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IS IT A SIN TO SAY TO SOMEBODY, "GO TO HELL"?
 
Hell is the everlasting and permanent punishment that people who die without Godís mercy go into at death. Nobody can get out of Hell. The doctrine is taught by the Book of Mormon, the Koran and the Bible and of course the infallible decrees of the Roman Catholic Church!
 
Taking this doctrine seriously tells us something about ourselves. Yet it is a core teaching of various religions especially Christianity - Jesus coming to atone for sin makes no sense without it. To reject it means you should be looking for a new religion or just drop religion altogether.
 
The Church does not have it as an essential teaching or important teaching that blaming a person for wrong is different from simply declaring them responsible for it. Blaming implies judging and judging is the notion that certain acts need to be punished for they are bad. You can judge a sin without being able to punish it. Blaming is an act of hate and the Church endorses belief in retribution and punishment so it has its tongue firmly jammed in its cheek when it condemns hate. That condemnation cannot be and is not taken seriously.
 
It is interesting that you are obligated to believe in Hell if you are a Christian while far more important doctrines such as the difference between blame and responsibility are not obligatory.
 
Instead of honouring human nature by saying we can't become evil enough to willingly stay in Hell forever, believers put the fact that the existence of Hell is stated in their scriptures and Catholic faith first. They prefer to accuse us of potentially infinite evil than to contradict their scriptures and religion. God is evil if he asks us to believe and so if Hell exists it is where he unleashes his vindictiveness.
 
The Church says that people go to Hell against the will of God for he has to respect their choice. If letting them do this to themselves is respecting them then how could it be wrong to pray that people will go to Hell forever?
 
Many Christians say that if you go to Hell it is all your fault for God has nothing at all to do with people going to Hell. Jesus warned a lot about Hell and so have most Christians. What is the point of warning people if it is all their own choice? The warnings imply that the believers think God is to blame. Actions speak louder than words. Nobody warns you about eating junk food 24/7 when you know what you are doing and do it.
 
Honest Christians pray, "I'm very cold Lord about most people. I don't care if they go to Hell. I need you to help me care and be compassionate for I cannot do it by myself."
 
The trouble is if there is no God to supply this miraculous compassion then it follows that the teaching of the Church and Jesus that Hell exists is risky and dangerous. Its not a sensible risk to take. It's the worst risk imaginable. 

Is the suffering of Hell as bad as the fact that you defy God to be there? For the believer, in the light of the notion that God comes first for his own sake, it is the latter. It is callous to be more worried about God than the suffering caused!
 
If there is a choice between praying to God and letting people die and go to Hell you must let them die and go to Hell.
 
The truly decent person when he sees suffering does not seek for ways to condone Godís role in it but is repulsed by the very thought of attempting to. Belief in a God who lets suffering happen is bad enough but one who has people suffering forever in Hell for their sins is infinitely worse.
 
Suppose God and the Church find it regretful that somebody is in Hell. What they regret is that the person abused his will. What they don't regret is that owing to the choice he made the person is there. They hold the person deserves it. It is foolish to warm to God and the Church when they lament the soul being in Hell for that is not the whole story. They have found a way to celebrate it too. If I regret the fact that the murderer of my child abused his will for his sake and the child's, that is not only compatible with gloating over his fate which is rotting in jail. IT IS THE REASON I CAN GLOAT!
 
We suffer a ferocious anger against ourselves that makes us want the suffering of Hell should we commit certain sins. For example, you must hate your sexual weaknesses intensely if you think you should go to Hell for giving in to them. You have a conditional love for yourself. Cross a line and you will hate and torture yourself and want there to be a Hell. Such a rage easily turns us into trolls and monsters in relation to other people too. If you think its right for you to suffer great horrors over sin then by implication you think the same of others. You want them to be like you in that.
 
