Does God ever do bad things?

by Matt Slick

No, God doesn’t do bad things. That is, He never does anything that is morally wrong. However, He can do things that people might consider bad, such as sending a plague or a famine (Ezekiel 14:21) to discipline His people. Though we might consider such things to be bad, they are not morally wrong. Not liking it doesn’t make it right or wrong. 

The consequences of sin in the world, and its effect upon the world, are going to run their course. For reasons that are known only to God Himself, He allows the effects of sin to manifest all around us. This includes allowing famine, plagues, and earthquakes. But God is sovereign and works through them to bring about the purposes that He has ordained to occur (Ephesians 1:11).

Furthermore, when we ask what is “bad,” we are talking about opinions. What is bad to one person may not be bad to another. In addition, some “bad” things are moral and others are not. For example, when someone murders another person that is morally bad, but falling down some stairs and breaking a leg is not--though it is also bad and causes suffering.  

When we think about it, we realize that God allows both murder and tripping down stairs. Is God obligated to prevent both? If so, at what point do we say that He has to stop bad things from happening in other areas? At stubbing a toe? At a tsunami that wipes out 100,000 people? Somewhere in between? Who are we then to judge where the line should be drawn and what constitutes bad from good? Trying to answer the question means that we are trying to speak for God. It is best to accept the fact that God has reasons for allowing what He does in the world. Consider these verses:

  • Exodus 4:11, “And the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?”
  • Isaiah 45:7, “The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.

As you can see, God does things we might consider “bad,” but they are not morally wrong--and that is a very important point. God cannot violate His holy nature, but He does have purposes for allowing different kinds of bad things to happen to people. After all, He even disciplines those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:6), and sometimes such discipline can mean difficulties that we might consider to be bad. He does this because He is the sovereign Lord who works all things after the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11). So, whatever God does is good, and whatever He allows to happen has a purpose. As Christians, we need to trust Him.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.