Tag Archives: love

Love and Hate

Sort of as a follow-up to the Two-fer Tuesday posts on “Love,” I’m going to talk a little bit about love vs. hate.

It’s easy to hate; let’s face it, destructive stuff is almost always easier than doing creative or constructive stuff. It doesn’t usually take as much effort, and even in those cases when it takes up more physical energy (like trashing a room) than doing something peaceful or loving, it gives us a very visceral satisfaction.

Is it any wonder that it wasn’t all that hard for the serpent (Satan) in the Garden of Eden to knock Adam and Eve off track? Bad boys and girls are almost always attractive on some level, and we secretly want to be them. In video games, if given a choice, I’ll often go the “good guy” route, but I almost always come back to the game to go the “bad boy” route because it’s fun. I sometimes feel wrong for finding it so fun, but I’m not going to lie and say it repels me and I always steer clear of it. I’m not some sanctimonious holier-than-thou dude, you know. I have plenty of other flaws, but that isn’t one of them.

Anyway, in preparing for today’s post, I remembered the character of Radio Raheem in the Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing, a movie I haven’t seen in its entirety since it first came out in the theaters. He had a four fingered ring on each had, each with a word on it in big gaudy letters—if you haven’t seen the movie, imagine brass knuckles with words on them and you’ll get the picture. Anyway, one of them said “Love” and other one said “Hate,” and this is what Radio Raheem said at one point about his finger attire:

Let me tell you the story of “Right Hand, Left Hand.” It’s a tale of good and evil. Hate: It was with this hand that Cain iced his brother. Love: These five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: Static. One hand is always fighting the other hand; and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love, is finished. But, hold on, stop the presses, the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that’s right. Ooh, it’s the devastating right and Hate is hurt, he’s down. Left-Hand Hate K.O.ed by Love.

I didn’t remember any of that monologue until I did a search on Google about “love and hate” in relation to that film. Maybe you don’t agree with me, but what that character Radio Raheem says is deep. It’s true.

Many Christians hate on non-Christians and many non-Christians hate on Christians. And then a lot of these same folks hate on their own folks. What an effed-up mess that is.

We can choose the route of love or the route of hate in life. Truth be told, most of us will switch between those roads a lot, but in the end, we all choose primarily to use one of those roads to get to where we’re going in life. Hate can get you far sometimes, I have no doubt of that. But love is the one that is going to have the most chance of getting you somewhere valuable and helping the people around you find their way to better places in life, too.

Two-fer Tuesday: Love by Deacon Blue

Among those who practice, or advocate for, more holistic medical care—or who eschew medical care entirely for full-on homeopathic or other alternative forms of care—there is a common thought process that disease is the absence of health (or vice-versa). That is, we aren’t, and shouldn’t be, trying to treat a disease or relieve symptoms as the primary goal but instead to restore a person to health. Going along with that is the idea that we need to maintain a healthy body as the primary way to prevent illness or other unpleasantly to befall us.

In that context, one could say simply that hate is the absence of love or that love is the absence of hate. But I think it is far more complex than that, because the absence of love doesn’t always lead to hate, though that is one avenue. It can lead to despair, misunderstanding, unintentional cruelty, abuse, apathy, sadness, fear and so much more. It can even lead to combinations of some or all of those things.

I have been reminded of this in the past couple days as I’ve been going through blogs. For example, at The Field Negro lately, the posts have attracted a much larger than normal number of people, mostly anonymous but some with actual identities, who are white supremacist types of various flavors and intensities. Clearly, the closer we get to November, with a black man in the race for president, this shit can be expected to occur and probably to increase. But what struck me was how these attitudes can color the interactions overall. For example, one wingnut stated that half of all U.S. blacks either had HIV infection or full-blown AIDS.

