This article was previously published on Latterdaysaintwoman.com
I promised to tell you the rest of the true story I started in “Do Mormons Believe in Free Will?” Go back and read the linked article in the last sentence if you haven’t already, so this makes sense.
As I was saying, we were living with God when He called us all to a grand council meeting. He promised to send us to what we now call Earth to live with a few provisions, one being that we had to find out about Him and then keep the commandments. Of course, God knew we wouldn’t be perfect, and if we weren’t perfect we couldn’t come back to live with Him. God loves us and wants us back, so He said He’d send a Savior for us to redeem us from our sins.
Well, Lucifer didn’t like that idea, whether it was because it revolved around someone else or because he didn’t like to take risks we don’t know. What we do know is he thought he had a better (for him) idea of how it ought to work. He tried to sabotage God’s plan by presenting what he considered a better idea, as if anyone could have better ideas than God. In his version of the world, we’d come down to earth with no agency, no right to make choices.
We would have no choices to make at all. Lucifer would take us right to the proper information and then make all our decisions for us so we couldn’t mess up. Then we’d all be guaranteed a free trip back home to Heaven. He was not, you notice, willing to suffer the pains of Gethsemane or hang on a cross for us. No pain or suffering for Lucifer. He wasn’t willing to do any of that because, of course, he didn’t love us or God. Why did he want to do it? He had his own condition to attach to his plan: We would promise to worship only him from that time on. He was, in other words, trying to overthrow God’s kingdom.
Believe it or not, about a third of God’s children liked the idea. They were willing to worship Satan if it meant easy salvation. Some people aren’t willing to take risks even when eternity depends on it, I guess. However, the rest of us were a lot smarter. We saw right off that would make life pretty meaningless–what is the point of coming here if you never have to learn anything or grow or progress? Might as well go to Disneyland and call it good.
Those who supported Lucifer in his heavenly take-over were forced by God to leave Heaven, never to return. They would not get to come to earth (seeing as how they clearly didn’t even appreciate the point of it) and would not gain bodies or families. The atonement would not apply to them. The Bible mentions Satan’s angels. That’s where they come from. (They had to come from somewhere, right? The Bible says God created everyone and everything. He didn’t create the evil; He just created them. They did the evil part themselves.)
The rest of us packed our spiritual bags and came to earth. Life on earth is not always easy. Some people have more trials than others, but our trials were, although not always caused by God, approved by Him as things we can use to grow, progress, find truth, and serve God and others. They all contribute to our experiences here on Earth. God tries to get us to use our agency for righteousness. Unfortunately, Satan really holds a grudge and his goal in life is to make us as miserable as he is. He wants us to use our agency to ruin everything so he can claim as many of us as possible. While it may not seem fair that we often suffer due to the agency of others, we can’t deny other people agency without denying it to ourselves. Our best hope is to work hard helping people learn the value of using agency well.
It’s the most important gift we’ve ever received–don’t waste it!
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.