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Agency and Accountability

Get answers to questions about the standards of the Church. Choose a topic above to see more.

  • What is agency?

    Agency is “the ability to choose and to act for yourself” (True to the Faith, 12). Elder Robert D. Hales said: “We teach that agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and ‘to act for [ourselves] and not to be acted upon’ (2 Nephi 2:26). Agency is to act with accountability and responsibility for our actions” (“Agency: Essential to the Plan of Life,” October 2010 general conference).

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  • Sometimes I hear people say, “It’s not my fault” or “I didn’t have a choice.” How does that relate to the principle of agency?

    “You are responsible for the choices you make. God is mindful of you and will help you make good choices, even if your family and friends use their agency in ways that are not right. Have the moral courage to stand firm in obeying God’s will, even if you have to stand alone. As you do this, you set an example for others to follow” (For the Strength of Youth, 2).

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  • How can I convince my friends that our standards are really about freedom and are not a burden?

    “The commandments are not a burden or a restriction. Every commandment of the Lord is given for our development, progress, and growth. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: ‘God has designed our happiness. . . . He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 256)” (Robert D. Hales, “If Thou Wilt Enter into Life, Keep the Commandments,” April 1996 general conference).

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  • What are the consequences of how I use my agency?

    “Your use of [agency] determines your happiness or misery in this life and in the life to come. You are free to choose and act, but you are not free to choose the consequences of your 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” (True to the Faith, 12).

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  • Why does Heavenly Father allow Satan to tempt us?

    “Satan’s increasing influence in the world is allowed to provide an atmosphere in which to prove ourselves. While he causes havoc today, Satan’s final destiny was fixed by Jesus Christ through His Atonement and the Resurrection. The devil will not triumph. Even now he must operate within the bounds set by the Lord” (Richard G. Scott, “The Transforming Power of Faith and Character,” October 2010 general conference).

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  • Why is agency important?

    “Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without it, you would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, you 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)” (True to the Faith, 12).

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  • What did agency have to do with the war in heaven?

    “You had the power to choose even before you were born. In the premortal Council in Heaven, 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. Your presence on the earth confirms that you exercised your agency to follow Heavenly Father’s plan” (True to the Faith, 12).

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  • Besides choosing between right and wrong, how else does agency apply to my life?

    “You are . . . responsible for developing the talents and abilities Heavenly Father has given you. You are accountable to Him for what you do with your talents and how you spend your time. Choose to do many good things of your own free will” (For the Strength of Youth, 3).

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