I often like to mis-quote The Princess Bride, “Life isn’t fair; anyone who tells you different is selling something.”
Why do I believe this? As a Christian, shouldn’t I believe in the perfect balance of God to even everything out?
I have heard it quoted from Matthew 5:38: And eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. We like to think that this was a bit of cruelty, but it was actually a limitation to criminal punishment. If someone was to gouge out your eye, the most you could do in retaliation was gouge out their eye. It was applied so that conflicts did not escalate beyond what was fair and even. If I stole 3 pieces of gold from you, then I would be forced to pay you 3 pieces of gold. That is fair.
But Jesus goes on to say, in Matthew 5:39, that if you are wronged, that it is not retaliation, or a payment back that you should seek, but to reconcile through giving them even more than they took. Not an eye for an eye, but a love for a hate. Matthew 5:38-48 is nothing Jesus Christ telling people to love their enemies despite being wronged in one way or another. So what sense of fairness do I gather from this? On top of that, how can anyone who considers themselves a follower of Christ’s teachings demand retaliation on another? How can you be a Christian and yet still declare war?
Let us say that the punishment for sin is Hell, a place of eternal torment without relief. We can agree that that is the steepest of punishments. So how is a 6 year old, who has stolen a candy bar condemned to Hell for his sin? That seems unfair. The punishment does not fit the crime. Not even close. And some denominations of Christianity have created this “age of accountability” concept, but it is neither a Church tradition, nor a Biblical teaching. So what am I to make of this uneven plane of existence called Hell?
I recently heard a lovely quote. From whom, I don’t know. But it was that “judgement is case by case, but law is absolute”. Just like a judge in court, I believe that God sits in His judgement seat and examines us on some futuristic day of the Second Coming or what-not. He will examine our lives versus His law, and though he might find us guilty by the Law’s own word engraved in stone, He will still pardon us because it is by His judgement that we might be saved, and not condemned. He is just, but He is not the law as we know it.
This sounds very arbitrary, I know. It’s left up to God to decided whether He likes you or not. This sounds unfair one might say. But I don’t think our view of fairness and equity is comparable to what actually is or happens in reality. Just look at the Ecclesiastes 8:14, where the author complains that good men are dealt what evil mean should reap, and bad men prosper. Take a look at the world and tell me that you can’t see it? Why do the good die young? Why does evil thrive despite it being evil? Where is the fairness to life?