The Church holds that some people who are fit for Hell change and avoid going there. Now those who do go to Hell must be put there for the protection of the saints or others. Hell is defined as a rubbish heap by Jesus. Thus it follows that you are entitled to say of sinners, "They should go to Hell." Some believers might say, "Oh never say that! That's wishing evil on them. Its better if they repent and become fit for Heaven." But that is really admitting the doctrine of people going to Hell is vindictive. The real believer will say, "They should go to Hell in the sense that they deserve it. But there may be other reasons why they should not go to Hell. If I say they should not go, it is not for their sake but for the sake of the purpose God has."
 
Somebody said that the worst thing a person can say to another is, ďGo to Hell!Ē The Christians say that since God according to the prophet Paul wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth it is a sin to wish that God would send a person to Hell. It is impossible to wish anything worse on anyone. The Bible says that God wills the salvation of all but for some reason he will not save all so such verses prove nothing. In a sense you wish that rapists and terrorists turned out differently. You want them saved. But it is because you want that that you are able to hate them now. The text does nothing to prove that God loves everybody.
 
Paul in Galatians 1 said that anybody who teaches differently from him is to be anathema - utterly accursed. Damned. Jesus said that those Jews who said he was using the Devil to cast out demons were carrying an eternal sin - they were damned he said for blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

The Christians cannot say they wish there was no Hell for that would be blasphemy against God. It would be wishing that Jesus never came to save us from it. It would be saying they prefer us to get away with our sins than honoring God. If God lets people suffer forever or sends them to that fate then it is turning your feelings against his will to wish there was no such state of everlasting torment.
 
The idea of some that there is no free will in the full sense if there is no Hell also makes it sacrilegious and even evil to wish there was no Hell. It is wishing we had less free will than God gave us. They are saying we donít have much of a free will if we cannot choose everlasting damnation. They have to be glad, in some sense, that Hell exists. God is so evil that he forbids us to wish there was another kind of God that would not send people to Hell.
 
To respect Jesus you must wish there was a Hell. If that makes you vindictive then its not your fault. You have no choice for respecting God and Jesus come first.
 
To even let yourself be sad at the thought of people going to Hell would be evil because if there is a God then there is no law above him. The law he has is perfect and to complain about it is to indicate that you would rather have an imperfect one.
 
If God breaks the law there is nothing to punish him so there cannot be a law over him for a law with no penalty is no law at all. So it follows that if God is good then he can invent whatever rules he likes and a God like that can do anything. If anybody wants to believe in a God who countenances hate and blesses it in us then what is there to stop them?

Christianity thinks that as long as it forbids people to wish that others would go to eternal punishment that it is something to take pride in. The doctrine of eternal punishment implies the opposite on both counts. The thinking Christian will make such prayers.

When God unnecessarily puts people in Hell Ė when he is all-powerful it has to be unnecessary - and is perfect then there is no reason why we canít pray that people will go to Hell. To say that it is unethical, is to say that God is imperfect and to deny the Christian whitewash that each damnation serves a worthy purpose though obviously not for the damned person. You can make a person who does not approve of their own suffering suffer for some misdeed but that is not the same as punishing them even if that is what you are trying to do. Punishing is how the guilty are treated and it is as much impossible to punish a person who believes they have done nothing wrong as it is to punish an innocent person. You can make them suffer but itís not punishment. Punishing is making a person pay a wage, the price of crime, and if the person has not earned the wage, it is not a wage. They need to know what they are paying for and why they are paying it for it to be a punishment. So by saying that Hell is eternal punishment you are saying all the damned know they deserve to suffer. But that is a ridiculous assertion. What if many of them do not believe in free will? It follows that many of the damned must be there unnecessarily. They are not being punished but God is taking revenge on them. If he can do that then we must approve of his malice and spite.

It is evil to approve of people being in Hell and then to wish that living sinners would not go there, to disapprove if they go there. It is unfair discrimination. It is discriminating against the dead.

