27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Mat 5:27 ESV)
Before Jesus came into the picture, hell (Sheol, מִשְּׁא֥וֹל), seemed to be more of simply a location that you went to when you died that was the opposite of heaven. There really is no reference to “weeping and gnashing of teeth” until you get to the New Testament. Jesus doesn’t only step up his game on how bad hell will be (obvious necessary component to the whole thing), but he broadens who is at risk of hell. I think most people, even atheist, may hope for a hell for certain breeds of people that are murderers, or rapist (as an example), but if your worst crime has been telling your parents that you came home by curfew, when really you barely made it in the door before their 5AM alarm, I don’t think hell should be concern for you. I would even venture to say that most of us would not consider things like hating someone (while not a noble thing to do, and very exhausting), would deserve hell. I mean, hell, hating someone is hell in and of itself. Then, while porn may be considered grotesque by some, I don’t think we’re ready to condemn someone to eternal torment for it, right? Maybe I am only hoping at this point, but I am truly hopeful that you do not think like this. Well, guess who does? Jesus. In Matthew 5 he goes through a pretty lengthy discourse where he condemns porn as adultery, hate as murder, and marrying a divorced woman as sexual immorality and adultery. I realize that many believe this, because of the whole “Holy Bible” thing, but let’s be real. Can you honestly say that someone who simply hated their brother for a stint deserves hellfire and brimstone?
If you are on death row, then maybe you should weigh your religious options, but otherwise I think it is safe to say hell should not be your greatest worry in life. The advantages to describing the afterlife as this horrible place for all who do not follow your religion should go without saying really. It is a clever marketing practice really, but it just simply does not pass the smell test. You should be as good of a person as you can possibly be. You should leave a legacy. You should share kindness, love, and empathy with those around you (including other species), but perfection is ridiculous (even the Bible admits that). When you consider that the first alphabet did not even come about until around 2000 BCE in Syria, it is silly to suggest that these rules would have always applied. If they did not always apply, because of the lack of access to the information, then why was the information ever shared. It is really a circular problem that can make your head spin. I realize your grandma is going to want you to get baptized (by full immersion), and your mom is going to want to make sure you repent of your sins and go to church every Sunday, but these are ridiculous reasons to be sent to hell. You know it, I know it, we ALL know it (in my opinion). I completely accept that the “Holy Bible” says something different, but that is open to interpretation, depending on the denomination you subscribe to.
Simply put, there is plenty of hell on earth. While it may be good for business to make people consider an everlasting hell, it is not good for the heart, or the emotions. No one wants to think of sweet old grandpa, who would say a cuss word here and there, smoked like a freight train, and had porn magazines in the garage on top of his work bench is going to hell because he didn’t follow the right teaching about salvation. I mean, sweet old grandpa worked his fingers to the bone providing for his family, he gave his all every day, he fought for his country, and he was a good man. Who cares if he whacked off every now and then to some October 1989 Playboy. It is just plain silliness. The statistics for violent crime show us that at any given time less than 1% of our population has committed a violent crime. The church thrives off of making every Dick and Harry guilty of hell for everything under the sun. Give me, and the rest of the world a break. This is why hell does not matter.
For the truth,
The godless Pastor
****Check out Be selective of your f****, for a great read on a recent blog… Let me know what you think in the comments.****