When God held the grand council in the premortal realm, the central issue of contention between the spirits who supported our Heavenly Father’s plan and those that supported Lucifer’s was that of agency. In Moses 4:3 we read that “Because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him … by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down” (emphasis added). The ability of the children of God, us, to choose our own path was so important to God’s plan that He was willing to allow a third part of the host of heaven be cast out because they thought that Satan’s plan of coercion into righteousness was the best method.
I believe that we see this same contention over agency raging still today. Satan still very much wants to have his plan work. He tries very hard to get us to do things that abridge our own agency. He also makes it seem attractive to surrender our agency to others.
Whenever we choose to follow Satan by disregarding or rebelling against the commandments of God, we choose to surrender some of our agency. When we choose to disobey, we often are left in a situation where our power to choose future action is severely limited by the consequence of our actions. We learn this principle very clearly from the teachings of Jacob in the Book of Mormon.
“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they 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).
When we choose to transgress the commandments of God, we are choosing captivity and loss of agency.
I believe that in addition to trying to get us to commit individual sins, Satan tries to get us to loose our agency by surrendering it to other people. In ancient history, prophets warned about people subjecting themselves to wicked kings and thereby losing their agency when the kings coerced them to do wickedly (Mosiah 29:16-17). While governments can act rightfully to restrict agency for the protection of the life, liberty, and property of it’s citizens, we should be wary of government, educational, or social programs that seek to abridge our own agency or the agency of others. We need to ensure that we seek for leaders in our society that understand the importance of agency and understand that ultimate agency comes only to individuals and society when they follow the commandments of God.