or not you pass this article on to others, this is the message of our time. Please do what you can to help people understand the godly significance of the law of agency. Our freedom and salvation rest on this principle.

Oak Norton


Addendum:

While looking up some references for this article, I came across this fascinating quote which I wanted to share but didn’t fit well into the article. Elder Boyd K. Packer said on pages 211-212 in his book Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled:

“Narcotic addiction serves the design of the prince of darkness, for it disrupts the channel to the holy spirit of truth. At present, the adversary has an unfair advantage. Addiction has the capacity to disconnect the human will and nullify moral agency. It can rob one of the power to decide. Agency is too fundamental a doctrine to be left in such jeopardy.

It is my conviction, and my constant prayer, that there will come through research, through inspiration to scientists if need be, the power to conquer narcotic addiction through the same means which cause it. I plead with all of you to earnestly pray that somewhere, somehow, the way will be discovered to erase addiction in the human body.

It is not just human suffering, even human life, which is at risk; it is all of the personal and social and political and spiritual freedoms for which humanity has struggled for ages. At risk is all that was purchased by the blood of martyrs. Moral agency itself is in jeopardy! If we all pray fervently, the Lord will surely help us. And with those prayers, teach your children to obey the Word of Wisdom. It is their armor and will protect them from habits which obstruct the channels of personal revelation.”

10 Responses to “Agency: Doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way”

  • Bif:

    Very good Oak, It’s this agency that is so important for freedom, even academic freedom. This is the reason why dictating at the state level a specific curriculum is a very bad idea. Give the individual schools/parents the freedom to decide on the curriculum they want. I know freedom sounds scary, because maybe they won’t chose the BEST math curriculum out there :-)

  • Ingodwetrust369:

    This was wonderful,because the whole General Conference was based on this subject in one way or another. A subject in need of mentioning, since most people refer to “Agency” as “free Agency” not the correct terminology at all. “Moral Agency” is ogten mentioned and is the same as “Agency” because it means the same thing. What happens to a man when he chooses not to come into the Church, but does everything that everyone else does for good. Walks older men to Priesthood,. talks to those who are sick and then goes to the store and gets them what they need, reads a chapter in the B.O.M. every single night for over 15 years, the Ensign from front to back, the Church News, goes to every meeting in the Church, keeps the Sabbath Day Holy, goes to Dixie Care and share twice a week to help another pick up products for the poor and needy. Has a supply of preparedness items of every sourse for the number of years first stated. Answers all the questions in S.S. when others don’t have an answer. Provides food storage items for a couple of Sisters that I helpout with no complaints. pays a full tithe, Fast, educational fund, and money for those in other countries. But won’t take the Big Step? Been to all the Holy places in the world on trips with me, seen everything, been there, done that. Is the best husband in the world, treats me like a queen, tells me he loves me more times a day than anyone would believe. Holds me in his arms and thanks me for being his wife. Always treats me with the most respect. Has no problems with addictions in any way.Wants to be with me all the time, except when he works out at the Gym and I stay home and do Geneology. Even did all his works on both sides of his family. Knows the Bible like no one I have ever known. Goes to all the meetings I put on for the cause of Liberty, and defends the Constitution, and loves this land and fought in the Vietam War and kept all his mem in his platoon alive during many fights and bombings…… Cries along with me as we sing the Narional Anthem…….What else can I say….except what happens to a good man like this, and how will I have him as my husband when my vows are until death do us part? If this is the time and the place to make that committment, then I loose him in the next life. He has not recieved an answer and won’t join when he has recieved no such answer. What happens to a good man like this? Any answers?

  • Bif, it may surprise you if you haven’t followed me for a while, but I’m all in favor of this. The problem is we don’t have local control. We have national control via the 9% of funding that comes from the feds which makes us beholden to them. Then we have state and district control that don’t give true local control. The district does what it wants under the guise that they are the ultimate authority. They push all teacher development and curriculum choice. If school community councils functioned like a local school board, and if parents had full say in their schools, that would be the ideal situation. There are many obstacles to get to that system, but I’m all in favor of it. However, that doesn’t mean that informed parents shouldn’t advocate for the best math program available. :)

  • D.L. Hatton:

    It was James Madison that said that if the government funds the schools the school will teach the ideology of the party in power. The saints were advised to attend the church schools rather than the government schools funded by the federal government in the territory or the Protestant schools funded by the protestant churches with the view in mind of converting the Mormons to Christianity. 9% attended the Church schools, 9% attended the protestant schools and the rest went to the free government schools. This was grades 1 through 8. In 1907 Joseph F. Smith opposed the funding of the high schools by the state government. He was ignored, the people of Utah got their state funded high schools.

