Why Do We Reject God's Punishment Of Evil?

Why do we reject God’s punishment of evil?  We have discussed the problem of evil at length in previous posts.  The question is still often asked, “Why doesn’t God just do something about all the evil in the world if he truly exists?”  And yet, I sense that people really aren’t interested in God actually stopping evil.  Or at least, they aren’t interested in God stopping their own evil. 

Evil Revisited

We have talked previously about different forms of evil.  School shootings, natural disasters, human evil and the entire problem of evil all together have been discussed.  I think we have shown that God has adequate reasons for allowing evil to exist, and certain evil events to occur.   

We all agree that we would like there to be less evil in the world.  But how committed to this task are we?  Often when we look at evil, we focus on the evil we see others doing. We rarely complain about the evil we do ourselves.  We tend to give ourselves a pass when it comes to our own wrong doing.  I am as guilty of this as anyone.  It’s far easier to point the fingers at others rather than accept responsibility for our own actions.  

Human Nature Gives Us A Clue

If you read the Bible at all, this shouldn’t come as a shock.  Our sinful nature is on display from the first-time man gave into temptation in the garden of Eden.  There is no one without excuse.  If we are completely honest with ourselves, we know deep down that we have not lived up to the perfect standard set forward by God.  

Miss-Understanding Punishment

Critics of the Bible and of Christianity are quick to point to God as some sort of moral monster. This quote from famed atheist Richard Dawkins sums up the attitude of many of the New Atheists: 

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” 

Holding back on his true feelings is not a shortcoming of Mr. Dawkins.  But if you take a deeper look at his complaints about God, you will notice something interesting.

I often ask people the question “If God exists, do you think He should act to control evil”. The answer to this question is invariably “yes”. Notice that most of the complaints leveled against God are related to God’s restraint of evil.

The Example Of The Canaanites

Take just one example, that of the killing of the Canaanites in the Old Testament.  This is often called “Genocide” by critics.  A closer look reveals that the reason for killing the Canaanites was not simply the fact that they were Canaanites.  

Why Do We Reject God's Punishment Of Evil?

The Canaanites had practiced child sacrifice for centuries before God carried out his judgment on them. They would heat up a statue of their god Molech (a bull like being with his arms outstretched).  They would wait until the metal statue was molten hot, then place their children in its hands to be burned alive.  While this was going on, drums would be beaten to drown out the screams of the young children being burned to death.  

Now, I would have to think that if we were alive during this time, we would be asking the question “Why doesn’t God do something about this?”.  Well, God DID do something about it.  He sent Israel into the land to conquer the Canaanites after giving them close to 400 years to repent.  

Is The Problem With God, Or Us?

Why Do We Reject God's Punishment Of Evil?

So why do we continue to excuse evil acts and try to make God the bad guy?  It again goes back to our nature as humans.  We don’t see sin in the same way that God does.  God hones directly in on sin, because it is so foreign to his nature.  We minimize sin because we are steeped in it, and accustomed to it.  In that sense, it is more appealing to us to make excuses for our actions and those of others rather than see sin for what it truly is, a rebellion against God. 

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