Agency is the ability and privilege God gives people to choose and act for themselves.1 It is the power or ability to make personal choices without compulsion.2 God has given this power and blessing to each of his children. 2 Nephi 2:16 states that “…the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself...” D&C 37:4 “…let every man choose for himself until I come.” Furthermore the Lord decreed as He spoke unto Enoch: “Behold these they 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.” (Moses 7:32).
With these scriptures, we have proof that it is the Lord who has given mankind their freedom, and He desires that all have the ability to choose for themselves the course of their life. This is embodied in the mission of the Church; invite all to come unto Christ. The Lord has bestowed upon all His children freedom, those who seek to take freedom away, are rebelling against the plan of the Lord.
The Lord has decreed that if men who hold the priesthood attempt to “exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness”3 the heavens will withdraw themselves and that man’s priesthood authority is withdrawn.
In that scripture the Lord added the clause “in any degree of unrighteousness”. The definition of unrighteousness in this case can be best illustrated by the definition of righteous power and influence. “No power or influence can or out to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge…”.4
Agency, which is given by the Lord, is the power or ability to make personal choices without compulsion. Compulsion in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, defines compulsion as:
1. The act of driving or urging by force, physical or moral; force applied; constraint of the will; the application of a force that is irresistible.
2. The state of being compelled or urged by violence.
One does not need think hard about which method mankind has used in its interrelations. Compulsion, the removal of God’s gift of agency, has been the modes operandi of the history of man.
Compulsion, is the opposite of persuasion, long suffering, gentleness, kindness, and pure knowledge. Compulsion is contrary to the will of God. Compulsion is a method of mental and spiritual weakness. Compulsion is not however, as history can prove, a physical weakness. A person who must resort to compulsion to get their way, is mentally or morally weak. It is against the will of God, as the scriptures prove, to force someone to do something against their will.
Governments that seek to impose their will on the governed through compulsion will be a land filled with injustice, political strife, class warfare, and an ever decreasing amount of social unity.
With His Absolute Power and Authority, God does not impose His will upon His children. The only possession that is truly ours and not God’s is our will. It is the only thing we can give the Lord. For in giving us our Agency, the Lord cannot ever force us to do something against our own will.
If a man or woman desires to return to the presence of the Lord, they cannot be guilty of the sin of using compulsion in their lives in exercising control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men. If a man uses compulsion as he presides in his home, he is guilty. If a woman uses compulsion in any means, she is guilty. If a man or woman in their callings at church use compulsion to get others to do what they want, they are guilty. They have reverted to the methodology of Satan. They have become weak. Instead of using logic, reason, and pure knowledge to persuade people to follow the Lord, they have resorted to threats, to favoritism, to weakness, to the methodology of the world’s tyrants.
Freedom, agency, is most sacred, and essential to helping God’s children choose for themselves to follow the plan God has laid out to return to Him. Through His commandments, God has laid out the eternal truths that must be followed for a child to grow, mature, and become like their Father. There is no other way.
3. D&C 121:37
4. D&C 121:41-42