Girl standing in front of three doors (blue, white, and red)

What It Really Means to Choose

If we knew the consequences of our actions, how would our choices change?

"In mortality, choice is a method, not a goal." -Dallin H. Oaks

Photo by Jon Tyson

In the article “Weightier Matters,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks discusses the ability to choose and the argument people use to justify actions that are contrary to God’s commandments: “But I have free agency!” The phrase free agency is itself a paradox. Yes, we are free and have agency. We fought and won a war in the premortal existence for the right to exercise our agency in this life. So here on earth, as Elder Oaks explains, choice isn’t a goal but a method.

While we have the right to choose, our agency comes with strings attached: responsibility and consequence. Elder Oaks confirms, “We are responsible to use our agency in a world of choices. It will not do to pretend that our agency has been taken away when we are not free to exercise it without unwelcome consequences.”

He also says, “Because choice is a method, choices can be exercised either way on any matter, and our choices can serve any goal. Therefore, those who consider freedom of choice as a goal can easily slip into the position of trying to justify any choice that is made.” So what matters is that we make the right choices. We can’t choose what happens because of our choices, but we can have clear consciences when we choose the right.

Read more about the ramifications of our choices in “Weightier Matters,” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks.


—Renee Stevens, Mormon Insights


Find more insights

Learn more about how choices can affect our lives by reading “Choices,” by President Thomas S. Monson.

Read Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s talk “Moral Discipline” to discover what it means to have the self-discipline to choose the right.

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