There’s an old joke about a woman who keeps hitting herself in the head with a hammer. When they asked, “Why are you doing that?” she replied, “Because it feels so good when I stop!”
Yesterday we looked at Mighty Timbo’s story about how God allegedly healed his wife years after a serious car accident left her disabled and in pain. It’s a great story because it points out a huge flaw in the Christian theology of healing. Think about it. God supposedly could have healed her any time he wanted. He could have healed her a year earlier than He did, or within a few weeks of the crash. Heck, He could have prevented the crash in the first place. Instead, He chose to allow her to be seriously injured and to go through several years of pain and disability, just so that He could take the credit where her suffering finally stopped.
At least in the old joke, the woman was wielding her own hammer, and could stop whenever she liked. But this business of God putting us though sin and suffering and evil just so that it will seem so good when He stops—yikes!
I’m sure that if Timbo were here, he’d hasten to explain that it’s not like that at all, that God is really doing all this for our own good, and that He’s wiser than we are and knows more than we do, and that if we could see things from God’s perspective we’d realize that this is really all part of a wise and loving plan to bring us a unique blessing that we could not obtain any other way.
That’s a great rationalization, and a lot of people use it to try and reconcile the wonderful stories of a loving Almighty God with the harsh realities of life. But it doesn’t really hold up under close scrutiny. Let’s imagine, for a moment, that God does exist, and that He loves us, and that He wants to bring us to a place of maximum blessing and goodness. How is He going to achieve that goal? Can He do it by means of His own goodness and blessing alone, or is it necessary to resort to sin and suffering and evil and death in order to produce the maximum goodness?
If we say it’s possible for God to bless us without the need for sin and suffering and evil and death, then we’ve got a problem, because that means that we’re experiencing all these things unnecessarily, and a good and loving and all-powerful God wouldn’t let that happen. But if we say that it’s not possible for God to bless us without the need for sin and suffering and evil and death, then that’s even worse, because we’re saying that Evil, rather than being the enemy of Good, is actually a vital part of Good—that true Good requires evil in order to achieve true blessing. And God is supposedly true Good, hmm. Makes you wonder what the blessings of Heaven are really like, doesn’t it?
But it gets worse. Suppose evil isn’t really necessary. Suppose that without evil, you can still do good things, but with evil you can do even better things. That way God doesn’t actually need evil, but as long as it’s there, He can use it to produce an even greater blessing. Sounds plausible, right?
Well, no, that’s pretty poor morality. Let’s use a concrete example: the local church is holding a fundraiser to benefit orphans in Haiti. If they hold a bake sale, they can raise about $600. If they sell crack cocaine, they can probably raise about $12,000. In other words, they can produce a greater benefit if they resort to evil than the benefit they produce by good alone. Which is the morally justifiable way to raise funds?
I think most people would agree that it’s better to do a little good without evil than to do more good with evil. Thus, if God is going to be a moral and just and good God, He’s necessarily going to pursue the lesser blessing, so as not to sin by resorting to evil in order to obtain the greater one. And that means that the only way a good God could create a world full of sin and suffering and evil and death would be if goodness and blessing were completely incapable of doing any good at all apart from evil.
Timbo is telling us a tragic story with an eventually happy ending, but it’s clearly not the work of an all-good, all-wise, all-loving and all-powerful God, because if such a God existed then either the accident would never have happened in the first place or else He’s either too weak to do any good by His own power.