Hell no! Torture is not loving.

Good morning lovelies. Today, we have a rare treat. A guest post by my awesome husband Kent Krabill! Enjoy.


 

hellI’ve been thinking a lot lately about why people believe in a “loving” God who they simultaneously believe will torment the majority of people who have ever lived for ever and ever in a fiery place called hell.  If there is such a “loving” God (I don’t believe there is, of course), then nobody should willingly worship him (if, at some point, there is actually an all-powerful God who torments people for ever and ever in a fiery place called hell, and my “choice” is worship or be tormented, I guess I might change my mind and give in.  I mean really, eternal torment in a fiery place?  That sounds really bad).

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, yeah.  So, lots of my friends and family are seemingly okay with this disgusting, monstrous caricature of a god.  They go to churches and sing love songs to him (honestly, a lot of these songs sound like they are singing to their lover, but that is for another post).  But have you ever really thought this thing through?  Have you ever sat back and considered what it would be like if this “loving” God actually tormented and tortured millions of conscious souls forever?  Some of you get upset that the government water boards a few people for a few minutes to get key intelligence.  But this “loving” God you are worshipping is apparently going to do much, much worse, and it will be for ever and ever.  And you are ok with that?

If there is a “loving” God like this and he is actually going to torture people for ever and ever, this “loving” God is much worse that any notion of “Satan” or the “Devil” that we find in the Scriptures (or anywhere else, for that matter).  I mean, that creature called “Satan” or the “Devil” wreaks havoc for a while, but at least his cruelty has a stopping point.  Right?  I mean, he ends up getting tortured forever, right?  So at most, he gets to wreak havoc for what, say a few thousand or million years (shout out to all the young Earth folks reading this!).  But this “loving” God you are singing sappy love songs to is going to be torturing people forever and ever.  Let that sink in.

Maybe, just maybe, if there is a “loving” God, this being actually loves.  Maybe, just maybe, this being is a merciful God and a compassionate God.  Maybe, just maybe, this being isn’t against humanity, but for humanity.  Maybe, just maybe, this being isn’t out to torture you, but to suffer and die and take all the shit humanity has to dish out in order to show you how much he/she/it loves you.  Hmmm.

The writers of Scripture used powerful language to convey important concepts.  We do this all the time today, both in writing and verbally.  I mean, read a couple of sentences back.  Humanity didn’t really serve up Jesus a dish of shit, right?  So maybe, just maybe, this God you are so fond of isn’t really planning on tormenting and torturing the bad guys (or, actually, all those folks who never heard of or believed in Jesus) for ever and ever.  Yes, there are verses in the gospels and Revelation that contain strong language about eternal torment.  But maybe, just maybe, that strong language is used to emphasize the extent and power of the warning.  In fact, if we look back at much of the strong language used in the Hebrew Scriptures, we see examples of this all the time:

Isaiah 34:9-10

And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch,

and her soil into sulfur;

her land shall become burning pitch.

Night and day it shall not be quenched;

its smoke shall go up forever.

From generation to generation it shall lie waste;

none shall pass through it forever and ever.

Of course, we all know that this isn’t true.  Many of you have visited this very area, passed through it, and know there is no smoke going up today.  But the message of the passage is clear, right?  We don’t have to pretend it is real.  In fact, doing so totally takes away from the power of the language.

So, to recap, God is not a total asshole like you have been taught.  This loving being isn’t going to eternally torture or torment anyone.  In fact, this loving being isn’t going to torture or torment anyone.  Ever.  At anytime.  Why?  Because this loving being is about good news, not bad.  This loving being is for humanity, not against it.  You are loved.  Just as you are.  So embrace that love.  And pass it on.

Oh, and stop worrying about spending an eternity in hell.  There is enough hell right here on Earth to worry about.  So let’s take action to end that hell.  And bring peace on Earth and good will to men.  Sound good?

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What if Hell isn’t actually just Facebook? (a response)

Today Matthew Paul Turner wrote a post called, “What If Hell Is Actually Just Facebook?” You really should go read it before you read this as I have taken much of what he wrote and rephrased it into my response.

What if Hell isn’t actually just Facebook?
Think about it. What if Hell isn’t a literal place buried deep in the center of Earth, but instead, it’s just anywhere and any system that keeps us from loving God and loving each other? What if Hell sometimes is a place or a decision in the hearts of humans? What if Facebook on the other hand is neutral and can become either the Kingdom of God breaking through on my iPhone or a portal of ugliness and as Mr. Turner postulates, hell? What if, as so many things in life the answer is in what you bring to it? It bothers me when we as Christians blame something that is simply a mirror for the image we see in it. What if Facebook is actually just a mirror?

What if, rather than being a place that burns the souls of humankind, Facebook allows me to connect in ways I cannot in person? What if it allows me to maximize my time, concentrate my energies, and connect on an emotional level with people I would not otherwise have the occasion to see on a regular basis because of time or geography?

What if instead of Hell’s wailing and weeping being the silent plea to be “Liked,” that plea to be liked and approved of was just our normal human cry for community and what if it was met with the unconditional love of Christ?
What if Facebook isn’t scary at all, but rather another avenue for community and relationships that we keep open on our laptops and scroll through on our smart phones like so many run-ins with friends at the local grocery store or dog park?
What if instead of the gnashing of teeth being the mostly inaudible noise we engage in our feeds, the complaining, the opinion-making, the sharing, the selfie taking, the oohing and ahhing, and the liking? What if those again were opportunities to be enlightened, to learn something, to reach out to someone in their loneliness, their success, their joy or their sorrow and let them know they are not alone? What if the opinion sharing and pontificating and debating was no different than the public squares of days gone by where people have persuaded each other or agreed to disagree?

What if instead of demons being trolls or online friends who seem to constantly challenge our ideas and opinions, leaving mean-spirited (sometimes hateful) comments in reaction to our status updates and pictures they they were real people in need of real friends, or rescue, or sacrificial love?? Or what if instead of comparing the friends who really like us, who innocently “Like” our virtual stuff, join our virtual causes, and virtually tell us we’re awesome aren’t demons either but people who actually want to provide encouragement and support?

What if Facebook instead of being Hell or even an innocent distraction, something that we engage when we are bored, lonely, insecure, proud, angry, broke, empty, aroused, or merely awake…what if it was an opportunity to bring the Kingdom of God in yet another way? What if Hell/Facebook isn’t just a grand entertainment, a leisure activity that diverts our attentions away from the who(s) and what(s) and where(s) that are most important? But is another way of engaging those very who(s), what(s) and where(s)?
What if, instead of joining Hell, we’ve been given a powerful opportunity; An intimate invitation into people’s lives at the moments when they are most vulnerable, most open? What if it actually allows us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn? What if, amid  our best intentions to avoid Hell, we are blaming the mirror instead of the image we bring to it?
What if Hell is actually not just Facebook but a place within ourselves or a decision we make?
Would we be able to recognize it in our reflection instead of blaming the mirror?
Would we even want to?
Or would we rather go on believing that it is some thing outside ourselves, something we feel better about blaming rather than taking responsibility for the Hell of our own making.