Why is everyone obsessed with Hell?

We constantly get threads on the forum about “will I go to Hell if I do/ did this” or “can I somehow commit sin and still get out of going to Hell”.

Why are people so obsessed with Hell instead of wanting to be good people, loving their neighbors and building a relationship with God?

Are people just looking for loopholes to commit sin, or are they being raised in families that talk about hell all day instead of about loving God and others?

I find the never-ending obsession with Hell on this forum to be a little strange, except in the case of people worrying that their loved ones might go there because we cannot control the behavior and choices of people we love.

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It’s like they say in sports: “The ‘prevent defense’ prevents winning.” In the spiritual and moral life, we cannot play not to lose, we must play to win. The answer to anyone’s sin and hell question is to not focus so much on sin and hell, but to focus on learning the virtues and growing closer to God.

-Fr ACEGC

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I think part of it is kind of like how we were in class. We know something’s going to be on the test, and we kind of know what they were talking about, but we’re not exactly sure how it’s going to get graded.

So it turns into, “Well, I know I’m not supposed to steal. But, what if I’m starving? Can I steal then?” or “Well, I know I’m not supposed to lie. But suppose I’m hiding Jews from the Nazis. Am I obliged to tell them?” And usually, the people asking the questions are people who are in no danger of missing a meal or being real-life underground resistance. :slight_smile: And so rather than focusing on the important parts of following certain rules, they get bogged down in the technical bits of what, exactly, defines “stealing” or “lying”.

Because it’s way easier to be an armchair philosopher than it is to go out and live a life of love, charity, and heroic virtue. :stuck_out_tongue:

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I thought the whole post-Vatican II approach of fluffy “Jesus Loves You” teaching and removal of discussions of God’s wrath, Hell etc from the Sunday readings and regular prayers was supposed to get everybody’s minds off Hell and onto Love.

It apparently didn’t work very well.

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When you haven’t experience the taste of divine love from Jesus Christ, but attach yourself to the religion alone, you’ll not have the joy and hope of salvation, but the gloom and doom that you probably won’t make it and certainly, the discursive others aren’t going to make it.

Jim

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That might be a side effect of over-focusing on the Merciful Savior part of things, rather than on the Just Judge part of things. The Just Judge was emphasized for a very long time, so it’s nice that the Merciful Savior emphasis was addressed, especially after Faustina, and WWII, and all that. But I agree, it’s dangerous to forget about the Just Judge part of things.

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Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven, far more than of hell.

God’s justice is restorative justice, not retributive justice, which is the focus of most Catholics.

Jim

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Jesus talked about a whole lot of things. Why do people seize on the Hell part?

People want to go as far as possible without having to pay for the consequences. Our goal shouldn’t be to avoid mortal sin and rack up all the venial sins instead. Our goal should be avoid all sin by striving for virtue

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OK, but when He spoke about Hell, it was in definite terms: “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). He did not leave anybody thinking that Hell was not a possibility or that it was only a really nasty form of Purgatory–that is, of restorative justice. Rather, He cautioned that hearing the Word and keeping it were two different things and that things that we can take for granted as being of no account can be very serious in the eyes of God.

That is not to say He was teaching people to obsess over Hell. He was, however, very clear that people should not have a complacent attitude about the consequences of sin, either. Deliberately separating ourselves from life is very serious.

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The word, “Gospel,” means, “The Good News.”

If Jesus wanted to focus on hell, it would not be called the Gospel, but “The Warning.”

Fact is, God sent Jesus into the world while human beings had been sinners since Adam and Eve. He didn’t send Jesus to change his mind about man, but to change man’s mind about God.

Jim

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Hell is separation from God.

Jesus isn’t speaking to those who have accepted Him as their messiah, but those who reject God.

St Pope John Paul II wrote that God does not send people to hell. Rather, they go there on their own, when they reject God.

Jim

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If the Good News is not sure deliverance from something serious, on the other hand, it would not really grab attention as “news,” either. It is more like the “Nice Thoughts to Think About. Maybe. If You’re Into That.”

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Maybe a happy medium is in call. Hell is a reality and while it’s true that God is all loving and merciful,it’s important to know that we cannot just act out with impunity as there are consequences to our sinful habits and behaviors .We should always aim for heaven so at the very least we will spend some time in purgatory

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Yes, and mortal sin is the deliberate choice to reject God. Yes, you cannot commit a mortal sin by accident. You have to know that what you are doing is seriously wrong. Very true.

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And now this is going to turn into a thread about hell, instead of a thread about why people are so fascinated by talking about it.

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But it’s not “if,” but what it is, the Good News of Jesus Christ, who brings Salvation to the World.

We should be filled with joy just knowing this. I know I am and the love experienced from Jesus Christ, was given to me while I was still a great sinner.

Jim

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How does one gain that kind of appreciation without first gaining an appreciation of the gravity of sin?
If we don’t think sins are all that bad, then speaking of ourselves as great sinners is just parrot talk.

I’m not arguing in favor of obsessing about Hell! No, you’re right–we ought to be far more concerned about abandoning ourselves to pleasing God! Absolutely!! I’m only saying that this is not necessarily accomplished by downplaying the gravity of sin. Our Lord did not do that; no, He was very clear about the seriousness and reality of Hell and the danger of presumption.

I do worry about hell, not obsessively, but in the same way I worry about having enough money set aside for retirement. It is, unfortunately, an actual possibility. From a practical standpoint, I do strive my best to live my life in the way that God wants and when I fall, I go to confession right away. I trust that our Blessed Mother will truly pray for me at the hour of my death, just like I ask in the Hail Mary. I pray to St. Joseph for the gift of a happy death for myself and my family.

Thoughts of hell do not keep me from sleeping at night, but I do worry about enough that I specifically ask God for the graces to live and die in his friendship. Hell is scary for me.

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The gravity of sin isn’t realized until the experience of Divine Love is experienced.

Before that, all that exists is guilt and guilt only feeds despair.

Jim

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