Most People Misunderstand Agency4 min read

When I was a younger man, still in college and trying to understand the downward spiral of societal morality, I started to question laws regarding gay civil unions.

On the one hand I thought, “Well agency means everyone can do whatever they want, right? Do I have the ‘right’ to stop them from sinning?”

On the other hand I thought, “That doesn’t seem right, I think I’m missing something.” I read studies where (unbiased) psychologists noted many issues involving the children of gay parents, among many other practical reasons to oppose gay marriage, but I thought, “I’ll wait to see what the Church says.”

Receiving Prophetic Council

After some study I found that the prophets have spoken out against the evils of gay civil unions form, and many other forms of sexual sin, and encouraged Latter-day Saints to be active in opposing their legalization.

I decided that was good enough for me, the prophets commanded it, and I knew I would learn “why” as time went on, so that became my position. I continued to learn the societal damage sexual sin causes, and that society embracing sexual sin further erodes our nation, and removes protections from heaven. 

historical study of sexual morality found that a nation that abandons sexual morality will typically collapse within 3 generations.

But a question still remained in my mind concerning agency in general. For example, the prophets strongly supported Prohibition as outlined by the 18th Amendment, to the point of speaking in favor of it in General Conference for decades, and condemned us when Utah was largely responsible in passing it’s repeal. They even cited statistics showing how Prohibition was not a failure, as Hollywood blockbusters would have us believe, but it was a success. One that frustrated Satan and enemies of morality and freedom.

The prophets continue to instruct Latter-day Saints to oppose legal recreational marijuana today, so I have had to wonder, as do many others in and out of the LDS Church:

"Doesn't God care about agency?" 

I hear this question often. From non-Mormons I hear, “I have the right to do whatever I want as long as it doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others.” From some members I hear, “God given agency gives people the right to do whatever they want, even to sin.”

They are partially correct, but at the same time totally misunderstanding agency and liberty.

Agency and the War in Heaven

Agency is the ability to choose right or wrong. It is something we fought for before we came to this earth. We did not fight for the right to sin without consequence, we fought for the right to choose to obey the commandments of our own free will. We understood that there would be consequences for our actions, and that justice required that good actions bring about good consequences, and evil actions bring about evil consequences.

To apply this principle to morality, we now have the inalienable right to obey the commandments without being punished by God or the government. We do not have the inalienable right to break the commandments without being punished by God. That’s not how inalienable rights work. 

Agency gives you the right to choice, not the right to choice without consequence.

Note: based on righteous governments in the scriptures, the government can discourage wickedness too. Modern prophets teach that if we do not speak up in favor of righteous principles, we will be governed by wicked ones. 

In other words, we are already legislating morality, it’s just a matter of whose definition of morality we want to be governed by. The morality of God, or immorality of Lucifer.

The Duties of a Righteous People

For moral people to allow sinful behavior to go unpunished is not only unnatural, it is shirking our solemn responsibility to “warn our neighbor.” Learning how to ensure a moral society is not only a duty for citizens of a free nation, and a moral obligation of those professing faith in Jesus Christ. It is also practice for children of God to fulfill our divine future role.

If you still have questions about this concept you will find a great article consisting primarily of the word of God and His prophets here.