On the Justice of My Father

Dearest Father,

I ended my last letter on a hopeful note, lamenting the crude state of your children’s justice and expecting that when I turned my mind to yours, a system as noble as it is elegant would be discovered. Imagine my sadness, Father, the breadth of my disappointment, when I realised that this was not the case. In seeking a system befitting my Father most Supreme, I have found one barely distinguishable from the coarse (if well-intentioned) devices of his children. And Doubt, that ever wily and clever fellow, gleefully led me every step of the way, rejoicing as I agreed with him more and more and growing as my heart sank with sadness.

Naïve and hopeful I began with the basic premise that your justice, while perhaps a little beyond our feeble grasp, was balanced. I went in expecting to find a parity different from the vengeful excuse that exists amongst your children, an additive, complementary balance if you will. I sought a justice that was not simply better than ours in every way, but that was perfect, the ideal realisation of the flawed labours of your children.

My once little friend quickly rid me of any such expectations. With a few questions and some long words he showed me that your balance was just as negative, just as reductive, as the one’s I decried and railed against in my last letter.

Much like your children, the system you employ seems predicated on laws invented at will, with rewards promised for their obedience and punishments levied at their disregard. This disobedience of your laws is termed sin, the very manifestation of evil, and has been the crux of all the history and dogma put forth by the House and its members on the nature of your children. We are told that sin is within us, part of our very beings by virtue of our birth; we are, whether or not we like it, predisposed to displease you. And this disposition is itself born from sin, specifically the sin of the First Brother, Adam. It was for his sin that we were cast out of paradise, for his sin that we suffer daily in this our imperfect world.

It was at this juncture that Doubt stepped in, asking as always his signature question: Why?

My initial answer was swift, as you can imagine. The First Brother had disobeyed an express command from our Father; he had to be punished. I wish I could paint for you the smile that graced my friend’s face at this utterance; it was the very image of triumphant glee. Why? he asked me once again. Why did the First Brother deserve punishment? What purpose did his punishment serve? And perhaps more importantly, why did all his children thenceforth have to carry this burden with them for no other reason than the accident of their births? I had only just condemned the spiteful hearts with which your children justified their want for pain in their brethren; what could I say with regards to you?

I was lost for words, Father. One can understand to an extent the impetus behind some of the choices of your children. We honestly cannot afford to let wrong-doers go without punishment. As I stated in letters past, the world is harsh and cruel; allowing our siblings to run amok would result in such pain and destruction, especially upon the innocent, that we must keep the evil-doers at bay. We must protect ourselves by removing them; we must deter them by hurting them.

But this is not the case with you Father. If one says you cast our first siblings out for protection, one must ask what you were protecting. Your Book states that everything you made, you made for us. You gave us your earth, made us masters over every facet of your creation. Where you then afraid that Adam’s sin would damage the animals? Were you afraid that they would follow in his footsteps, those unthinking brutes that were not made in the image of the most amazing Father ever? If this truly was your intent you would have removed Eve. She fell first; she was the one tempted by You-Know-Who. If your intent was to protect, and perhaps reform, it seems you would have taken her out of the garden, put her in whatever prison a being of your stature could fashion, and educated her on the error of her ways. Instead you waited till she brought Adam down along with her, and then you cast both of them out, with no avenue for warning, no period for lessons. Where in all this is the intent to protect? Your punishment did not protect Adam; it certainly did not reform Eve.

If we say you tried to deter future sin, the question then follows: What did you deter? If the tales are to be believed, this was their first crime, their only crime. Once again, Eve offered a wonderful opportunity for you to manifest the preventive powers of your justice. She fell before Adam. She could have been removed, put, as stated before, in a non-paradise as a sign that disobedience would not go without cost, and then brought back upon her inevitable reformation. Adam would have seen this and known not to trifle with the will of his Father, and Eve? Her very readmission into your garden would have been proof of lessons learned.

As I sat in silence, pondering his words, Doubt pointed out something even more ominous: Your punishment of our first siblings did not simply fail to reform the sinner or deter the good or protect the innocent; it actually made them worse. You took two misguided children, afraid and confused, from a wonderful place of happiness and cast them into the coldest harshest world you could find, cursing them to till the soil without reward and to suffer doing the very first thing you commanded of them. This act seems almost foolish in hindsight, Father, for if your children could sin against you when they had everything, when they had no need to be desperate and selfish and cruel, how could you, a being that knows all, expect that when cast into a world that could turn the best of men into devils they would remain pure?

Anger, I answered. You were angry. We have oft been told of the wrath of the Father; one can only imagine the breadth of such anger at his children’s flagrant disregard for his commandment. And to that Doubt laughed.  Anger? he asked. What is anger that my Father should have it? Anger is born of things unexpected, things unwanted. It is at its best therapeutic, at its worst useless. It is what your children, powerless and unable to control themselves, express when they do not get what they want. It is inherently childish and causes nothing but pain and fear to those who receive it. It does no apparent or inherent good, choosing instead to cow people into guilty or unwilling submission. And yet anger was the reason you destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Anger was the reason you flooded the earth. Anger was the reason you allowed pestilence and disease to ravage countless of civilisations the world over. We had sinned and you were angry. You, that knew everything and so could not have been caught by surprise. You, whose plans cannot be upset, who has known the end since the very beginning of time. You, Father, were angry with your children, and so you cursed us. And it was good, because you did it.

