Does Justice Require a Hell?

It is okay to be who you are as long as you are alive, because you are still becoming the person you were created to be. It’s important to know that, because otherwise you have to pretend- even to yourself- that you are perfect and don’t need to grow and change. It’s a lifelong process, a dance between grace and the limits of the hand we were dealt, that probably will still be happening at our moment of death.
I don’t know about afterward……I’m personally counting on Jesus, the expression of the unconditional Love of God, being God’s promise of forgiveness for those bad choices I made along the way to becoming the person I am meant to be. Remember the Prodigal Son story.
So, I was really struggling this week with the statement by a writer I respect: “That if God is just, there has to be a hell.” I’m wondering if that depends on your definition of “just.”
Justice to me means recognition of an evil that brings about change. The evil can be either personal or societal.
I don’t see it as a “get even” kind of thing. Plenty of people have hurt me, just as I have hurt others, but I don’t need them to suffer for it. I just want them to recognize it and sincerely regret it enough to not do it again to me or anyone else. I figure that’s what God wants from us.
I do suspect from my personal experience that a “balancing” plays out in life here in a lot of ways. Sometimes when someone hurts me, I have a sudden memory of having done the same thing to someone else. Depending on what it is, I may laugh, sigh, or feel heartbroken about my own blindness. But it frees me to not only let go of the hurt and temptation to judge, but to avoid doing it again myself.
I believe the whole point of justice isn’t retribution. Justice is about recognition, regret, forgiveness and change. It seems to me that in many ways it’s a dying to self and that we experience a lot of deaths and resurrections before the big one.

One note: Acts have consequences.  The reason there are “Do Not” commandments is that those things have negative consequences not only for others, but for those who do them. The rules are for everyone’s protection. I believe the retribution is intrinsic and comes in this life.

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About Eileen

Mother of five, grandmother of eleven, great-grandmother of seven, 1955 -1959 Rice University in Houston, TX. Taught primary grades; Was Associate Post Director of Religious Education at Ft. Campbell, KY; Consultant on the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator; Presently part time Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper for Architect husband of fifty-seven years. Blog: Laughter: Carbonated Grace

Posted on June 4, 2016, in Addictions, B4Peace, Failure, faith, fear for the future, Forgiveness, Jesus, Judging, Justice, Love, Mental Health, rebirth, relationships, Resurrection, Saved by grace and not by law, Spiritual, spiritual growth, Suffering, Teaching/Learning Experiences and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Very interesting post with some really good points. I try to believe in the grace of Christ, but am more often than not doubtful about a lot of stuff. I’d like to think there was some kind of Purgatory, where people spend part of the afterlife still growing and changing into a new creation. I don’t think it’s in the bible, but still(though there’s a verse somewhere in the NT where Jesus goes and preaches to the spirits of the underworld in their prison. Why do that unless there was a chance of redemption) Except for people like hitler you know.

    • Yes, I wrote a post recently about old age being purgatory, called: “Only the Good Die Young>” There need to be consequences for evil acts, but the traditional burn for eternity simply doesn’t seem to prevent them and what other point would that serve. I think you and I have the same questions and hopes on this. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. Yours sounds like a very balanced view Eileen!

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