Friday, August 11, 2017

Elder D. Todd Christofferson on moral agency and moral discipline

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (b. January 24, 1945) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"For positive outcomes, moral agency must be accompanied by moral discipline.
"By 'moral discipline,' I mean self-discipline based on moral standards. Moral discipline is the consistent exercise of agency to choose the right because it is right, even when it is hard. It rejects the self-absorbed life in favor of developing character worthy of respect and true greatness through Christlike service (see Mark 10:42-45). The root of the word discipline is shared by the word disciple, suggesting to the mind the fact that conformity to the example and teachings of Jesus Christ is the ideal discipline that, coupled with His grace, forms a virtuous and morally excellent person.
"Jesus's own moral discipline was rooted in His discipleship to the Father. To His disciples He explained, 'My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work' (John 4:34). By this same pattern, our moral discipline is rooted in loyalty and devotion to the Father and the Son. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that provides the moral certainty upon which moral discipline rests."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "Moral Discipline," general conference, October 2009; see Ensign, November 2009, pp. 105-108
Click here to read or listen to the full article

I loved this association of moral discipline with the concept of moral agency. Sometimes it seems that people assume agency means the freedom to do whatever crazy or inappropriate thing they want. But agency gains power only as it is linked with discipline—"the consistent exercise of agency to choose the right because it is right, even when it is hard."

And then Elder Christofferson points out that the discipline that has the most power is the choide to conform "to the example and teachings of Jesus Christ" resulting in "a virtuous and morally excellent person." Even the Savior chose to use his agency to completely subsume His will to that of the Father, following the Father's will in all things. As we learn to follow the Father and Son as true disciples, we will be greatly blessed.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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