We’re taught that free agency is a fundamental right inherent in being children of Heavenly Father.  Free agency or free will is the ability to act, but not to dictate the consequences of the actions.  As I studied this principle this time, I primarily searched for statements of modern prophets about free agency and freedom. Many of those statements on agency and freedom included statements on the Constitution.  The following are a few of the many quotes I perused.

Russell M. Nelson 1924-

“A strong human spirit with control over appetites of the flesh is master over emotions and passions and not a slave to them. That kind of freedom is as vital to the spirit as oxygen is to the body! Freedom from self-slavery is true liberation!” (“Accomplishing the Impossible: What God Does, What We Can Do,” Conference Report October 2013)


“One’s religion is not imposed by others. It is not predetermined. It is a very personal and sacred choice, nestled at the very core of human dignity. Therefore, care must be exercised to assure that government remains truly neutral in matters of religion, not only in lip-service and constitutional guarantees, but also in impartial application of the law. Individuals and institutions are naturally inclined to seek preference over others, but the state must not yield to those inclinations. To discriminate in favor of one religion, using non-religious labels such as ‘culture’ or ‘history,’ is to discriminate against others. If the state allows dominance of any one religious institution over another, discrimination results, allowing unequal treatment and regrettable restriction of other religious societies.” (from the International Scientific and Practical Conference, March 16, 2005)


“Obedience allows God’s blessings to flow without constraint. He will bless His obedient children with freedom from bondage and misery. And He will bless them with more light.” (“Face the Future with Faith,” Conference Report April 2017)


“Principles of agency pertain on both sides of the veil. There, in postmortal realms, personal choice and accountability will be of paramount importance.” (“The Spirit of Elijah,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, p. 84).


Thomas S. Monson 1927-2018


“When we safeguard (the heavenly virtue of freedom), when we honor it, when we protect it, we will walk with Washington, we will pray with patriots, and we shall have peace on earth, good will to men.” (“Choir Honored for Love of God, Country.” LDS Church News, 26 November 1988)


“We forget how the Greeks and Romans prevailed magnificently in a barbaric world and how that triumph ended—how a slackness and softness finally overcame them to their ruin. In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security and a comfortable life; and they lost all—comfort and security and freedom.” (“The World Needs Pioneers Today“, Ensign 2013)


“President Monson told of having gone to eastern Germany in August. He said he was reminded of tense scenes during his first visit 27 years earlier. “Back then, the flame of freedom had flickered and burned low,” he related. “A wall of shame sprang up, and a curtain of iron came down. Hope was all but snuffed out. Life . . . continued on in faith, nothing wavering. Patient waiting was required. An abiding trust in God marked the life of each Latter-day Saint.”


“When I made my initial visit beyond the wall, it was a time of fear on the part of our members as they struggled in the performance of their duties. I found the dullness of despair on the faces of many passersby but a bright and beautiful expression of love emanating from our members.”


President Monson said that he was touched by the members’ sincerity, and humbled by their poverty. “They had so little,” he said. “My heart filled with sorrow because they had no patriarch. They had no wards or stakes-just branches. They could not receive temple blessings-neither endowment nor sealing. No official visitor had come from Church headquarters in a long time. The members were forbidden to leave the country. Yet, they trusted in the Lord with all their hearts, and they leaned not to their own understanding. In all their ways they acknowledged Him, and He directed their paths. I stood at the pulpit, and with tear-filled eyes and a voice choked with emotion, I made a promise to the people: ‘If you will remain true and faithful to the commandments of God, every blessing any member of the Church enjoys in any other country will be yours.’ ”


President Monson said that the heavenly virtue of patience was required. “Little by little the promise was fulfilled,” he said. “First, patriarchs were ordained, then lesson manuals produced. Wards were formed and stakes created. Chapels and stake centers were begun, completed and dedicated. Then miracle of miracles, a holy temple of God was permitted, . . . Finally, after an absence of 50 years, approval was granted for full-time missionaries to enter the nation and for local youth to serve elsewhere in the world. Then, like the wall of Jericho, the Berlin Wall crumbled and freedom, with its attendant responsibilities, returned.”


