On the eternal punishment of hell


How can we go to hell for all eternity if the sins we committed were temporal? If someone commits a mortal sin, let’s say lust or theft, why would we be punished for all eternity, especially if someone died maybe with only one mortal sin on their soul? It doesn’t make sense to me.

It makes more sense to go to like purgatory for a while. And, if God is merciful and just, wouldn’t it make more sense that He punishes us temporarily and then saves us? To me, the jewish concept of afterlife is making more sense to be honest.


Every sin mortal or venial has temporal damage associated with them. These must be corrected either in Purgatory or through penance or such. But mortal sins in addition cut off our connection with God and this is only rectified through Confession whereas venial sins are forgiven during mass (Kyrie Elaision)

Keep in mind, the heart of any sin is a choice, Fr. Mike Schmitz makes this very clear. Sin is knowing what God wants but us choicing to do different. In effect, we chose hell by our actions. But there is also infinite mercies in confession!


I believe the Israelis already had the concept of the Hell of the damned opposed to the prison or Abraham Boosom.
When we sin against GOD we see only the effect the sin has on ourselves. Selfish as we are we don’t take into account all the ramifications that sin has that affects others.


Joanna, the problem is that the sins we committed, if unrepented at the time of death, become eternal and everlasting, just as after death WE become eternal and everlasting.

Let’s say that I committed adultery. I knew it was wrong, but I decided to do it anyway, because it was more important to me to have sex with a lover than to obey God. And I was never sorry. And I died, and had the opportunity to repent at the point of death, but I still decided that I was not sorry.

The actual act of adultery had taken place in time. But my refusal to repent at death meant for all the rest of eternity I would keep on with the mortal sin of refusing to repent for a mortal sin I had done.

Does that help you to understand? If I don’t repent a mortal sin, the act of not repenting is itself a mortal sin, and it is a sin I ‘keep on committing’ eternally.

Eternity isn’t just a collection of day after day where, “Oh hey, it’s been 10,000 years since I refused to repent, maybe it’s time now, OK, I’ll repent”.

Eternity is kind of like an endless ‘now’ (because it isn’t time, it is ‘out of’ time). We move and praise and experience the Beatific Vision and we have all our mental capacity and we will know and do all kinds of things, BUT it won’t be in a way like now, we won’t be feeling, “OK right now I’m doing halo polishing, and then it’s off to harp practice, and next week we’re having cloud computing”. We won’t be experiencing ‘linear time’ so we won’t be able to think, “I will change my mind about sin” or "I will change my mind’ indeed about anything, not because we’re programmed or robots, but because in going to heaven we have already chosen to align ourselves with God in perfection. We will be perfect, just as He is perfect. And that means that we can’t do a 180 and ‘change’ from imperfect to perfect, which is what it would mean by changing from "I won’t repent’ to "I will repent.’


I think a lot of this gets messed up because we’re used to living in a time-stream. But go ahead and step into eternity for a minute. A place where you never age? Never forget? Never get to undo your negative.

So tell me how you get a soul that’s left this earth with a full selfish leaning? And now ship it into heaven as though nothing much happened. I mean sure you could go with the purgatory angle and just figure all things can be washed out? But I think what you’re forgetting is there’s a disposition that’s needed to make that process work.

I mean if you’re not aimed true? I mean if you leave earth like a bent arrow? Then no amount of fixing your flight feathers is really gonna help. There’s nothing left after you die that makes you changing your disposition really possible. Because you now have full knowledge. So what’s so heroic about you making the after-choice at that point? I mean that doesn’t really solve your problem. It doesn’t really prove that when things are hard? You’d do hard things.

No. All it proves at that point is you’ll throw your ballot behind the winning team.

But at that point? Why do they need or even want you? I mean why would God need to honor some sort of contract that you never followed through on? It’s not like he didn’t lay out the rules. It’s not like he didn’t give all sorts of warnings. So why are you then allowed to hold him to some standard apart from what he said he’d consider fair?

It’s sort of like the child being told they’ll get dessert if they behave at dinner. Only they don’t behave. And then they don’t get dessert? But they still blame the parent involved. They cry “If you really loved me you’d give me dessert anyway!”

And of course the parent would be right to reply, “If you’d really loved me? You’d have been good when I asked.”

So really if love’s a relationship? How can you really have it one-sided? I mean go ahead and try that. Try loving someone who doesn’t love back except when selfishly motivated. See how long you want that guy’s company.


For a mortal sin to result in hell, the matter mut be grevious, the sinner must know that the matter is grevious, and the sinner must fully will to sin. Habitual sin may reduce the culpability of the sinner.

Another way of looking at it is that a willing siinner is choosing to cut off all realtionship with God. in other words, "God, I completely reject you and choose sin.

That is why a mortal sin may result in hell. It has nothing to o with the fact that the sin is temporal whatsoever. It has to do with what sinning is: it is a choice to reject God and choose sin.

We have free will; thus choosing God is a free choice, not one that is automatic. Free will also allows us to freely reject God completely. God does not send us to hell; we freely choose to go there.


Wow, have you read what mortal sin is? If a person does not repent then there is no charity at the point of death.


1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. …


The reason that non-repented mortal sin incurs an eternal separation is because the person is in an ongoing state of sin and obstinacy. The devil and his angels didn’t just rebel against God temporarily, but are in an ongoing state of rebellion against him and will remain obstinate towards him forever. Because the sin lasts forever, the separation likewise lasts forever. This is the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit that Christ talked about in the Gospel. Every sin will be forgiven, except when the person refuses forgiveness for sin. So yes, the duration of the punishment is indeed entirely proportional to the duration of the obstinacy.

