Quotes on Agency

See: Joshua 24:1-28

Critical to our knowledge of the plan of happiness is an understanding of the great governing principle of agency. – M. Russell Ballard

Since the authorship of the agency of man is God’s, should we not look to him for the best media to help us to control our choices? – John H. Vandenberg

When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that is in itself a choice. – William James

The history of free men is never really written by chance but by choice; their choice! – Dwight D. Eisenhower

The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. – Charles R. Swindoll

We choose what attitudes we have right now. And it’s a continuing choice. – John C. Maxwell

The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice. – George Eliot

The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action. – John Dewey

You make a choice in your life, and it affects your life in all the ways, good and bad. – John Mayer

The future of this world has long been declared; the final outcome between good and evil is already known.  There is absolutely no question as to who wins because the victory has already been posted on the scoreboard.  The only really strange thing in all of this is that we are still down here on the field trying to decide which team’s jersey we want to wear!  — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker.  It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.  — President of the United States, Ronald Reagan

Generally our Heavenly Father will not interfere with the agency of another person unless He has a greater purpose for that individual.  Two examples come to mind:  Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, and Alma the Younger.  Both these men were deterred from their unrighteous objective of persecuting and trying to destroy the church of God.  Both became great missionaries for the Church.  But even as the Lord intervened, they were given choices.  Alma, for example, was told, “If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God.”  (Alma 36:11.) — Elder Marvin J. Ashton, “Know He Is There,” Ensign, February 1994, p. 54

Notwithstanding the fact that through its misuse, political, economic, and personal liberty are lost, free agency will always endure because it is an eternal principle.  However, the free agency possessed by any one person is increased or diminished by the use to which he puts it. Every wrong decision one makes restricts the area in which he can thereafter exercise his agency.  The further one goes in the making of wrong decisions in the exercise of free agency, the more difficult it is for him to recover the lost ground.  One can, by persisting long enough, reach the point of no return.  He then becomes an abject slave.  By the exercise of his free agency, he has decreased the area in which he can act, almost to the vanishing point. — President Marion G. Romney, “The Perfect Law of Liberty,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, p. 45

Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life is God’s greatest gift to man. . . . Freedom of choice is more to be treasured than any possession earth can give. It is inherent in the spirit of man.  It is a divine gift to every normal being. . . . Everyone has this most precious of all life’s endowments – the gift of free agency – man’s inherited and inalienable right.  — President David O. McKay, Improvement Era, Feb. 1962, p. 86

What a perilous time [the war in heaven] must have been.  The Almighty Himself was pitted against the son of the morning.  We were there while that was going on.  That must have been a desperately difficult struggle, with a grand, triumphal victory. . . .

Why were we then happy?  I think it was because good had triumphed over evil and the whole human family was on the Lord’s side.  We turned our backs on the adversary and aligned ourselves with the forces of God, and those forces were victorious.  — President Gordon B. Hinckley,”The Dawning of a Brighter Day,” Ensign, May 2004, p. 81

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny. — Albert Ellis

We tend to think of agency as a personal matter.  If we ask someone to define “moral agency,” the answer will probably be something like this:  “Moral agency means I am free to make choices for myself.”  Often overlooked is the fact that choices have consequences; we forget also that agency offers the same privilege of choice to others.  At times we will be affected adversely by the way other people choose to exercise their agency.  Our Heavenly Father feels so strongly about protecting our agency that he allows his children to exercise it, either for good or for evil. — Elder M. Russell Ballard, Ensign, May 1995, p. 23

God gave his children their free agency even in the spirit world, by which the individual spirits had the privilege, just as men have here, of choosing the good and rejecting the evil, or partaking of the evil to suffer the consequences of their sins.  Because of this, some even there were more faithful than others in keeping the commandments of the Lord.  Some were of greater intelligence than others, as we find it here, and were honored accordingly. . . .

The spirits of men had their free agency, some were greater than others, and from among them the Father called and foreordained his prophets and rulers.  Jeremiah and Abraham were two of them. . . . The spirits of men were not equal.  They may have had an equal start, and we know they were all innocent in the beginning; but the right of free agency which was given to them enabled some to outstrip others, and thus, through the eons of immortal existence, to become more intelligent, more faithful, for they were free to act for themselves, to think for themselves, to receive the truth or rebel against it. — President Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:58-59

With free agency there comes responsibility.  If man is to be rewarded for righteousness and punished for evil, then common justice demands that he be given the power of independent action.  A knowledge of good and evil is essential to man’s progress on earth.  If he were coerced to do right at all times, or were helplessly enticed to commit sin, he would merit neither a blessing for the first nor a punishment for the second.  Man’s responsibility is correspondingly operative with his free agency.  Actions in harmony with divine law and the laws of nature will bring happiness, and those in opposition to divine truth, misery.  Man is responsible not only for every deed, but also for every idle word and thought.  — President David O. McKay, Improvement Era, Feb. 1962; Book of Mormon Student Manual, p. 70

The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.  — Oliver Wendall Holmes

Imbedded in every part of the plan is the right of every man to act for himself, to choose one or the other of the opposites which present themselves before him.  If he chooses to do that which is for his welfare, which enables him to progress, he chooses the good.  If he chooses that which retards his progress, he chooses the evil.  Whatever conforms to the plan of God for His earth children is good; whatever is in opposition to the plan is evil.  That is a simple, plain definition of evil.  — Elder John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, pp. 205-6; Book of Mormon Student Manual, p. 24

