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"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." — David O. McKay, "Improvement Era," Feb. 1962, p. 86
"It is the parents’ duty to intervene when they see wrong choices being made. That doesn’t mean parents take from children the precious gift of agency. Because agency is a God-given gift, ultimately the choice of what they will do, how they will behave, and what they will believe will always be theirs. But as parents we need to make sure they understand appropriate behavior and the consequences to them if they pursue their wrongful course." — M. Russell Ballard, "Like a Flame Unquenchable," "Ensign," May 1999, p. 87
"We have all been given a marvelous gift, even the great gift of moral agency. And through the infinite love and grace of a Heavenly Father, we also have been given many aids to help us learn how to properly use that precious gift. ...we have for our edification and guidance the influence of parents, local Church leaders, sacrament meetings, teachers, Church magazines, righteous friends, hymns and other sacred music, and even ministering angels and the Lord himself (see D&C 84:88)." — Spencer J. Condie, "Agency: The Gift of Choices," Ensign, Sept. 1995, p. 22
"From time to time, leaders of the Church endeavor to give you guidance for your spiritual and temporal welfare. One principle that we teach repeatedly is the value of the precious freedom the Lord has given to you to make your own decisions. Moral agency enables the children of God to choose what they will believe and how they will live in mortality. Based on your obedience in living gospel principles, you will be judged according to your works. With the marvelous gift of moral agency, you can study the scriptures and the teachings of the leaders of the Church and, through the promptings of the Spirit, make correct choices that will bring peace and eternal joy to your souls." — M. Russell Ballard, "Be an Example of the Believers," "Ensign," Nov. 1991, p. 96
"Agency, or the power to choose, was ours as spirit children of our Creator before the world was. (See Alma 13:3; Moses 4:4.) It is a gift from God, nearly as precious as life itself." — Russell M. Nelson, "Addiction or Freedom," "Ensign," Nov. 1988, p. 7
"Because our purpose here on earth has not changed, nor will it ever, our Father steadily and regularly supplies additional gifts to make our world safe and strengthen our wise use of agency. Think about the gift of prayer-opportunities to be heard and understood. Think about the gift of the Holy Ghost, who will show us all the things that we should do (see 2 Ne. 32:5). Think about sacred covenants we have made, the scriptures, priesthood and patriarchal blessings. Think about the ultimate gift of the Atonement and its reminder in the sacrament that blankets us with love and hope and grace. These gifts help us use our agency wisely to return back to our heavenly home, where 'eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him' (1 Cor. 2:9)." - Sharon G. Larsen, "Agency-A Blessing and a Burden," Ensign, Nov. 1999, p. 13
"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.)" - Marvin J. Ashton, "Know He Is There," Ensign, February 1994, p. 54
"Henry Ward Beecher has said: 'God asks no man whether he will accept life. That is not his choice. He must take it. The only choice is how.' Parenthetically, I would say we did make the choice to come to earth. God does not force his children.
"The choice we are now concerned with is how we are going to live our lives. We have the agency to make that choice as we react to the conditions in which we find ourselves during our life span. We must make choices, as we are surrounded by the elements and resources of the earth as well as by the people with whom we associate. From the words of the prophets to the words of the atheists, the question is: How will we emerge? Will we rise or fall? Will we fulfill our life's purpose, or will it be wasted?" - John H. Vandenberg, "Turn Heavenward Our Eyes," Ensign, Dec. 1971, p. 115
"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." - Marion G. Romney, "The Perfect Law of Liberty," Ensign, Nov. 1981, 45
"Alma taught that 'wickedness never was happiness' (Alma 41:10; emphasis added), a reality more powerful than gravity. Unhappiness is another price to be paid for misusing our agency. To some of the recalcitrant generation of his day, Helaman explained, 'Ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head' (Hel. 13:38). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that happiness is the design of our existence (see Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 255–56). In light of the teachings of Alma and Helaman, righteousness is also the design of our existence." - Spencer J. Condie, "Agency: The Gift of Choices," Ensign, Sept. 1995, 19
"The desire to achieve has been placed in us by a loving Creator who honors our free agency but nonetheless beckons to us to do well. He it is who will grade our eternal report card. The adversary would weaken and dull our senses so we lose sight of the final time of rating or judging. We are in a battle with evil powers who are cunning and crafty. They can lull us and pacify us through carnal things if we are not careful. But if we take the offense in the contest and seek those things which are praiseworthy, we can build an armor that will not be pierced.
"So now, in the midst of this battle, let us sound our trumpets for that which is Rated A: A for pure actions, A for achievement, and A for approbation, even that approbation from Him whose voice can say to you: 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.' (Matt. 25:21.)" - Marvin J. Ashton, "Rated A," Ensign (CR), November 1977, p.71
"Understanding that the Church is a learning laboratory helps us to prepare for an inevitable reality. In some way and at some time, someone in this Church will do or say something that could be considered offensive. Such an event will surely happen to each and every one of us—and it certainly will occur more than once. Though people may not intend to injure or offend us, they nonetheless can be inconsiderate and tactless.
