Hell confuses me

I’ll be very honest that I don’t understand hell. Eternal damnation FOREVER to person a loving and merciful God created? I cannot wrap my mind around it at all, no matter what his/her sins are.
What’s the history of the teaching…and how does one even fathom something like hell from a loving God?

Hell is a function of our free will.

A loving God would not condemn a person to spend eternity in his presence if they want separation from him. That would be an evil God who forces submission.

Everyone chooses. The angels who rebelled chose separation from God, even though they knew what that meant. Some people choose it too.

It would be helpful to understand what you do believe and understand about God. How do you make sense of the horror that happens to innocent people in the world right now, and God’s allowance of it? Do you trust that God was correct in demanding the execution of wrongdoers in the Jewish community by stoning? I think it would be beneficial to learn how the Fathers of the Church viewed all these things, and see that maybe Heavenly life is not really just a “place” that we can squeak into, but really is only attained by an ascetic and sacramental life. So how could habitual sinners that we must trust God has given numerous opportunities for conversion, beyond any human level of compassion, experience God’s presence, which is dispassionate (meaning not influenced by the passions)?

Without making the penalty “real”, many of our beloved Saints would never have begun their path to becoming radiant lights in Christ. If even only one person was to become like Christ, it would be worth the billions that chose a life in hell. The value of one saint cannot be compared to the wicked. All have the potential and superabundant grace given to them to be one of the Saints, when they reject this, it is only themselves that they can blame.

Well, no, I don’t think God would ever want someone to stone someone else, then or now. If you are referring to some of the violence in the old testament, I don’t know why some of it is attributed to God wanting some of it to happen. The sanctity of human life he created…doesn’t fit with the idea a human can stone another to death, no matter what. I guess that’s where I’m at with thinking about that.

As for the innocent who suffer, I do not know why. I trust that someday we might understand in Heaven. It’s a big question. I think it’s one many ponder.

Does the Catholic conception of hell also include eternal emotional pain and suffering due to the separation from G-d, or actual physical torment? If so, who would choose either of these by exercising their free will?


People do choose things like driving through a red light knowing they could hit another car and die but still do it.

I appreciate your honesty in these responses, you seem interested in finding truths from God instead of trying to make God fit your thinking. I really encourage to read the following homily from St. John Chrysostom that explains quite a bit about suffering and conceived injustices. It was really helpful for me when I had questions about these topics.

God bless,


A couple of things need to be taken into account -including the metaphysical implications of a Hell, which center around the immateriality of the soul; the lack of corporeal faculties in a disembodied soul which prevent it’s will from desiring multiple conceived goods, etc. Most of all, try not think of Hell as something that merely missing mass on Sunday can cause.

In any event, read this article by Edward Feser called How To Go To Hell. It will provide an wealth of perspective and information regarding the realities of Hell, it’s implication, and how it fits totally in line with the concept of a Loving and Merciful God.

Yes,nour concept of Hell does include that, as well as eternal “physical” torment.

I guess I am just a trouble maker but brain research is telling us that we are not nearly as free as we think.


And when I say shed new light, what I really mean is that a variety of experiments performed over the past 20 years have provided some objective data supporting some very solid arguments against free will.


Hell is SUPPOSED to scare you! Not just confuse! Our Monsignor gave a good description, its for those who think they are beyond redemption, or those who think they don’t need any.

God gave mankind free will (and the angels too). If a person does not want to know God then God does not force it on that person. After death this choice is not changeable, which I suspect is what bothers you.

Hi, May!

…I think you are following the theology of “not so, because…”

'It cannot be. It is not so. God is a God of Love, right, so He would not do that.!

You are correct, God would not do that! But man… well… it’s not for naught that Scriptures tells us that God’s foolishness is Wiser than man’s wisdom:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]31 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. 32 And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats…

41 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. 44 Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? 45 Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. 46 And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.

(St. Matthew 25:31-46)

16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. 18 He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. 20 For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. 21 But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God. (St. John 3:16-21)
It is man’s choice.

Let’s say you have a phobia… to farm work (soil, plants, trees, farm animals…) and I, seeking to relieve you of your phobia, abduct you and force you to work on a farm for hundreds/thousands of years… would you consider me a “friend” or would you hate me every second of every hour that you are forced to exist in such condition?

…now let’s employ that in a slight different way… say God abducts all who reject Him (through sin or refusal to Believe) and forces them to suffer Him through Eternity in a place where they would be unable to do as they please (sin and reject God)… do you think that they would “love” God for forcing them to “Love” God?

Maran atha!



The angels knew exactly what they were doing - they had the knowledge. People don’t. I don’t believe in an eternal hell - that would be a terrible eternal life.

Human death is proof positive that God is not averse to hideous outcomes.

Compared to that, Hell just makes sense!


Hi, Meltzerboy!

…I think there has been a turning around about the physical aspect (mostly I think it’s the “bleeding hearts”) but Scriptures are quite adamant:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]42 And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire: 43 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. 44 And if thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off. It is better for thee to enter lame into life everlasting, than having two feet, to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire: 45 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. 46 And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out. It is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God, than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire: 47 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished.

(St. Mark 9:42-47)

27 And he shall say to you: I know you not, whence you are: depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. (St. Luke 13:27-28)
The depiction given by Christ (which the wishful thinkers would relegate to allegory) is quite vivid and perceived by the senses.

…however, you seem to err in thinking that a rational person would not choose to reject God because of the fear of hell or because of the fear of separation from God… man is a rational being, correct? Why does a rational being chooses hate and destruction rather than love and edifying/nourishing? Why does a rational being hoards wealth and material goods while forcing other “rational” beings into a indigent existence? Why does a rational being engages in mass murder of children in their mothers’ wombs and capitalizes on its victims’ body parts?..

Man is blinded by sin (Satan) and he chooses death rather than Life (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Maran atha!



Hi, Michael!

…didn’t go to the links… consider the following:

  • Why is it that while “under the influence” there has never been a documented case where people go out of their way to assist the elderly (handyman, lawn care/snow removal, paying their bills, taxes, bringing them food, caring for the abandoned/lonely…)?

  • Why is it that people can spend thousands of dollars on the latest electronics (though they already own 2/3/4 of the same) while they do not give generously to the Church or adopt a needy family/children?

  • Why is it that people can spend billions of dollars on “pets” which they quickly anthropomorphize into “children” while they refuse to adopt human babies and children?

  • Why is it that man questions God’s Will that he be Holy while embracing everything that the culture offers as “entertainment” and “freedom?”

…just because man chooses to be less than a herd animal by following into death and destruction those that openly lead them to death and destruction does not mean that man is not exercising his Divinely Given freewill!

Maran atha!


Hi, Bonnie!

…so you do not Believe Jesus?

…and as far as not knowing… why is it that toddlers go into “silent mode” when they are up to no good? …and why is it that “I don’t know” is always blamed for everything that goes wrong?

Maran atha!


…and you still consider yourself a Catholic? :confused:

Yep, free-will is to a significant extent a mirage; get used to it.


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