Christians who think on their own and believe in Hell might believe that it is right to pray for the damnation of others. The Hell doctrine is full of mysteries and shadows so it is only natural that some will believe they have the right to do that and that is the fault of the doctrine for being so impossible.

If I do wrong deliberately then I choose to unnecessarily hurt myself for I had no need to do wrong in the first place. I am calling out for punishment. If I commit a mortal or serious sin then it is a further sin if I do not want to be punished by God or somebody. It means I have to pay a price for my sins and I refuse to. Even if I repent I should still have a price to pay. Also not being repentant would be another sin too. Anyway, the possibility of punishment actually makes the sin I commit more malicious. That is of course if punishment is the rightful reward for my offense.
 
If I committed murder and there was no punishment justly due to it, I wouldnít be as big of a sinner when I commit murder.
 
Retribution and punishment then is really about revenge. Anything that claims to be for your own good but isnít and in fact makes you worse when you sin is an act of hatred. It might be sugared up but it is still hatred. Retribution, the idea that Hell is based on, is immoral even if it is right in theory for it cannot work in practice. It serves only to attack the criminal and make him compound his evil so the result is people making the criminal pay for evil that they have compounded. It is people seeking the high moral ground. It is therefore revenge. That is the motive. Hell then is extreme in its vindictiveness and hypocrisy.

It is like it being right in theory to abort a child to save the mother but practice can make it different for it is complicated. If I sin, I have to want the punishment as well in some sense. So I am looking for the evil of sin and the evil of punishment. Punishment makes evil worse. It will be objected that if I reject the morality of punishment and replace it with the need for rehabilitation then the same thing happens: the need for rehabilitation makes my sin worse. True, but you need rehabilitation and not retribution. It makes no sense to say that rehabilitation unjustifiably makes sin worse for you have to abandon sin for it to work and you need help. Sin would not be sin if you could lawfully keep sinning and rehabilitation could be neglected. Thatís the crucial difference. So retribution is an expression of hatred towards the sinner. Christians say it is necessary to avoid condoning the sin so it is not hatred. But how can what increases the guilt of sin be capable of averting the action of condoning? It is not surprising that many orthodox Christians now realise that punishment and retribution are vindictive and advance the idea that God only punishes to correct (page 66, The Kindness of God).

What is called sin is really a mistake for a distorted insane perception comes in making you think that evil is the right thing to do when it is not. For anybody to be sent to Hell is therefore an act of pure infinite spite. We can pray vindictive prayers if God is that nasty. After all, he sets it up so that you will be unable to repent and will be punished forever if you die in sin. Moreover, we do evil meaning it to be good. If God cares about sincerity he could tempt you to do evil for his purpose which is for you to purify your soul by meaning to be good. So you can pray for your wife to be murdered by an axe-murderer as long as the attraction to good is advanced. You pray for her to be damned in Hell and the axe-wielder too for God must need people to go to Hell especially if he doesnít want it to happen.

The Church is of the opinion that since those who are in Hell want to be there and stay there that is why we can forget about them and be happy in Heaven. They even say that if a mother is in Heaven and her beloved son in Hell she will be happy for she will take the love she has for her son away from him and give it to God (Question 939, Radio Replies, Volume 1). So if living mortal sinners consent to Hell then though we are to try and change them we do not hope to change them because we care about them but it is just the sin we are worried about. Our opposition is not to what harms them but to what sin they commit. How could we when they consent as much to Hell as the damned? Even God would not allow us to make a difference, to discriminate. The doctrine that our love must be given wholly to God infers that we cannot love the sinner and hate the sin for we just love God and hate the sin. The sin is all we see in the person for we see the good in the person as a manifestation of God and blind our eyes to the person for we cannot love the person at all when we claim to love the person for Godís sake. It is really just God we love, not them. Sinners are rarely impressed by theology like this. But it is official Church theology which the Church only brings out of the broom closet when it suits her. She can be good at PR, Iíll give her that.