God has given us our agency.  He will not take it from us, and if I do that which is wrong and get into the devil’s territory, I do it because I have the will and power to do it.  I cannot blame anybody else.  — Elder George Albert Smith

The children of God were endowed with freedom of choice while yet but spirit beings.  The divine plan provided that they be freeborn in the flesh and become heirs to the inalienable birthright of liberty to choose and act for themselves in mortality.  It was essential for their eternal progression that they be subjected to the influences of both good and evil. — Elder Delbert L. Stapley, General Conference, April 5, 1975

Agency is a God-given right to choose between good and evil.  It is not a right to do anything you please, anytime, for any purpose.  Choose between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error.  If I choose, I take the consequences of the choice, for the law works either way.  If I choose good, then the spirit of the Lord will be ready to inspire me to fill me with love.  If I choose evil, I place myself under the influence of Satan and his helpers and his spirits; I forfeit the influence of good.  And as I progress further into the evil, the light of Christ which lightens all men fades away.  But my right to choose and to keep on choosing is mine continually.  I can turn at any time and reverse myself.  I can turn toward good if evil, or I can turn toward evil if good. — Elder S. Dilworth Young, “The Key to Faith,” BYU Devotional, July 1, 1969, pp. 2-3

The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely, personal thing we have to place on God’s altar.  The many other things we “give” are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us.  However, when you and I submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then, we are really giving something to Him!  It is the only possession which is truly ours to give! — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, November 1995, p. 24

Men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can.  He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 361

To fully understand this gift of agency and its inestimable worth, it is imperative that we understand that God’s chief way of acting is by persuasion and patience and long-suffering, not by coercion and stark confrontation.  He acts by gentle solicitation and by sweet enticement.  He always acts with unfailing respect for the freedom and independence that we possess.  He wants to help us and pleads for the chance to assist us, but he will not do so in violation of our agency.  He loves us too much to do that, and doing so would run counter to his divine character. . . .

To countermand and ultimately forbid our choices was Satan’s way, not God’s, and the Father of us all simply never will do that.  He will, however, stand by us forever to help us see the right path, find the right choice, respond to the true voice, and feel the influence of his undeniable Spirit.  His gentle, peaceful, powerful persuasion to do right and find joy will be with us “so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved” (Moroni 7:36). — President Howard W. Hunter, “The Golden Thread of Choice,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, p. 18

Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life is God’s greatest gift to man.  Among the immediate obligations and duties resting upon members of the Church, and one of the most urgent and pressing for attention and action of all liberty-loving people is the preservation of individual liberty.  Freedom of choice is more to be treasured than any possession earth can give.  It is inherent in the spirit of man.  It is a divine gift to every normal being.  Whether born in abject poverty or shackled at birth by inherited riches, everyone has this most precious of all life’s endowments — the gift of free agency, man’s inherited and inalienable right.

Free agency is the impelling source of the soul’s progress.  It is the purpose of the Lord that man become like him.  In order for man to achieve this it was necessary for the Creator first to make him free.  “Personal liberty,” says Bulwer-Lytton, “is the paramount essential to human dignity and human happiness.”  — President David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1950, pp. 32-33; see Gospel Ideals, p. 299

God gave his children their free agency even in the spirit world, by which the individual spirits had the privilege, just as men have here, of choosing the good and rejecting the evil, or partaking of the evil to suffer the consequences of their sins.  Because of this, some even there were more faithful than others in keeping the commandments of the Lord. . . .

. . . The spirits of men were not equal.  They may have had an equal start [see Alma 13:5-7], and we know they were all innocent in the beginning [see D&C 93: 38]; but the right of free agency which was given to them enabled some to outstrip others, and thus, through the eons of immortal existence, to become more intelligent, more faithful, for they were free to act for themselves, to think for themselves, to receive the truth or rebel against it.  — President Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:58-59.

God’s foreknowledge of all things does not hinder or limit our freedom to choose good or evil.  Elder James E. Talmage, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote: “Many people have been led to regard this foreknowledge of God as a predestination whereby souls are designated for glory or condemnation even before their birth in the flesh, and irrespective of individual merit or demerit.  This heretical doctrine seeks to rob Deity of mercy, justice, and love; it would make God appear capricious and selfish, directing and creating all things solely for His own glory, caring not for the suffering of His victims.  How dreadful, how inconsistent is such an idea of God!  It leads to the absurd conclusion that the more knowledge of coming events must act as a determining influence in bringing about those occurrences.  God’s knowledge of spiritual and of human nature enables Him to conclude with certainty as to the actions of any of His children under given conditions; yet that knowledge is not of compelling force upon the creature.” — Elder James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 12th ed., [1924], p. 191; The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p. 5

Revelations concerning agency – the freedom to choose – “inevitably and simultaneously portray the perfect generosity and the perfect justice of God.”

Along with agency comes responsibility.  “Still, I am free to choose even if I cannot be immune from the consequences of my wrong choices, nor avoid accountability.

“At this point, you and I may feel a little reflection nudging us.  Yes, our freedom to choose is truly a shining and shimmering gift, but it is also one which can cause some shivering at times.  Is this why we sometimes almost are afraid to decide certain things?  Are we afraid we might make a mistake?  But ‘no decision’ is a decision!  Hence this soul sigh: choosing is no picnic after all.”

“. . . So, being obedient is a way of life, but also the way to eternal life.

