Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God, Russian Orthodox Church

Theological Discussion

Archpriest Nicholas Dalinkiewicz,
Holy Protection Cathedral – Melbourne,
23 Dec 2013

Why Does God Allow/Cause Suffering?

The question: “Why does God allow or cause suffering?” is rather straight forward, but the answer is not straight forward because suffering is a multifaceted and complex phenomenon. Suffering can range from mild to extremely severe, ultimately leading to death. Oddly, no one ever asks the question: “Why does God cause death?” Death is accepted both by atheists and believers alike – it is a fact of life, just as birth is.

The question about suffering presupposes that God exists; if he does not exist, then the question is meaningless and there is nothing further to discuss. Given then that God does exist, the biblical narrative which describes how death and suffering came into existence through Adam and Eve’s disobedience, must be included in our discussion on suffering.

After Adam disobeyed God, he experienced death twice – first came spiritual death, when Adam chose not to repent, but instead blamed God for giving him the woman who ‘made him do it;’ then, much later, came physical death. God forewarned Adam about the consequence of disobedience: “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die.” Jesus also spoke of what would happen in the latter times as a consequence of humanity rejecting God. We will discuss this later.

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