He’d Rather Reign In Hell Than Serve In Heaven

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The more “friendly” modern formulation of hell is that hell consists of eternal separation from God and that no one goes to hell except through his own choice: choosing to remain separate from God rather than embracing Him fully in the union of the beatific vision.

The objection I normally hear to this is: In that case, then obviously hell is empty, because no one would choose an eternity of isolation rather than union with God.

This always strikes me as showing a profound lack of understanding of human character. Within our temporal lives, we often choose unhappiness in order to get our own way, and it’s hard to see how this sort of pride would fail to play a part in people’s eternal decisions. Perhaps part of the problem is that people often think of the afterlife in cartoon terms: Would you rather spend eternity boiling in a lake of fire or reclining in a cloud with a harp?

But if heaven is full and complete union with God, then I think it’s pretty clear that for the person who would much rather define God for himself than mold himself to God’s will, heaven would seem like something worth rejecting. C. S. Lewis, I think, does a very good job of showing this in The Great Divorce.

‘You think that, because hitherto you have experienced truth only with the abstract intellect. I will bring you where you can taste it like honey and be embraced by it as by a bridegroom. Your thirst shall be quenched.’

‘Well, really, you know, I am not aware of a thirst for some ready-made truth which puts an end to intellectual activity in the way you seem to be describing. Will it leav me the free play of Mind, Dick? I must insist on that, you know.’ (from The Great Divorce, ch. 5)

In religious circles, this pride seems often played out in the desire to make a God after our own image. From the same chapter of The Great Divorce:

‘But you’ve never asked me about what my paper is about! I’m taking the text about growing up to the measure of Christ and working out an idea which I feel sure you’ll be interested in. I’m going to point out how people always forget that Jesus (here the Ghost bowed) was a comparatively young man when he died. he would have outgrown some of his earlier views, you know, if he’d lived. As he might have done, with a little more tact and patience. I am going to ask my audience to consider what his mature views would have been. A profoundly interesting question. What a different Christianity we might have had if only the Founder had reached his full stature! I shall end up by pointing out how this deepens the significance of the Crucifixion. One feels for the first time what a disaster it was: what a tragic waste… so much promise cut short. (from The Great Divorce, ch. 5)

A almost shockingly clear example of this made headlines last week, as Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu made headlines by saying that he’d rather go to hell than be in heaven with a God who considered gay sex to be sinful.

South Africa’s iconic retired archbishop, Desmond Tutu, said on Friday that if he had his pick, he’d go to hell before heading to a heaven that condemned homosexuality as sin.

“I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this,” he said, by way of denouncing religions that discriminate against gays, in Agence France-Presse..

He added, AFP reported: “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.”

Or as Milton’s Lucifer put it: Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.

If we must regret that Jesus died too young, before his views had had the chance to “evolve” enough to fit modern sensibilities, we may at least be happy that Desmond Tutu has lived long enough to provide us with a more enlightened savior.

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  1. “When the creation of man was first mooted and when, even at that stage, the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw a certain episode about a cross, Our Father very naturally sought an interview and asked for an explanation. The Enemy gave no reply except to produce the cock-and-bull story about disinterested love which He has been circulating ever since. This Our Father naturally could not accept. He implored the Enemy to lay His cards on the table, and gave Him every opportunity. He admitted that he felt a real anxiety to know the secret; the Enemy replied “I wish with all my heart that you did”. It was, I imagine, at this stage in the interview that Our Father’s disgust at such an unprovoked lack of confidence caused him to remove himself an infinite distance from the Presence with a suddenness which has given rise to the ridiculous enemy story that he was forcibly thrown out of Heaven.”

  2. When having a sensibility is distinguished from the practice of same by these “spokesmen” of religion, understanding will have a chance to replace emotional reaction in the masses. They seem to be playing to the self-indulgent more than teaching.

  3. I profoundly agree with your post, Darwin. The reason pride has traditionally been understood to be the deadliest of sins is precisely because it is the sin most likely to permanently separate us from God. I can easily envision many smug and strident pro-aborts being unwilling to admit fault and ask for forgiveness even when facing God Himself.

  4. According to some of the Fathers, such as St Isaac of Syria and St Maximus the Confessor, hell, like heaven consists in the presence of God.

    The “fire” that will consume sinners at the coming of the Kingdom of God is the same “fire” that will shine with splendour in the saints. It is the “fire” of God’s love; the “fire” of God Himself who is Love. “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29) who “dwells in unapproachable light.” (I Timothy 6:16) For those who love God and who love all creation in Him, the “consuming fire” of God will be radiant bliss and unspeakable delight. For those who do not love God, and who do not love at all, this same consuming fire” will be the cause of their “weeping” and their “gnashing of teeth.”

    Some identify this “fire” with the uncreated light of Tabor, shining from the Risen Lord.

  5. Donald R. McClarey reference to ” that Our Father’s disgust at such an unprovoked lack of confidence caused him to remove himself an infinite distance from the Presence with a suddenness which has given rise to the ridiculous enemy story that he was forcibly thrown out of Heaven.” is either Satanist, Gnostic or Masonic – for there the belief is that God had two sons, Jesus and Satanail and the later, satan, was cast out of heaven. the ‘Our Father’ refered to in Mc Clareys’s comment is Satan (or Lucifer as he was called before his fall and lost the brilliance of light he had before it). The ‘enemy’ is God. This reversal of divinely revealed truth reveals the true origin of the comments and vindicates the orginal view stated in the article: some people prefer Hell to heaven by preferring the Lie to the Truth.