And with those last words Doubt struck against me a deadly blow, for this seemed to me to be the centre of your justice: You. It is barely different from that of your children. It does not appear motivated by a need to do any kind of ‘good’, but seems to be driven by an almost childlike motivation to just do. Your punishments have done nothing to help your children. They have not prevented further sins; they have neither protected us from future harm nor reformed us from past crimes. So glaring, in fact, was our lack of reformation that you saw fit to send the Brother-Saviour as an act of sacrifice for the many transgressions of your children, driving home once again the point that we are useless without your help – help, it seems, that took millennia to arrive.

Your justice is not even as good as the idealisation of your children’s crude attempts at better things. It is backed by the nebulous concept of your Will, and the inherent (if not at all apparent) goodness of all that you are. It does nothing but make you seem so loving, and we so terrible. Even your redemption is hollow, for it does not belong to all of your children. The Brother-Saviour and his first apostles stated many times that not all of us, not even most of us, would make it to the Great Upstairs. Like You-Know-Who our punishment lies in the depths of a fiery pit, a pit, we are told, that would last forever. This is the worst punishment of all, for even if one could justify the suffering and pain your children experience here on earth, the one that awaits those that do not have your favour is completely devoid of sense. It is pure pointless suffering. Forever. It does not seek to change, it does not seek to convert; it seeks only to punish. Those that make it there are beyond help, beyond reason, and instead of ending them you would rather they screamed in pain till the end of time. They have, after all, done evil things, and so they must be punished. The Justice of Your Children, your Justice, demands it.

I was crushed after his soft diatribe Father, for I could defend you no more. And to conclude his tirade he put before me a simple verse, culled from your Book and stumbled upon by chance:

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering— since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you… inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord…” —2 Thessalonians 1:5-6, 8

This is your Justice, dearest Father, a justice of revenge . And it, as with all things that proceed from you, is good.

With much sadness,

Your Prodigal Son

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

10 thoughts on “On the Justice of My Father

  1. drenn1077 says:

    If God is all-knowing why should God create something He knew would fail?

    • You have no idea how many times I have asked myself that. The entire thing on omniscience and predetermination is one that I’ll be writing about pretty soon.

      • Fred says:

        It really is an impossible question to answer. It requires really teasing out the whole determinism vs. free-will problem, which isn’t answerable.

  2. […] put off by the conclusion in his quote, for he references your justice, a system that as you know I have very strong feelings about. Such a calm acceptance of acts which do not appear to do any good further highlights the […]

  3. […] have looked upon your justice, the tool with which you judge your world, and I have come away saddened and disappointed. Where I […]

  4. Fred says:

    Good article and I enjoy the style. I’ll offer a few thoughts here (found you via Godless in Dixie)… I’m going to write from my perspective on what the scripture teaches:

    1) God’s ultimate punishment for sin is wrath, not discipline. When Adam and Eve sinned, they effectively gave up their son/daughter relationship with God. They went from being children to being wicked outcasts. It’s harsh… or at least harsh-sounding to 21st century humanity. The fact that God forebears with them, ultimately providing a path back to son-ship is gracious.

    2) Vengeance and wrath belong exclusively to God, so there is no human corollary we can or should look to. It is not for humans to hand out wrath. Our justice systems should be designed to do three things: (1) deter crime; (2) prevent repeated offenses; and (3) rehabilitate wrongdoers. We cannot and should not use the justice system to carry out wrath. It simply is not our role.

    3) God’s demand is perfection and nothing less. It is clear that even the most basic sin is punishable for eternity. We have little information on what “hell” might entail, whether there are “levels” to it, etc.. We do know that it is eternal, and our only vivid descriptions are of fire and brimstone…

    4) I think to believe Christianity you have to buy into the belief that the creator of all things doesn’t care about all people equally. You have to accept that what everyone deserves is eternal punishment for inherited sin, no matter how minor, and that those people spared from hell are spared based on God’s grace alone, through faith.

    I hope you reach a place of contentment in your search. I have spent the last year with doubts…

    • I understand that God’s justice is based on wrath, but my question is why? It ultimately serves no purpose but wrath. I agree with your distillation of what our justice systems should be like, something I alluded to in my other letter on justice (https://letterstomydistantfather.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/on-the-justice-of-your-children/), but the fact that wrath is not for us but it is apparently for God is one that is very strange when you think about it. Are we too bad for wrath? Is God too good for deterence and rehabilitation? What is gained when people suffer, especially when it seems their suffering has no ultimate purpose? Is that not the definition of cruel?

      Your statement that God does not care about people equally is one that is implicitly Calvinistic, which isn’t surprising considering the opinions you expressed in Godless in Dixie’s blog. I’ve already said that Calvinism is among one of the most logically consistent interpretations of biblical philosophy I’ve seen. The only problem with it is that we are sold, from the moments of our births, on the fact that God loves all of us and would love nothing more than to have us home with him; that he cares about each and every one of us in a very intimate manner, not because of ignorance but in spite of his knowledge. Realising that he may not really care for some the way he does others severely undermines this message.

    • Oh and thanks for stopping by :-). As you can see Doubt and I have been hanging out as well.

  5. […] so this day I give you thanks, for safety, protection, for a friend in my ranks. The year has been rough, confusing and bleak; there are days I’ve ended too fearful to speak . Here’s to […]

  6. […] you have probably surmised, my discoveries on free will and justice have not exactly set me ablaze with love for you. Where I sought to discover the freedom in your […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: