Today I would like to respond to one of the most frequently asked theological questions. Why would a loving God create Hell? Before I dive in to answer the question, I’d like to analyze the question, define hell, and look at the background of someone who might be asking this question.
Why would a loving God create hell? Someone who asks this probably has an idea or picture as to what is loving and fair. They might be thinking that God is unfair for sending ‘basically good’ people to be punished in hell because they didn’t believe in Jesus. The question seems to imply that there is a contradiction between God’s love and hell; as in- a loving God would not create hell. So there only 2 conclusions to this seeming contradiction. 1. That God isn’t loving after all because he created hell. Or 2. That God is loving and creating hell was not an unloving thing to do. Which is the right conclusion?
Many would like it to be number 1 because if God isn’t loving than what the bible says about Him can’t be true. And that would give them an excuse to deny the existence of God and go on living as if God wouldn’t judge them for their actions. Which conclusion are you hoping for?
Finally, what is hell? Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines hell as- “The place or state of punishment for the wicked after death.”
The doctrine of hell really only comes from scripture. Hell is described as a lake of fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The term gnashing of teeth reminds me of something that I had learned from history about surgery before anesthesia.
Many times, especially during the civil war, soldiers would receive surgery for their bullet wounds. The surgeon would give the man a musket ball to bite on during the surgery. Many times the ball would have the man’s teeth marks embedded in it by the time the surgery was finished. That’s how painful it was. So when the bible says gnashing of teeth it’s referring to what men do when they are in agony. Hell will not be a pleasant place.
So, why would a loving God create hell? Why? Here’s the Short answer. Because if God did not use hell to punish wickedness, than it would be contradictory His Just and holy nature.
I believe that one of the most important things we need to do in order to understand and answer this question properly, is to look at God’s character.
According to scripture God is righteous. Jesus is described as the spotless and unblemished Lamb of God. God is perfect. He is just. He is holy. This is something that I think we will never fully understand while we are here on earth; That God is absolutely, fully, utterly, and completely holy. And that’s why, when we get to heaven and see God face to face we’ll be so overwhelmed by his infinite holiness that we’ll join the seraphim in saying, on our knees, over and over- Holy, Holy, Holy.
How does God’s holiness apply to our question? Because God is so holy, He cannot allow sin and ungodliness into his presence. He cannot reward those who have rejected Him. His love for righteousness is so perfect that He can’t let unrighteousness go unpunished.
Consider this example. I love children. I was just over at my sisters’ and I got to hang out with my little nephew Boone. He is such a cute kid. I love him. And if someone was seeking to take my little nephew’s life, I would take great measures to protect Boone. And it is because I love Boone so much that I would hate anyone who sought to kill him. You see love and hate go hand-in-hand. I love human life. Therefore I hate murder. I love marriage. Therefore I hate divorce. I love ice cream. Therefore I hate warm temperatures. Hmm......I take that back. I don’t hate warm temperatures. When you love something dearly, you hate the thing that destroys what you love.
God has created everything perfect and sin has destroyed what He has made good. Because God perfectly loves what is good, He hates perfectly what is evil.
Martin Luther summarizes the reason for hell so perfectly in these 3 points.
1. God is infinitely holy
2. Any transgressions against God are transgressions against His infinite holiness
3. Any such transgressions against infinite holiness require infinite punishments.”
....to be continued.