The final part of the promise was fulfilled when President Monson and his wife, Frances, and Elder Dieter Uchtdorf and his wife, Harriet, went to Goerlitz, the very city where the promise was given 27 years earlier, and dedicated a beautiful meetinghouse there Aug. 27. The precious promise was thus fulfilled.” (“Seek Heavenly Virtue of Patience,” LDS Church News, 7 October 1995.)


Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008)


America“[The Constitution] is the keystone of our nation. It is the guarantee of our liberty. That original document, with the Bill of Rights, constitutes the charter of our freedom. Through all of the years that have followed we have had some ambitious men who have sought to subvert the great principles of the Constitution, but somehow we have endured one crisis after another. We have been involved in terrible wars during this, the bloodiest of all centuries in the history of man. All of this is part of the miracle that is America, the struggle, the travail, the bitterness, the jealousies, the cynicism, and the criticism. But beyond and above it all is the wonder of a nation that for more than two centuries has remained free and independent and strong, the envy of the world, the hope of the world, the protection of free men everywhere, the manifestation of the power of the Almighty.” (“Keep Faith with America”, commencement address at Weber State University, Ogden, Utah on 6 May 1999)


“As I have stood before the cross that marks [my brother’s] grave, I have thanked God for the cause for which he died, for the great and eternal concepts” of human dignity, liberty, and freedom to worship, speak and assemble. Those concepts were handed down by God to the framers of the U.S. Constitution…I pray that America may always be worthy of [God’s] blessing. There is no place for arrogance among us. There is no place for conceit or egotism. As we look to God, we will grow in strength.” (Salt Lake LDS Tabernacle, American Legion’s 78th National Convention, Sunday, September 1, 1996)


“On one occasion a journalist asked me about my belief regarding the Constitution. I replied that I felt it was inspired, that both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were brought forth under the inspiration of God to establish and maintain the freedom of the people of this nation. I said it and I believe it to be true. There is a miracle in its establishment that cannot be explained in any other way.” (“Keep Faith with America”, commencement address given at Weber State University, Ogden, Utah on 6 May 1999)


“When the great War in Heaven was fought, Lucifer, the son of the morning, came forth with a plan that was rejected. The Father of us all, with love for us, His children, offered a better plan under which we would have freedom to choose the course of our lives. His Firstborn Son, our Elder Brother, was the key to that plan. Man would have his agency, and with that agency would go accountability. Man would walk the ways of the world and sin and stumble. But the Son of God would take upon Himself flesh and offer Himself a sacrifice to atone for the sins of all men. Through unspeakable suffering He would become the great Redeemer, the Savior of all mankind.” (“We Look to Christ,” Ensign, May 2002, p.90)


Howard W. Hunter (1907-1995)


“What is the real cause of this trend toward the welfare state, toward more socialism? In the last analysis, in my judgment, it is personal unrighteousness. When people do not use their freedoms responsibly and righteously, they will gradually lose these freedoms…If man will not recognize the inequalities around him and voluntarily, through the gospel plan, come to the aid of his brother, he will find that through “a democratic process” he will be forced to come to the aid of his brother. The government will take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.” Both have last their freedom. Those who “have,” lost their freedom to give voluntarily of their own free will and in the way they desire. Those who “have not,” lost their freedom because they did not earn what they received. They got “something for nothing,” and they will neither appreciate the gift nor the giver of the gift. Under this climate, people gradually become blind to what has happened and to the vital freedoms which they have lost.” (Speeches of the Year 1965-1966, pp. 1-11, “The Law of the Harvest”, Devotional Address, Brigham Young University, 8 March 1966)


“There are several principles which undergird the significance of work in the Lord’s plan. First, as the covenant people we must be as self-sufficient as possible. We are to be free from dependence upon a dole or any program that might endanger our free agency. Second, we must work to support the families with which the Lord has blessed us.” (“Prepare for Honorable Employment,” Ensign, Nov. 1975, 122)


