If punishment is an indictment of the Punisher, then all punishment itself is unrighteous, and such logic would mean that a “good God” could not punish sin at all. The matter of severity becomes the next question. Can a “good God” punish to this degree, that is, to the degree of eternal torment? In other words, is God going overboard? But this is not a question that we can presently answer, because we do not have all of the facts, but what we can say is, that divine punishment itself, is not unrighteous, no more than it would be unrighteous for our legal system to place a rapist behind bars. But even in our legal system, we can differentiate between what is just vs. what is considered to be cruel, as in “cruel and unusual punishment.” To place such a charge against God, though, for the sake of eternal torment in Hell, presupposes that we have all of the facts necessary upon which to deliver a verdict, when in fact, we simply do not. To make such a verdict, therefore, is premature. It should also be pointed out that God endured great sacrifice in order to provide an alternative to eternal torment, which was the crucifixion of His Son, Jesus Christ. So part of the severity of God’s judgment runs parallel to the free pardon to avoid such a fate, the rejection of which, would make mankind twice guilty, both for the initial offense, and then also for the rejection of the pardon.
There are other questions as well. How would you, as a Christian, answer whether God could be a moral and righteous Being for ordering the genocide of the Canaanites? Joshua 10:40 states: “Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded.” 1st Samuel 15:3 also states: “‘Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
What about the exclusivity of salvation, when considering all of the other religions of the world? Adrian Rogers recalled once being asked whether he believed that a Jew without Jesus is going to Hell. His answer was that even one of his own children, without Jesus, was going to Hell. So that undercut the antisemitic allegation. Adrian Rogers’ affirmation was no more antisemitic than he was anti his own children. But still, there are difficult questions that Christians must explain. Exodus 32:25-29 states: “Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control—for Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies—then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, ‘Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!’ And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. He said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.”’ So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, ‘Dedicate yourselves today to the Lord—for every man has been against his son and against his brother—in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.’” Imagine sending your own son into eternity, in that condition. Perhaps, in time, they might have repented? But the order was given, and it was not about allowing more time, and it’s your own son that we are talking about. Someone else’s son might be easier, but this is about your own son.
Does a child agree with their parent about having to take a nap, or about being denied an ice cream dessert, or about having to go to bed while a favorite TV show has just come on? Is a child ordered to agree with their parent about getting spanked? Ultimately, it’s not always about whether you agree in these instances, but whether you submit to them. A child may not understand why they need a nap, or that a particular dessert item is bad for them, or that being disciplined is for their moral development. Similarly, the most important thing is not that you must understand or agree with all that God has said and ordered in the Bible, but that you submit to them. Jesus said: “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4) So, ultimately, I don’t have to explain all of those things. I just need to trust in God as a child, and know that He is good, and know that He loves us, as a heavenly parent, and that He has our best interests at heart, no matter what it may seem like, from our limited standpoint, and just determine to submit to His will. Does that make sense?