Hell is about punishment not about reform. But even if it is not about reform it has to keep the door open so that the person can reform if they want to. A God that does not leave that door open is pure evil. And he is a hypocrite if he is not supportive of people telling you they want to see you rotting in Hell. The doctrine denies that he leaves the door open. Thus Hell leaves us adoring an evil God and condoning and celebrating his evil.

Jesus ranted at the Jewish leaders that they could not escape the damnation of Hell and were vipers and hypocrites and bastards (Matthew 23). Christians say he was warning them for he loved them so much that he didn't want them to go to Hell. That is hard to believe when he used expletives when warning them! He knew they hated him and to say things like that would only make them worse and more hardened in sin. They didn't believe in Hell either and would have thought it absurd. Jesus hated those men and was wishing Hell on them. Also they didn't ask for his opinion which proves the point. He was invading their space to tell them they were for Hell.
 
Conclusion
 
Hell is a vindictive and poisonous doctrine and any scripture that teaches it should be laughed at.  Believers are very relaxed at the thought that if there is a Hell others go there not them!  That is vile especially when they are doing nothing to rescue them.  It leads to people having their loved ones think that they don't have to worry for they are so good that their salvation is virtually certain.  None of that is decent.
 
FURTHER READING
 
APOLOGETICS AND CATHOLIC DOCTRINE, Most Rev M Sheehan DD, M H Gill & Son, Dublin, 1954  
APOLOGETICS FOR THE PULPIT, Aloysius Roche, Burns Oates & Washbourne LTD, London, 1950
ENCHIRIDION SYMBOLORUM ET DEFINITIONUM, Heinrich Joseph Denzinger, Edited by A Schonmetzer, Barcelona, 1963
ĎGOD, THATíS NOT FAIR!í Dick Dowsett, [OMF Books, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, Belmont, The Vine, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 3TZ] Kent, 1982
HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS, Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1994
HAVE WE TO FEAR A DEVIL? Fred Pearce, The Christadelphian Office, Birmingham
HEAVEN AND HELL Dudley Fifield, Christadelphian Publishing Office, Birmingham
HELL Ė WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT IT, John R Rice, Sword of the Lord, Murfreesboro, 1945
JEHOVAH OF THE WATCH-TOWER, Walter Martin and Norman Klann, Bethany House, Minnesota, 1974
LIFE IN CHRIST, PART 3, Fergal McGrath SJ, MH Gill and Son Ltd, Dublin, 1960
RADIO REPLIES VOL 1, Frs Rumble and Carty, Radio Replies Press, St Paul, Minnesota, 1938
REASON AND BELIEF, Bland Blanschard, George Allen & and Unwin Ltd, London, 1974
THE BIBLE TELLS US SO, R B Kuiper, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1978
THE CASE FOR FAITH, Lee Strobel, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2000
THE DEVIL, THE GREAT DECEIVER Peter Watkins, The Christadelphian Birmingham, 1992
THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES, Gleason W Archer, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982
THE FOUR MAJOR CULTS, AA Hoekema, Paternoster Press, Carlisle, 1992
THE KINDNESS OF GOD, EJ Cuskelly MSC, Mercier Press, Cork, 1965
THE LIFE OF ALL LIVING, Fulton J Sheen, Image Books, New York, 1979
THE REAL DEVIL, Alan Hayward, Christadelphian Bible Mission, Birmingham
THE REALITY OF HELL, St Alphonsus Liguori, Augustine Publishing Company, Devon, 1988
THE SERMONS OF ST ALPHONSUS LIGOURI, St Alphonsus Ligouri, TAN, Illinois, 1982
THE TRUTH ABOUT HELL, Dawn Bible Students, East Rutherford, NJ
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT HELL? Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HEAVEN?, Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1988
WHY DOES GOD? Domenico Grasso SJ, St Paul Publications, Bucks, 1970