Agency and laws


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I strongly disagree with that. Man can murder man, or force an addiction to mind-altering agency-robbing drugs on man, or beat man in the head until his brain no longer functions correctly and man is unable to chose between good and evil any more.

please see BKP's talk today in GC.

it is availible here:

Watch LDS General Conference Live Online

and at 35:20 he says we can foolishly give our agency away, but that it CANNOT BE FORCIBLY TAKEN FROM US.

not shouting just want to add emphasis. please try to get the meaning behind this. it is very important. it will also help you understand Gods love.

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There is a moment in The Prince of Egypt (animated film about Moses) where it is explained pretty well.

After the priests of Pharoah performed an illusion to turn water into something red like blood, Moses told the people that the Pharoah had the power to take away many things, including their very lives, but he couldn't take their faith away.

This agency we're speaking of is much the same way. Choices can be limited, and yes that does limit what you can do, but you can always choose to serve God, or be good to others if you don't know of God. Morally, you can be whoever you choose to be. I prefer "moral agency" when describing this type.

Edited by Justice
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I tend to think that agency is something more.

"And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."

If we think of it as we still have the chance to pick our attitude then i think we miss something. If, for example, we followed Lucifer's plan we could still choose our attitude to what was happening, but the plan of God would have been frustrated, and for naught.

Lucifer's plan was to deny freedom, liberty, and a proper arena where man could become independent. An agent to choose and act for himself without restriction (but still under consequences) to see if he would freely act as he should.

If it were a law that men could not be baptized in a nation or they would be killed before it could happen, we would still have "choice" i suppose as to our feelings, but we could not fulfill the commandment, thus frustrating our personal plan of redemption. Thus greatly effecting agency.

I think that is why it is so important that people, when they talk of agency, use countries and certain ideas such as communism and socialism when expressing agency. Choice is a huge part, but i think it possible that God also requires an arena in which the subject has freedom, or liberty. Any other way is just an "on-earth" example of what Lucifer tried to first enact in heaven.

There are only two "governments", just as the scriptures say there are only really two churches. Free and Captive. Anything we can think of that might be in the "middle" is just on it's way to one end or the other; captive greatly impeding on our agency.

These are just my thoughts, hope they may fit into the discussion, and possibly help the discussion. Thank you all for your thoughts.. helps me think deeper on subjects.

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Lose our agency through our own choices?

Addicts lose thier agency...

Let's say my twin brother and I go on different paths. He chooses a morally and physically upright life, while I choose to take up chain smoking and heavy drinking. I have heard it said (similar to what you wrote) that now he has more choices (sometimes the claim is made of more Agency) than I do because he is free to run farther, longer, etc than I. He can wake up without the need to grab a cigarrette in the morning. The flip side of the coin is that he can't hold his liquor like I can, nor can he smoke a full pack of cigarettes without physically wretching. So it looks like I have the freedom to make some choices that are unavailable to him.

Is his Agency really greater? Does he have a larger choice set? Or do we still have the same Agency but a different choice set?

Perhaps we should start with a definition of Agency.

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I've noticed whenever we have a lesson on Agency in church, comments are usually shared about Soviet Russia and how agency was limited by enforcing atheism. What are your thoughts on law and Agency?

Can political laws restrict Agency? If so, in what way?

(I know there's another thread on agency going on right now, but it has another focus and I didn't want to detract from it.)

With Agency there are two important parts that have to be in place for it:

1) Freedom- the choices available to an individual in which to choose from.

2) Will- the force, capability, or ability to knowingly choose an action available to a person.

If a person has less freedom within to exercise their agency, then it becomes more difficult to exercise a rightious justice upon a person that is based upon their own merits (whether it be reward or punishment)

I also must note that agency is more than just being able to choose, it also entails being able to choose between who or what goals or ultimates, and progressing towards them. (which in the case from the church's POV, is pretty much a two way street; Either you work towards God, or some form of damnation).

In regards to Soviet russia, Agency (as seen from the religious end,) was hindered by the all the actions of the government to remove religion from the country-

Both by removing sources of religious teachings (such as people and books) to prevent the knowledge thereof, and also through both strict laws and terroristic actions.

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self-control, discipline, teachable = more agency.

In general, hard work, perserverance, self-control, and discipline lead to agency - being able to do more things, and therefore able to make more choices. If you have no self-control, no discipline, cannot learn/study/practice, there will be many things that you cannot do.

Ther person who smokes vs. those who do not...

The person who smokes still has both choices - they can still choose to smoke or not.

The person who is addicted only has one choice - they can only choose to smoke, the addition takes away their ability to choose not to.

Let's try this again

Let's say my twin brother and I go on different paths. He chooses a morally and physically upright life, while I choose to take up chain smoking and heavy drinking. I have heard it said (similar to what you wrote) that now he has more choices (sometimes the claim is made of more Agency) than I do because he is free to run farther, longer, etc than I. He can wake up without the need to grab a cigarrette in the morning. The flip side of the coin is that he can't hold his liquor like I can, nor can he smoke a full pack of cigarettes without physically wretching. So it looks like I have the freedom to make some choices that are unavailable to him.