“We worship a God whose character is so stunning and Who wants us to come home, but He will not force us.  He will not force us.” — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Gift of agency: with it comes responsibility,” Church News, March 20, 1004, p. 5; from address at BYU Devotional, March 16, 2004

God has given unto all of His children . . . individual agency. . . . [We] possessed it in the heaven of heavens before the world was, and the Lord maintained and defended it there against the aggression of Lucifer. . . . By virtue of this agency you and I and all mankind are made responsible beings, responsible for the course we pursue, the lives we live, the deeds we do.  (Wilford Woodruff, Collected Discourses Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, His Two Counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and Others, vols., 1:341.)

All must use [this agency] in order to gain exaltation in [God’s] kingdom; inasmuch as [we] have the power of choice [we] must exercise that power.  (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 54.)   — President Thomas S. Monson, “Choose You This Day,” Ensign, November 2004, p. 67

Any addiction takes away your agency.  If you are high on drugs, you are low on agency.  And so it is with any addiction.  — Joseph Fielding McConkie

He gave man the power of choice, and no other creature in the world has it.  So he placed upon the individual the obligation of conducting himself as an eternal being.  You cannot think of any greater gift that could come to a man or woman than the freedom of choice.  You alone are responsible, and by wielding and exercising that freedom of choice, you grow in character, you grow in intelligence, you approach divinity, and eventually you may achieve that high exaltation.  That is a great obligation.  Very few people appreciate it.  The roads are clearly marked – one offering animal existence, the other life abundant.  Yet, God’s greatest creation – man – often is content to grovel on the animal plane. — President David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1969, pp. 6-7; Teachings of President of the Church: David O. McKay, p. 207

Again, there can be no agency avoidance.  No decision is a decision.  Delay is a delusion, and that delay always discards the holy present.  It simply throws it away.

Again, choosing to be obedient is a choice.  Jesus chose to let His will be “swallowed up in the will of the Father” (Mosiah 15:7).  It was a deliberate choice – a choice, of course, that blessed all mortals mightily and everlastingly.  Being obedient is a way of life, but it is also the way to eternal life.  — Neal A. Maxwell, “Free to Choose,” BYU Devotional, May 16, 2004

“How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not” (3 Nephi 10:5).  “How oft”?  The “how-oft question is one of the most haunting in all of eternity (see also Luke 13:34).

It is matched by what the Lord of the vineyard can justifiably say at the end of the salvational day.  Reading these words often makes me weep.  As He surveyed all that He had tried to do – leaving us free – and all the yield that might have been, and having given us our freedom to choose, He, the Lord of the vineyard, tenderly asked “What could I have done more?”  (Jacob 5:47). — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Free to Choose,” BYU Devotional, May 16, 2004

The fulness of the everlasting gospel, which is founded on the eternal principle of agency, the principle that men are free to choose their own course, “to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great mediation of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil.”  (2 Ne. 2:27.)

Some challenges result from the agency of others.  Agency is essential for individual spiritual growth and development.  Evil conduct is an element of agency.  Captain Moroni explained this very important doctrine:  “The Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked.”  He made it clear that the righteous are not lost but “enter into the rest of the Lord their God.”  (Alma 60:13.)  [Footnote:  The wicked will be held accountable for the atrocities they perpetrate. [The Savior was clear that “offences will come; but woe unto him, through whom they come!”  (Luke 17:1.)] — Elder Quentin L. Cook, “The Songs They Could Not Sing,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, p. 106

Today’s young Church members are fighting “the same battle that has been fought since before the foundation of the world,” Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve told an Institute congregation Nov. 16, 2008. . . . Elder Ballard said the details of the current age may differ in technology and other ways, but the battle is the same.

“It is the battle for the hearts and souls of Heavenly Father’s spirit children, pitting us against Lucifer, the Great Deceiver, the father of lies,” he said.  “As it has always been, this battle is fought on the battleground of moral agency and free will.  Regardless of the technology or the political environment of the time, it all still comes down to this: How are you going to choose to exercise your God-given agency?  Are you going to choose to follow the Lord, or are you going to choose to follow Satan?  It really isn’t any more complicated than that.  No matter how much we may try to justify or rationalize our choices, it still comes down to choosing good over evil.” — R. Scott Lloyd, “An age-old battle,” Church News, November 22, 2008, p. 7

The wicked choice of others cannot completely destroy your agency unless you permit it.  Their acts may cause pain, anguish, even physical harm, but they cannot destroy your eternal possibilities in this brief but crucial life on earth.  You must understand that you are free to determine to overcome the harmful results of abuse. Your attitude can control the change for good in your life.  It allows you to have the help the Lord intends you to receive.  No one can take away your ultimate opportunities when you understand and live eternal law.  The laws of your Heavenly Father and the Atonement of the Lord have made it possible that you will not be robbed of the opportunities which come to the children of God. — Elder Richard G. Scott, “Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse,” Ensign, May 1992, pp. 31–32; [Name Withheld], “A Longing for Peace,” Ensign, July 2009, p. 54

Adam and Eve were given their agency, a gift that continues today.  You can do whatever you choose, but you cannot avoid the consequences of your choice.  — Greg Hill, “Lord’s great plan,” Church News, November 22, 2008, p. 6

 Exercising agency in a setting that sometimes includes opposition and hardship is what makes life more than a simple multiple-choice test.  God is interested in what we are becoming as a result of our choices.  He is not satisfied if our exercise of moral agency is simply a robotic effort at keeping some rules.  Our Savior wants us to become something, not just do some things.  He is endeavoring to make us independently strong – more able to act for ourselves than perhaps those of any prior generation.  We must be righteous, even when He withdraws His Spirit, or, as President Brigham Young said, even “in the dark.” — Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Agency,” Ensign, June 2009, p. 53

