What joy it must be to believe in a promise of heaven with no threat of hell. Say what? Sadly, many people today deny that there is an eternal punishment for their wayward conduct. Hell must not really exist they say since God is all goodness and love and He wouldn't be so cruel as to punish someone for eternity. After all, it's certainly not something we would do, is it?

Well, we are not more forgiving and loving than God. What's often conveniently forgotten is that God is also infinitely just. Properly understood, hell is freely chosen by those who rebel against His commandments and then die in the state of unrepentance. Consider where alternative thinking can lead us. If there is no hell, then no need for worship, although we might do Christmas and Easter to get our semiannual shot of feel good religion. And unmarried live-in couples causes no problem. Our society is replete with that. Celebrating homosexual behavior is probably OK since no one is really being hurt. And an unwanted pregnancy? Not a problem to dispatch the child. After all, it's legal. This type of thinking results in a way of life opposed to Church teaching and one that relies on God's infinite goodness for unsought guaranteed forgiveness. Time for a reality check.

The inspired written word of God (a.k.a. the Bible) is not silent on the issue of hell such that we're free to develop our own theology. Rather, many passages are extremely clear that eternal punishment awaits those who freely choose to turn away from what God has revealed as necessary for salvation. Isaiah 66:24 gives the final state of those who have rebelled against God. The separation of sheep from goats in Matthew ends with the goats going off to eternal punishment. Luke writes about the chaff that will burn with unquenchable fire. In 2 Thess. St. Paul reveals that those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus will pay the penalty of eternal ruin. No mention of a guaranteed ticket to heaven there!

The existence of a state of eternal punishment does not depend on our personalized belief, but rather on God's revealed Word. As a result, we need to follow the Church's teaching, seek repentance for our sins, and acknowledge that the hell there is turns out to be more than just a colloquial saying.

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