What the Hell (Part 2): Why Would God Create Hell?
It seems when the discussion of Hell comes up, those who are skeptical about Hell or deny it often ask why a loving and good God would create a place for people to be tortured. They often uphold God’s love and say, “How could you overstate His love?” On the opposite side, many people argue that these people deserve torture and that God created it because He is also just. They would ask, “How could you understate His justice?”
But as we see, Hell is not a place of torture where demons with pitchforks prick at the souls of the damned, nor is it a place of actual flame and fire, for how can a soul suffer flame? Rather, it is a place of self-inflicted psychological torment, where one has denied a relationship with God and therefore isn’t forced into that relationship with Him.
That Hell exists still begs the question, why would God create it or allow it?
The first thing we must recognize is that it’s wrong for both sides to pit God’s love against His justice. God is not separated, so His attributes aren’t separated either; He is both fully loving and fully just. The two do not contradict each other and do not stand in opposition to one another. One is not more powerful than the other, because this would indicate that God is composed of parts and therefore is not God.
So when Rob Bell’s promotion says that “Love Wins,” he’s wrong; love doesn’t win because love isn’t competing against anything. God hasn’t pitted His justice and His love against one another in some vast competition to see who will win. Rather, love and justice work together for God, not against each other.
Hell isn’t a matter of if God is more just than He is loving, nor is the opposite true. Instead, Hell is about God being both loving and just; loving enough to provide a way for us to spend eternity with Him, but also just in that He doesn’t force us to live with Him for eternity.
Under almost any view of the atonement, God’s justice was handed out on the cross. Ransom theory, Christus Victor, saved from death, and substitutionary atonement all teach that God’s justice was handled on the cross in some manner. But the justice was handled because of the love; the two worked together, not against each other.
With Hell, God doesn’t send anyone to Hell unless they have chosen that route. Hell is the absence of the relationship of God while still be present in His glory; for those who have denied Him all their lives, this would create immense hatred and psychological pain, that is, weeping and gnashing of teeth. But why wouldn’t God make an atheist live with Him for eternity? I answer this with another question, how would it be fair and equitable to the atheist to force him to love God? The assumption in Heaven is that everyone is there to have a relationship with God. But if everyone gets to go, then this would be forcing them to love God; hence the necessity of Hell.
So why would God allow Hell? Because He loves us and won’t force Himself upon us. That is the answer I come up with when looking through Scripture and dealing with the idea of God being both loving and just, that Hell deals with both God’s justice and love for us, but in the respect that He won’t force us to be in a relationship with Him as that wouldn’t be fair (just) or loving.