Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without it, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, we are "free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil" (2 Nephi 2:27).
God's children have power to choose; they had this ability even before they were born. In the premortal life, Heavenly Father presented His plan, which included the principle of agency. Lucifer rebelled and "sought to destroy the agency of man" (Moses 4:3). As a result, Lucifer and all those who followed him were denied the privilege of receiving a mortal body. All who have been or will be born on earth chose to follow Heavenly Father's plan.
In this life, people continue to have agency; even if their personal freedoms are restricted or taken away, they can choose how to feel and react. Their use of their agency determines their happiness or misery in this life and in the life to come. People are free to choose and act but are not free to choose the consequences of their actions. The consequences may not be immediate, but they will always follow. Choices of good and righteousness lead to happiness, peace, and eternal life, while choices of sin and evil eventually lead to heartache and misery.
—See True to the Faith (2004), 12–13
"Our Moral Agency"
L. Lionel Kendrick, Ensign, Mar. 1996, 28–32
Modern revelation makes it clear that agency is a gift from our Heavenly Father to allow us to choose obedience, which leads us to eternal life.
"Agency: The Gift of Choices"
Spencer J. Condie, Ensign, Sept. 1995, 16–22
While the freedom to choose involves the risk of mistakes, it also offers the opportunity, through our Father's plan, to overcome them.
"The Golden Thread of Choice"
Howard W. Hunter, Ensign, Nov. 1989, 17–18
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.
"Atonement, Agency, Accountability"
Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, May 1988, 69–72
Ever and always [the Atonement] offers amnesty from transgression and from death if we will but repent. . . . Repentance is the key with which we can unlock the prison from inside . . . , and agency is ours to use it.
"Agency: A Gift from God"
Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Part B, Lesson 28
"Agency and Accountability"
The Latter-day Saint Woman: Part B, Lesson 2
Guide to the Scriptures
Encyclopedia of Mormonism
(Please note that the contents of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, a joint product of Brigham Young University and Macmillan Publishing Company, do not necessarily represent the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
"Agency and Accountability"
For the Strength of Youth, 4
"Freedom to Choose"
Gospel Principles, Chapter 4
"We Are Free to Choose"
Gospel Fundamentals, Chapter 4