HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

THE "WE PUNISH OURSELVES" THEORY

Religion says that God lets us harm one another because he wants us to freely choose whether we will do good or bad. This is the free will defence.  God gives us morality so we are told.  Therefore he authorises punishment as a necessity and must punish evil people so that the injustice of the good and bad being treated alike is avoided.  Oddly some say that sin punishes us not God but if God sets up sin so that we will suffer for it then that is punishment.  Punishment whether indirect or direct is still punishment. Those who say sin punishes us not God are trying to manipulate us and play on our hatred for being punished as if justice is suspended for us.

God has to punish sin or he is unfair. Forgiving is seen as a different matter for the person has reformed and needs a second chance. And this second chance becomes another second chance and so on on and to absurdity. No sane or fair God can give a person a second chance every day of the week for the same sin! Repenting and forgiving are meant to be painful processes so in a sense they are punishment too. That aside if we punished every sin we would only end up making people hide their sins. Punishing somebody for swearing and taking God's name in vain seems too harsh which is why it will probably only result in the person cursing God inside and internalising their sin more. Resentment against the punisher will arise. But these consequences have absolutely nothing to do with proving that it is wrong to punish everything if possible. It is like arguing that maths should be made easier for most students fail their exams. You are left with a new bad consequence: telling people that their disobedience will be rewarded and that you are blaming punishment for the bad consequences which in fact are not really consequences but just the result of people refusing to take their just deserts. The argument is bizarre in the light of the fact that God will punish all unforgiven sin - and in a sense even the forgiven - for he is perfect justice. How deeply do believers really love God and how much do they really want him to be fair?

New Age and trendy religion says that God never punishes but we punish ourselves. It is obvious that such a scheme thinks punishment is bad which is why it has to be distanced from God. What kind of morality do those people believe in?

Many Christian liberals argue, "There is no need for a God to judge us as sinful when we judge ourselves by making bad decisions. Sin is not punished by God. The evils and punishments that follow sin are nothing more than the consequences of sin. Sin does not draw punishing on you from anything or anyone out of itself. It damages you and makes you crave for more evil and to do more evil and thus does more damage (James 5:16-17). That is how it punishes. It is thought that 1 John 4:18 says we must not fear the punishments of God for he does not punish but simply loves." But John is only speaking to forgiven sinners. He is not speaking to people who are sinning and don't care. And if sin has bad results and these are not punishments then why argue that if you take tablets to keep yourself alive and you suffer terrible side effects that taking the tablets is a sin? Bad consequences do not prove that anything is necessarily a sin. And if sin is not punished then God wants to treat it as if it were a virtue. It is more vicious to argue that doing wrong brings bad consequences on you and that is fine than to say it brings punishment for the consequences cannot be controlled and the punishment can. I wonder do Christians think that if you burgle a house end up in jail that it is a consequence of your sin?
 
It is hard to restrain a stab of affection for God upon hearing this sweet stuff about a God who is too loving to punish. Upon thinking, the only thing we have to restrain is the disappointment.

Do we punish ourselves for sin instead of being punished by God? Some say yes. They might give an example, "The heavy drinker’s punishment is ill health which he has brought on himself." This makes God look like a blandy. People like the idea of God letting the natural consequences follow a bad action for they want a banal God and/or want to deter you from bad actions. They like to deny that God punishes which is an implicit denial that good people and evil people should be treated different. Bad results then of your actions are not punishment and cannot be. And the bad results may do less harm or more harm than the sin warrants. A wife can suffer little when she is caught out in adultery. The drinker is accused of causing the bad results. So he will get no sympathy - not even if he ends up in Hell for all eternity. And the drinker is not the only cause of the bad results either. If he were being punished you might say it is a pity he has to be punished but he still has to be punished. No doctrine that blames the drinker or sinner for the terrible aftermath of a wrong action can be compassionate.
 
If punishment is wrong then it makes no sense to approve of somebody suffering for doing wrong as in bad results not punishment! It is cruel. If a person does not deserve punishment then he should be protected by God from bad results.
 
However, God thinks that the ill health and other calamities that befall the drunkard are is good enough for him and only refrains from punishing for he doesn’t need to administer it. By not acting to stop the suffering he is causing it and meting out retribution. So he is administering punishment after all. Passive punishing is still punishing. God could change your molecular structure so that you are immune to the ravages of drink. The doctrine that the drunkard punishes himself is deplored by many as insipid hypocrisy. God does punish. I was aware of the obvious errors of the doctrine since the first time I heard of it which was why it confused me tremendously.
 
An atheist might look at an evil person and judge that person to have caused the devastation that his actions have brought on him. But there will be no suggestion that these consequences in any sense should happen. The atheist says they do happen not that they should. The believer holds that God has programmed the action to result in bad things and that we should approve of God's role. There is no need for that view and it does no good and thus is just an insult.

Jesus could not have called Hell eternal punishment if people punish themselves there for they cannot. If they hate God then they wouldn’t punish themselves for sin. To do that is to hate themselves for hurting God which is not hating him in the sense that it would be wishing they could love him. They are not making themselves pay for opposing God - for to punish is to intend to pay back evil for evil. They are hurting themselves to offend him for he is against unnecessary suffering. They are trying to punish him and not punishing themselves.

The notion that what goes around comes around that that nature punishes immorality or acts as if it it does is nonsense. A very promiscious person or who takes drugs is not suffering for BEING LIKE THAT. What if they have an addiction so it is not their character that is the problem?  Morality would be about making a person pay for having a bad character. The person is suffering not even for their actions but for HOW they have done them. That is why one profligate can live a happy life and another one is destroyed by it. The former was only okay because of chance and luck. It is not breaking the law of nature that causes trouble but how it is broken. You are “punished” for being incautious in the wrong place and the wrong time. A lot of the time you get away with being incautious.
 
If God has no right to allow natural evil to happen and that is the biggest evil then he has no right to punish. That is how it can be so terrible to call God a sign of justice.  He should punish himself.  Christians give no reply except to say that natural evil happens and God is good so it cannot be the worst evil.  They say that sin is the worst evil which leads to the odd idea that an earthquake is better than a small lie.  This is irrational and starting with the conclusion and rationalising the way to it.

You might sympathise with somebody who cannot undo their crime and goes to jail but how can you sympathise with the alcoholic who is in the throes of liver disease if you blame him for it?

The idea that God does not punish but he creates bad results to go with sin is odd. It means that sin does not hurt you much but what he tacked on to it does. Why does he do that?  Why would he make you hate the punishment more than the sin?  Is it to punish after all? Is it for spite?  It is spiteful to say x must not be punished and then to sneak a punishment in as if it is something terrible to be ashamed off.   Belief in God only leads to evil nonsense.