Chapter 6: Almost All Men Are Inclined To Destroy Free Agency
Many Are Called Bur Few Are Chosen
Having shown that the Lord uses government to provide freedom while Satan uses it for the opposite purpose, we will now discuss the tragic truth that almost all men have a tendency to join Satan in his plan.
There are a substantial number of scriptures which warn that the number who will qualify to inherit the Lords Kingdom will be small indeed. In the Tree of Life vision shown to Lehi and Nephi, they saw that the people of the world divided themselves into four groups, only one of which partook of the fruit of the tree and remained faithful. (1 Ne. 8:11) In the vision given to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon regarding the three degrees of glory, they were shown that while there are three main glories, an enormous number of people will inherit the Telestial kingdom which is the lowest of the three:
But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand of the seashore. (D&C 76:109)
Even those who belong to the Lords Church and have the advantage of knowing the laws which must be obeyed to gain eternal life are warned that the possibility of failure is great. The Lord admonished His disciples in the Holy Land and in the Americas with these words:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [p. 32]
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt. 7:13, 14, 22, 23, 3 Ne. 14:13, 14, 22, 23; see also 3 Ne. 27:33)
Essentially this same admonition is found in a revelation given to the Gentiles in these latter days. In the following scripture, Church members who enter into the covenant of celestial marriage and seek celestial glory are told this:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.
For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.
Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law. (D&C 132:21, 22, 25)
The statement that many are called but few are chosen, is found a number of places in the scriptures. (Matt. 20:16; 22:14; D&C 95:5; 121:34, 40) However it is in the revelation known as Doctrine and Covenants Section 121 that a rather complete explanation is provided as to why the many are not chosen.
Will Almost All Men Be Unfit to Wield the Lords Power?
The statement that many are called but few are chosen is repeated twice in Doctrine and Covenants Section 121. Verses 35 and 36 give this as the reason for the failure of the many:
Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson
That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
On the other hand verses 39 and 40 explain that the reason almost all men are not chosen, is this:
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition [p. 33] of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
Let us undertake to understand why the Lord has given two different explanations for the failure of the many. We know that these two reasons must be consistent and directly related. What we will do is try to understand what that relationship is. We will defer until the next chapter a discussion of the fact that the many are not chosen because they set their hearts upon the things of this world and aspire to the honors of men. In this chapter we will consider the disposition of men to abuse authority. Before doing so however, let us determine what it means not to be chosen.
The Lord is obviously talking to holders of the Priesthood in this revelation. In verse 36 quoted above He states that the reason the many are not chosen is that they fail to learn a lesson regarding how the rights of the priesthood must be controlled or handled. In verse 37 He goes on to warn priesthood holders that even though the rights of the priesthood may be conferred upon us, we may forfeit them by improper conduct. His exact words are:
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. (v. 37)
In still another verse in this same section, He states these to be the qualifications for wielding His power:
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long- suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; (v. 41)
These scriptures appear to compel the conclusion that of the many called to hold the priesthood in this life, only a few will be able to continue to do so in the next. The reason given in these verses is that almost all of us are inclined to use compulsion unrighteously. Let us observe in what manner we may be gratifying this tendency. [p. 34]
How Do We Manifest a Disposition to Exercise Unrighteous Dominion?
The scripture quoted above forbids the unrighteous use of control or dominion or compulsion in our relationships with others. But in what manner do we use force or compulsion on one another either righteously or unrighteously?
Since almost all of us are unable, afraid, or ashamed to use unrighteous force on one another directly, it is difficult to believe we manifest the disposition to do so in this manner. But when the reins of government are placed in our hands, most of those considerations which deter us are removed. The lack of ability is no longer a problem because the power of government is now at our disposal.
We no longer are restrained by fear because we now have the police power on our side. And since we can usually quiet the voice of conscience by deceiving ourselves into believing that the Golden Rule does not apply to the actions of government, we can quite easily suppress this restraint. And finally we can undertake to exercise unrighteous dominion by doing nothing more inconvenient than voting or arguing for a bad law.
From this we can conclude that the disposition to exercise compulsion is more likely to be manifested in our political beliefs and practices than in any other manner. It would also appear that the very reason the Lord establishes governments by the voice of the people is so that the voters have the opportunity to exercise unrighteous dominion without fear, shame, or inconvenience. The choice to preserve or destroy free agency is thus unimpeded by any consideration except that of conscience. Satan is given the same opportunity to entice us to accept his plan of slavery, as the Lord has to entice us to choose freedom.
The Scriptures teach:
Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. (2 Ne. 2:16)
And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have the bitter they could not know the sweet(D&C 29:39)
In order for man to exercise free agency, he must have a choice [p. 35] between alternatives. The only alternative to freedom is bondage, and the only alternative to truth is falsehood. Thus Satan must have the opportunity to tempt us to choose slavery and to believe falsehoods. A government subject to the voice of the people provides us with these choices.
Satan has been extremely successful in deceiving men into believing that the use of force to destroy freedom is justified when done in concert with others and through the power of the state. Or to state the matter otherwise, Satan has deceived virtually all people into believing that the Golden Rule and the principles of private morality do not apply to the actions of governments. In so doing he has seduced the people in every nation to use the police power and the armed forces to destroy freedom on a massive scale. The almost universal disposition to exercise unrighteous dominion has contributed enormously to his success.
In subsequent chapters we shall examine in some detail a wide assortment of laws by means of which we violate the Golden Rule. Also we will show that almost all men befriend at least some of them. One has great difficulty in finding any other means except through government, wherein virtually all of us exercise unrighteous dominion on one another. Let us then in the next chapter, consider the other character defect which the Lord stated would cause the many to forfeit the Priesthood. This is the sin of pride or, setting our hearts upon the things of this world and the honors of men. [p. 36]
Behold, my son, I will write unto you again if I go not out soon against the Lamanites. Behold, the pride of this nation, or the pride of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction except they should repent.
Pray for them, my son, that repentance may come unto them. But behold, I fear lest the Spirit hath ceased striving with them; and in this part of the land they are also seeking to put down all power and authority which cometh from God; and they are denying the Holy Ghost.
And after rejecting so great a knowledge, my son, they must perish soon, unto the fulfilling of the prophecies which were spoken by the prophets, as well as the words of our Savior himself. (Moroni 8: 27-29 Emphasis Added) [p. 37]