Below are quotes from Ezra Taft Benson's The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner (1986, Deseret Book)
- 1 Some Basic Principles (pp. 1-10)
- 2 The Constitution and Its Coming Forth (pp. 10-11)
- 3 God Raised Up Wise Men to Create the Constitution (pp. 11-15)
- 4 The Lord Approved the Constitution (pp. 15-17)
- 5 The Document Itself (pp. 17-18)
- 6 Major Provisions of the Document (pp. 18-23)
- 7 The Crisis of Our Constitution (pp. 23-31)
- 8 The Constitution Requires Our Loyalty and Support (pp. 31-33)
Some Basic Principles (pp. 1-10)
The Principle of Agency
The first basic principle is agency. We understand the purpose of the council in heaven was to announce and present the plan of redemption for the salvation of all of God's children. The council was called so that every man and woman could sustain the provisions of the Father's plan, which required that all people obtain mortal bodies, be tried and proven in all things, and have opportunity to choose of their own free will to obey the laws and ordinances essential to their exaltation.
Because a fallen condition was an essential part of the plan, an infinite, eternal sacrifice was also required to redeem us from this state. We are all familiar with the facts: how Lucifer—a personage of prominence—sought to amend the plan, while Jehovah sustained the plan. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained how this difference wled to the war in heaven: "The contention in heave was—Jesus said there would be certain soulds that would not be saved; and the devil said he could save them all, and laid his plans before the grand council, who gave their ovte in favor of Jesus Christ. So the devil rose up in rebellion against God, and was cast down." [No reference provided.]
The central issue in that council, then, was: Shall the children of God have untrammeled agency to choose the course they should follow, whether good or evil, or shall they be coerced and forced to be obedient? Christ and all who followed Him stood for the former proposition—freedom of choice; Satan stood for the latter—coercion and force. Because Satan and those who stood with him would not accept the vote of the council, but rose up in rebellion, they were cast down to the earth, where they have continued to foster the same plan. The war that began in heaven is not yet over. The conflict continues on the battlefield of morality. And one of Lucifer's primary strategies has been to restrict our agency through the power of earthly governments. Proof of this is found in the long history of humanity.