Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Agency, Atonement, and Parenting

Jesus Christ respects the agency of all mankind. That is why Christ came to save us from our sins and not in our sins. Christ wants His followers to be agents to act and not just be acted upon.  There is no true faith in Jesus Christ without repentance and the continual, life-long process of sanctification (Sancts = Saints).

What is agency?  Agency is not just "doing whatever you want".  If we had no knowledge of God, if we had no prophets and no scriptures, we would have no choices. We are not free unless we are enticed by both sides.  That is why Lehi in the Book of Mormon desired to bring the Brass Plates with him to America. Without the commandments of God, all we could do is be ruled by our appetites and fears.  Since the fall of Adam our default setting is the natural man and social Darwinism (eat or be eaten/survival of the fittest/be enslaved and not realize it).

Without a knowledge and the influence of God we would have no alternative, we would have no hope, we would have no choice. (Discussed in the movie "the Matrix" on why the "Oracle" was created). Commandments give us choice.  Commandment make us free.  That is why the first thing God did for Israel after freeing them from Egypt was give them commandments to establish and preserve their freedom.  

A great Scout leader empowers (EDGE Method) Boy Scouts to be self-reliant and learn outdoor and life skills for themselves and not be pathologically dependent on their leaders.  These principles are also the basis of the "Come Follow Me" curriculum. 

Great parents likewise respect the agency of their childen.  Some parents take their children's weaknesses personally. Some parents worry too much how their children's mistakes will make them look to the world.  Consequently, self-absorbed parents become emotionally unavailable when dealing with their children's adversity, mistakes, weaknesses, and struggles.  On the other hand,  "helicopter-parents" go to the other extreme by making all the important decisions for their children fearing lest they make any mistakes.  These parents can only deal with their children's successes so they 1. overly criticize failures, 2. ignore failures 3. or prevent failures by micromanaging. 

Neither parenting extreme respects our children's agency to learn to repent, improve, progress and become self-reliant.  Our children should feel like they can come to us with their struggles, mistakes and weaknesses and we will  receive them, love them, and accept them.  Our children should feel that we will help them as Christ does to overcome those weaknesses and struggles. Christ doesn't just accept us without wanting to empower us to be better, repent, improve and progress.

Agency is not "doing whatever we want". Agency is being empowered to choose the right through a knowledge of God and His commandments and a hope in the Atonement of Christ. Only because of God and Christ can we be hungry but choose to fast, be offended and angry but choose to forgive, and be fearful but step courageously forward.

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