Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The "Hell" Thing

I have quite a few Christian friends and almost friends. One of the more interesting topics to discuss with them (or you) is hell and how it relates to the overall characteristics of God and/or Jesus. Now, I fully realize that since NONE of us know what happens after we die, that some people are reluctant to even discuss it. But, in my need to understand as much as I can about people, the world, and myself, I enjoy such conversations.

Most everyone I know that is religious is a Christian, so that's the point of view I will be taking up. Not to knock Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, Reptilians, followers of Zeus or anyone's just that Christianity is my background. 

I kind of get that if you don't express faith in God/Jesus that you must be separated from him. God made the rules, so in it's simplest form, I don't disagree with that. But, when you bring hell into the equation, I get really messed up. You see, I was told from a VERY early age that I was always being watched. All of my thoughts were being heard. Even if I thought something and didn't act on it, I was held responsible. Add to the fear that there was no way for me to ever be alone to just think, that I believed I would inevitably go to hell because the bar was so high. Then, put a heavy pile of guilt on, with a side order of being scared to death that we were gonna get nuked by the Russians at any minute. I'm firmly convince that that bullshit, along with the abuse my father heaped out on my family, is why it has taken me so long to finally be comfortable just being who I am. 

If I reject Jesus, and if Bible God is real, I'm going to hell. I sinned the ultimate sin and so I have to pay. Like prison or standing in the corner. But, forever? And burning? God really couldn't come up with anything better? Like just smiting me out of existence? What's in it for God that he needs a place to put souls, so they will burn forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever..........that's not a long's FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Eternity. Again, what's in it for God/Jesus? Is that really a punishment that fits the crime? Who is he trying to persuade to be good? Those in heaven? Well, they are in heaven, so it seems like they really wouldn't need any convincing to be good. They made it. Hooray for them! Torturing someone for eternity can lead me to believe only one conclusion; that God gets some sort of pleasure in the torture of the very souls he created. God KNOWS we are unworthy. God KNOWS we are sinners. Yet, a hundred years of hell isn't enough to let you know you screwed up. Only eternity will teach you a lesson. And it's a lesson you can't come back from. Because it's forever. No rehab. Forever. I will not even mention that we are given so little proof that Bible God is THE true god, though I guess I just did mention it.  2/3 of the planet doesn't subscribe to Bible God. So, here we are with a bunch of other gods and if you are not born in a Christian nation, you will likely serve another type of god. It's tough to win. It's like a cosmic lottery. If Bible God is the way to eternal life, he sure didn't give us much to go on and really hasn't been fair with a good portion of the inhabitants of the place he created.  We are judged to get an eternity of either heaven or hell based on a small amount of time, that amounts to less than the head of a pin when looked at through eternity. 

The attributes of God read just like the attributes of man. God is jealous and full of vengeance. God is kind. God loves. God forgives. God rewards. God punishes. Apparently God is remorseful. And, from what I've learned about the human race and religious leaders, it seems that God has an awful lot in common with the emotions and actions of man. If there is a god (and I'm not sayin' there ain't) I would hope that it is way more powerful and way beyond any simple emotion or pettiness that any of us could come up with.

I obviously don't believe in hell. But I can't understand why hell isn't a stumbling block for more many  Christians. It sounds like something a person would say to a kid to get them to act right. Sort of like saying "Keep making that face and it will stay that way". There are quite a few Christians that don't believe in hell. That is confusing also. If it's interpretation, then that's just one more problem to think through.

  I don't tell my kids that God/Jesus is listening to their thoughts and watching their every move. I don't tell them that if they don't believe they will go to hell forever when they die. I don't tell them that people they know who didn't believe in God are in hell. For my money, that's child abuse. I've seen what it's done to me and some others in my family and I refuse to have my kids going down the same path, getting the same mind bang that I got. My kids are being raised Christian and I don't have a huge problem with that. But, their upbringing is going to paint religion as more personnel and local and not on the level of some sort of grand scheme of which we are all a part of. Hell scares kids, and maybe eternal torment is not something that should motivate them to love a god. I imagine that was the point when it was thought up.  Think of yourself looking at your child and saying, "Disown me and I'll toss you in the microwave......forever."

I've said my peace on it. I want to know if hell and the concept of it trouble anyone? Especially Christians. How do you feel about telling your young kids about it? Is it a good idea to try to get someone to be good out of fear or should we try to appeal to someone to do right, because it's right? 

My intent here is not to criticize believers or mock anyone. Just trying to understand life.

And, don't some people really seem way too into the theory of hell as punishment? Almost like they are glad they get to look down on sinners and remind them that they are going to hell? Check this site out....there are plenty like it and plenty worse.....


  1. Times are changing. Too fast, actually. We grab onto things to keep our heads above water. The desperation we see in so much Evangelical writing and thought is every bit of that - desperation. The words - in spite of our modern times - get more mean and nasty, more resentful, complete with increasing amounts of Hell talk - that they talked me out of any respect for what they stand for. We're all suffering from technological change - the world got so frikkin small, I can take 2 minutes to dial up Israel and speak with a Priest at Christ's birthplace. Don't laugh, I speak with an Israeli Mom daily and we have talked from Armageddon (a small useless field, lol, where they picnic sometimes) to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. She'll call now and then just to say where she is. "I'm looking for Jesus for ya!", she says, lol. Economic hard times are tough, too, making the next world even more appealing, just like it was before the invention of the freezer and washing machine.

    The glorification of Reason - which corresponded to the Birth of The USA - hit religion pretty hard. We can also call a Moslem in Brussels (been there, done that) or a Taoist in Australia (same deal) - which certainly causes an afterlife dilemma when you stop and think how plain nice these people are, and how they mean a lot to a person. I can't picture these souls going to Hell because they happen to be Jewish, Moslem or Confucian, can you? Lottery, lol - well put, Freddy.

    Anyway, they're all around us, these dam heathens, and closer than ever. Makes it hard for a smug Christian to finger it all out. I like what Mark Twain said, long before modern technology made neighbors out of the starving children of the world:

    "When I consider the miserable sons of bitches who are so sure they're going to Heaven, I like to consider the alternatives."

  2. I strive for one good line a year....maybe the "cosmic lottery" was it! :-)

    Steve, once again, you are able to personalize what I'm talking about. Being a person who communicates with all sorts of people around the globe, it must be nice to be able to see beyond the hand in front of your face. Not that the religious are not smart, but I think sometimes it's easier to stay locked into a thought process that we learned as children. Accept what you are told. No wonder teenagers rebel. By the time they are 15, they've been lied to, misled, and condescended to so long, that a little bit of mental freedom must make them feel like Andy DeFrain when he came out of the Shawshank!

  3. Great post. I walked the aisle at age five out of fear of hell. I've spent most of my years in fear of everything I say or do or think sending me to hell. What amazes me is that preachers tell us that God doesn't send us to Hell, we send ourselves to hell. Isn't that nice. And as a christian, I believed that.
    I hate the doctrine of Hell. I think it's an insidious way to inslave children to a lifetime of servitude to the Lord Jesus and His unholy church.

    1. Sorry I never replied to this. If you ever read this; thanks for the words. I'm sorry you had to go through that torture as a child. You are not alone in this world. Let people know how you feel!