Because I just wrote a really long comment to this post at Feminist Mormon Housewives, and because I have been negligent in my duties as a BCC blogger and haven’t posted in months, I’m posting my comment here for your reading pleasure or displeasure.
Here is an excerpt from Lisa’s post:
What kind of mortal test is it for 2,500 children A DAY who get kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. So that they can be raped 45 times a day, held in cells, then die of AIDS. Die in misery and fear after living through years of torture. WHAT THE HELL KIND OF MORTAL TEST IS THIS?
It’s easy to see something like that and question God. And to wonder what possible good can come from such evil.
We are told that the problems we face in this life are for our own good and serve as trials. We like to shroud ourselves in the comfort of that belief. I think it’s true but only in a very general way. To believe otherwise is to make God the author of all evil.
We have free will to choose good or evil. Most evil acts are committed against other persons. It is the sinners who choose to inflict suffering, not God. Our trial is to endure through this life, sometimes as the victims of others’ choices. That is the test God has sent us to experience. The details of our experience and test are authored by ourselves and other people. (Excluding trials like disease and accident.) I don’t believe God has anything to do with the rape of children or any other evil thing people do.
Here’s an analogy: You send your kid off to the playground. You know there are mean kids there. You know some kids are going to be hurt by them, yours is also at risk. But you trust your child not to join the bullies and you trust your child is strong enough to prevail. Better that she should live her life at the risk of bruising then to stagnate safely at home. So you send her off knowing that her goodness and strength will be tested by the mean kids around her. Don’t parents do this when they send their children to school? They have something to learn at school despite the dangers.
Imagine that your child got severely beaten in the playground and went into a coma. Do you fault yourself? Did you intend that to happen? Is this what you wanted your child to learn? No. It’s the nature of the playground and likewise the world. God has loosed his children to do what they choose to each other. Ultimately we’re here for our own good, but sometimes the other children commit acts of horrific evil. God can heal us from all wounds, so whatever happens we will be safe. So he sends us off to Earth to learn and survive among the bullies.
We chose to have free will knowing that it meant we’d have to suffer by the choices of others. We agreed to put ourselves at risk. God didn’t want children to be sex slaves so we could be tested. He doesn’t want us to suffer, "Men are that they might have joy." Like the parent who doesn’t want her child to get hurt but let’s her out of the house because she knows it’s better for her to experience life than not; God knows it’s better for us in the end to experience this life, and necessarily that means we will suffer, the worst suffering caused by the hands of men. There is no other way, to know joy we must know pain.
The test God has given to us is free will and our use of that freedom. Enslaving children is how some people choose to use it, don’t blame God for that specific act of unfathomable horror. The original post to which I’m replying did not blame God for that directly. But to question the purpose of something as a test implies that God was involved, that God intended and/or designed that test for His greater purposes. God has nothing to do with human acts of evil, nothing beyond giving humanity our agency. Make of that what you will.
I admit to addressing the ancient problem of evil in simplistic terms. For me, it has always been this simple. Discuss.