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


This makes no sense to me. So a person has imperfect contrition and it motivates them to go to confession but they don’t make it there in time… then that’s it, sorry but to hell you go? I’m not sure how anyone sees mercy within that. God chose to not allow this person to confess when they were sorry and would have done so. If they were willing to do this they clearly have love for God and value the Church’s teachings or else they wouldn’t ever consider going.



I disagree. The sin which separates us from God, mortal sin, requires an act of the will. I will that I am going to commit this sin in spite of knowing that it is a sin. The will must be involved if we are to be damned.

Now, you might ask, where does the will come into play for all those people who don’t, explicitly, know that something is a sin? That is where natural law comes in. Even before the Ten Commandments, people understood that it was wrong to kill, that is just ingrained in our souls. Similarly, matter of sexuality, things like theft, etc, are all written on our souls in a way that we cannot naturally deny. After some time we may dull that knowledge, but that to is a result of our choices, and our refusal to acknowledge what our hearts and souls know inherently. That refusal is the act of the will which will damn a person in these events.

There is also simple apathy at play, where we do not care enough to bother looking into the question of God. That apathy, that refusal to engage, is an act of the will which can damn us.

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Imperfect contrition is not love of God but the fear of hell and the loss of heaven. It’s not enough to fully repair one’s relationship with God.

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But how can you fear hell and the loss of heaven if you don’t love God? Otherwise, it would seem a person would have no reason to care about any of it. I don’t see how they can exist apart from one another.



I can fear pain without loving what takes it away.



Simply being on the way to confession is not in itself an expression of perfect contrition and does not restore your soul to grace. If you commited mortal sin then you have explicitly, willingly, deliberately and definitively rejected God’s love and you have willingly by your own choice put your soul in jeopardy of eternal punishment, until you receive absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and you have perfect contrition.

God is also not a ghoul that is looking to strike when you happen to be on the way to confession.

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If one is oriented towards repentance and hasn’t been knowingly and deliberately neglecting the sacraments, I personally don’t think God would hold it against you if you fell dead before reaching the confessional. That’s too legalistic.



More generally, mortal sins require knowledge and deliberate consent to committing grave matter. Those are our choices. In such a respect, we do choose.

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Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.

We do not know when we will die, and we are not guaranteed one last shot at repentance before we go. As much as I hope what you’re saying is true, the only thing that has been definitively revealed is that all it takes is one mortal sin to damn you. It is a bad idea to provide assurances about things we don’t know for sure.


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