The Savior’s use of moral agency during His lifetime is an instructive example for us.  At one point in His teaching He revealed the principle that guided His choices: “He that sent me is with me; the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29; see also 3 Nephi 11:11). — Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Agency,” Ensign, June 2009, p. 50

Elder Erastus Snow, commenting on the feeling some have that being obedient to God somehow limits their agency, gave an interesting insight on choosing to follow God:

“If good and evil is placed before us, does not the person who chooses the good and refuses the evil exhibit his agency and manhood as much as the man who chooses the evil and refuses the good? or is the independence of manhood all on the side of the evil-doer?  I leave you to answer this question in your own mind.  To me, I think the angels and saints and all good people have exercised their agency by choosing the good and refusing the evil; and in doing so they not only exhibit their independence and manhood as much, but show a much higher and greater nobility of character and disposition; and I leave the future to determine who are wise in the choice of their freedom and independence.

“Joshua said to ancient Israel: ‘Choose ye this day whom ye will serve; if the Lord be God, serve him; if Baal, serve him.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’  I think what we need to learn are the true principles that shall lead us to peace, to wealth and happiness in this world, and glory and exaltation in the world to come.  And that if we can learn these principles, and receive them in good and honest hearts, and teach them as our faith, and practice them in our lives, we shall show our manhood, our independence and our agency as creditably before the angels and the Gods, as any wicked man can, in refusing the good and cleaving to the evil, exhibit his before the devil and his angels.” (In Journal of Discourses, 19:180–81.) Old Testament Student Manual, p. 242

I have been thinking recently about choices and their consequences.  Scarcely an hour of the day goes by but what we are called upon to make choices of one sort or another. Some are trivial, some more far-reaching.  Some will make no difference in the eternal scheme of things, and others will make all the difference.

As I’ve contemplated the various aspects of choice, I’ve put them into three categories: first, the right of choice; second, the responsibility of choice; and third, the results of choice.  I call these the three R’s of choice.  I mention first the right of choice.  I am so grateful to a loving Heavenly Father for His gift of agency, or the right to choose. President David O. McKay, ninth President of the Church, said, “Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct that life is God’s greatest gift to man.”

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.  We who chose the Savior’s plan knew that we would be embarking on a precarious, difficult journey, for we walk the ways of the world and sin and stumble, cutting us off from our Father.  But the Firstborn in the Spirit offered Himself as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of all.  Through unspeakable suffering He became the great Redeemer, the Savior of all mankind, thus making possible our successful return to our Father.

The prophet Lehi tells us: “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.  And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.”

Brethren, within the confines of whatever circumstances we find ourselves, we will always have the right to choose.  Next, with the right of choice comes the responsibility to choose.  We cannot be neutral; there is no middle ground.  The Lord knows this; Lucifer knows this.  As long as we live upon this earth, Lucifer and his hosts will never abandon the hope of claiming our souls. . . . President Thomas S. Monson, General Conference Priesthood Session, Oct. 2010

I have heard people say, and members of the Church too, “I have a right to do as I please.”  My answer is: No, you do not.  You haven’t any right at all to do just as you please.  There is only one right that you have, and that is to do just what I read to you: keep the commandments of Jesus Christ.  He has a perfect right to tell us so.  We have no right to refuse.  I do not care who the man is; I do not care where he lives, or what he is –  when the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented to him, he has no right to refuse to receive it.  He has the privilege.  He is not compelled to receive it, because our Father in heaven has given to everyone of us, in the Church and out, the gift of free agency.  That free agency gives us the privilege to accept and be loyal to our Lord’s commandments, but it has never given us the right to reject them.  Every man who rejects the commandments of our Father in heaven is rebellious. — President Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, April 1967, pp. 120-21

Now, suppose that we were to issue our edicts to the whole world of mankind for them to obey the Gospel we preach, and had the power to compel them to obey, could we do it according to the dictates of our religion?  We could not.  We could invite them, and could tell them how, but we could not say, and maintain the faith that we have embraced, you must bow down and profess our religion and submit to the ordinances of the kingdom of God . . . . It would prove that God is in fault in not making them do so [if he wanted them automatically to obey, he would have created them that way, as Dante says in “Paradise”] . . . . If we become Godlike we will be just as full of charity as he is.  We would let pagans worship as they please, and to the Christians and Mohammedans, and all sects and parties in the world we would say, “Do just as you please, for your volition is free, and you must act upon it for yourselves before the heavens.”  Our religion will not permit us to command or force any man or woman to obey the Gospel we have embraced.  — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 19:94

The Lord refuses to intimidate by sending legions of angels in order to ensure that individuals do His will (see Matt. 26:4753).  His will is to be done “because of the word,” not because we are compelled (Alma 36:26). The rule has been, is, and will remain “Nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself” (Moses 3:17).  The Lord wants conversion without intimidation.