“Abraham Lincoln once asked, “What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence?” He then answered, “It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army, and our navy. … Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us.” (Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois, 11 Sept. 1858, quoted in John
Bartlett, Familiar Quotations, Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1968, p. 636.)
There are, of course, those who, in bitterness and disbelief, have rejected the idea of an independent spirit in man that is capable of free will and choice and true liberty. (“The Golden Thread of Choice,” Ensign, November 1989, p.17)
“Today, I would like to address both groups, members of our church as well as others, about one of the most important tenets of our faith and one of the most precious of God’s gifts to mankind. It is our freedom, our agency, our inalienable and divine right to choose what we will believe and what we will not believe, and to choose what we want to be and what we want to do. I wish to speak of our responsibility and our opportunity to choose God, and the good, and eternal life; or to select evil, the destructive, and that which leads to painful misery and despair.” (“The Golden Thread of Choice,” Ensign, November 1989, p. 17)
“When the children of Israel returned from Egypt and stood on the threshold of the promised land, they faced the clear choice of what was before them. Of the future that was about to be theirs, the Lord said to them: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 11:26–28.) That is the choice the Lord puts before us as we face our own promised lands and our own bright futures. We are given the knowledge, the help, the enticement, and the freedom to choose the path of eternal safety and salvation. The choice to do so is ours. By divine decree before this world was, the actual choice is and always has been our own. Let us be conscious of the fact that our future is being fashioned by the decisions we make.” (“The Golden Thread of Choice,” Ensign, November 1989, p. 19)
“Given the freedom to choose, we may, in fact, make wrong choices, bad choices, hurtful choices. And sometimes we do just that, but that is where the mission and mercy of Jesus Christ come into full force and glory. He has taken upon himself the burden of all the world’s risk. He has provided a mediating atonement for the wrong choices we make. He is our advocate with the Father and has paid, in advance, for the faults and foolishness we often see in the exercise of our freedom. We must accept his gift, repent of those mistakes, and follow his commandments in order to take full advantage of this redemption. The offer is always there; the way is always open. We can always, even in our darkest hour and most disastrous errors, look to the Son of God and live.” (“The Golden Thread of Choice,” Ensign, November 1989, p.19)

Ezra Taft Benson 1899-1994


“The greatest right humans possess is the right of free choice, free will, free agency.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], p.691)


“The time is fast approaching when it will require great courage for Latter-day Saints to stand up for their peculiar standards and doctrine—all of their doctrine, including the more weighty principles such as the principle of freedom. Opposition to this weighty principle of freedom caused many of our brothers and sisters in the pre-existence to lose their first estate in the war in heaven.” (Conference Report, April 1963)


“The fight for freedom is God’s fight. Freedom is a law of God, a permanent law. Men cannot break it with impunity. They can only break themselves upon it. When a man stands for freedom, he stands for God. As long as he stands for freedom, he stands with God. And were he to stand alone, he would still stand with God. Any man will be eternally vindicated and rewarded for his stand for freedom. The Lord has so endowed this matter of freedom with such everlasting repercussions that it sifted the spirits of men before this world in the Great War in heaven, and it seems today to be THE CENTRAL ISSUE that is sifting those who are left in the world. Life’s failures arise when men neither take the time nor find the season to perform their eternal duties.” (An Enemy Hath Done This, pp. 54-55)


“I don’t know how you feel, my brethren and sisters, but I’d rather be dead than to lose my liberty. I have no fear we’ll ever lose it because of invasion from the outside. But I do have fear that it may slip away from us because of our own indifference, our own negligence, as citizens of this land. And so I plead with you this morning that you take an active interest in matters pertaining to the future of this country.” (“The LDS Church and Politics”, BYU Devotional, December 1, 1952)


“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that life is eternal, that it has purpose…[God has a] plan…for the benefit and blessing of us, His children. … Basic to [that] all-important plan is our free agency. … The right of choice … runs like a golden thread throughout the gospel … for the blessing of His
children.: (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], pp. 80-81.)


Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985)


America flag patriotic“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness” (D&C 58:27.) All men have been given special powers and within certain limitations should develop those powers, give vent to their own imaginations, and not become rubber stamps. They should develop their own talents and abilities and capacities to their limit and use them to build up the kingdom. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball [1982], p.257)


“You probably think you have found a new freedom: to think wholly for yourself, to make wholly your own determinations, to criticize and decide for yourself what is right and wrong. That was decided eternities ago. Right and wrong are not to be determined by you or me. Those elements were decided for us before our birth. We have the free agency to do the right or do the wrong, but who are we to alter those changeless things? W e can scoff at sacred things, express our own little opinions, but remember that millions of men and women with keener minds than ours, with more erudite training than yours and mine, have said things and done things more startling, more ugly, more skeptical than you or I could think of. Millions have gone down the path you are entering. They have all come to grief or will ultimately. Shall the violin say to Tony Stradivarius, “You did not make me”? Shall the created thing question the creator?” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball [1982], p.160)


“Of course we can choose; the free agency is ours, but we cannot escape the consequences of our choice.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball [1982], p.195)


“Men have free agency, as the Lord has made clear. They may do right or wrong but they cannot escape the responsibility of answering for their errors if they are normal individuals.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball [1982], p.159)


Harold B. Lee (1899-1973)


“Now there is another important understanding that we have from the scriptures. W e are all free agents, which means to some people who manifest a spirit of rebellion that they are free to do anything they please, but that is not the correct meaning of free agency as the prophets have declared in the scriptures where free agency has been defined: “they are free 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 Nephi 2:27.) (Stand Ye In Holy Places [1974], p.11)


“As an essential to the obtaining of a fulness of [the] attributes and qualities [of godhood], man has been given his free agency, that he should act for himself and choose his course according to his own pleasure. As mortals, we have this priceless heritage; but like reckless spendthrifts that we are, we often squander our precious treasure in riotous living and return to eat the husks with our Father’s swine.” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [1996], p.75)


“But, you ask, why does God, if He truly loves his children, permit Satan to tempt us and thereby jeopardize our chances to gain the best experiences in mortality and return to enjoy eternal life in His presence? The answer is given by a great prophet-teacher: “Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one [which is evil] or the other [which is good].” (2 Nephi 2:16.) Think about that for a moment. If there were no opposition to good, would there be any chance to exercise your agency or right to choose? To deny you that privilege would be to deny you the opportunity to grow in knowledge, experience, and power. God has given laws with penalties affixed so that man might be made afraid of sin and be guided into paths of truth and duty.  (Stand Ye In Holy Places, p.219)


Joseph Fielding Smith (1876-1972)


“The Lord does not delight in the punishment of men. He is kind enough to grant to each his freedom to merit blessings or punishment according to his free will or pleasure. It never was the intention of the Lord to destroy, in the sense of annihilation, any of the souls of his children. His great object is to save them all, if they will freely partake of the blessings of salvation.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 Vols. [1954-56], 2:227)


“This great gift of agency, that is the privilege given to man to make his own choice, has never been revoked, and it never will be. It is an eternal principle giving freedom of thought and action to every soul. No person, by any decree of the Father, has ever been compelled to do good; no person has ever been forced to do evil. Each may act for himself. It was Satan’s plan to destroy this agency and force men to do his will. There could be no satisfactory existence without this great gift. Men must have the privilege to choose even to the extent that they may rebel against the divine decrees. Of course, salvation and exaltation must come through the free will without coercion and by individual merit in order that righteous rewards may be given and proper punishment be meted out to the transgressor. Therefore, when the great day of the Lord shall come, the wicked who have merited banishment from a righteous government will be consumed, or the privilege of continuance on the earth will be denied.” (Answers to Gospel Questions 5 vols. [1957-66], 2:20)