  • I like the second definition of agency you mentioned from the dictionary. I agree we are agents for Christ after we are baptized (although the scriptures don’t describe it using that terminology), but when the scriptures say that all men are agents unto themselves I think that is something different.

    Sidney Gilbert was called to be an agent unto the church (D&C 53:4) and the Lord referred to that as his agency (D&C 64:18). Brother Gilbert’s principal was the church. The agent’s principal is denoted by the keyword “unto” in the scriptures (D&C 51:8, 53:4, 57:6, 58:49, 63:45). As an agent, Brother Gilbert acted in behalf of the church and his actions were legally binding upon it.

    An agent always represents a principal, but who is our principal? The scriptures always declare that men are, “agents unto themselves,” (notice the keyword “unto”) therefore, the Lord has granted each individual the ability to represent and act in their own behalf. Each person is both principal and agent. As the agent, we can follow our own direction and do things of our own free will (D&C 58:27). As the principal we become legally bound to the actions performed by our agent (D&C 58:28). Agency is the foundation upon which accountability is built (D&C 101:78).

    I believe this is the agency that is taught in our scriptures. We have mixed up agency with free will, choosing, and freedom. I believe those are all important aspects of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but I also believe that the principle of agency has more to do with being accountable for our actions.

  • Thanks for posting this Matthew. I like your explanation here of “agents unto themselves” being both principal and agent.

  • Matthew, I was thinking about this last night and noticed something. In your explanation that a person is both principal and agent, you note that we are bound by our actions. I noted above that when we are obedient, we bind the Lord to bless us according to his promises, but what I hadn’t thought about was the fact that a righteous priesthood holder acting as an agent also binds the Lord through blessings. On the opposite side, by our unrighteous actions, the scriptures inform us that Satan can bind us (2 Nephi 26:22). In essence, we choose to bind the Lord to lift us up to his realm, or be bound by Satan and dragged down to his realm.

    I welcome any other thoughts you have on the subject. I don’t consider myself an authority on these things :).

  • Smith:

    You are clearly not an authority on this issue at all because you do not understand the agency being talked about in all those scriptures. No where is there any reference to government and yet you are clearly infering that no government should have any “compulsion” over any person. You have twisted our agency from God into something political. That is perverse. But then again you seem to twist everything into your political agenda. The biggest irony with your posting is that you do wish force others to follow your beliefs. You push and push with this website to have others believe your views of the world and attack others as wrong. That is ‘compulsory.’ You support politicians and political views which will require us to live by their standards and not have our agency. To follow your theory here to its extreme conclusion means that murder is someone’s choice and we should not be compulsed to stop it; abortion is agency and should not be banned; Gay marriage is their agency and should not be infringed upon by others; no taxes or tithing of any kind should be required because it is compulsory; stop signs infringe on my right to drive how I want to. Is that enough extremes to poke a huge black hole in your theory of no government should ever exist?