Let us remember in our age of spin, the only spin God desires is our freely turning away from sin and turning to Him.  Therefore, the Lord does not seek to overwhelm us but instead to help us overcome the world!  (See D&C 64:2; Rev. 3:21.)  — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, General Conference, April 2000

To fully understand this gift of agency and its inestimable worth, it is imperative that we understand that God’s chief way of acting is by persuasion and patience and long-suffering, not by coercion and stark confrontation. . . . He always acts with unfailing respect for the freedom and independence that we possess. He wants to help us and pleads for the chance to assist us, but he will not do so in violation of our agency. He loves us too much to do that, and doing so would run counter to his divine character.  — President Howard W. Hunter, Ensign, November 1989, p.18

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.  — President Ezra Taft Benson, “Not Commanded in All Things,” General Conference, April 1965

People who argue that they have constitutional rights and want to use what they call their free agency to accomplish unrighteous ends abuse the idea of free agency and deprive others of their constitutional rights.  While many of our problems are caused by those who are deliberately trying to further their own selfish and devilish interests, there is also a vocal, misled minority which is responsible for other problems as they exist in our country and in our communities.  We must be equally vocal and firm in our efforts to maintain the quality of our surroundings, where we can enjoy family solidarity, which is the strength of any nation.  We must take a firm stand against the concerted efforts in many areas to destroy the family unit. — President N. Eldon Tanner, “‘Thou Mayest Choose for Thyself’,” Ensign, July 1973, p. 7

In keeping the commandments you will verify that there is more genuine individuality in those who are more holy. Sin, on the other hand, brings sameness!  Sin shrinks us, reducing us to a bundle of addictive appetites.  In these last days, the capacity of man to love will “wax cold” because of iniquity (see Matt. 24:12).  How tragic, when there is never enough love to go around! — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, New Era, June 1992

Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground.  When the gospel was preached good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither.  There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them.  When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God.  When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it.  Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigations of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant. — Joseph Smith, “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” Juvenile Instructor, 15 Aug. 1892, p. 492

Few concepts have more potential to mislead us than the idea that choice or agency is an ultimate goal. For Latter-day Saints, this potential confusion is partly a product of the fact that moral agency – the right to choose – is a fundamental condition of mortal life. Without this precious gift of God, the purpose of mortal life could not be realized. To secure our agency in mortality we fought a mighty contest the book of Revelation calls a “war in heaven.” This premortal contest ended with the devil and his angels being cast out of heaven and being denied the opportunity of having a body in mortal life (see Revelation 12:7–9).

But our war to secure agency was won. The test in this postwar mortal estate is not to secure choice but to use it – to choose good instead of evil so that we can achieve our eternal goals.  In mortality, choice is a method, not a goal.

Of course, mortals must still resolve many questions concerning what restrictions or consequences should be placed upon choices. But those questions come under the heading of freedom, not agency. Many do not understand that important fact. — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Weightier Matters,” BYU Devotional, 9 February 1999

We become masters of our lives in the same way – by focusing on first things first. We all have a pretty good idea of the most important decisions we need to make – decisions that will improve our lives and bring us greater happiness and peace. That is where we should start. That is where we should place our greatest effort.  — Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Three Choices,” Ensign, Nov. 2003

I have told you many times, the property which we inherit from our Heavenly Father is our time, and the power to choose in the disposition of the same.  This is the real capital that is bequeathed unto us by our Heavenly Father.  — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 18:354

As we yield our will to His, God will tutor us in the successful use of our moral agency. We will find freedom to be, to feel, and to do. — Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Allegiance to God,” Ensign, Jan. 2005, p. 8

 Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods.  The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit.  Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things.  Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and his prophets, and then prayerfully act – without having to be commanded “in all things.”

This attitude prepares men for godhood.  Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on his children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail.  Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward.  — President Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1965, pp. 121-22

It is Lucifer, on the other hand who seeks the overthrow of free institutions, free churches, free government, and who saps wherever he can the foundation of the rights of man.  That same fallen being, once called the Morning Star, presented himself before the Father, at the beginning, and offered himself as a candidate for the saviorship of this world. He declared – had the audacity to declare – that his purpose was to save man in his sins. “Not one soul shall be lost.”  He proposed to compel all to be saved, and sought to destroy the free agency of man.  But his plan was rejected, and he and all who followed him were cast out of heaven, because they were the enemies of freedom and sought the overthrow of that freest of institutions, the Gospel of salvation.  Therefore they were rejected, and one was chosen as the Redeemer who avowed it to be His purpose to maintain the free agency of man.  This One sought not His own honor, his own glory, as Lucifer had done – who demanded as a reward for his proposed service that he might dethrone the Father and reign as God in his stead, but that other Being said:  “Father, let me be thy Son; I will go down; I will die for the world, and thine be the honor and the glory.”  He proposed to save man from his sins to make salvation a free gift, to leave all men at liberty to accept or reject the Gospel, and the purpose of his mission was to break the bands of death, to redeem man from bondage, and therefore His plan is known, and truly known, as the perfect law of liberty.  — Elder Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, Oct. 1906, p. 71

A man can dispose of his agency or of his birthright, as did Esau of old, but when disposed of, he cannot again obtain it; consequently, it behooves us to be careful, and not forfeit that agency that is given to us. The difference between the righteous and the sinner, eternal life or death, happiness or misery, is this, to those who are exalted there are no bounds or limits to their privileges, their blessings have a continuation, and to their kingdoms, thrones, and dominions, principalities, and powers there is no end, but they increase through all eternity; whereas, those who reject the offer, who despise the proffered mercies of the Lord, and prepare themselves to be banished from his presence, and to become companions of the devils, have their agency abridged immediately, and bounds and limits are put to their operations. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 1997, p. 72

We can have eternal life if we want it, but only if there is nothing else we want more. — Bruce Hafen, “The Atonement: All for All,” Ensign, May 2004, p. 98

Your agency, the right to make choices, is not given so that you can get what you want.  This divine gift is provided so that you will choose what your Father in Heaven wants for you.  That way He can lead you to become all that He intends you to be.  — Elder Richard G. Scott, Ensign, May 1996, p 24

Keep in mind that man’s earthly existence is but a test as to whether he will concentrate his efforts, his mind, his soul upon things which contribute to the comfort and gratification of his physical nature, or whether he will make as his life’s purpose the acquisition of spiritual qualities.  — President David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1969, p. 8

Usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods.  The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit.  Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things.  Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and his prophets, and then prayerfully act – without having to be commanded “in all things.”

