Why Consequences for Sin?

Of course this could be a significantly long book to properly cover this subject, but I will try to distil it down to some practical and biblical viewpoints.

We have some dear friends whose daughter just informed them that she has decided to move in with her boyfriend.  She still claims to be a Christian and in conversation with her parents she indicated she didn’t really understand why it is wrong and that some of her other “good Christian girlfriends” are having sex as well.  The parents were of course distraught and basically did the only thing that seemed reasonable and that was to provide birth control for her.

Some other close family work in the extreme north-west helping to rescue women from the sex trafficking trade.  They provide a residential setting where these women have a safe environment away from the sex trade to start building a different life.  A different element of some of the outreach in that part of the country is to provide clean needles for drug addicts to help prevent disease.  This practice is called “harm reduction”. 

Although giving birth control and clean needles makes very practical sense in at minimum a secular way, how do these practices impact the large picture of the cause and effect of sin if viewed from a purely spiritual (Christian) viewpoint.

I am not trying to put down or challenge as wrong either of the above two examples but rather trying to put a different emphasis on these and other subjects relating to sin and consequences.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=debbrB29lTw

Of course there are eternal consequences for sin with a quick example from Romans 1 including everything from homosexuality to envy to gossip and more all of which are given the punishment “worthy of death” even including those who approve of those who do things in that list.  But there are also very practical consequences for sin that will be reaped here on earth.  If you steal, you will likely be put in jail and if you murder, you will meet a similar punishment and the possibility of death.

The reason these consequences are given is simply as an incentive not to participate in those activities.  For example, it is clear from Malachi 2 that God hates divorce and is punishing Israel by not regarding their prayers because of all the divorce.  This theme is continued in the New Testament from Christ’ on lips in Matthew 19 where He gives a very strong prohibition to divorce indicating that it was only allowed in the first place because of evil and hard hearts.  So if the church actually practiced scripture which would require anyone getting a divorce to remain single for the rest of their life (keeping in mind that sex outside of marriage is also forbidden) what do you think that would do to the divorce rate in the church.  And how many divorced couples might eventually get remarried to each other after having to stay single for a few months or years.

The Heritage Foundation (a secular foundation) did a study which indicated that with just one sex partner prior to marriage the probability drops to only 54% to have a stable successful marriage and to only 43% when a 2nd sexual partner is added to the mix.  Another study indicated that if both partners are virgins prior to marriage, the success rate tops 98%.

So if there are benefits for obeying God’s laws as it relates to marriage, I’m asking if in the same way, does mitigating the consequences of doing drugs or having sex outside of marriage in some way short-circuit Gods plan for incentivizing people to not participate in sin.  Maybe, maybe not but I believe it bears at least some consideration as to why there are prescribe and naturally occurring consequences for sin.  Talk amongst yourselves.

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3 thoughts on “Why Consequences for Sin?

  1. Jayme says:

    When I was in high school I had a friend who had struggled with drugs, and he would give clean needles to his friends who were addicts. I felt deeply conflicted about this. He was trying to prevent the spread of disease. I mean, would I stop someone from giving STD prevention education? But at the same time, I felt like it smoothed the path of the behavior.

    I still feel conflicted about this. Part of me is screaming: Don’t give people the means for the their destruction!!! Don’t hand the suicidal person a gun! The other part of me feels like no matter what I do to help, there will still be real consequences (if I gave someone a clean needle, that does not mean they aren’t going to struggle with the addiction and pain and psychological effects of the lifestyle they are trying to escape).

    I feel this is one of those situations where mercy and justice seem (only seem) at odds. Jesus did not eradicate the earthly consequences of our sin. I see Godly people living with consequences of, not only their sin, but the sins of their fathers. But Jesus did prevent a woman from reaping the earthly consequence of her sin. The law of the land for adultery was death. And the adulterous woman was not killed because Jesus was determined to convict the hearts of those passionately condemning her. She probably still suffered consequences (physical, perhaps, and social for certain).

    For children, and those who are like children, parents help them along their mis-steps, shielding them in some ways. Then they grow up and no longer can be shielded from the consequences. (That’s why certain juvenile offenses don’t go on the record)
    That being said, I feel like consequence mitigation can be so very, very dangerous. Because it can belie what is really going on. But I think the truth of what is sin will out no matter how much we try to mitigate the consequences.

    • jmobeox6 says:

      Thanks for your comments! I, like you, am conflicted about this. But I think I have settled on not short circuiting God’s design that consequences are, in and of themselves, ultimately a prevention for further sin both to that person as well as to those who witness the punishments.

  2. jan o'connor says:

    I’ve had the same thoughts – not in a “well, let them (us) get their (our) just rewards” way, but just wonder if as an entire culture, our technological/medical/scientific ability to minimize or eradicate consequences of our actions subtly and not-so-subtly replaces the need for Jesus.

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