Why does the church refer to going to Hell as a choice


Let us not forget that the Sacraments bind us but they do not bind God.

The only ways we are guaranteed to be forgiven of a mortal sin are confession or perfect contrition. That does not mean that for someone who has lived for 20 years in a state of grace and then committed a mortal sin that morning that they won’t have a second after the accident where God allows them to live long enough to say “I’m sorry.” God alone can do what He wants outside of the Sacraments. We cannot. The Sacraments are our only guarantee.

We also need to look at the flip side of the coin. Let’s presume that after committing that one mortal sin after 20 years in a state of grace, you will go on to sin and never be in a state of grace if allowed to live 50 years, forever, etc. Would it not be mercy to then take you to hell with only one mortal sin on your soul instead of decades of them?

In the end, it is our choice. The only guarantees we have are the Sacraments. God can work outside of them, but we’d be foolish to presume.


Please don’t get me wrong PennyinCanada, I reading your other posts as well and I like them.

But I still say ‘if this…’ then this, WITHOUT God would forces anyone.

Because in God’s Universal Design/ Plan every event in the universe are Designed/ Planned by God down to the minutest details and preordained from all eternity.

Catholic Encyclopedia Divine Providence says;
His wisdom He so orders all events within the universe that the end for which it was created may be realized.
The universe is a system of real beings created by God and directed by Him to this supreme end, the concurrence of God being necessary for all natural operations, whether of things animate or inanimate, and still more so for operations of the supernatural order.

He directs all, even evil and sin itself, to the final end for which the universe was created.
Nor would God permit evil at all, unless He could draw good out of evil (St. Augustine, "Enchir.", xi in "P.L.", LX, 236; "Serm."

As you see PennyinCanada;
The same is true for events in our lives.
Relative to us they often appear to be by chance.
But relative to God, who directs everything/ every events even in our life according to his divine plan, nothing occurs by chance.
Our fates/ our destinies are NOT in us but our fates/ our destinies are IN GOD.
For an unregenerated person spiritual things are foolishness, first he needs to be recreated by God, his fate/ destiny is not in him, it is in God, in His recreation and in His gift of salvation with all the graces necessary which infallible accomplish his salvation. – This is exactly what God provides every of His children/ elect, (DE FIDE).
So, the question is not, hell is a choice or it is not (in fact, if hell would be a choice, that choice could be only God’s choice for us by not elected us).
The question is; how many elect God has?

If God has only a few elect, then that few elect goes to heaven and the rest to hell, if the entire human race are God’s elect then no one goes to hell and God’s Vehement Universal Salvific Will, will be a reality and the Church praying for the salvation of everyone (1058) answered by God.
God bless


Every sin at the most basic level is a choice. We have the choice to do what God wants or the choice to do what we want in terms of pleasures and desires of the flesh.

Some choices are worse then others (mortal or venial) but they are still choices. God does not send us to hell, we ourselves chose to reject God which means we send ourselves to hell.

Please watch this quick video on YouTube from Fr. Mike Schmitz (very funny and wise!) called “The Heart of Sin” where he specifically says that all sin at the base level is a choice. From this I think you will see how the answer to your question is that we chose hell.

Come Holy Spirit, kindle the hearts of your faithful and you will renew the face of the Earth

  • Matt


I read through some of the replies and your responses and I believe this Bible verse will help you:

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:26

This verse is getting at the fact that humans alone can never understand the full mercy of God. We may think we know 100% how God will operate on Judgement Day but we aren’t perfect so we don’t know exactly. God has the ultimate power to be merciful but we must chose to accept His mercy since it is a freely given gift not an earned right.

Also, your comments on mortal sin. One of the promises of the Rosary is that for those who say it regularly (I don’t believe that has to be every day but regularly) they will either never die in a state of mortal sin or they won’t die before having a chance to receive confession or last rites confession.

So if you are worried about having a day where you aren’t wearing your “best clothes”, try regularly saying the Rosary for willpower to not commit these mortal sins but also for the people of Mary’s intercession.

Also frequent usage of confession would be really helpful because it gives you graces to fight future mortal sin temptations. I myself struggle with certain sins that are embarrassing to mention in confession for me but I pray that I may have the strength to admit them and through regular praying of the Rosary that Mary may protect me and intercede for me.

God Bless


One cannot exercise a free will choice to repent after the death of the body because the particular judgment occurs right away – it is then too late. It is not the predominance of good vs evil acts but rather the will of the person that is significant for salvation. The amount of merit for the saved or demerit for the damned determines the glory or suffering respectively. Those that are damned have no merit – they do not love God and the saints.


