Thursday, November 21, 2013

Agency: Acting vs. Being Acted Upon

The following comes from a vblog by Brent Larson (link below). 

I have written several posts on agency which explain that agency, freedom, or liberty has nothing to do with "doing whatever you want".  In exploring the true meaning of agency as expressed in the Book of Mormon, Bible and Doctrine and Covenants, I appreciate some great points expressed by Bent Larson.

Bro. Larson makes a few great points about being free to choose.  If humankind allows himself to just react and behave according to his carnal appetites and passions, those reactions will inalterably lead to bondage, captivity, and death.  Being controlled by our genetic and carnal nature is the default setting. If we do nothing, humankind is inalterably bound to the consequences  of captivity and death.  So, both inaction and reaction lead into bondage.

If instead, humankind uses his agency to choose liberty and eternal life, then we must use our agency and choose to bind ourselves to the laws of virtue that lead inalterably to liberty and eternal life.  Brent says the true choice is between choosing the end result of liberty vs. choosing the immediate reactions of sin that lead to captivity.

I like Bent's point here that Satan makes it sound like keeping the commandments of God equals captivity.  So many people are led to falsely believe that the commandments are self-limiting and closeminded.   In reality, keeping God's commamdments is the only path to true eternal freedom.

Satan also likes to tell people that the Atonement of Christ makes it possible for people to sin and follow their carnal natures and still have eternal life.  However the scriptures warn us again and again that "wickedness never was  happiness", "we reap what we sow", and the Christ came to "save us from our sins and not in our sins".   

The truth is that the atonement of Christ doesn't ignore or bypass justice but brings us back to the start where we must be born again, repent, choose the path of virtue that leads to eternal life.  Then God says he is 'bound when we do what he says.  But if we do not what he says, we have no promise.'

Elder Bednar challenged everyone to read the Book of Mormon and discuss with our children how we can act and be agents and not be acted upon.  Those who choose liberty and eternal life will look to voluntarily bind, commit, and covenant themselves to virtue and the commandments of God.  

What makes humankind greater than the aminals is our agency. We are not helplessly subject to our appetites, passions and genetics.  Humans can feel hunger and choose to fast and we can be offended and choose to forgive.

Choosing God and submitting our will to God as Christ did, we are promised that our ability to do good and be good will be magnified.   Charity is the pure love of Christ -- for the Father.  And because Christ's choice of complete submission to the Father's will; Christ was empowered to do more (atonement) and be better (be perfect) than any other person.

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