We need new words.
THE REV. AMY PRINGLE
St. George’s Episcopal Church in La Cañada
I agree with Archbishop of Santo Domingo Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez that the earthquake in Haiti was not a punishment from God.
As Christians, we believe that there are natural consequences for sin, but not direct punishments (an example would be that if a person committing adultery contracts a sexually transmitted disease; that would be a consequence, not a punishment). However, God does use circumstances to get our attention.
Punishments from God were seen in the Old Testament and abolished with the grace that came in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While there are consequences for certain behaviors — that is simply one of the reasons the Bible has certain mandates, to keep us safe — there does not seem to be direct punishments in the New Testament.
We are now under grace with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God uses love to bring people to him. There are indeed potential consequences to our actions. However, the thought of natural disasters as a punishment is not theologically accurate.
God permits things to bring us to him, uses them to get our attention, and draw us near because he so loves and cares about our intimate relationship with him. But he does not necessarily cause them for that specific purpose.
THE REV. KIMBERLIE ZAKARIAN
La Vie Counseling Center in Pasadena
The devastation, death and heartache caused by the Haitian earthquake are beyond description.