Is it a sin to wish hell upon an enemy?

In the play Hamlet, the title character and protagonist seeks to avenge the murder of his father. In one scene he waits in a chapel to ambush his father’s killer, only to decide against this at the last moment. The reason Hamlet decides against taking revenge at this moment is that he wants his father’s killer to go to Hell, and does not think that will happen if he kills the man while in prayer (the dramatic irony is that, unbenounced to Hamlet, his father’s killer was only pretending to pray and thus would go to Hell if he was killed there).

Now very few people actually go on bloodthirsty vendettas, but everybody has been wronged by another person to one degree or another. Sometimes these wrongs are irreparable, and sometimes they are against not us personally but against people we love. Is it unethical then to feel hatred for somebody who irreparably wronged us or our loved ones?

Now some bible verses seem to discourage this (Matthew 5:43-45 has Jesus telling us to forgive our enemies), while others seem to treat it as perfectly reasonable (Psalm 58 and Psalm 83 are prayers for God to kill enemies - not to reform them, not to show them the error of their ways, but to kill them).

So what do you think? Is it acceptable to feel hatred towards somebody who irreparably wrongs you or your loved one?

I mean it probably IS a sin to wish someone to go to Hell. :hmmm:

It’s understandable to feel hatred towards someone who has hurt you.

It is also important to try to forgive and move forward.

Feeling hatred is one thing, but carrying around in your heart will poison you little by little. The person then has power over you to make you feel this hatred. It is like a poison that will not corrode the vessel on which it is poured but will destroy the heart in which it is stored.

Both old and new testament theologies had necessarily different theologies (I say “necessarily”, because there are different conceptions of how God worked in both testaments as salvation history progressed) so there IS a different desire in the psalms compared to Christ’s New Testament discourses on vengefulness. This change of view can be seen in Hosea (in God’s desire for Mercy), and is further elaborated upon by Christ in the Book of Matthew. I think there is a consensus that wishing hell upon an enemy is a sin, because hell is a punishment. However, if the desire that another person is punished for their SINS alone, and not out of any personal vendetta (as is suggested in Hamlet), as that would put both souls in jeopardy.

This is just a commentary on Hamlet (which is in itself a commentary on base human desires, which is what Shakespeare did best, commentary on base desires), which draws for dramatic effect upon the negative aspects of the human condition. In the ordinary sense, though, it is better to pray for mercy and forgiveness, and not for punishment and vengeance.

In the Gospels, our Lord expands the Ten Commandments from the original very narrow interpretations, eg hating someone is** now** like murder.
For some of us, emotion gets in the way of forgiveness, and my only option when that happens is to let it burn itself out. Sometimes, it can take weeks! :eek:

Wishing “harm” on a person’s evil deeds is only right. but wishing hell or death or any other physical or spiritual ill on someone is definitely a violation of the Fifth Commandment. Unless a person with such thoughts repents, he will be held accountable by God, Himself.
“Love the sinner, but hate the sin.”

PS
Arizona Fat Gir sums it all up.
(Sorry, i missed your post first time around! :blush:)

No.

Matt 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,

It might be a sin.

So, No, you may not wish hell upon someone. Jesus ALONE is the Judge.

But you pray that you turn your enemy over to God … and let God deal with that person as He may decide.

You can pray “GOD, HELP ME!!!”

That works more often than you can imagine.

Dear Arizona,

Thank you for your excellent post. :slight_smile:

While I do not agree with everything that the late Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote, he made a very wise observation when he pointed out that to wish hell on another was a grave sin, for three reasons: (i) we are making a mockery of God’s mercy, for it is within His power to redeem the greatest sinner, (ii) we are automatically assuming that we will not be in Hell, whereas the New Testament warns us repeatedly that the road to salvation is not a “cakewalk”, and (iii) by passing such a judgment, we are calling down an equivalent judgment on ourselves - for “by the measure you judge, you will be judged”.

Of course, issues of full knowledge and consent come into play. A “Go to Hell!” uttered in anger, without full consideration of the theological meaning of that statement, is far less grievous than, say, fantasizing about an enemy or an offender burning in Hell and suffering untold torments.

You are to bless your enemies not curse them and “vengeance is mine” says the Lord. You are supposed to pray for them and give them to God to deal with.

You are supposed to forgive them, perhaps even from a distance.

That’s what Jesus preached…so it is a sin to wish hell for someone.

If we genuinely understood Hell, it is said, we would not wish that anybody should go there.

ICXC NIKA

No we are not to hate anyone. No we are not to wish hell on an enemy.

Love your enemies.

It is definitely grave matter to wish someone to go to Hell. All humans are God’s children, and God alone has the right to judge them.

It’s so hard to be holy. It’s difficult for me to hope and pray for anything but the worst possible torturous outcome for abusers of animals and children, but I’m hoping that since I’m actually praying to God for intervention when we pray, that we trust that God sorts it all out when He answers our prayers. So while I don’t think it’s a good thing to do, I think God will answer our prayers as he sees fit, as He always does. :shrug:

It is not acceptable, but is a very grave sin. The most that can be said is that, in certain circumstances, one’s subjective guilt is mitigated to such an extent that the grave sin is not a mortal sin.

Now, you claim that, for example, Psalm 83 is a petition for “God to kill enemies - not to reform them, not to show them the error of their ways, but to kill them).”

Verse 16 of Psalm 83 contradicts this:

Fill their faces with shame,
that they may seek thy name, O Lord.

Regardless, we have to be careful not to engage in anachronistic interpretation, or to project developed theology onto the ancients. We have to keep in mind that the fullness of Revelation came with Christ, and was not present before Him. To the Hebrew mind of the time of David, what exactly happened in the afterlife was not completely known. All the dead went to Sheol together, and therefore death was seen as being the justice of God in action with regard to the wicked. The righteous, on the other hand, were given life, the right to remain alive. Psalm 58 (and others) are appeals to this justice: they ask God to remove the wicked from the earth because of their evil. The ancient mind knew no other form of justice to balance out great evil.

But we do, and that’s the point.

While it is sometimes OK and necessary to rely on mortal force to remove a hostile enemy who is attacking either you or your family or your country or your community, this should not be interpreted as being rooted in vengeance or hatred. This, rather, is deputized justice: it is the justice of God as worked out at the hands of those who are morally permitted to do so, such as the state or a victim in mortal danger.

Asking for God’s mercy on your people, and for His justice on their enemies, can likewise be a form of deputized justice.

But none of that should be confused with hating someone, wishing them to be damned, being utterly overcome with malice, or taking the law into one’s own hands. None of those things are deputized justice. They are simply evil.

On the other hand, all of this should be balanced out by what Fr. Hardon so nicely said in his entry on the imprecatory Psalms in his dictionary:

They were not only statements of the human author, asking God to punish evildoers, but in prophetic terms foretold the divine intention, i.e., what God was going to do to those who resisted his will…

Catechism

2303 Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a5.htm#2303

Catechism

2303 Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a5.htm#2303

Completly. Its wishing the ultimate death and violence upon another human being.

You are obliged to pray for their conversion.

The guy who killed & wounded all those people in London must be tasting the fires of hell…whether we wish it on him or not.
He didn’t have much time to repent before he was killed.

Yes.

Is it acceptable to feel hatred towards somebody who irreparably wrongs you or your loved one?

No.

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