“What of our own country? The Lord raised up honorable men to make it a land of freedom, and he declared: “It is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood” (D&C 101:79–80). (Doctrines of Salvation 3:273)


“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 every one 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.” (Conference Report, April 1967, pp.120-121)


David O. McKay (1873-1970)


“Men may choose the right or they may choose the wrong; they may walk in darkness or they may walk in the light; and, mind you, God has not left his children without the light. He has given them in the various dispensations of the world the light of the gospel wherein they could walk and not stumble, wherein they could find that peace and happiness which he desires, as a loving Father, his children should enjoy, but the Lord does not take from them their free agency.” (Gospel Ideals [1953], p.301)


“The Magna Carta… was an expression of freedom-loving men against a usurping king. It was a guarantee of civil and personal liberty. These guarantees later found fuller and complete expression in the Constitution of the United States.” (Stepping Stones to an Abundant Life, p.88)


Close up of the Constitution of the United States of America

We should feel grateful that we are not hampered nor hindered in any way by a government that would presume to tell us how to worship, what to worship, or how to build. I wonder how many of us kneel down and thank the Lord for that freedom vouchsafed to us by the Constitution of the United States, a step towards the liberty, the freedom mentioned by the Savior when he said, “If ye continue in my word . . . ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” [John 8:32].


Very seldom do we think of our God-given privileges to exercise the freedom which dates back to the Constitution, even to the Declaration of Independence.


William E. Gladstone, having read the Constitution one hundred years after it had been in force, said:


The American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of men. It has had a century of trial, under the pressure of exigencies caused by an expansion unexampled in point of rapidity and range; and its exemption from formal change, though not entire, has certainly proved the sagacity of the constructors and the stubborn strength of the fabric…


Do we feel to thank God for the freedom we have here in this country?” (Man May Know for Himself, pp.388-89)

George Albert Smith (1870-1951)


“We should be deeply concerned in the welfare of the nation, and sustain good and great men, as the Lord has commanded us, in order that we may continue to enjoy freedom.” (Conference Report, Apr 1914, 11)


“Since the God of this choice land is Jesus Christ, we know that his philosophy of free agency should prevail here. Thou didst amply demonstrate this great principle to us by raising up wise men for the very purpose of giving us our constitutional form of government, concerning which thou hast said:


. . . I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose. . . (D&C 101:77–80.)


There are those, our Heavenly Father, both within and without our borders, who would destroy the constitutional form of government which thou hast so magnanimously given us, and would replace it with a form that would curtail, if not altogether deprive, man of his free agency. We pray thee, therefore, that in all these matters thou wilt help us to conform our lives to thy desires, and that thou wilt sustain us in our resolve so to do. We pray thee that thou wilt inspire good and just men everywhere to be willing to sacrifice for, support, and uphold the Constitution and the government set up under it and thereby preserve for man his agency.


We thank thee that thou hast revealed to us that those who gave us our constitutional form of government were men wise in thy sight and that thou didst raise them up for the very purpose of putting forth that sacred document.


Wilt thou, O our Father, bless the Chief Executive of this land that his heart and will may be to preserve to us and our posterity the free institutions thy Constitution has provided. Wilt thou, too, bless the legislative and judicial branches of our government as well as the executive, that all may function fully and courageously in their respective branches completely independent of each other to the preservation of our constitutional form of government forever.