I actually do think of hell as a choice. Like, if you don’t love God, why would you want to spend all eternity with Him? So when someone dies, they have a choice: hang with God for eternity, or live without Him. There are no in betweens.
I even think that heaven and hell begin here. If you are going to hell, you will have already rejected God here on earth. If you are going to heaven, you have already accepted God here on earth. If you accept God, no matter what happens to you, you will be happy. Without him, you can never be happy. The principle torture of hell is the loss of God, the principle joy of heaven it to look upon Gods face every day.


I think a lot of sinners never intend to reject God for eternity, when one commits a mortal sin one is rejecting God but hopefully with the intent to repent afterwards. I never understand why God would send a sinner who wants forgiveness to Hell.


Once again, God doesn’t send anybody to hell.

Even if it’s just the automatic phrase you use, people need to realize that it’s extremely harmful language because it creates a false perception of Catholic theology like that which I believe the OP had.


We send ourselves i know but why will God freeze a sinner in their sins at the moment of death? many of us commit mortal sins, we go to confession, we hope that God will allow us to confess our sins to him at the moment of death if we die before we are able to get to confession. I hope there is a moment between unconsciousness and the soul separating from the body when we are still able to ask God for forgiveness.


The key is repentance.
Are you sorry for defying the will of an All Loving and All Good God, and performing and act that has caused harm to you and to others?

Or are you full of a resentful and defiant “everybody does it”


I am sorry i hope!


God doesn’t. The fact that our wills become frozen isn’t a direct result of God’s will, it is a result of us losing the capacity for change.

Change requires cause and effect. Once we are dead, we are no longer in a state where cause and effect apply. We cannot change because we cannot move to change. All acts of repentance are from the grace of God. We can choose to accept or deny that grace, but without that Grace we cannot repent. In Hell, a person is cut off from God’s grace because they want to be cut off from it. Once they are completely cut off from God’s grace, they can no longer receive the graces necessary to repent, and so they cannot repent, and remain damned forever.

Something interesting to consider. Throughout Catholic history, many saints and mystics have been given visions of Hell and damned souls. One thing that has been mentioned multiple times is that the damned view Hell as a mercy in comparison to the pain they feel by being in God’s presence.

From A Letter from Beyond:

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.

In addition to being unable to repent due to a lack of grace, even if that grace were offered the soul would be unwilling to receive it, because it is less painful to them to remain in Hell than to move closer to God.

As much as I also hope this is true, I would not rely on it being so. Stay out of sin, and get to confession!


Thank you for your response, i will indeed get to confession but i cannot lie that i along with millions of catholics struggle with sin. We never know that we are certain to go to Heaven so in a sense we are not really choosing to go to Hell because we are uncertain if we will go to Heaven, i am certain now that i am going to scratch my nose indeed i have just scratched my nose and not doing so will have been myself choosing to not scratch my nose. We do not though have the same certainty about dying in a state of grace.


I believe there is a huge discrepancy in what exactly Catholics believe is a sin. Is unfathomable to think that the millions of Catholics who use artificial birth control are doomed to hell because they do not agree with the church’s position on this topic.


The gate to salvation is narrow, not wide. And to be more precise, it’s using artificial contraception, not simply using artificial birth control.


And if you truly have perfect Contrition (even right at the moment of death), sanctifying grace is restored. Imperfect contrition is good as it motivates you to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation but it is not sufficient on its own to restore sanctifying grace after a mortal sin.


I think most such people who do so don’t fully understand that it’s not just a sin but a grave sin - and thus they are not mortally sinning.


That does seem like a very convenient loophole. In my opinion they do not believe it is a sin at all which is this why they use ABC and I agree with them.


Whether or not they think it’s sinful doesn’t really matter, I’m pretty sure. They know the Church teaches that they’re committing grave sin if they’re aware of the teachings on contraception, and thus are committing mortal sin.


This is accurate. Mortal sin isn’t the only thing that will result in damnation. Prolific venial sinning could also result in damnation, as could refusal to adhere to Church teaching simply because you “disagree” with it, especially if you haven’t bothered to take the time to learn why the Church teaches something. Indifference isn’t looked well upon in the Bible…

Mortal sins are just the things that we know immediately kill the grace within us. They are not the only path to damnation. As Jesus tells us:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.

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