Now, this is a totally erroneous number. Figures indicate that roughly half of those people who have HIV infection in the United States are black, but with some 1.2 million or so HIV vicitms in this country, that is 600,000 out of 36,000,000 black people, or something like 0.02%. Also, it is believed that half of those who are infected don’t even know it. So, clearly, the “half” was not anywhere near as bad (nor indicative of some pitiful moral standard among blacks) as what the anonymous racist ignoramus was suggesting. Now, whether he/she was simply misinformed or intentionally spreading lies, I felt the need to respond and make sure the right facts got out, first pointing out that higher levels of HIV infection among blacks had a lot to do with factors like the documented fact that blacks are still being denied the same level of healthcare that whites get, even when blacks pay as much money or have insurance that’s just as good. At the end of my comment, after going through the social forces that increase ill-health among blacks, I mentioned the real figures about HIV infection among blacks and overall in the country, and stressed that half of all blacks are not infected.

Trouble is, one of the regular commenters on that blog called out the anonymous commenter and myself to tell us that half of all HIV victims being black is very different than half of all blacks being HIV infected. What this tells me is that the commenter in question probably never got to the end of my comment to see that I had pointed out that same fact. So, it probably seemed that while I was pointing out racial inequities, I was also agreeing with the incorrect figures, when in fact nothing could be farther from the truth.

So, lack of love, in this case the basic “love thy neighbor” commandment that Jesus himself gave us—and something that most racist whites are ignoring obviously since the majority of them seem to call themselves Christians—leads not only to hatred (i.e. racism) but then leads to misunderstandings. That is, you get a white numbnut spouting off, and then every other person who comments and is either white or seems to be white becomes suspect. The lack of love by one stains everyone else, and then a lack of love is given by those who are being hurt. The ability to connect and communicate is compromised, even among those who aren’t among the group that’s doing the hating.

On a completely other part of the spectrum when it comes to problems with lack of love, I also noticed a weird post at Ephaphtha on cake farting, which is a big indication to me that our more intimate love is sadly lacking as well. As my recent “F Is for Fetish” post indicates, I’m not against kinks and not ignorant of them, but when fetishes start getting as specific as cake farting, I have to agree with Kellybelle at Ephaphtha that something is wrong in how we are loving. Whether because of fear of disease or social disconnections or being too desirous of the new and bizarre, we are becoming less able to love each other in normal ways. Even with sex, it isn’t enough to connect with a person. Instead, we delve deeper and deeper into the weird instead of growing deeper and deeper in our ability to connect and love.

This post is a bit of a ramble, I know, and it may seem strange to anyone else how and why I’m connecting the dots that I am. But I really believe that at the core of these two blog observations—as well as other things I’ve seen in the blogs and the news and in daily life that I don’t have time to go into now—is lack of love. We aren’t necessarily becoming a more hateful world without love, but we are becoming way more dysfunctional. One can argue that there has always been too little love in the world, and that is true, but the increasingly technological and disconnected world we live in seems to be making love an even rarer commodity.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. Love isn’t going to completely go out of fashion, but I really think we’re forgetting how to love each other well—or ceasing to care about putting in the effort.

Jesus is certainly very sad to see that happening. We should be sad about it too, though I fear most of us aren’t—and won’t ever be.

(Click here for Miz Pink’s post on this same topic, but with her own spin.)

Two-fer Tuesday: Love by Miz Pink

I asked Deke to make sure to put my post today on our Twofer Tuesday topic second right under his because I just want to say: Geez youre long-winded! Talkin our ears off…or our eyes out or something. Simple topic like love and you go get all wordy and stuff like you always do. Two-fer Tuesday means two posts, man! People don’t have time for this. Keep it short on Tuesday. Yeesh!

Oh I’d better clam up I guess and get to writing before I make myself a hypocrite 😮

 

Look, when it comes to love, you can read the Bible cover to cover and you will (if you’re really in prayer about it and really trying to understand I believe) see that God really is about love first and foremost. The whole Bible, even with the icky bits, is a love story of God trying to save these humans he made to be his children…who went all astray and are killing themselves physically emotionally and spiritually when they do it.

