So I don’t personally believe in hell, which is frustrating when thinking about all the child raping priests (oh, here are some more links fuck the catholic church) or Mitch McConnell and any senator or talk show host that ignored the brutal murder of elementary school children.
I also feel that these are the same people who don’t think they are going to hell. However, I worried about hell for years. I was a very scrupulous child. I was always afraid of committing a mortal sin, which for the Catholic Church could be murdering someone OR not going to Mass on Sunday. As I left the church, I weirdly didn’t have a lot of sexual hang-ups but there are times I STILL worry about being possessed or going to hell. If you are like me and worry about your eternal salvation, here are some things I remind myself when worried about hell.
I can’t believe in an infinite torture chamber for finite transgressions. I can’t believe that a just god would invest energy to torture a soul for all eternity for 60-80 years on a single planet in our vast universe.
First of all, HOW is that just? How is it merciful? Eternity is a long time to be brutally ass raped by Satan for not going to mass and not feeling sorry about it. I would argue that infinite torture for child sexual abuse, while deeply satisfying to think about, is unjust.
I can’t believe that an all knowing god would send us to hell. God, who supposedly knows all things, doesn’t give us this knowledge but expects us to guess what is the holy thing to do. His revelation, despite being all knowing, is through a text compiled thousands of years ago, and through a secret boys club of child rapists, and yet if I use a condom I’m going to hell? Thank you, next.
Additionally, christians often think of themselves as “children” of God. God is seen as a loving father, while believers think of themselves as his children. Now, imagine if, as a child, you were cruel or misbehaved. You knew it was wrong, but you did it anyway. And then your father kicked you out of his house for all eternity, because you didn’t do what he wanted. Except the only rules he gave you were 10 vague ideas about respect.
People would rightfully call that father an incredibly abusive person.
I also firmly believe that the believe in “sin” ignores the concept of trauma. Many times, “sin” is a way for us to protect ourselves. For instance, many survivors of sexual assault, including me, have engaged in dangerous drug use. The Catholic Church considers this a sin. I consider it a maladaptive coping mechanism. High risk sexual behavior often results after non-consensual sex as a way to reclaim agency. If you have grown up in an abusive home, you might have learned how to lie to protect yourself, to the point of compulsion.
To me, while these actions can create harm and pain in others, they are not “sins.” They are ways to protect yourself. Are they healthy or safe? No. Do they cause pain in others close to us? Yes, they can. But sin totally ignores the reality of trauma and mental illness and abuse. It creates a sense of profound shame that inhibits healing. It prevents us from looking at root causes of our hurt, instead focusing on symptoms.
So I don’t believe in hell. I do believe in pain and evil and dark forces. But I believe that we fight those, not through christian righteousness, but through analyzing our trauma and pain and behavior. I believe we fight back through love and kindness and boundaries. I believe that salvation is available here on earth through healing. I believe that we grow what we plant and cultivate.
Is Hell a reality of the Christian God, who is All Knowing, All Merciful, and All Just? If it is, he is not all merciful or just or all knowing. He is scared. He is weak. He is cruel. And if he is those things, then maybe he is lying about hell too.