There are two common misconceptions about hell. The first is that a loving God wouldn’t let anyone go there, and the second is that God uses it to punish people. I think that both theories are actually attempts to diminish our view of God.
A loving God would indeed let people go to hell. You see, God decided that we should choose our own eternal destiny. Those who choose to spend eternity with Him will do so, and those who want nothing to do with Him will get their wish as well. Why would God allow those He loves to end up in hell? Let’s think clearly about it: what sort of God would force people to be with Him forever? Not a loving God, to be sure…sounds more like a criminal to me. Those who claim that God wouldn’t send anyone to hell turn Him into a cosmic kidnapper, holding us against our wills for eternity. How ironic: the belief that God is too loving to let us go to hell forces us to believe that God isn’t loving at all!
Hell isn’t for punishment, either…rather, the existence of hell is a sign of respect. If God thinks enough of you to let you choose your eternal destiny, He obviously thinks enough of you to make your decision stick. Only a capricious and cruel God would give us an imaginary choice. That’s not the God of the Bible, to be sure. My God gives you a real choice, not an imaginary or symbolic choice.
So, there it is…another view of hell. Personally, I’m grateful for hell. I don’t like the fact that many will end up there, but I appreciate the fact that it is our free will and our personal choice that makes its existence necessary. Those who wish to have nothing to do with God will be given what they ask for: a place without God. A truly loving God could truly do no less.
Of course, I would be remiss if I passed up this opportunity to encourage you to choose eternal life in heaven with God. Do your homework, ask a lot of questions, and don’t be afraid of the answers. I hope and pray that I’ll see you there!