[quote=Shibboleth]Could someone please explain temporal suffering to me? I have read the information on purgatory on the Answers Web Site. I don’t get it. It cannot mean physical pain, first of you are not reunited with your body yet, second some people cannot feel pain or find it enjoyable, third why would physical pain wash away sins? It all seems a bit human to me, you sinned and now you must pay retribution. Did Jesus die for some of our sins but not others?
I don’t get it.
Of course, nobody can really say what purgatory is like, not having been there (yet.) There are a couple of analogies that I use. One is to imagine ourselves as a brand new car, complete with instruction manual. But being a conscious car, we don’t always like to follow the manual. We like to do it our own way. Sometimes we get off the main road, drive over rocks, spin out on the ice and do rollovers. So we get pretty banged up. The Chief Mechanic always forgives these excursions and sets us back on the right road, replaces the spark plugs and gets us going again.
But after all that, the alignment is never quite right; the wheels pull to the left, there are dents all over. Eventually, we’ll have to go into the shop and get those dents pounded out and maybe a lot of other stuff to put us back in factory condition, and that’s going to be painful. Now actually, the Mechanic would be willing to let us drive right back into the showroom with all those dents and defects; but we look in at all those gleaming Bentleys and Rolls and think, no way am I going in looking like this. So we gladly let the dents be pounded out.
The second way is not really an analogy but more of a thought experiment.
Throughout life, we have a lot of sensory input, information coming in from all our senses. In philosophical terms, we don’t fully possess all our being in this life. We possess it only an instant at a time. We’re changeable. We can change our minds. We can hurt people and not notice, or not care.
But when we die, all sensory input stops. All the information that’s coming in is there. Further, and most terribly, there are no longer any distractions. We can fully see what we have become, and to a greater or lesser extent, that can be painful. As we review our lives, every hurt becomes apparent, we now fully perceive every defect, and every wrong that we’ve done. We can walk into heaven at any time, but as we begin to perceive the perfection of God, approaching Him is itself a purifying process.
So don’t take this as official doctrine; it’s just a way of thinking about purgatory. Purgatory doesn’t take away sin. It just cures those dents that we have inflicted on ourselves through sin and puts us back into factory condition.