But if that’s too much for you to digest. If thats too much for you to see in between all the clutter. If that’s not clear enough…

Listen to Jesus:

Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

I’m not saying we mere humans are capable of avoiding anger and even hating at times. We all have our bad moments. But I don’t understand how anyone can call himself or herself a Christians and feel hate toward any group. Toward individuals, I understand. We should show love even to those who persecute us and even toward some heinous child molesting murderer, but I understand how hard that can be at time. But I really don’t understand hate toward groups.

Why hate Muslims for what a minority of them do? Why hate Jews for “killing” Christ when Jesus himself was a Jew and his whole mission on earth was to die for us? Why hate another race or ethnic group (or more than one) just because your life sucks? Why hate the youth for acting young and why hate old folks for being a little crusty?

Jesus told us that all of the commadments rest on these two great commandments he gave us. Love. Love, dammit!

I can’t use Jesus to convince a non-Christian to love. But I can and will use him to tell any Christian out there that if you have serious hate for any group of people, maybe you aren’t a Christian and maybe you should be getting prepared for a possible eternity in hell. Groups are just that, groups. They contain many individuals. To hate the group and hate all people in a group because of what you think are the beliefs they all hold is wrong.

It’s against Jesus, it’s against God and it shows a serious lack of the Holy Spirit in you.

(For Deke’s post today on Love cliick here)

Guilt Trips by Miz Pink

Why do so many people think that Christians exist only to make them feel bad about themselves? Yeah I know the concept of “original sin” sounds icky and doesn’t sit well with alot of people.

Yeah some Chrsitian folk can get all highandmighty and catalog all your sins while acting as if they have none of their own.

Yeah, some preachers like to trumpet the fire and brimstone and remind you all day long that you’re a pitiful excuse for a Christian…or a human…and that you should feel fortunate that God even offers you eternity in hell for your sins instead of just obliterating you right now.

The Chrisitians who go overboard don’t define us all you know. As human beings we are a pretty sinful lot and we really don’t treat God’s laws or even his planet…or ourselves for that matter…or other people with the respect that we need to. But when the Bible…or a well-meaning Christian…points out that people sin and that we sin against God all the time, it isn’t meant to give us a guilt trip.

Deke is pretty comfortable bringing out the family and parenting metaphors when talking about God so let me do it too, okay? I’ll even change the standin for God and have it be a mother in our little story.

So, imagine we have a guy name Stan whose mother is named Dorothy. Dorothy has raised Stan alone and although she thought discpline was an important character trait, she also loved him and provided for him. Dorothy gave up something very important to her in order to make a good life for Stan. From time to time, she would talk about her past and drop hints about what she had given up. But she never made a big point of it and she never tried to guilt her son.

Stan almost never really followed any of his mom’s rules. He lied to her alot and took things from her and talked about her behind her back and ridiculed her and ignored her. He spent more time disrepecting her than he did showing love back to her. And even as she took most of the disobedience and abuse in silence, Stan never stopped heaping more of it onto her back.

One day, some relatives who were sick and tired of Stan dumping on his mom…and who were also concerned about where Stan’s life was going to go if he wasn’t going to internalize any of his mom’s good advice…took him aside and pointed out to him that he wasn’t doing right. A couple of them might have even suggested that at the rate he was going, Stan would be really lucky if his mom even left him anything when she died or instead just give it all to a charity or something.

That’s the end of my story. No trick ending or witty conclusion. That’s it. Does it ring any bells?

God lets us make our own beds, and he often helps up out of our messes. He takes our abuse and disoebedience quietly. He gave his only son over to evil people to suffer a horrible death he didn’t deserve and to bear all our sins…just because he loved us that much. He gave up something important for us so taht we could have a future and still we don’t even try to meet God halfway most of the time. We ignore and insult and disobey. And we expect to be given a big inheritance because we think “we were pretty good people in the end.”

