Doug Tales 128: Agency, Part Two

Christ gives and Satan takes. And Christ waits while Satan intervenes. One honors our agency while the other does not. Doug Mendenhall teaches about giving up – and taking – agency in Conquering Spiritual Evil, Volume Two (2020), pp. 86-89:

Is your agency my right? Are there still people seeking, like I did, to give blessings to others, but not waiting for them to ask or seek the blessing themselves? Is this a violation of their agency? Why did our Savior state that He stands at the door knocking or waiting (Revelation 3:20), and we believe we have the right to bust through the door, like I did? Oh yea, I was the big powerful priesthood holder. My ego was so large there was no way I could get through any of those doors to bless anyone. Does Satan laugh and do angels of light hide their faces at this point?

Just this week my friend went into the hospital, and I went to see her. I must admit that as I stood there by her bed, my dogmatic preconditioned institutional behaviors wanted to take over. I almost asked her if she wanted a blessing. I know, there are many that will see nothing wrong with this because “If she didn’t, she would just say no.” Or “There is no harm in asking.” There isn’t?

Then why does our Savior stand at the door waiting? Obviously He knows when we are hurting, in pain, and need help. So why doesn’t He just take care of it? He honors agency. Why do we feel the need to offer a blessing or help? This was a huge paradigm shift for me. Growing up, I had been taught in church and elsewhere to offer help wherever I saw the need. Now I was being taught by the Savior’s example that what I had been taught might be wrong.

Some people who have either just come into their gifts or have had them for a long while seek others to work on. Some have expressed that since the gifts have come from God, shouldn’t we use them as often as we can to help others? Why? Is this not the same thing as seeking to give blessings? Does that come from a place of pride and ego like mine did? Or might it come from a place of caring and love? If that is the case, do those feelings of love and caring give us the right to ask others if we can work on them? The most gifted, caring person of all is our Savior. He has the greatest love, yet He stands there waiting to be asked. Do we think we can impinge on the agency of others where not even our Savior would tread? That is an interesting question indeed, in light of why Satan fell. His fall was the result of taking agency away from his children.

It is a strong temptation to offer your “services” when your gifts are new or you spent a lot of money to learn a new modality, or perhaps you just feel an abundant love for others. The different modalities may not teach their practitioners to openly solicit others, but their adherents know they need to “practice” to become proficient. Is that why some seek to work on others? There are ways to practice a modality that still honors agency.

But the practice of taking another’s agency away through any form of coercion is wrong.

Some might use manipulation to try and get someone else to make a decision. I know someone that did this. He told me that in his mind it was okay because he was just trying to get the other person to make a choice or a decision. Does that really make it okay? There are all kinds of ways to coerce someone else, like this person did, believing the end justifies the means. Does that mean it’s also okay to use passivity as a way to control or get our own way? “Wow, that pie you just made sure looks good. I wonder how it tastes.” (Hint! hint!)

Or some people actually get passive aggressive, getting angry or adding to what was said above, trying to make a person feel guilty if they don’t get their own way. “Wow, that pie you just made sure looks good. I wonder how it tastes. If you loved me, you’d let me have a piece right now.”

Let’s take a look at what the Lord Jesus Christ states about these interactions in D&C 121:37: “That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

So we do not have the “right” to take or impinge on another’s agency. Natural law tells us “A right is an action that does not cause harm to another human being…. Our rights come from what is called God’s law, spiritual law, or even natural law. One of the main laws of God is that of agency, which declares we have no right to impede or deny, [or even coerce] the agency of another human.” (I See…Awake!, p. 79) Taking agency from an individual amounts to theft. Natural law will require a recompense from the individual taking the agency; a price will be paid.