Free Will

I was asked a question yesterday that I’ve heard echoed around the web by columnists, bloggers, heads of states, normal people interviewed on TV, people on TV, etc. Why did God let this happen? or, Why do bad things happen to good people?. It’s not an easy question to answer, but I think I finally articulated the answer to my liking yesterday. Someone asked, to no one in particular, why God had allowed those people to crash planes into buildings full of people, killing thousands. She really wanted/needed the answer. In my attempt to explain it, I think I’ve got it.

A little background before we begin, just so it’s a little clearer where I’m coming from. I’m Mormon, which means my perspective on this whole thing may be different from, well, anyone else. I’m not a terribly strict member of the church (I swear on occasion, and break several commandments on a regular basis, but so do you, I’m sure), but I’ve got the basics down. I believe in God. I believe we were somewhere before we got here, and we’ll go somewhere after we die. I believe that this life is a chance to prove our mettle, and prepare for something bigger and grander on the other side of death. Basically, I’ve come to terms with the concept of death as an entrance to somewhere else (sorry, Mr. Shakespeare, you said it best). It doesn’t mean I’m ready for me or anyone close to me to die, but I’ve got a handle on what’s going to happen afterwards.

There, now you at least have the basics. Back to the question we go. In my religion, we have a concept called “free agency”. It’s free will, the natural man, etc. We all make choices in our lives, and then have to live with the consequences of those choices. Also, we will be judged for our actions. We can’t be judged for things we do not do (although our thoughts are a little murky… we have to control them, but to what degree, I’m not sure). In those two concepts lies my answer. The people who decided to plan and carry out these crimes will suffer the consequences, whatever they are. But, they had to be allowed to carry them out in order to be judged for them. By those acts, they will be judged. Not by us, but by God. I’m not sure what the judgement will be, and it’s not for me to say, but that’s who will be doing the judging.

As an addendum to that answer, my second thought is that God doesn’t interfere in the day-to-day actions of the world as much as we’d like to think. The scriptures say that He is all-knowing and nothing happens that He doesn’t see and take note of. That doesn’t mean He’s playing puppetmaster with our lives. He’s watching and keeping an eye on us. Through the Holy Ghost, he may nudge us in a direction, but we have to choose to follow it. So, if someone cuts you off, God didn’t do it. God’s just watching, waiting to see your reaction.

Speaking of reactions… I think we’ll also be judged by our reactions to the actions of others. I’m not sure how or how harshly, but it seems that a lot of scripture is about how we react to what happens, not necessarily in our actions. Just a thought… Ok, no more God-talk for a while. I just wanted to share my thinkings on the subject.

Categorized as religion

By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.