Stan may have treated alot of other people okay in life, but the parent who gave him everything certainly never got back the love she had earned and deserved.

Then again, maybe he finally did learn to to give her back that love and to finally listen to her…once those relatives pulled his ear a bit and set him straight on a few facts.

Oh, and those relatives would be concerned Christians who are trying to save souls and to get people who are saved to stay on the straight and narrow as much as possible.

Yeah, some of those relatives were probably assholes to Stan. But some of them really meant well and were nice about telling him what was what. Most Stans don’t listen to even the nice ones, though, do they?

How about you?

Hell? Yes!

So, yesterday I started on the topic of Hell and whether or not people actually choose to be there and, for that matter, why the freakin’ hell we should even have Hell. Well, if you were around for that post, you might have noticed I spent a lot of time talking and didn’t get nearly far enough.

This time, I’ll try to get in some biblical passages to back my ass up a little instead of just providing links to past posts of my own that bear relevance on this topic, so this will probably be an even longer journey than yesterday. An important part of today’s post is found in WNG’s comment to me a couple days past, and in particular one thing she said:

I overheard a discussion this weekend about whether or not hell is actually empty. The two gentlemen discussing the matter weren’t close enough for me to eavesdrop completely but the gist that I got was that God’s love and forgiveness are all encompassing and offered forever, so basically you’d have to CHOOSE to go to hell. I thought hmmm…

Now, I’m sure most people would, upon really thinking about this shit, also say to themselves, if people choose to be in Hell rather than simply being sentenced there, who the hell would go to Hell? The truth of the matter is that it is sort of a combination of being sent to Hell and choosing to be there, in my humble and non-divine opinion.

First, a person chooses to not accept Jesus as their savior, and this choice basically put you on the elevator car going down. By not choosing God’s way, you put your soul into Satan’s hands. I know, that seems a bit harsh—eternal punishment because maybe you didn’t hear about Jesus or no one really told you about him in a way that was truly meaningful. Also, the whole eternal damnation thing itself seems a bit out of line with pretty much any offenses one could possibly commit in a single lifetime on this planet, even if your name was Adolf Hitler or something. Eternity is a damn long time.

And here we need some clarification. Hell isn’t eternal in and of itself. It actually gets thrown away into something the Book of Revelation refers to as the Lake of Fire (Revelation chapter 20, especially verse 10 and verses 14 & 15).

And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. … Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Yesterday’s post provided a link to my post titled End of the Line? and you can look there to see my more complete argument on that front. But the short version is that I suspect that anyone in Hell (at the very least those who weren’t around there when Jesus descended into Hell for a few days and they heard preaching from his own mouth) still has a chance to repent before they stand before Jesus on Judgment Day.

I’ve seen arguments that Hell is where you suffer with images of your impending doom and the Lake of Fire is where every lost soul is utterly destroyed. But I don’t get the impression that the soul is something that can be utterly destroyed. Also, isn’t that pretty mean of a loving God to torture you with images of your destruction, then destroy you, having given you no hope of redemption? That kind of two-step punishment is cruelty entirely out of step with a God who would let His son be a sacrifice for our sakes instead of lifting Jesus off that cross that he never deserved to be on. If God wanted to destroy you, wouldn’t he just get straight to the ultimate penalty? So, I so see Hell as being a place where you are separated from God’s grace but only as a means to give you that final “Don’t you get it yet?” before you go to the place where you will never get out of, namely the Lake of Fire, in the hopes maybe you’ll have a saving epiphany.

Still, you might argue: Who would choose to stay in Hell and be discarded for eternity and an endless separation from God? True, I should think a short stay in Hell would be more than enough to make it clear that it’s not someplace you want to be (unless Satan is making it look good to fool people into thinking his way is still a good choice, which certainly is a possibility). But even if it’s a really horrific place to be, does that really mean that before you go before Jesus to be judged, you’re automatically going to accept him as your savior because you endured suffering and are facing the prospect of more of the same?

