Natural Consequences

Question:

 

What is a natural consequence and how is using them not punishment?

Answer:

 

I believe that the definition of “natural consequences” is “what God set up as the consequences of actions”. If God set it up to happen that way without human interference then it’s a natural consequence. God set up the principle that “the wages of sin is death” so anything that appears to be God punishing someone in the Bible is better understood as His removal of protection against the wages of sin. It would be different if it weren’t a principle of how things work and God came in at a particular moment and imposed it, but we would be better to see Grace (whether temporal and dependant on the person’s actions as under the Law or unconditional and dependant only on Jesus’ atoning sacrifice under the New Covenant) and God protecting humans from the predetermined wages of sin.

There are other natural consequences and they exist for every action we may choose. If you run on wet cement you may slip and fall. If you go outside without your coat you may feel cold. If you push your mother beyond her ability to cope you may frustrate her and she may lose control, which will have natural consequences for her as well. If you have premarital sex you face the possibility of contracting an STD, becoming pregnant, and bonding emotionally with a person not your spouse. Adultery may result in any of those things as well as the potential destruction of your marriage-or at least the trust in your marriage. Refusal to work means a lack of income.

I could continue. They key is-natural consequences occur UNLESS you intervene AND they carry with them innate and unavoidable lessons. The reason natural consequences are not punishments is that you don’t have to come up with them, they aren’t something imposed by mom or dad and they aren’t a reactive response to a child’s behavior.

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