Q. Do Mormons believe in making their own choices?
I have thought about this question for the last few days and I realize that it merits more explaining; however, I want to keep my answer to this specific question concise, so I have decided to write another post that will be posted shortly. It will explain more in depth our doctrine of making choices. I do this, because from our perspective the ability to freely make choices is crucial to our salvation. I don’t think many understand how important the ability to freely choose is. It’s fundamental to the very purpose of life.
To answer the above question, yes Mormons believe in making their own choices. The Doctrine and Covenants (part of our open canon of scripture) is a collection of revelations that Joseph Smith received. I quote from Section 58, verses 26-28 (italics added):
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
We believe that we are free to make any choice. God may encourage us, just as Satan may tempt us; nevertheless, the choice is ultimately ours and we must take personal responsibility for our actions. We are never forced. “The devil made me do it” is never a valid excuse for wrong-doing. It should be stated that there are consequences with every choice. As stated in the above scripture, choosing to do the right will bring good results. Conversely, choosing that which is not right will bring undesirable consequences.
Furthermore, we believe that our choices are what God will judge us by. We believe that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is what will save us. Nevertheless, we must consistently make choices that are in alignment with the commandments of God and choose to repent and change when we make mistakes. In essence, we have to do our part by denying ourselves of all ungodliness while relying on the mercies and grace of God. By so doing, we believe that when we are judged by God, we will be found worthy of his kingdom. Not because we were perfect ourselves, but perfect in Christ (Moroni 10:32-33).