No.

Because it’s about accepting Jesus. It’s not about being afraid of punishment and saying “Please save me.” It’s about saying, “I’ve sinned against God and I am sorry and I want to be a child of God…please lift me up and guide me on that path.” If one doesn’t accept that they have wronged God and rejected God—and they don’t seek to be reunited with Him through Jesus—there will be no forgiveness. And that isn’t because God is cruel but because you won’t do your part. The parable of the prodigal son in the Gospel of Luke chapter 15, verses 11-32, is something worth mentioning here as an example of that, because the younger brother comes back not to demand anything or to justify his actions, but in humility. Yes, he doesn’t return until he hits rock-bottom, but that’s the way some people have to roll, just like many alcoholics don’t seek help until they truly crash and burn. The point is, the prodigal son doesn’t come back with excuses and doesn’t assume he’ll be welcomed back as a son (figuring he’ll only be worthy to act as a servant), and that is exactly why the father does take him back.

God can reach out to you, but He expects you to reach out too. And I think that is fair. I also believe that a lot of souls in Hell are not going to be willing to accept accountability. They will act out of fear and self-preservation and justifying their actions and making excuses (see, for example, the Gospel of Matthew chapter 7, verses 21-23):

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.

And the decision to defend their wrong decisions instead of atoning for them is a choice that will keep them in damnation. Too many people think their deeds will get them into Heaven instead of realizing that it’s their faith that will do that. And plenty of people in Hell will believe that they can still talk their way into Heaven by explaining why their works were good and why those works should be enough.

And the fact is, even if my musings in the Party that Never Ends? post that I linked to in my post yesterday are accurate, and Satan has put a nice facade on Hell to convince you to stay and party, I don’t think it’s like God is going to just let a lie like that go without a challenge. I think souls will be told, “Satan is lying to you and there is something better for you if you just admit that you’ve done wrong and listen to Jesus and accept his sacrifice for you.” But I also think that even if that is so, there are people who will cast their lot with Satan because they will gamble that things aren’t as bad as God says they will be and that maybe Satan really has a chance of winning. Because they want the petty things they have always clung to and won’t reach out to be lifted to something better.

There is also an interesting concept put forward in The Sandman: Master of Dreams mature comic series that ran from 1989 to 1996, and that is that everyone in Hell is there by their own choice and not by God’s design. The gist is that many people expect punishment and end up in Hell because that is what they secretly desire. Either because of their belief in a punishing God or their own internal sense of worthlessness, they simply cannot have a satisfying afterlife if they don’t suffer torment for their perceived sinfulness. I don’t think this is the way of things generally speaking, but it is an interesting concept and it might be that some people go to Hell for that reason as well.

Despite all I’ve said over the past couple days, it’s probably still going to appear cruel. After all, why should people who didn’t hear about Jesus have to go to Hell for that, for any period of time, instead of being judged on their personal merits?

I don’t know. That is, I don’t know why…and I don’t even know if that’s how it really happens. I just don’t know. My father-in-law, who is a reverend, has a theory that some people are born again and just don’t know it. In fact, he believes there are people who are born again and aren’t even Christian or even Jewish for that matter. And that may be the case. Perhaps there are people who have other faiths but know deep inside there is something wrong with them (sin and separation from God) but they don’t know exactly what. They simply realize deep down that they aren’t getting the answers from their own faith, and maybe people like this are considered to have accepted Jesus because they seek him without knowing who he is exactly or how and where to find him.

There’s also the possibility that Hell might not be a homogeneous place. Maybe those with seeking hearts but who haven’t received the gospel end up somewhere more contemplative than punishing, even though they might remain separated from God until the final judgment. Pure conjecture on that though, even more so than most of what I’ve presented so far. 

In the end, my point isn’t to try to convince you of a certain vision of Hell, only to show how it is possible that people might choose Hell, explicitly or implicitly.