This attitude prepares men for godhood.  Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on his children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail.  Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward. — President Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, Apr 1965, pp. 121-22

 To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us. Rather, you and I ultimately determine if we are chosen.  Please now note the use of the word chosen in the following verses from the Doctrine and Covenants: “Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen.  And why are they not chosen?  Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men” (D&C 121:34–35).

I believe the implication of these verses is quite straightforward. God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit “the chosen” to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen.

Enoch was instructed by the Lord on this very point of doctrine.  Please note the use of the word choose in these verses:  “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency; “And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father” (Moses 7:32–33).  As we learn in these scriptures, the fundamental purposes for the gift of agency were to love one another and to choose God. Thus we become God’s chosen and invite His tender mercies as we use our agency to choose God.  One of the most well-known and frequently cited passages of scripture is found in Moses 1:39.  This verse clearly and concisely describes the work of the Eternal Father:  “For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

A companion scripture found in the Doctrine and Covenants describes with equal clarity and conciseness our primary work as the sons and daughters of the Eternal Father.  Interestingly, this verse does not seem to be as well known and is not quoted with great frequency.  “Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength” (D&C 11:20).  Thus, the Father’s work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children.  Our work is to keep His commandments with all of our might, mind, and strength – and we thereby become chosen and, through the Holy Ghost, receive and recognize the tender mercies of the Lord in our daily lives. — Elder David A. Bednar, Conference Report, Apr 2005

When we understand the plan of salvation, we also understand the purpose and effect of the commandments God has given his children.  He teaches us correct principles and invites us to govern ourselves.  We do this by the choices we make in mortality. — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, November 1993

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. — President Ezra Taft Benson, “Not Commanded in All Things,” General Conference, April 1965

People who argue that they have constitutional rights and want to use what they call their free agency to accomplish unrighteous ends abuse the idea of free agency and deprive others of their constitutional rights.  While many of our problems are caused by those who are deliberately trying to further their own selfish and devilish interests, there is also a vocal, misled minority which is responsible for other problems as they exist in our country and in our communities.  We must be equally vocal and firm in our efforts to maintain the quality of our surroundings, where we can enjoy family solidarity, which is the strength of any nation. We must take a firm stand against the concerted efforts in many areas to destroy the family unit. — President N. Eldon Tanner, “Thou Mayest Choose for Thyself’,” Ensign, July 1973, p. 7

Paul warned the Hebrews that God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, and “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him.” (Heb. 4:12–3.)  In other words, God judges us not only for our acts, but also for the desires of our hearts.  He has said so again and again.  This is a challenging reality, but it is not surprising.  Agency and accountability are eternal principles.  We exercise our free agency not only by what we do, but also by what we decide, or will, or desire.  Restrictions on freedom can deprive us of the power to do, but no one can deprive us of the power to will or desire.  Accountability must therefore reach and attach consequences to the desires of our hearts.  This principle applies both in a negative way – making us guilty of sin for evil thoughts and desires – and in a positive way – promising us blessings for righteous desires. — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Desires of Our Hearts,” Ensign, June 1986, pp. 64–65

To fully understand this gift of agency and its inestimable worth, it is imperative that we understand that God’s chief way of acting is by persuasion and patience and long-suffering, not by coercion and stark confrontation.  He acts by gentle solicitation and by sweet enticement.  He always acts with unfailing respect for the freedom and independence that we possess.  He wants to help us and pleads for the chance to assist us, but he will not do so in violation of our agency.  He loves us too much to do that, and doing so would run counter to his divine character. — President Howard W. Hunter, “The Golden Thread of Choice,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, p. 17

Satan will be bound by the power of God; but he will also be bound by the determination of the people of God not to listen to him, not to be governed by him.  The Lord will not bind him and take his power from the earth while there are men and women willing to be governed by him.  That is contrary to the plan of salvation.  To deprive men of their agency is contrary to the purposes of our God. . . . Satan only gains power over man through man’s exercise of his own agency; and when Satan shall be bound, as the Lord says he will be for a thousand years, one of the grant powers that will help bring this to pass is man’s agency. . . . If Satan, therefore, has power with man, it is because man yields to his influence. . . . Every Prophet who has looked forward to our day has seen and predicted that the wicked would be destroyed.  Their destruction means the destruction of Satan’s power. 

