Is God Fair?
In our missionary work nonbelievers confront us to test our faith. Often questions are asked as an assault, and in that case they should not be answered, because the Scriptures teach, Answer not a fool according to his folly…” (Proverbs 26:4). Yet occasionally a question is sincere, and certainly should be answered. Usually we are able to explain with a scripture passage, but ultimately the answer comes down to the fact that God’s ways are not our ways. As God said through the prophet Isaiah, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). Nevertheless, sometimes a scripture verse can—and should be—proved and explained logically.
A frequent question is, “How can a fair God require the same thing of people living in different times and circumstances? How can he judge them on the same level?”
The answer must be that circumstances and people vary, but God’s measure or standard remains fixed. Therefore, God has chosen to judge humanity in an area that is equal for all social classes, nationalities and intelligences. That area is morality. No matter how informed or uninformed a person may be, he or she is capable of committing deeds that are good and deeds that are bad. This statement stands true apart from any specific rule or code. An honest questioner should admit that much.
It follows, then, that because all people do things that may be classified as wrong or bad, all people can be lumped into a broad category known as “imperfect.” Granted, some things that some people do are worse than others, but everyone is imperfect. God, however, is perfect, and our imperfection separates us from him. This is still an equal category for all people.
A nonbeliever’s question at this point might be, “If all of humanity is equal, why do Christians say that they are going to heaven while unbelievers are not? Isn’t that unfair of God?” The answer is that God has provided an escape to all people at the same level. Salvation is free to all. A rich man is no better off than a poor man. A murderer is no worse off than a cheater. God is not prejudiced. Salvation is made available to all at the same price. We are saved by grace, a free gift from him to us—as one anagram puts it, God’s riches at Christ’s expense.
God is not unfair in judging sin. The responsibility lies with the individual to avail himself or herself of God’s provision—forgiveness through the atonement of our righteous Messiah Yeshua.