We pray that kings and rulers and the peoples of all nations under heaven may be persuaded of the blessings enjoyed by the people of this land by reason of their freedom under thy guidance and be constrained to adopt similar governmental systems, thus to fulfill the ancient prophecy of Isaiah that “. . . out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Dedicatory Prayer of the Idaho Falls Temple)


Heber J. Grant (1856-1945)


“We are told in this same Doctrine and Covenants that we should be anxiously engaged in laboring and bringing to pass many good works, of our own free will and accord. The power is in us wherein we are agents unto ourselves. We should not wait to be commanded in all things. He that is compelled in all things is a slothful and not a wise servant. We should have the ambition, we should have the desire, we should make up our minds that, so far as the Lord Almighty has given to us talent, we will do our full share in the battle of life. It should be a matter of pride that no man shall do more than you will do, in proportion to your ability, in forwarding the work of God here upon the earth. That has been my ambition all my life—to do my full share.” (Gospel Standards [1981], p. 39)


“We are trusted by the Lord. We are agents. We have our free will. And when the battle of life is over, we have had the ability and the power and the capacity to have done those things which the Lord required us to do and we cannot blame anybody else.” (Gospel Standards [1981], p.63)


Joseph F. Smith (1838-1918)


“The free agency of man is a fundamental principle which, according to the tenets of the Church, even God Himself does not suppress.” (Teachings Of Presidents Of The Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], p.283)


“There are many blessings, however, which are common to the human family, which all enjoy, without regard to their moral status or religious convictions. God has given to all men an agency, and has granted to us the privilege to serve Him or serve Him not, to do that which is right or that which is wrong, and this privilege is given to all men irrespective of creed, color or condition. The wealthy have this agency, the poor have this agency, and no man is deprived by any power of God from exercising it in the fullest and in the freest manner. This agency has been given to all. This is a blessing that God has bestowed upon the world of mankind, upon all His children alike. But He will hold us strictly to an account for the use that we make of this agency.” (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [1967], 24:176)


Lorenzo Snow (1814-1901)


“We cannot be forced into living a celestial law; we must do this ourselves, of our own free will.” (Teachings of Lorenzo Snow [1984], p.166)


“Now, I believe in the independence of men and women. I believe that men and women have the image of God-given them-are formed after the image of God, and possess deity in their nature and character, and that their spiritual organization possesses the qualities and properties of God, and that there is the principle of God in every individual. It is designed that man should act as God, and not be constrained and controlled in everything, but have an independency, an agency and the power to spread abroad and act according to the principle of godliness that is in him, act according to the power and intelligence and enlightenment of God, that he possesses, and not that he should be watched continually, and be controlled, and act as a slave in these matters.” (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, ed. by Clyde J. Williams [1984], p.4.)


Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898)


“For God has given to every man individual agency, and He will hold him accountable for the use of this agency.” (Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, at the General Conference, Sunday afternoon, October 6, 1889. Collected Discourses, 5 vols. Ed. Brian H. Stuy, Vol. 1)


“The Lord Almighty never created a world like this and peopled it for six thousand years, as He has done, without having some motive in view. That motive was, that we might come here and exercise our agency. The probation we are called upon to pass through is intended to elevate us so that we can dwell in the presence of God our Father. And that eternal variety of character which existed in the heavens among the spirits–from God upon his throne down to Lucifer the son of the morning–exists here upon the earth. That variety will remain upon the earth in the creations of God, and for what I know, throughout the endless ages of eternity. Men will occupy different glories and positions according to their lives–according to the law they keep the flesh.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff [1946], p.8)


“God has given unto all of his children of this dispensation, as he gave unto all of his children of previous dispensations, individual agency. This agency has always been the heritage of man under the rule and government of God. [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 and those that took sides with him, to the overthrow of Lucifer and one-third part of the heavenly hosts [see Revelation 12:1-9; D&C 29:36-37; Moses 4:1-4]. 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 in the body. “(Teachings Of Presidents Of The Church: Wilford Woodruff [2004], p.205)


John Taylor (1808-1887)


“We talk sometimes about free will. Is that a correct principle? Yes. And it is a principle that has always existed, and proceeded from God, our Heavenly Father. When God revealed himself to Joseph Smith, it was optional whether he obeyed his counsel or not. I suppose, however, looking at things as they exist, and as they are in truth, God understood that he would do it, he having been selected for that purpose a long, long time ago. And [I suppose] that the Lord knew that he would adhere to those principles and would carry out the designs of heaven as they should be communicated unto and required of him.” (The Gospel Kingdom [1943], p.59)