God, doubtless, could avert war, prevent crime, destroy poverty, chase away darkness, overcome error, and make all things bright, beautiful and joyful.  But this would involve the destruction of a vital and fundamental attribute in man – the right of agency.  It is for the benefit of His sons and daughters that they become acquainted with evil as well as good, with darkness as well as light, with error as well as truth, and with the results of the infraction of eternal laws. Therefore he has permitted the evils which have been brought about by the acts of His creatures, but will control their ultimate results for His own glory and the progress and exaltation of His sons and daughters, when they have learned obedience by the things they suffer.  The contrasts experienced in this world of mingled sorrow and joy are educational in their nature, and will be the means of raising humanity to a full appreciation of all that is right and true and good.  The foreknowledge of God does not imply His action in bringing about that which He foresees, nor make Him responsible in any degree for that which man does or refuses to do.  The comprehension of this principle makes clear many questions that puzzle the uninformed as to the works and power of Deity.   — Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, Charles W. Penrose, First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Messages of the First Presidency 6 Vols. Ed. by James R. Clark [1965-75], 4:325-326

I know that God loves us.  He allows us to exercise our moral agency even when we misuse it.  He permits us to make our own decisions.  Christ cannot help us if we do not trust Him; He cannot teach us if we do not serve Him.  He will not force us to do what’s right, but He will show us the way only when we decide to serve Him.  Certainly, for us to serve in His kingdom, Christ requires that we experience a change of thought and attitude.  — President Thomas S. Monson, “Looking Back and Moving Forward,” Ensign, May 2008, pp. 87-89

All these rewards were seemingly promised, or foreordained, before the world was. Surely these matters must have been determined by the kind of lives we had lived in that premortal spirit world.  Some may question these assumptions, but at the same time they will accept without any question the belief that each one of us will be judged when we leave this earth according to his or her deeds during our lives here in mortality.  Isn’t it just as reasonable to believe that what we have received here in this earth [life] was given to each of us according to the merits of our conduct before we came here?”  — President Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, Oct. 1973, pp. 7-8

We have been placed upon this earth because of our faithfulness in having kept our first estate.  The labors that we performed in the sphere that we left before we came here have had a certain effect upon our lives here, and to a certain extent they govern and control the lives that we lead here, just the same as the labors that we do here will control and govern our lives when we pass from this stage of existence.  — President Heber J. Grant, “Reward of Conscience,” Improvement Era, Feb. 1943, p. 75

To fulfill the purpose of His omniscient design, our Heavenly Father foreordained certain valiant spirit children and assigned them to come to earth at specific times and places to fulfill their appointments. The greatest of these spirits He reserved to come as prophets and priesthood leaders in His kingdom.  Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 21

Joseph Smith taught that “All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him.” — Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 181

But how do we even begin to master ourselves and overcome Satan, sin and temptation? President Benson suggests the practical process of goal-setting. He suggests that we conquer these things one at a time. He said: “Every accountable child of God needs to set goals, short – and long-range goals. A man who is pressing forward to accomplish worthy goals can soon put despondency under his feet, and once a goal is accomplished, others can be set up.  Some will be continuing goals. Each week when we partake of the sacrament we commit ourselves to the goals of taking upon ourselves the name of Christ, of always remembering Him and keeping His commandments (see Moroni 4:3; D&C 20:27). — President Ezra Taft Benson, “Do Not Despair,” Ensign, Oct. 1986

The old saying “The Lord is voting for me, and Lucifer is voting against me, but it is my vote that counts” describes a doctrinal certainty that our agency is more powerful than the adversary’s will. Agency is precious. We can foolishly, blindly give it away, but it cannot be forcibly taken from us. 

There is also an age-old excuse: “The devil made me do it.” Not so! He can deceive you and mislead you, but he does not have the power to force you or anyone else to transgress or to keep you in transgression.  — President Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” Ensign, November 2010

It is not, never has been, and never will be the design and purpose of the Lord – however much we seek him in prayer – to answer all our problems and concerns without struggle and effort on our part. This mortality is a probationary estate. In it we have our agency. We are being tested to see how we will respond in various situations; how we will decide issues; what course we will pursue while we are here walking, not by sight, but by faith. Hence, we are to solve our own problems and then to counsel with the Lord in prayer and receive a spiritual confirmation that our decisions are correct. — Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “Why the Lord Ordained Prayer,” Ensign, Jan. 1976, p. 11; TLDP:488

Free agency means the freedom and power to choose and act. Next to life itself, it is man’s most precious inheritance.

Free agency was operative in the spirit world. The gospel plan, as there proposed and adopted, provided that men should enjoy agency in mortality. Satan, with a third of the hosts of heaven, fought it there and lost, but they did not give up their opposition to the principle.

In the Garden of Eden, God endowed Adam and his posterity with free agency. Satan and his followers have, from then until now, sought directly and in every conceivable indirect manner to substitute the principle of force for the principle of free agency. — President Marion G. Romney, “Church Welfare Services’ Basic Principles,” Ensign, May 1976

Jesus, by the exercise of his agency, rose to be the second member of the Godhead.  Lucifer, by the exercise of his agency, sank to Hades.

I suggest we consider what has happened to our agency with respect to contributing to the means used by the bureaucracy in administering government welfare services.

In order to obtain these means, one head of state is quoted as saying, “We’re going to take all the money we think is unnecessarily being spent and take it from the ‘haves’ and give to the ‘have nots’ that need it so much.” (Congressional Record, 1964, p. 6142 – Remarks of the President to a Group of Leaders of Organizations of Senior Citizens in the Fish Room, Mar. 24, 1964.)

The difference between having the means with which to administer welfare assistance taken from us and voluntarily contributing it out of our love of God and fellow man is the difference between freedom and slavery. — President Marion G. Romney, “Church Welfare Services’ Basic Principles,” Ensign, May 1976

 We must ever keep in mind that the First Presidency, in announcing the welfare program in the October 1936 conference, said:

“Our primary purpose was to set up, in so far as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves.  Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1936, p. 3; italics added.)

A year before this statement was made, on October 7, 1935, President Clark, in a special priesthood meeting held in this tabernacle, referring to government gratuities, said:

“The dispensing of these great quantities of gratuities has produced in the minds of hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of people in the United States a love for idleness, a feeling that the world owes them a living. It has made a breeding ground for some of the most destructive political doctrines that have ever found any hold in this country of ours, and I think it may lead us into serious political trouble.

