Archive for the ‘punishment’ Tag

Why A Punishment Is Necessary

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:11-13, 2 Nephi 

One question that some people have is that if God loves us, and wants us to be happy, then why doesn’t he just make us happy?  Or, why, specifically, does he have to punish us for doing wrong?  (There’s also the question of why there is pain at all, since some things just happen no matter what we do, but for today I’m just going to focus on why there has to be a punishment for things done wrong.)

The answer is that in order for us to enjoy the happiness that comes from doing good things, we also have to have a punishment for doing wrong.  In 2 Nephi 2:11-13 it says:

And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

The misconception is that if there was no punishment for sin, then we would all just be happy.  What Lehi is saying is that if there was no punishment for sin then we would not be happy or sad, we just wouldn’t even be.  Without the ability to choose right or wrong, and then reap the consequences, we would be mindless automatons without any life at all.  He says that happiness does not come from the mere absence of sin or punishment, but from choosing the right when we have the opporunity to choose wrong.  In order for all of this to work then punishment must come to those who choose wrong.

In my life I feel the most happiness and self-fulfillment when I am reaping the consequences of some right action.  That might be in my family when I choose to love and sacrifice for them, or in my career when I work hard to excel, or in my personal life when I work to achieve a goal.  The things that do not require me to choose, or to work, do not bring me much happiness.

It looks like this concept is discussed quite a bit more in 2 Nephi 2, so you can look forward to future posts on this topic.

Today my baby is sick and I have been running around a lot and feeling rather overwhelmed.  For the rest of the day today, though, I am going to remember that I am free to choose actions that will make me happy (such as taking a little bit of time to relax and being happy doing what I can) or things that will make me unhappy (such as worrying about the baby and wasting time doing nothing or fluttering about trying to do too much), and then choose to do things that will make me happy.

What in your life has brought you the most happiness? How would you choose differently if you never had to face a bad consequence for a bad choice?


Ends of the Law

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:10, D&C 19:16-17

The following sentence is confusing, but I think I figured it out.  The sentence from 2 Nephi 2:10 is:

Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement—

The part that was confusing me was the “ends of the law which the Holy one hath given… to answer the ends of the Atonement.”  However, if you look a few verses earlier you see that the “ends of the law which the Holy one hath given” is the Atonement, which he gave to answer the ends of the law.  From verse 7:

Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

So, when you take “ends of the law” to mean to debt owed by breaking the law, this verse is saying that through the Atonement, Christ suffered the punishment that was attached to the law.  You could not have rewards without punishment, and vice versa.

The thing that really struck me, today, though, is the emphasis on punishment.  Christ didn’t break the law, but he took upon himself my punishment, enabling me to repent and change my ways before the final judgment.  In D&C 19:16-17 it says:

For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

When I think about the mistakes I have sometimes made, and how bad I feel when I make them, I feel very grateful for the Savior and the Atonement.

Today I am going to make a large effort to be more grateful as I go through my day.  It is an area I can improve, and will help me remember how blessed I am.

What kind of punishments have you experienced from breaking the law (any law)? What would you do to avoid that punishment in the future?