“Besides the preaching of the gospel, we have another mission, namely, the perpetuation of the free agency of man and the maintenance of liberty, freedom, and the rights of man. There are certain principles that belong to humanity outside of the Constitution, outside of the laws outside of all the enactments and plans of man, among which is the right to live. God gave us the right and no man: No government gave it to us, and no government has a right to take it away from us. We have a right to liberty–that was a right that God gave to all men; and if there has been oppression, fraud, or tyranny in the earth, it has been the result of the wickedness and corruptions of men and has always been opposed to God and the principles of truth, righteousness, virtue, and all principles that are calculated to elevate mankind.” (The Gospel Kingdom [1944], p.222)


“What is it that will enable one man to govern his fellows aright? It is just as Joseph Smith said to a certain man who asked him,”How do you govern such a vast people as this?” “Oh,” says Joseph, “it is very easy.”“Why,” says the man “but we find it very difficult.” “But,” said Joseph, “it is very easy, for I teach the people correct principles, and they govern themselves.” (The Gospel Kingdom [1987], p.323)


Brigham Young (1801-1877)


“What is the foundation of the rights of man? The Lord Almighty has organized man for the express purpose of becoming an independent being like unto Himself, and has given him his individual agency. Man is made in the likeness of his Creator, the great archetype of the human species, who bestowed upon him the principles of eternity, planting immortality within him, and leaving him at liberty to act in the way that seemeth good unto him, to choose or refuse for himself …. As I have just stated, the Lord Almighty has organized every human creature for the express purpose of becoming independent, and has designed that they should be capable of receiving the
principles of eternity to a fulness; and when they have received them unto a fulness, they are made perfect, like unto the Son of Man, and become Gods, even the Sons of God.” (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols [1967], 2:314)


“The volition of the creature is free; this is a law of their existence and the Lord cannot violate his own law; were he to do that, he would cease to be God. He has placed life and death before his children, and it is for them to choose. If they choose life, they receive the blessing of life; if they choose death, they must abide the penalty. This is a law which has always existed from all eternity, and will continue to exist throughout all the eternities to come. Every intelligent being must have the power of choice, and God brings forth the results of the acts of his creatures to promote his Kingdom and subserve his purposes in the salvation and exaltation of his children.” (Discourses of Brigham Young [1954], p.62)


“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 [1954], p.62)


Joseph Smith (1805-1944)


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“Come, all ye lovers of liberty, break the oppressor’s rod, loose the iron grasp of mobocracy, and bring to condign punishment all those who trample underfoot the glorious Constitution and the people’s rights.” (History of the Church 6:499)


“The Constitution, when it says, “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America,” meant just what it said without reference to color or condition, ad infinitum.” (History of the Church 6:198)
“Your constitution guarantees to every citizen, even the humblest, the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property. It promises to all, religious freedom, the right to all to worship God beneath their own vine and fig tree, according to the dictates of their conscience. It guarantees to all the citizens of the several states the right to become citizens of any one of the states, and to enjoy all the rights and immunities of the citizens of the state of his adoption.” (History of the Church 4:37)


“Hence we say, that the Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun…We say that God is true; that the Constitution of the United States is true; that the Bible is true.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp.147-48)


“The Constitution of our country [was] formed by the Fathers of liberty… Exalt the standard of Democracy! Down with that of priestcraft, and let all the people say Amen! that the blood of our fathers may not cry from the ground against us. Sacred is the memory of that blood which bought for us our liberty.” (History of the Church 3:9)


Free Agency, Freedom, and the Constitution


Several takeaways for me were that free agency is divinely appointed and honored by God. Free agency is not a free-for-all lifestyle, but actually requires abiding God’s commandments. Free agency is a precursor for freedom and liberty.  And free agency used judiciously enabled the creation of the Constitution, which modern prophets hail as divinely inspired.

About Delisa Hargrove
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.

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