Problem Management — religious Q&A
Pain and Suffering

If God is all-loving, why does he punish us so severely for sinning?

Sinning is defined as disobeying God's laws. Those laws were created not for perverse amusement nor to be a burden to us, but to protect us from the consequences of our actions.

Most of the Ten Commandments for instance are worded as do not statements. They tell us things we should not do, not because the acts themselves are necessarily bad, but because the effects of those acts are. Sex is a pleasurable experience, there is nothing inherently wrong with it, even promiscuous sex. But it can have other effects that are bad, such as offended spouses, unwanted pregnancies, and incurable diseases, and these can lead to divorce and broken families, abandoned babies and abortion, and slow painful deaths.

Consider the story of little Jane, who loved playing in her yard. Her father enjoyed watching her at play, but worried that she might hurt herself. He could build a strong wall around the yard and line it with soft cushioning; he could cover the ground with a thick layer of fine sand; he could make sure she always wore a helmet and padding and that her face-mask prevented her from breathing any dust from the sand; he could do many things to protect her.

But of course he didn't do any of those things, because he knew that if he did she would be like a confined prisoner, unable to do anything, unable to experiment or grow or learn. She would remain like a baby, and not develop into a responsible functioning adult.

So he let her play without all those protections, and occasionally she would trip and hurt herself. He would then comfort her (and himself) knowing that she was learning from the experience. But he would also tell her about things she should not do, such as warning her not to climb the tree and not to go onto the road or she would get hurt. When she was a baby, he would of course continuously watch her and prevent her from doing these things, but as she grew older he granted her more and more personal responsibility.

Then one day Jane's ball got stuck in the tree. She decided to climb up to retrieve it, and almost succeeded, but at the last moment she slipped and fell, smashing her leg on a branch on the way down and breaking her arm and knocking out several teeth when she hit the ground. Her father heard the scream and ran to her. She looked up at him and through bloodied lips asked I know you warned me I'd get hurt if I disobeyed you, but did you have to punish me so much?.

This is perhaps the same question you are asking?