On Saying To Hell With Hell

Even though I was raised in a secular household, I can remember having a fear of Hell even as a child. Seeing images of fire and torment on TV, in movies, and in books was terrifying to behold. While it certainly wasn’t a subject which kept me up at night or gave me nightmares, I had an irrational fear that I might somehow end up there. I was scared of it, and so I wanted to learn about it to try and understand it better. I know now that many of the references in the scriptures to things like locations of unending fires referred to actual physical locations and not metaphysical ones, and that the modern perception of Hell is one informed primarily by Western fictional literary creations. As a result of my self-education my belief in Hell has shifted pretty dramatically. I no longer believe in the stereotypical concept of Hell filled with fire and horned demons poking people. In fact, I don’t really believe in the Christian idea of Hell at all.

In my opinion, Hell cannot exist if one believes in a loving and forgiving God as the two ideas are mutually exclusive. If you believe that God created mankind and endowed us with free will, then how can that same God punish a person who never asked to be created in the first place for exercising the free will he/she was endowed with by the Creator? That seems awfully cruel and hypocritical of said Creator to me. I’m sure there are people out there protesting that certainly a Hell must exist as there are people on this Earth who have done things worthy of terrible and eternal punishment. I would have to agree that there are certain individuals who have existed, exist now, and will exist in the future who I too feel deserve to be punished for truly heinous actions; murderers, rapists, child molesters, animal abusers, Hitler, etc. However, I am not God. You are not God. Our personal feelings and wants for those we feel have done enormous wrong are borne out of a very base human desire to see the good rewarded and the bad punished. That’s what WE want and have projected these desires on to our image of who God is and what God does. If we perceive something to be just and good, how could God disagree? If we feel that someone deserves to suffer for murdering a child, how could God disagree? 

After much thought on this subject, though, I’ve come to the conclusion that God is ultimately loving and forgiving. That’s not just a hope that I have personally, but is a belief borne from my own reading and research into issues of theology, history, alleged near-death experiences, and my own spiritual experiences. From what I know about God I know it to be true that God loves me and God loves you (rhyming unintentional, haha).
Here’s a question for you: If God can condemn people to an eternity of torment and suffering for an action, thought, or belief with no hope of reprieve for them ever, then does that not mean that there is a limit to God’s grace? Think about it for a few minutes. If there is a limit to what God can forgive, how does that leave any hope for any of us? Furthermore, if Hell is a place that you believe is the final resting stop for certain souls for all of eternity, what good does that really do anyone? I mean really? How does it please God to see one of his own creation be in eternal pain? How does it serve the soul placed there to never be allowed to move past that place? Where’s the spiritual growth? Where’s the forgiveness, love, and compassion in hurting someone forever and ever? Just because you want to see that person suffer doesn’t mean that God wants it too.
It is my own personal belief and opinion that if Hell is supposed to be a place of suffering, torment, despair, and feeling separate from God then that place sounds an awful lot like Earth. We already exist in a world populated with unfathomable amounts of pain experienced the world over in an untold variety of ways – torture, rape, genocide, famine, disease, mental illness, etc. I can’t believe that on the other side of life exists an unending onslaught of pain too. Everyone is welcome to their own beliefs and opinions on the afterlife as that’s all we have to go on, so I choose to believe in a place of endless peace, love, forgiveness, and grace for every person who has ever lived and will ever live on this Earth.
God = Love. The End.
+ K +