“I fear,” he continued, “we need not be surprised if some blood shall run before we of this nation finally find ourselves.” — President Marion G. Romney, “Church Welfare Services’ Basic Principles,” Ensign, May 1976

Now, my brothers and sisters, the handwriting is on the wall; “the interpretation thereof [is] sure.” (Dan. 2:45.) Both history and prophecy – and I may add, common sense – bear witness to the fact that no civilization can long endure which follows the course charted by bemused manipulators and now being implemented as government welfare programs all around the world. . . .

We shall persevere by helping people to help themselves until “the curse of idleness  [is] done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect [are] once more established amongst our people.”  — President Marion G. Romney, “Church Welfare Services’ Basic Principles,” Ensign, May 1976

To fully understand this gift of agency and its inestimable worth, it is imperative that we understand that God’s chief way of acting is by persuasion and patience and long-suffering, not by coercion and stark confrontation. He acts by gentle solicitation and by sweet enticement. He always acts with unfailing respect for the freedom and independence that we possess. He wants to help us and pleads for the chance to assist us, but he will not do so in violation of our agency. He loves us too much to do that, and doing so would run counter to his divine character. — President Howard W. Hunter, “The Golden Thread of Choice,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, p. 17

“But,” says the Father, “. . . I give each and every individual his agency; all must use that in order to gain exaltation in my kingdom; inasmuch as they have the power of choice they must exercise that power. They are my children; the attributes which you see in me are in my children and they must use their agency. If you undertake to save all, you must save them in unrighteousness and corruption.” Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 53-54

All rational beings have an agency of their own; and according to their own choice they will be damned or saved. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:97

            Man’s greatest endowment in mortal life is the power of choice – the divine gift of free agency.  No true character was ever developed without a sense of soul freedom.  If a man feels circumscribed, harassed, or enslaved by something or somebody, he is shackled.  This is one fundamental reason why totalitarianism is so diabolically wrong, and some day in the future must be defeated. God intends man to be free. — President David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 299

Life and death are set before us, and we are at liberty to choose which we will . . . to choose life is to choose an eternal existence in an organized capacity: to refuse life and choose death is to refuse an eternal existence in an organized capacity, and be contented to become decomposed, and return again to native element.  — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 1:340

There is not a man of us but what is willing to acknowledge at once that God demands strict obedience to his requirements.  But in rendering that strict obedience, are we made slaves?  No, it is the only way on the face of the earth for you and me to become free.  Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 225

God rules and reigns, and has made all his children as free as himself, to choose the right or the wrong, and we shall then be judged according to our works. Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 55

In addition to the cleansing effect of the Atonement, God has given us agency – the power to choose between good (the path of life) and evil (the path of spiritual death and destruction [see 2 Ne. 2:27; Moses 4:3]).  Although the conditions of mortality can limit our freedom (such as by restricting our mobility or our power to act on certain options), when we have reached the age or condition of accountability (see Moro. 8:5-12; D&C 68:27; D&C 101:78) no mortal or spiritual power can deprive us of our agency. — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Ensign,” Oct. 1995, p. 8

Elder Orson Hyde said of our life in the premortal world, “We understood things better there than we do in this lower world.” Elder Hyde also surmised as to the agreements we made there as follows: “It is not impossible that we signed the articles thereof with our own hands, – which articles may be retained in the archives above, to be presented to us when we rise from the dead, and be judged out of our own mouths, according to that which is written in the books.” Just because we have forgotten, said Elder Hyde, “our forgetfulness cannot alter the facts” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:314–15). Brothers and sisters, the degree of detail involved in the covenants and promises we participated in at that time may be a much more highly customized thing than many of us surmise. Yet, on occasion even with our forgetting, there may be inklings.

President Joseph F. Smith wrote: 

“But in coming here, we forget all, that our agency might be free indeed, to choose good or evil, that we might merit the reward of our own choice and conduct.  But by the power of the Spirit, in the redemption of Christ through obedience, we often catch a spark from the awakened memories of the immortal soul, which lights up our whole being as with the glory of our former home.” (Smith, Gospel Doctrines, pp. 13–14) — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Meeting the Challenges of Today,” BYU Devotional, October 10, 1978

All persons are entitled to their agency, for God has so ordained it. He has constituted mankind moral agents, and given them power to choose good or evil; to seek after that which is good, by pursuing the pathway of holiness in this life, which brings peace of mind, and joy in the Holy Ghost here, and a fulness of joy and happiness at His right hand hereafter; or to pursue an evil course, going on in sin and rebellion against God, thereby bringing condemnation to their souls in this world, and an eternal loss in the world to come. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p. 213

God, doubtless, could avert war, prevent crime, destroy poverty, chase away darkness, overcome error, and make all things bright, beautiful and joyful. But this would involve the destruction of a vital and fundamental attribute in man-the right of agency.  It is for the benefit of His sons and daughters that they become acquainted with evil as well as good, with darkness as well as light, with error as well as truth, and with the results of the infraction of eternal laws.

Therefore he has permitted the evils which have been brought about by the acts of His creatures, but will control their ultimate results for His own glory and the progress and exaltation of His sons and daughters, when they have learned obedience by the things they suffer. The contrasts experienced in this world of mingled sorrow and joy are educational in their nature, and will be the means of raising humanity to a full appreciation of all that is right and true and good. Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 286