"You and I cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act. Please remember that you and I are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended." - David A. Bednar, "And Nothing Shall Offend Them," Ensign, November 2006
"My independence is sacred to me—it is a portion of that same Deity that rules in the heavens. There is not a being upon the face of the earth who is made in the image of God, who stands erect and is organized as God is, that would be deprived of the free exercise of his agency so far as he does not infringe upon other's rights, save by good advice and a good example." - "Discourses of Brigham Young," selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe, p.62
"Today there are infinite telephone numbers, movies of all kinds and colors, E-mail at our fingertips 24 hours a day, and many roads that relentlessly call for our judgment. Our environment is flooded with choices. But our purpose for being here on earth has never changed.
"The Lord told Abraham that He sent us to earth to see if we would do what He asked us to do (see Abr. 3:25). Choice becomes inescapable. The world's two opposing forces seek our commitment. On the one hand, there is the reality of Satan, and on the other, the more powerful love of the Savior.
"Lehi teaches us that if there was no opposition, there would be no righteousness nor wickedness, neither good nor bad. We can't act for ourselves if there is no choice (see 2 Ne. 2:11, 16). To become a committed follower of Christ, we must have the option to reject Him. So Satan is permitted to exercise his power, and yielding our will to God can sometimes become difficult. Yet it is in this exercise of acting for ourselves that we grow." - Sharon G. Larsen, "Agency—A Blessing and a Burden," Ensign (CR), November 1999, p.11
"The Prophet Joseph Smith explained, 'I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves' (quoted by John Taylor, in "The Organization of the Church," Millennial Star, Nov. 15, 1851, p. 339). To me, this teaching is beautifully straightforward. As we strive to understand, internalize, and live correct gospel principles, we will become more spiritually self-reliant. The principle of spiritual self-reliance grows out of a fundamental doctrine of the Church that God has granted us—agency. I believe that moral agency is one of the greatest gifts of God unto His children, next to life itself." - Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Christlike Attributes—the Wind beneath Our Wings," (CR) October 2005
“The most basic, fundamental principle of truth, that upon which the entire plan of God is founded, is free agency. As an individual you have the right to govern yourself. It is divinely given to you to think and act as you wish. It is your decision.” - William R. Bradford, “The Governing Ones,” Ensign (CR), November 1979, p. 37
"Why is the Lord angry with the wicked? Because they have rejected the Author of salvation. When you reject the gospel, when you reject the Author of our salvation, what have you to rely on? Nothing! Nothing but the devil's plan. What is the devil's plan? To force men; to take away from them their agency; to compel them to do the bidding of somebody else, whether they like it or not. That is the feeling that has spread over the world. ("Safety in the Face of Wickedness," Tokyo Japan Area Conference, 8-10 August 1975.)" - "The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson," p. 400
"In these latter days, as in the times of old, we must avoid being acted upon by acting for ourselves to avoid evil. The Holy Ghost will prompt us. Joseph was told to flee from Potiphar's wife. Abraham obeyed the commandment to flee out of the land of Ur. Lehi was instructed to flee Jerusalem before it was destroyed. And to protect the Savior's life, Mary and Joseph were prompted to flee into Egypt." - Robert D. Hales, "To Act for Ourselves: The Gift and Blessings of Agency," (CR) April 2006
"But think of it: in our premortal state we chose to follow the Savior Jesus Christ! And because we did, we were allowed to come to earth. I testify that by making the same choice to follow the Savior now, while we are here on earth, we will obtain an even greater blessing in the eternities. But let it be known: we must continue to choose to follow the Savior. Eternity is at stake, and our wise use of agency and our actions are essential that we might have eternal life." - Robert D. Hales, "Agency: Essential to the Plan of Life," Ensign (CR) October 2010
"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.” - Boyd K. Packer, "Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” Ensign (CR) October 2010
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. - Howard W. Hunter, “The Golden Thread of Choice,” Ensign (CR) November 1989
Inasmuch as God has given us our free agency to do as we please, He expects us to use our intelligence and ingenuity to improve our circumstances both spiritually and temporally. He wants us to be successful in life and desires to help us. Man really is that he might have joy. (See 2 Ne. 2:25.) - Mark E. Petersen, “Blessings in Self-Reliance,” Ensign (CR) May 1981
It is true that in this life we are only as free as our mortal circumstances allow. We may not be able to stay the course of war in distant lands or with our puny arm hold back the tempests that rage or run freely when our body is imprisoned by failing health. But it is verily true that such things do not ultimately control our personal world. We do! - Keith B. McMullin, “Be Prepared… Be Ye Strong from Henceforth,” Ensign (CR) November 2005
The Lord has given us counsel and commandment on so many things that no member of this church need ever equivocate. He has established our guidelines concerning personal virtue, neighborliness, obedience to law, loyalty to government, observance of the Sabbath day, sobriety and abstinence from liquor and tobacco, the payment of tithes and offerings, the care of the poor, the cultivation of home and family, the sharing of the gospel, to mention only a few. - Gordon B. Hinckley, “Conference Report,” April 1970, First Day-Morning Meeting, p.21
Every individual is granted a span of mortality, as Carlyle expressed so simply: "One life, a little gleam of time between two eternities, no second chance for us for evermore." There is granted to most individuals the intelligence and power to reason for themselves. The tragedy is that so many succumb to the ridiculous mediocre reasoning of others, which often serves only to waste time and distort truth. We need to live every moment conscious that our actions will be compatible with the all-important goal of eternal life and that every moment, hour, and day is important. - John H. Vandenberg, “Conference Report,” April 1966, General Priesthood Meeting, p.92
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