The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is this simple fact: each of us is responsible to exercise our God-given agency to overcome our personal weaknesses. This is true no matter the weakness, susceptibility, or tendency. God will hold each of us accountable for the way we use our agency in our thoughts, words, or actions. (See Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 4:30.)
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught this truth. “Perhaps these persons, as the saying goes, were `born that way.’ But what does that mean? Does it mean that persons with susceptibilities or strong tendencies have no choice, no free agency in these matters? Our doctrine teaches us otherwise. Regardless of a person’s susceptibility or tendency, his will is unfettered. His free agency is unqualified. It is his freedom that is impaired…. We are all responsible for the exercise of our free agency.
“… Most of us are born with thorns in the flesh, some more visible, some more serious than others. We all seem to have susceptibilities to one disorder or another, but whatever our susceptibilities, we have the will and the power to control our thoughts and our actions. This must be so. God has said that he holds us accountable for what we do and what we think, so our thoughts and actions must be controllable by our agency. Once we have reached the age or condition of accountability, the claim `I was born that way’ does not excuse actions or thoughts that fail to conform to the commandments of God. We need to learn how to live so that a weakness that is mortal will not prevent us from achieving the goal that is eternal.
“God has promised that he will consecrate our afflictions for our gain (see 2 Nephi 2:2). The efforts we expend in overcoming any inherited weakness build a spiritual strength that will serve us throughout eternity. Thus, when Paul prayed thrice that his `thorns in the flesh’ would depart from him, the Lord replied, `My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ [2 Corinthians 12:9]” (”Free Agency and Freedom,” in Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr., ed., The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, the Doctrinal Structure , 13-14; as quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121-122, , 60).
Each person born on earth received the gift of agency in the pre-earth life. This gift requires that each of us use it wisely because we will be held accountable for what we do with it. If we use it wisely, we will have greater freedom; if we use it unwisely, we will have less freedom in our lives.