And whether I’m right that it’s really our choice or whether I’m wrong and God is capricious (which just seems so unlikely to me), all I know is that it’s a hell of a choice.

And I pray that none of you reading this make that kind of decision.

…finally, if I may overuse the “hell” puns a bit more…it’s taken me a hell of a long time to get to the end of this topic. Apologies for any dry, achy eyes out there.

Oh. Hell?

Hell is pretty much the 400-pound gorilla in the middle of the room known as Christianity. It’s impossible to ignore and sometimes even more difficult to explain. On the one hand, we have a supposedly loving God the Father and a forgiving son of God—and yet, there is this place of eternal torment that both are willing to send folks if they don’t accept Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s dominion.

Yeah, I know, it seems pretty weird doesn’t it, when I put it like that? But I do believe that Hell exists and I do believe that there are people who end up there. Now, this post, for those of you who aren’t regular readers or didn’t read comments a couple days ago on one of my other posts, is something inspired by one of my readers, WNG. I had been intending to do a detailed and specific post about the nature and necessity of Hell anyway, but her comment got me off my ass finally, and here’s what she had said in my post Opinions are Like Assholes just for context:

I wanted to ask you a question – sorry it’s comepletely unrelated to this post…I overheard a discussion this weekend about whether or not hell is actually empty. The two gentlemen discussing the matter weren’t close enough for me to eavesdrop completely but the gist that I got was that God’s love and forgiveness are all encompassing and offered forever, so bascially you’d have to CHOOSE to go to hell. I thought hmmm… they were quoting scripture at each other rapid fire and I didn’t have a pen so I’m coming to you with???? What do you think? And where should I be looking in the Bible for answers? I think this is a really interesting question (especially since I’m been having some trouble forgiving lately). If you’re not interested no harm, no foul and sorry for taking over your blog!

Now, WNG hits on some of the major sticking points about Hell, which is why I wanted to repost her comment above. It might also be useful if you read the following posts by me about Hell (the last two of the three are really a two-part discussion and are even more speculative than the first of the three): End of the Line?, The Party that Never Ends?, and It’s a Trap! I really recommend that you at least read End of the Line because it impacts directly on some of what I will discuss about the permanence of Hell (or lack thereof).

Something that is pretty clear from all three posts above, though, is that there aren’t a lot of clear answers about precisely what Hell is or how it all works. But there are reasonable assumptions one can make based on human nature and God’s nature.

First, let’s get God’s love out of the way. God does love us. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have rules, though. And consequences for that matter. If you look back at the Garden of Eden (which I talked about here and a little bit here, too), what God wanted was children (us humans) who would choose to love him. The goal was to create a spiritual family, something God didn’t have in the angels, who were created to serve. Now, that free will to choose God or not, to love Him or not—well, it’s pretty meaningless if there is only one choice. If God is the only choice and obedience is the only option, free will is entirely a sham.

So, God had to provide a way to rebel; a way to reject him. When Lucifer rebelled and was ultimately cast down to Earth as Satan, that provided a being who could be a counterpoint to God. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil provided the initial means to disobey (other rules would follow as both means to show our obedience and as reminders to us of how the vast majority of us cannot motivate ourselves to obey anything God tells us to do). Sadly, Adam and Eve made the choice for all of us by being the first to disobey and to choose Satan’s way over God’s. Instead of being an ongoing option for humanity, Adam and Even polluted the whole situation from the get-go and made all of us, essentially, Satan’s pawns instead of God’s children.

This is why in the Old Testament the Hebrews refer to God as Lord and why in the New Testament, the shift is to call Him Father, with Jesus as our Lord and our heavenly sibling.