    The agency God has given us is the simple agency to choose to follow his plan or not follow it. Agency is that simple. This has been clearly stated throughout the churches history- go to the church’s website and see.
    You seem to believe that agency means being able to do whatever you whenever you want. That is freedom but that is only a small part of what agency is. I quote the church here: “In this life, people continue to have agency; even if their personal freedoms are restricted or taken away, they can choose how to feel and react. Their use of their agency determines their happiness or misery in this life and in the life to come. People are free to choose and act but are not free to choose the consequences of their actions. The consequences may not be immediate, but they will always follow. Choices of good and righteousness lead to happiness, peace, and eternal life, while choices of sin and evil eventually lead to heartache and misery.” We have the agency to choose to not follow God’s plan and hence we suffer. Leaving people to do whatever they want whenever they want is not God’s agency. The church fully agrees that governments have the right to provide consequences for some of our choices. You may view that as “compulsory” but you always have the choice to do it or not- cite Daniel before he was tossed into the lion’s den. It is in our hearts and daily actions that show whether we are following God or not- it has nothing to do with government.
    A government requiring you to do something has nothing to do with God’s plan. Living in a society where the government tries to regulate your daily life has nothing to do with God’s plan. Having leaders who try to use control over you has nothing to do with God’s plan.
    D&C 134 states: “1–4, Governments should preserve freedom of conscience and worship; 5–8, All men should uphold their governments, and owe respect and deference to the law; 9–10, Religious societies should not exercise civil powers; 11–12, Men are justified in defending themselves and their property.
    1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
    2 We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.
    3 We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.
    4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish bguilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.
    5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.
    6 We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men show respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.
    7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.
    8 We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public peace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.
    9 We do not believe it just to amingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.
    10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.
    11 We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.
    12 We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men; such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude.”
    There is nothing here that says we must only live in a country that is a Republic and allows us to live how ever we want.
    Agency is simple- do we follow God and his teachings or don’t we. It is not about forcing others to follow what we personally (even when backed up with interpretations and quotes) believe this life- and all things part of it (government)- should be like.
    Oak, you are a hypocrite. You want freedom for all but only if you can make sure it is your version of freedom- which would be a loss of agency to others.

  • pleasant girl:

    Smith said: “The biggest irony with your posting is that you do wish [to] force others to follow your beliefs. You push and push with this website to have others believe your views of the world and attack others as wrong. That is ‘compulsory.'”
    I think one of the most important things I got out of this article was additional understanding that the Constitution isn’t about “allowing everyone to do whatever they want”, it’s for protection of our inalienable rights, BUT must be maintained ACCORDING to JUST and HOLY PRINCIPLES. That sort of takes gay marriage, murder and abortion out of the equation if you subscribe to the beliefs in the bible. I don’t think Oak is suggesting for even a second that “no government should have any “compulsion” over any person”. That is anarchy, not constitutional government. Oak believes that he is upholding “just and holy principles” (so do many others who have come to similar conclusions). If you want to understand Oak’s perspective better I would suggest studying Pres. Benson, Pres. McKay’s and Pres. Clark’s writings. He isn’t just making up everything he believes. He has clearly studied the words of the prophets.
    I personally enjoyed what Oak said.
    Also, of course one will write with a slant towards their political view, this was clear with the above commenter as well. Another great quote, by I believe Pres. Romney, was something like “it is not enough to be passionate about an issue, you must be right.”
    Here’s hoping we can be on the side of “right”.

  • Wow “Smith,” glad you took the time to partially read the article but you could have saved yourself a lot of typing if you’d noticed this:

    “In following God’s plan, when we disobey His laws, we shift lanes to the devil’s path and enter into spiritual and sometimes temporal bondage (1 Nephi 14:7) because we have proven we are willing to infringe on someone else’s rights so ours must be curtailed to prevent it from happening again. A thief is put in jail by compulsion to prevent another theft.”

    As for forcing anyone to follow my beliefs through a website, that’s an interesting concept. I always thought of this as a first amendment right to speech and that advocating a position based on ones principles was a lot better than sticking a gun to someone’s head like the communists have done time and time again. :)

    I also fail to see how removing many unnecessary compulsory laws and lowering taxes in society would somehow make “[my] version of freedom” a loss of agency to others. To the contrary, it would remove red tape that holds small businesses down, and put more money in the pockets of families to choose to do what they want with their money.

    Last week at the LDS General Conference, President Monson said this in his talk during the Priesthood session:

    “We know that we had our agency before this world was and that Lucifer attempted to take it from us. He had no confidence in the principle of agency or in us and argued for imposed salvation. He insisted that with his plan none would be lost, but he seemed not to recognize—or perhaps not to care—that in addition, none would be any wiser, any stronger, any more compassionate, or any more grateful if his plan were followed.”

    This is exactly what I’m talking about above. When government takes it upon themselves to tax us and provide that money to charity, they are removing our ability to be compassionate. THAT is a loss of agency by compulsion.

    As for your conclusion where you wrote:

    “Agency is simple- do we follow God and his teachings or don’t we. It is not about forcing others to follow what we personally (even when backed up with interpretations and quotes) believe this life- and all things part of it (government)- should be like. ”

    I think if you believe you can safely limit the principle of agency to religious use, and have a different use in society and government, I think that is a very dangerous position to hold.