Christianity and the Escape from Consequences
by Luke Nix
On a few occasions, I’ve heard people complain that the Christian worldview allows people to avoid the consequences of their actions. By accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, they are able to have all their sins forgiven and escape eternal punishment. This implies that someone may live a life of sin, then on their death bed repent and be able to escape eternal punishment.
The atheist, specifically, points out that all people face consequences of bad actions (whether the consequences are carried out naturally or by the state). They state that the Christian worldview not only does not offer any better “justice” than naturalism, but even offers people a way to escape consequences.
I understand this concern. However, I want to look at it a bit more closely, because I hear it from both unbelievers and believers.
First, I want to point out that not all actions that we would consider “wrong” has a natural consequence. Some do have natural consequences, but a lot of times, those consequences are delayed and are not tied to the original action. And others (if perceived) may be interpreted differently by different individuals or cultures. Nature is not a good place to look for moral guidance.
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Even if I were to grant that nature should be left to carry out consequences, what about the mass murderer who shoots himself before the authorities arrest him? That person will never suffer natural consequences of his “wrong” actions, not to mention any consequences from the state. Are we, then, to conclude that the murders were not morally wrong?
Revenge vs. Justice
Second, let’s consider that this concern may originate from our desire for revenge, not justice. We have problems identifying what “justice” even is. I mean, a person can commit murder, yet only be locked away for life; while another murderer is killed for his action. Can you identify which consequence was “just”? If the former, then the second might be seen as overkill (no pun intended). If the latter, then justice was not served in the first situation. Each of us needs a different reaction from those dispensing “justice” to feel that the offender has been served appropriately. I think that this is better described by the word “revenge”.
Let’s continue with the idea that our desire for revenge is actually justice…
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