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Choice, Freedom, and Responsibility

Group6flopSummary: We all have the power to choose how we will respond to life’s situations. Those choices have consequences and our lives are the net result of all those choices.

Alex explained, “In one of my support groups I developed a close friendship with a Christian man who had a beautiful family. Although he tried hard and made some progress, he eventually gave up the church and his family for a single, carefree life. I think part of the reason he made that choice was because he felt he had no choice.”

This section explains that you do have a choice. Many men are making correct choices in difficult situations and as a result are making significant changes in their lives.

The terms choice and agency refer to our internal power to exercise our will and make choices. Freedom refers to the external power and opportunity to carry out those choices.


Our lives are made up of small choices. Seldom do we make a large, consequential decision. The little decisions shape our character and make us who we are. Our character is the composite—the net result—of all those small choices. We have the power to choose and those choices influence our eternal lives.

One of the reasons we are on this earth is to be proven—to see if we will follow God. God has given us our agency—the power to choose—and no person or organization can take it away. Even those who were confined in Nazi concentration camps had the power to choose how they would react to their situation—with contempt and hate for their captors, or with love and compassion for their fellow prisoners.


What can be taken away or reduced in this life is our freedom, which is the power to act on our choices. Dallin H. Oaks explained that “free agency is absolute, but in the circumstances of mortality freedom is always qualified.” (“Free Agency and Freedom,” Brigham Young University 1987–88 Devotional and Fireside Speeches, BYU Publications, Provo, UT, 1988, pp. 46–47.) He explains that freedom may be qualified or taken away in three ways:

  1. By physical laws. For example, we are bound by the physical law of gravity and cannot choose to disobey it. There may also be some physical limitations with which we are born.
  2. By the actions of others. We choose to live under governments that impose laws and restrictions for the common good of society.
  3. By our own actions. We may choose of ourselves to impose restrictions on our individual freedom, such as when we buckle our seat belt or sign a contract. In these instances, we use our agency to choose to temporarily limit certain individual freedoms to help us achieve more important eternal freedoms. You may choose to set personal boundaries. For example, if you know you are susceptible to certain addictive behaviors, you can decide to limit your access to places or conditions that might make it easy for you to participate in those behaviors.

A restriction of freedom in these ways “reduces the extent to which we can act upon our choices, but it does not deprive us of our God-given free agency.” (Oaks, 1987.)


We tend to think of agency as a personal matter. Often overlooked, however, is the fact that choices have consequences. We are free to consider our options, to make choices, and to act, but once an action has been taken we are not free from its consequences. An astronaut, for example, makes the choice to enter the rocket. He can withdraw any time before the rocket fuel is ignited, but once it is, he is bound by the consequences of his choice. We reap what we sew (see Galatians 6:7–9). Actions have consequences.

Responsibility, Accountability, and Authority

Management and leadership is less effective when there is a breakdown in the balance of responsibility, accountability, and authority. Not only can it be a source of failure in companies, but also in individuals.

Responsibility is an agreement between two or more people for the purpose of achieving a desired result. The expected results should be mutually understood and accepted by all parties.

Accountability is a consequence of assigned responsibility. When a person has the responsibility over a given task, he must answer for achieving the desired result.

Authority is the ability given to a person to complete the assigned responsibility. It includes access to the appropriate resources (personnel, money, equipment, etc.) to complete the job.

It is important that these three elements be in balance. A manager must assign responsibility, hold the person accountable, and delegate the proper authority. How does this relate to you if you wish to take control of your life and make significant changes? You need to

  • take personal responsibility for your actions and the direction of your life.
  • be accountable to someone.
  • exercise the proper authority (1) by giving yourself permission to take action and (2) by giving permission to someone else to check up on you.


Some people believe that they are not responsible for their actions. With such a philosophy, it is easy to develop a “victim mentality,” believe that you were “born this way,” and that you have no control over your homosexual actions. However, we are individually responsibility for our fate. We are responsible for our behaviors, which will determine our destiny.

The first step is to take full, personal responsibility for what you have been, what you are, and what you will become. Even though you didn’t ask for same-sex desires, take responsibility for your life today. Don’t feed your self-pity by acting like a victim of life and external situations. Don’t blame your environment or your genes for your situation. You are not a helpless victim of circumstance. You are a son of God with divine rights and abilities. You did not choose to have same-sex feelings and attractions but you do choose how to respond to them.

In the short term, it may be easier to avoid problems than to face them. I have a friend who is an expert at denial. Denial is his best friend. But hiding from things that are troublesome only makes them worse in the long run. Problems are best solved by facing them head-on.

Accountability is an eternal principle. In life, we are accountable to God for everything He gives us. In the parable of the talents, the servants were held accountable for the talents they received and they were expected to increase them (see Matthew 25:14–30). Accountability helps us keep our integrity and helps us grow.

As you seek to manage your sexual behaviors, identify those to whom you will be accountable:

  • To yourself, honestly admitting your problems and weaknesses.
  • To God in daily prayer, confessing your weaknesses and asking for His strength to make it through the day.
  • To your church leader for sins that should be confessed.
  • To your therapist for how well you are following through on the things you committed to do.
  • To a confidant—a friend in whom we can confide. This may be someone who also experiences same-sex attraction or simply a close friend who cares about you.

In the book of James, we read, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Once you identify those who will help you be accountable, talk with them about the specific things you want them to hold you accountable for. For example, you may wish to commit to call someone whenever you feel tempted to act out. Or if you have a problem with cruising on the way home from work, commit to call a person each evening to account for what you did on the way home. Give them specific questions you want them to ask you. It is important to be completely honest with them. If you slip, you may be tempted not to tell them the whole truth. But remember, you have made an agreement with them for the purpose of helping you and it will do no good to hide the truth from them even a little.

The next step is to give them the authority or permission to check up on you. Since you asked them to follow up on you, don’t get upset when they ask you difficult questions. If you feel frustrated or controlled, remember that you asked them to check up on you.

With this accountability agreement, be careful that you don’t try to shift to them part of the responsibility for your actions. You cannot blame them if they do not call you or if you could not reach them in an emergency. You are fully responsible for your own actions. Their job is to remind you of that. As you learn to be accountable, you will feel self-empowered.

Another aspect of accountability is to recognize you have authority over your own life if you will give yourself permission to take action. Because of past failures, you may feel powerless to take action. But as you exercise authority over your own life, you will soon find that you can make significant changes in your life. You can take action and it will make a difference.