What actually damns a person to hell isn’t by itself a mortal sin of pride or lust or anger, but when that mortal sin is indefinitely valued above God. This refusal by the individual prevents them from ever receiving absolution from the Church (via the sacrament of Reconciliation) as well as forgiveness from God.

It has nothing to do with God being unwilling to be reconciled with his creation. God wills for everybody to be saved and to enjoy the highest happiness. The prophet Ezekiel says:

“Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’”

Does that make sense?

Also, the ancient Jews (at least many of them) did indeed believe in eternal punishment. Contemporary Jews are significantly different from the Jews of ancient Palestine.



The Council of Sens (1140) condemned the idea that free will is sufficient in itself for any good. Donez., 373.

Council of Orange (529)
In canon 20, entitled hat Without God Man Can Do No Good. . . Denz., 193; quoting St. Prosper.

In canon 22, says, “ No one has anything of his own except lying and sin. Denz., 194; quoting St. Prosper.
CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA Divine Providence also says;
Life everlasting promised to us, (Romans 5:21); but unaided we can do nothing to gain it (Rom.7:18-24).

Only God has free will to choose us and then AFTER God has chosen us, re-created us, justified us and we received His call us to heaven then we all INFALLIBLE choose God as well.

CCCS 1990-1991; Justification is God’s free gift which detaches man from enslavement to sin and reconciles him to God.

Justification is also our acceptance of God’s righteousness. In this gift, faith, hope, charity, and OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S WILL are given to us.
CCCS 1996-1998; Justification comes from grace (God’s free and undeserved help) and is given to us to respond to his call.

This call to eternal life is supernatural, coming TOTALLY from God’s decision and surpassing ALL power of human intellect and will. End quote.
John 15:16; You did not chose Me, but I chose you.

Phil.2:13; “For it is God who works in you BOTH to WILL and to ACT for His good pleasure.”

2022 The divine initiative in the work of grace PRECEDES, PREPARES, and ELICITS the free response of man.

(Thomas Aquinas, S. Th.II/II 4, 4 ad 3). God effects everything, the willing and the achievement. …

While St. Thomas says that man turns to God by his own free will, he explains that free-will can only be turn to God, when God turns it.
Everyone called to heaven, at their baptism all receives God’s special grace The Gift of Final Perseverance which INFALLIBLE protects every receiver from dying in the state of mortal sin.
God bless


Which one would that be? The Jewish faith is ambiguous on the concept of what afterlife is like and if there even is one. I believe many Reform Jewish people don’t believe there’s an afterlife at all, or at best say we don’t know if there is or not.

You also need to understand people choose to punish themselves, by rejecting God. Once you reject God upon death, that’s it. You don’t get another chance for a do-over. You had plenty of chances in life.


Thank you! Your answer is very clear and makes most sense to me. I guess when you say eternity is not linear time, it makes sense we can’t change after dying.


Also, I was thinking what of fallen angels? They were in eternity and then they changed their minds. All this is so confusing


While each sin is of finite duration, it is of infinite offense.

A sin gains severity based on who it is committed against. Punching a random stranger in a bar isn’t as bad as punching my brother, which isn’t as bad as punching my wife. In addition to the person we directly harm, each sin we commit is an affront against God’s goodness. Since God is of infinite goodness and majesty, each sin we commit against Him is of infinite severity, and deserving of infinite punishment.

Most sins will get you a stint in purgatory, where you are cleansed of the deforming effects sin has on the soul. That is because, while still a sin against an infinitely good God, they do not kill God’s grace within us, and we are therefore still able to accept His mercy. Mortal sin, on teh other hand, kill God’s grace within us, they cut us off completely. And so, when it comes time for our judgment, we are no longer willing or able to accept God’s mercy, and therefore are subject to His judgment. Seeing as how every sin is worthy of an infinite punishment, the outcome of that judgment must, by necessity, be unending.

There are a few other things to consider here. For one, no-one in Hell suffers more than they deserve. For instance, Hitler would suffer far more than a basic murderer, who would in turn suffer far more than a atheist who is in Hell due purely to rejection of God, but otherwise lived a naturally good life. Suffering in Hell is related to the nature and number of our offenses, and we are tormented no more than we have warranted. Certain souls have spoken of God being merciful and killing them so they could not sin more, and thereby increase their eternal sufferings.

As hard as it may be to believe, it is also likely that Hell is a mercy for the damned. There are accounts of damned souls appearing or speaking to the living, and they speak of how they fled from God’s glory because it was so painful to them that Hell was seen as a relief. One such example said "Even now He is merciful towards us, for He does not oblige us to draw near to Him. He allows us to remain in this distant place of Hell, thus diminishing our torment. Every step closer to God would torment me more than every step you might take toward a fire."


This is why I miss ‘once saved always saved’ :joy: seriously though I’m going to confession tomorrow


The more often, the better. ^^

OSAS certainly is comforting, but it’s a hollow comfort that cannot actually help a person make it to Heaven. Rejoice that you’ve escaped it~!


I can’t remember where I read it but somewhere I remember hearing that fallen angels were given a choice at the very beginning of their existence, and that they were never able to take back that choice. They didn’t “change” from being good to being evil, they were always evil, not that God made them that way, but they chose that from the first moment of their existence.


I know what you’re saying but I now feel less sure of my salvation than I used to and that has been quite damaging to me. That was a big thing that put me off converting for a while. I comfort myself that God did the hard part so that we could join him one day


That is my question also. If an angel can change his mind while in eternity, why then cannot a human change his mind and repent of his sin with perfect contrition after death?


Keep close to the sacraments and you’ll be fine ^^


exactly. And besides, I’m certain God made them good, not bad so how were they able to do that?

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