The First Law of Heaven

I wish I’d have said it first, but I didn’t. There we were, having an earnest discussion on obedience. And then the wise one startled me with this simple truth, “Agency is the first law of heaven.” I’ve been ruminating on it ever since, and not just because I had to prepare a lesson on The Agency of Wo/Man. Think of it. Before any of us had bodies, before the Garden, before the creation of our world even, we had agency. We exercised it. We battled in defense of it. One third of our spiritual siblings were expelled from the presence of our parents so that we could … what … ?

Come here. Be born. Make mistakes. Lots of them. Learn … how to love both deity and mortal. How to control our bodies and spirits. How to emulate Christ. How to return. How to become as they are.

And so I try. I endeavor. Hoping that as I more fully come to understand the mind and heart of god, I will cease doing those things, little and large, which cause me to move in any tangential or reverse directions.

I remind myself that this world is a schoolroom. Here I must gain the skills needed for the next leg of the journey. And so I wield my agency. I choose my lot. And learn. Hoping to magnify the god-like, and minimize the demonic, parts of myself.

I’m thankful today. For the first law of heaven, that allows me to choose to return.


Jana is a university administrator and teaches History. Her soloblog is

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  1. Tatiana says:

    Great post! It’s true! The right to choose, even badly, what we do and think, is the most fundamental doctrine of the gospel! There’s nothing that trumps it!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Beautifully said and oh so true. As a corolary I once heard a good teacher say “agency is not only the first law of heaven it is the only thing that we can give to the Father that is truly ours so that when we say, as the Savior did, “not my will but thine be done” we are really choosing to sacrifice. I don’t know if I truly understand but it does resonate with me and so I continue to think on it.

  3. Caroline says:

    Dora, thanks for this post and for the great discussion you led on this topic on Wednesday. I’ll repeat here what I asked then, because I think the idea is so intriguing:

    Do we only truly progress when we assert our agency and judiciously choose to break commandments?

    I’m thinking of Eve who transgressed in order to progress, Jesus who went against the Mosaic law, the bishop who ignores a directive in the handbook in order to better minister to his flock, abolitionists who broke the law to help slaves achieve freedom, Ghandi, Rosa Parks, etc.

    Another way of thinking about it might be this: one only progresses when one chooses to follow higher laws rather than lower laws. I think this is a cool idea.

  4. Dora says:


    I’ven been thinking over your assertion since Wed. And I would cautiously agree. Certainly in the examples you mention, those individuals broke the lesser law in order to follow a higher law. I believe that these kinds of decisions are personal and solitary. They must stem from an absolute conviction of rightness. These types of decisions also require individuals to come to their own conclusions, and bear the exclusive responsibility.

    However, I do think that it is only by coming to understand the mind and nature of god that we can progress.

  5. Melinda says:

    Caroline’s point is a good one, but it’s worded in a way that suggests that progress requires breaking commandments. While I agree with her point, I would phrase it differently.

    We have agency so that we can choose to become more like God. The people in the examples Caroline gave chose to become more like God even though their actions broke lower laws. The lower laws are given to us as stepping stones. Those individuals stepped up to the next stepping stone which reached closer to God.

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