How are we free if we can be punished for some of our actions (Q&A 91)

by Ram Ritho
Q. This salvation is weird in the sense that you are not saved unless you accept the saviour. So let’s take God to be a fireman, so he will risk himself and extract you from the fire.  However there is a catch: if you don’t accept the fireman as your saviour he throws you back or simply doesn’t rescue you!
A. Wow! Good question!

Q. Not really.  Wasn’t a question…  Just made a comment.
A. And?

Q. What are your comments on my comment?
A.  To start with, it seems to me yours is actually a two-pronged comment.

On the one hand you’re querying why does an all-loving, all-merciful God punish people who don’t accept him as saviour.

On the other hand you’re also asking why does God make us free and then punish us for our sins? What kind of “freedom” is that?

I’d like to start with the second question.

Q. Start away!
A. Short answer: you can choose your actions (you are free there), but you cannot choose their consequences (you are not free there). This applies in both the material world and the spiritual world.

Q. And the long answer?
A. All things material follow material laws that we discover and study about in the material sciences: physics, chemistry and biology. Note, these three do not INVENT these laws. They merely describe them, formulate them. Whether or not mankind knows about or believes in them, the laws will still be in effect… For example, before Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravity, things and people still fell towards the centre of the earth; before Archimedes formulated the law of buoyancy things still floated in water, etc.

Whatever the case, when any of these material or physical laws is flouted, physical damage or harm results. For example, if I attempt to break the law of gravity and jump from the first floor, damage/harm results: I fall to the ground and sprain my ankle or break a leg. Physical pain/suffering ensues.

Two things to note about this pain/suffering: first, it is not a separate “punishment” to spraining the ankle or breaking the leg. It is naturally part and parcel of the one phenomenon. Sprained ankles and broken legs are naturally painful.

Secondly, the pain lets us know that there is something materially wrong with our bodies.  It almost forcibly calls our attention to the injury so that we may attend to it before it gets worse.

So too with the spiritual creation.


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