Is his Agency really greater? Does he have a larger choice set? Or do we still have the same Agency but a different choice set?

You state the person who is addicted only has one choice, but I gave an example of a choice available to the addict that the healthy individual does not have. Does this mean that the smoker has increased his Agency to chain-smoke? Your definition of Agency can be applied to the smoker who was disciplined enough to continue smoking in spite of the initial negative side effects; who taught himself to consume more than he could before. So it sounds like your definition says the smoker still has full Agency, although of a different discipline from the non-smoker.

the official blurb:

(Guide to the Scriptures | A Agency.:Entry)

AGENCY. See also Account, Accountable, Accountability; Free, Freedom

The ability and privilege God gives people to choose and to act for themselves.

These two parts are very different from the definition you gave above. The ability and privilege to choose does not change because of addiction or discipline. What changes is the set of choices that can be made. What do you suppose is meant by the ability and privilege to act for themselves? Do you think it's a legal sense (or even the old "free agent" term from baseball)? or do you think it's more like what we've been discussing with a choice set (act for yourself and lift 100 pounds instead of being acted upon by that weight)?
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The point being that agency, as far as the Gospel is concerned, is the ability and freedom to choose either God or Satan.

Many examples we've seen on this thread move past this simple definition of agency. This is why people have a hard time discerning between agency, freedom, and choice.

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Speaking for myself, I'm trying to understand what the word agency meant as it existed at the time the Lord used it, not how we've come to define it after we mixed in philosophical 'free agency' ideas (which we've tweaked as well). The Lord said He spoke according to our language for our understanding. He chose that word for a reason, and our revelations use the word as is, without redefining it.

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I disagree.

Anyone can choose to become addicted, Addicts however can no longer choose not to be addicted.

"I'm sorry, Sister Jones. We know how much you desire to be baptized, but you're addicted to nicotine. If only we'd gotten here sooner, before you irreversibly gave up the choice to not smoke."


Gospel Principles

Freedom to Choose

When we follow the temptations of Satan, we limit our choices. The following example suggests how this works. Imagine seeing a sign on the seashore that reads: “Danger—whirlpool. No swimming allowed here.” We might think that is a restriction. But is it? We still have many choices. We are free to swim somewhere else. We are free to walk along the beach and pick up seashells. We are free to watch the sunset. We are free to go home. We are also free to ignore the sign and swim in the dangerous place. But once the whirlpool has us in its grasp and we are pulled under, we have very few choices. We can try to escape, or we can call for help, but we may drown.

Even though we are free to choose our course of action, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. The consequences, whether good or bad, follow as a natural result of any choice we make (see Revelation 22:12). If we touch a hot flame, for example, we are burned.

I wonder if limit is the right word, because the context here is when the consequences kick in. On this side of the veil, most of the consequences are not enforced until the Day of Reckoning. Since we're still dealing with our smoker and non-smoker, the smoker can choose to increase or decrease consumption. The same choice is available to the non-smoker (actually, the non-smoker cannot decrease consumption, so it looks like the smoker wins again). But the consequences deal with health and quality of life - and those cannot be escaped. But this binding goes both ways.

Ensign » 2009 » June

Moral Agency

By Elder D. Todd Christofferson Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Satan has not ceased his efforts “to destroy the agency of man.” He promotes conduct and choices that limit our freedom to choose by replacing the influence of the Holy Spirit with his own domination (see D&C 29:40; 93:38–39). Yielding to his temptations leads to a narrower and narrower range of choices until none remains and to addictions that leave us powerless to resist. While Satan cannot actually destroy law and truth, he accomplishes the same result in the lives of those who heed him by convincing them that whatever they think is right is right and that there is no ultimate truth—every man is his own god, and there is no sin.

This actually goes both ways. We say Satan binds the sinner so that they are trapped in their sinful character. God binds the obedient, but we tend to use the word sealed to describe a benevolent character locked in. The habit-forming decisions made day in and day out crystalize what we will be. The habitual smoker cannot honestly think of waking up without a puff. On the flipside I can't seriously think of myself lighting up because I have locked in that decision as well. If the smoker has limited agency, I see the same limitations on the non-smoker but on the other side of the spectrum.

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Can political laws restrict Agency? If so, in what way?


Poly Sci 3rd Yr here:

1) Agency is the ABILITY to choose, and is of GOD: Results delayed but eternal.

2) Laws are the CONSEQUENCES to your use of AGENCY and are of man: Results fairly concurrent but are terminal.

Notes: 1) Results "can" be immediate but I write in terms of the Final Judgment; 2) In my academia, Agency is parallel with Liberty - but you can argue on differences there as well.


For clarification: NO laws cannot impede agency - the two notions are incompatible.

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This is agency as far as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned:

2 Nephi 2:

27 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.

When you discuss people in prison or laws made by man you move away from this simple definition.

Moroni 7:

12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

It's the choice between right and wrong that dictates whether someone is exercising their God-given agency, not a choice between legal or illegal.

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