04 May, 2014

What Christians get wrong about hell - The Week

What Christians get wrong about hell - The Week: Doing the morally right thing must be good, intrinsically, for the moral person himself. (Otherwise, in what sense would it be good?) But that means that the opposite must be true as well: The person who fails to do the morally right thing suffers intrinsically by virtue of missing out on the good that comes from doing the right thing.

The implications of this position for how we think of punishment are quite radical. It implies, first, that people undergo punishment for their moral transgressions all on their own, without any additional infliction of suffering. The immoral person foolishly thinks she will benefit from her immoral deed. But she is mistaken and suffers from having cut herself off from the good.

As for those immoral people who don't sense any suffering or loss from having committed an immoral, sinful act, their proper punishment should be education in the error of their ways. They must be made to see their mistake. Once they do, they will begin to experience the pain that follows from the realization that they have denied themselves what is truly good.