There are those who say they cannot accept the Christian God because a God of Love and Goodness could never make a person that He knew would end up in an eternal hell.  Surely a God of Mercy would want everyone to be saved and enjoy the heavenly bliss that is prepared for them.

The usual response to this argument is that God doesn’t send anyone to Hell; they choose it themselves.

To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.” — Catholic Catechism

Apparently God thinks Free Will is very important.  He is a God of Love and Love is something that has to be freely chosen.   If we HAD to love God, and love Good, and love Truth and Beauty, we would not be persons, only robots.   Love MUST be chosen, or it means nothing.

So God, being a God of Love, wanted to share his Love with us and wanted us to enjoy an eternity where Love ruled.  Love is nothing if it is not shared with someone.  It is the very nature of Love to involve someone else.    And God wanted to share an eternity of happiness with others — i.e. us.

There you have it.  Love requires Free Will.  How God can create a creature with Free Will is beyond me.  It means that the creature can actually choose A or B or even C without constraint in any direction.  However, we know, from experience, that we do have free will.

We all know that in God’s original plan we were to enjoy his presence in a beautiful garden where we would have no cares or worries.  But, of course we also know that, using their free will, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s only command.  They did not love enough to believe and trust.  Knowing that God was their Father, knowing that He loved them, knowing he wanted the best for them and was much wiser than them, it would have been smart to do as he said.  But they did not want to accept their creaturehood – they wanted to be “like God.”

Trying to understand the relationship of God to our world, it is not unusual for philosopher-types  to compare God to a watchmaker.   Suppose God made a beautiful watch and its only obligation was to keep time.   It could do what it was designed to do and have a long happy life in the vest pocket of a loving God.   If it refused to keep time and refused to be repaired and wanted instead to be a computer, there is nothing to be done but toss it away – into the outer darkness.   We are imagining that the watch has some sort of mind and will and in its rebellion it has deprived itself of a happy life in the service of its maker.   It says, instead, I WILL NOT SERVE!

So, face it.   We are not God.  We do not understand the universe or a single cell or even our own selves.  We are CREATURES!   We, unlike the watch, really do have free will.   We can say I WILL NOT SERVE or we can say I CHOOSE TO  DO YOUR WILL.  “I trust that your plan for me is loving and good.”

Many of us have a rebellious streak in us and want to “do it our way.”  Some of us find it hard to trust God because we have not experienced a love that is trustworthy.  We can turn away from  a plan for us that comes from a loving Father but if we do not surrender eventually to God’s plan there is nothing to be done but let us stew in our own juice.   That’s Hell.   There is simply no place for a person who will not love in a place where love rules.

There are numerous scriptural references to the fire of hell, a lake of fire, such as Mark 9:43-44 which reads:

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Hell is a place without love.  I do not know if a spiritual body can experience the kind of fire we have on earth.    But it can experience a burning hate that cannot be quenched  and consumes the vessel that contains it.   The loss of the very reason for one’s existence must be an  indescribable  torment.   However terrible Jesus’   suffering was during the crucifixion, it seems that the worst part of all was the feeling of having been forsaken by his Father.

The Lord’s prayer tells us to do two things:  The first is to do God’s will.   The second is to forgive the trespasses of others.    This is  just another version of the Old Testament commands to love God and to love our neighbor.   This is why forgiveness is essential to enter the kingdom of Heaven.   There is no place in heaven for hate.

Like all analogies, this one breaks down but it is how I explain things to myself – so far.  We have to remember that we are in time and God is in eternity and sees the end from the beginning.  It is useless to try to outsmart God.  Scripture tells us God is Love and we do well to obey when he speaks.  Otherwise, like the unwilling watch,  we are good for nothing but to be tossed aside.

My God has given me some gifts, more than some people have,  and less than others, as is true for all mankind.     He has tried me and blessed me and on retrospect I realize I  have much to thank him for.  Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.   To me it seems good and fitting to trust in him going forward.    I am in awe of what he has done for me and I know the meaning of the joy of the Lord.

“All things  work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”  Matt. 8:28.


Here I am, Lord.  I come to do your will.   Make of me what pleases you.   Here I am, here I am, Lord.

Into the hand that made the rose, shall I with trembling fall?

The saying of Damascene that “God preknows but does not predetermine the things which are in our power” are to be understood as meaning that the things which are in our power are not subject to the divine predetermination in such a way as to be necessitated thereby. — St. Thomas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Ch. XC

You say, “The LORD’S way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?  When a virtuous man turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.  But if a wicked man, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life;  since he has turned away from all the sins which he committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. — Ezekiel 18:25-28

I have recently come across the following video by Fr. Barron on the subject of God “sending” people to an everlasting hell.