Much is often made about the notion that a loving God would allow evil and suffering into His creation. As amazing of a gift as free will is, didn’t He know that giving mankind free will would lead to our abuse of that gift and all kinds of evil and suffering?
Here is my advice to God on how He could solve this whole issue of evil and suffering, in a loving manner, while still keeping our free will intact. If He would simply build into creation several systems and functions to restrain evil and alleviate it’s effects, this would allow our free will to remain intact and serve to demonstrate God’s loving nature that He would provide such safeguards.
First, we are going to need some way that we know the things we are doing are evil and may cause suffering, and that way we can avoid them. I suggest that God give us 3 tools to help with this. One, it would be helpful if we have some of ability that would allow us to examine and analyze situations, options, and potential consequences so that we can determine the best course of action. Second, it would also be helpful if maybe we had some kind of innate, intuitive sense of right and wrong, at lest in a general sense, so that we can make of decisions with knowledge of what is good and bad. Third, since moral issues can get complicated, it would be helpful if God would also give us a resource that will help teach us how to navigate some of the more nuanced issues.
That brings me to my Second suggestion for God. This is a lot to handle on our own. Maybe He could give us a small group of other people with which we can share a sort of interdependent, maybe even covenantal, relationship. I would recommend this be the people we’re already biologically connected to. That way we can help one another to not do bad things, and also be there for one another to offer comfort and love when bad things do happen.
That also raises the concern of what if the bad things are happening in this small relational unit, which brings me to the Third suggestion. God should also institute some other social groups that can help with this. I have 2 suggestions. One, it would help to have a smaller community of people unified in our commitment to and worship of God where we can grow and learn and hold one another accountable, and who can also be there for us when our closer relationship unit has some dysfunction. Two, I really think it would be helpful if God would also institute a separate organization that is impartial and detached from personal relationships and has authority to enforce good laws and punish evildoers.
But even with all that, I still think our desires to do bad things may get the better of us. So my Fourth suggestion to God would be that He provide some way that we can not only share in some kind of atonement for our wrongdoing, but also be able to have our hearts transformed so that we seek to do more good than evil. I know this is asking a lot. Being that God is an offended party to all of our evil deeds, it would require that He forgive us, meaning that He would have to take on Himself the cost of our misdeeds. But hey … that’s what a loving God would do, right?
And Fifth, and last, I think that God should have an endgame in mind. There has to be some final conclusion where all of this suffering and evil is redeemed. Where those who forsook their pride and selfishness get to live in a world free from evil and enjoy a reconciled relationship with God.
These 5 simple guidelines, I think, would really help with the whole tension that seems to exist between God’s love and the reality of evil. This way, we not only we retain the priceless gift of free will, but we also have the encouraging hope of a life free of evil. Plus, in the meantime when evil does occur, we know what is wrong and that we should avoid it, we have support mechanisms and protection to be there for us.
I think that may be the most loving solution that God could implement.