Answer the Christian: Why does God allow evil?

Short Answer: God allows evil in order to keep our free will intact.

In order to stop evil on this earth God would have to destroy our free will. Without free will, we would become robots and be unable to freely love God.  Even though God made evil possible by giving us free will, it is humans that made evil actual by choosing to rebel against God. It is because of evil that humans learn the horror of rebellion. Dr. Jones says, “They also learn to overcome evil with good. This knowledge prepares them to be fit inheritors of God’s kingdom where they will use their free will rightly in their reigning with Jesus forever and ever.” Since we have seen the effect of using free will poorly, we will be able to use our free will rightly in Heaven. We will not want to sin because we have seen the devastating effects of it.

Now one may wonder, couldn’t God give us free will yet not allow evil? Well, in order to not allow evil, God would have to intervene and stop those who use their free will poorly. “And, it seems rather odd for God to bother to give us free will only to have to spend so much time counteracting it.”[1] I used an analogy in my classroom that helped my students understand this concept. Imagine if I told my students that they could sit wherever they liked as they entered my classroom. Then, when they began to choose seats I said, “No, not that one. Not that one. Nope. Next. Next. Okay you can sit there.” And then I did that with every student. Did my students really have the freedom to choose their own seats? No. I told them they had freedom then stopped them from doing something until they did the exact thing I wanted them to do. That is not true freedom.

Instead of limiting our freedom, God has decided to keep our free will intact even though He knows people will misuse it. There will always be people that reject God and use their free will in negative ways. These people will be judged one day, but God has not stopped evil because He desires more people to come to a saving knowledge of Him. Our hope can rest in the knowledge that there will be a day when God steps in and puts an end to all pain and suffering. We don’t have to live with this forever.

Along with this keeping our free will intact, I have written 10 reasons why God allows suffering.

This is one part in a series of posts on why God allows evil.  Look below to read previous posts that you missed and see what is coming up. Each section will be posted weekly in the order they appear below.

  1. Why do people suffer for a sin Adam committed long ago?
  2. Why does God let a child die?
  3. How might it be fair that God ordered the killing of Canaanite children?
  4. Why do bad things happen to good people?
  5. Why is eternal punishment fair?
  6. If conscious belief in Jesus is required for salvation, how is that fair to those who have never heard the gospel?
  7. Free will isn’t so valuable for God to permit so much suffering.
  8. What good is the suffering I endure?
  9. How will Heaven mitigate our suffering on earth?
  10. Why does God allow evil?

[1] Feinberg, The Many Faces of Evil, 98.