Agency and choice is one of those tangled philosophical concepts.  But the reality is not tangled nor philosophical at all.  It is something simple that children can do.  It is so simple that children can understand it.

A recent post tried to get back to the basic, simple meanings of gospel concepts, including agency.

Agencythe ability to make choices that have meaningful consequences.

But we can get simpler than that.  Agency, the way a child understands it, is wanting something and getting it.

For children, to wish is to act, so wanting something means wanting it and acting on the want.  This could be as simple as my toddler asking for something, or as involved as her stacking chairs so she can scramble up onto the table to grab a tortilla.  Agency is acting on and accomplishing one’s desires.

This is not the usual way we  understand agency.  Elder Oaks teaches, for example, that as long as we are able to make choices we are still free.  If we are threatened at gunpoint to renounce Christ, we are still free to not renounce Christ.  That is a valuable and even heroic perspective.  But that is not the way a child sees freedom.  And there is something important in the childlike view.

Because, ultimately, agency is  about getting the things you choose.

My wife made an interesting observation.  She said that the Saints have great agency, because ultimately they get what they choose.  For those who choose heaven, heaven is sure.  No power can hold them back from the loving embrace of their God.  The only people who are stripped of their agency, she said, are the devil and his angels.  What he wants–the defeat of God and the frustration of His plan–the devil can never get.  All his work comes to nothing.

Isn’t it interesting, she said, that the one being who most experiences the frustration of his agency is the one being who most hates it?

Continue reading at the original source →