The reward my parents received from teaching me to pray and walk uprightly was a child who knew how to pray and what "walking uprightly" consisted of. I clearly understood what the choices were.
But nothing my parents did deprived me of one iota of my agency.
Nor does a temple marriage remove from either partner any of their freedom of choice. Pride, selfishness, weakness, sin, rebellion, all remain possible, because agency is never rescinded.
No Latter-day Saint, however faithful, can perform any magical act that removes or reduces any other person's agency. Period. Ever. That was made clear in the council in heaven before we were born.
It can be a terrible surprise and a source of agonizing grief when a spouse or a child (or a parent, or anyone!) shatters our hopes, violates our expectations, breaks their own promises, denies their previous testimony.
But the Lord has not cheated you. He never promised to enslave anyone else to your wishes.
Nor did the Lord promise that he would suspend the laws of nature to your benefit. That rain-slicked highway can still take away control of your car, no matter how carefully you keep the traffic laws. The earthquake can still bring the house down upon you; the tornado can still sweep it away.
What the Lord has promised is that your obedience will mean that you will cause no evil, and that when bad things happen to you, you will be comforted and sustained.
It isn't magic. It's natural causality, it's the law, it's the promise of God to every child born into this world. The blessings that can be obtained are obtained by obedience.
There are things we wish for which can't be obtained by our actions alone, because no one's agency is taken away, and nature takes its course, and God plays no favorites (Matthew 5:45).
Magical thinking is from the other plan, the one we all rejected.
Our Father will keep all his promises — but only the ones he actually made.
Orson Scott Card is a writer of nonfiction and fiction, from LDS works to popular fiction. A longer version of this column can be found at MormonTimes.com. Leave feedback for Card at www.nauvoo.com/contact_desnews.html.
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