God loved us enough to put a plan in place whereby we could be washed clean of our sins, and that was the placing of people and events that would ultimately lead to the birth of Jesus and then his sacrificial death for us as a symbolic lamb in the same vein as the actual lambs that Jews had sacrificed to God before (Satan thought he had God beat in the Garden of Eden, but God wasn’t about to let us go without fighting for us). Essentially, we gain entrance to Heaven not by our deeds, because too often, our deeds are in conflict with God’s law, but rather through the good credit that Jesus possesses. The juxtaposition of prison/damnation/punishment with good credit/bad credit is odd, I know. It a mixed metaphor, really. But the fact is that Jesus co-signs for our eternal reward. His credit is that good. But God the Father isn’t going to let you cash in on His son’s credit unless you actually acknowledge that (a) there is a God in Heaven who is in charge and (b) you accept his son as Lord and Savior with a recognition of Jesus’ divine nature and an appreciation for the horrible sacrifices Jesus made for us out of love for us (suffering persecution; enduring crucifixion; taking on the spiritual pain of all sins committed in the past, present and future; being cut off from contact with God for a time; and going to Hell for three days to preach to the lost souls there even though Jesus had done nothing worthy of setting a single foot in Hell).

Whoa, I see this post is already getting long, and I’m beginning to think I’ll have to finish this tomorrow, as there is so much set-up before I can even get to the issue of how people choose Hell. So let me finish up a bit on love I guess, and then we’ll get to the rest of it tomorrow.

God is indeed love. It brings Him no pleasure whatsoever to see anyone go to Hell. But He isn’t going to give people a pass just because. Giving us free will means that there must be consequences as well. The fact is, I don’t think God keeps anyone in Hell. The damned have kept themselves there—or in many cases will keep themselves there when the chance comes to leave Hell. Because God is just, I believe that no one is going to stay in Hell without having been fully informed of what the deal is and how they can get out.

I know many preachers will say that there is no excuse for not hearing about and learning about Jesus in this day and age but I think that’s a cop-out for people who don’t want to really evangelize and want to feel better about not doing their part. If a person is raised a certain way, they typically aren’t going to be in a position to think of Jesus as anything other than a fanciful notion or a direct competition to the faith in which they were raised and continue to be devout. For God to hold that against a person and not give them a chance to truly know about Jesus and accept him seems indeed to be cruel and petty, and that’s not the kind of God I can envision if God really loves us.

Also, I know there are those in the predestination camp who argue that God has already picked out everyone who is going to Heaven and everyone who is going to Hell and I think that is bullshit because it flies in the face of us actually having free will to choose God’s way or not.

Love is at the center of what God does. But just like with any good parent, we as children often don’t recognize the love that lies behind the rules, the correction and even the punishment. And our failure to accept the love and to continue to cling to our own conceptions and our own desires is what ultimately dooms many of us to Hell.

More on that tomorrow in my post Hell? Yes!.

Ties that bind

So, got some bad news today that one of my uncles had died. Not the first time, and I don’t lack for other aunts and uncles (my dad was one of the youngest of 13 and my mom one of the eldest of 7), but this has hit me in an odd way. For well-nigh the past decade, I haven’t seen much of my family on either side. Mainly because of financial stuff and the fact that I moved to a state that’s hell and away from everyone related to me.

But this has really got me bummed. I hadn’t seen Tom in a long time, but I remember him fondly. And despite the distance of years, and the fact that I hadn’t spent more than a heartbeat of time with him in a good 18 years, I miss him. And I’ll be damned if I can say why it makes me want to cry.

But what it has made me think about is God’s love, in a weird, off-hand way. We separate ourselves from God in so many ways and don’t spend time with him, but He’s always there for us, even when we don’t believe it or cannot accept that He would be.

And no matter how long you’ve been out of touch with God, I think it grieves him something fierce when we die without having embraced what He offers to us.

I’m 40 and want to cry over someone I haven’t spent significant, ongoing time with since I was in my teens and saw only for a smattering of dinners from high school through my career-building years.

How much more does God cry for people whom He watches every day and knows every aspect of them, when they die without having known Him. Or without even having cared to try?