  6. Human nature never fails to perplex. I know my theology is flawed, but does that mean we cannot comment on others? My questions to the reverend tutu are these: Are you also telling us that gay sex should be without sin before gay marriage? Are you also telling us (and God) then that any premarital sex is good and righteous? Can an 18 year old lad have intercourse with a 17 year old lass, let the chips fall as they may, and this is all good? What have you learned from Job? Did not Our Lord say (paraphrase) “when you can account for all of the mysteries and explanations to life and the universe, then will I feel compelled to answer your demands?” Was God not saying be faithful, I have given all you need to know for salvation, your faith is now required to trust and believe me on all the rest? And why do you think those with gay tendencies are the only ones who struggle trying to remain chaste and faithful? We all have great crosses to bear.

  7. Yeah, who wants to hang out with a homophobic, intolerant, anti-choice, opinionated God with unrealistic expectations about human behavior? With the “Other Guy” at least we can look forward to an eternity of him singing “I love you just the way you are!”

  8. Michael PS, I really appreciated your comment which was a splendid explanation for hell. Without going into the details, I will say God the Father once made his presence tangibly known/felt by me during deep prayer. It was momentary, but it felt like a flood or rush passing all the way through my being. The first knowledge given to me of His presence was of His incredible creative love, which animated my soul to deep desire to participate – or better said – cooperate with him in creation. It was so powerful, there are no human words to describe it. Imagine then, when we see God face to face with the memory of how we resisted participation in the creation of a human being through birth control or abortion. This alone would be hell, I think, let alone all the other things we have done which were contrary to other aspects of God essence.

  9. it always surpirises me when someone says that they would rather not be with a God that does not abide to ther view or belief! So instead of honoring the creator of us and all we love, we instead out of a rebelous state of mind, would throw it all away. Insanity! So we would rather be with haters, murderers, cheats, and the biggest liar who does not love but would rather torture us all for his amusement! Some believe that what all people love here that is sin, will be allowed there. Sinful pleasures. But that will not be the case, and the horror of finding out they will be condemed to terrifying suffering for ever, no relief, no stopping. Eternal. I feel so sorry for anyone who experiences it for the despair would be crushing. Even if they have done terrible things. Put yourself in their situation, too late to say you are sorry. In this life we want riches and imortality. God actually wants to give that to us, but we can’t bring sin and rebelion to heaven. It happened once and will not be allowed again, but with his mercy he allows it on earth and in our life. A testing period of time where we make our decison, while he tries to save us without compromising our free will. A man of God who would say that. How sad and he influences others, that makes his sin worse.

  10. Jmtalk

    “… those who find themselves in hell will be chastised by the scourge of love. How cruel and bitter this torment of love will be! For those who understand that they have sinned against love, undergo no greater suffering than those produced by the most fearful tortures. The sorrow which takes hold of the heart, which has sinned against love, is more piercing than any other pain. It is not right to say that the sinners in hell are deprived of the love of God … But love acts in two ways, as suffering of the reproved, and as joy in the blessed!” (St. Isaac of Syria, Mystic Treatises)

  11. People are so ill informed when it comes to hell and it’s reality. When people go there they have full knowledge of why these sins, gay sex, etc… offend Our Lord so much. Gay sex goes against our very nature as procreative beings created in the image and likeness of God. We are all tested in life in order to be given the opportunity to either grow in holiness or fall deeper into sin, to move more closer to God and become more who we truly are created in His image and likeness or move further away from Him becoming more and more the image of the evil one whom we have chosen as our father, (The father of lies that is). What devastation and despair the soul will be plunged into when it realises all the missed opportunities it was given to grow in holiness and be it’s true self but because of pride and stubbornness of spirit persevered in sin, that which is in opposition to The Holy One in Heaven. When satan realises his victory in capturing your eternal lost soul, he will hurl you into hell like a piece of rubbish where he will torment you forever. How deeply hurt God becomes at the sight of each soul the evil one succeeds in bringing to ruination especially when He has always been ready and willing to offer forgiveness to the soul at every instant of its earthly existence, but cant interfere with its free will. God cant force a soul to ask for forgiveness because He wants us to choose life with Him forever or else our love wouldn’t be real. Free will makes our love for God pure, genuine and real. Free will can also make disposition toward God impure, false and self centred . It’s our choice, and He is who He is. God is love. He isn’t a homophobic as people would suggest, that is just pure and utter narrow mindedness, and misunderstanding of God. He loves us so much and only wants the best for us but wont force it on us. If we choose to be obedient to God, and His laws, there will be eternal bliss for those. If we choose to spend our lives in stubborn opposition to His laws through pride and narrow mindedness, then eternal pain is what awaits us, it is not God’s choice, its our. May God bless you all and especially Cardinal Desmond Tutu, may the lord remove the scales from his eyes to be able to see the truth of what human sexuality truly is as ordained and created by God, and be obedient to that. In Jesus through Mary our Mother. Liam

  12. In my all-too-limited study of the Our Father, I see that early texts had the last line something more like “And do not put us to the final test, but deliver us from
    the evil one.”

    Would that “final test” be the choice between eternity with God or not? Asking to be able to skip that part and be ushered into Heaven without exposure to Satan would certrainly be something a faithful person would want.

  13. Our Church has always taught the primary good of the ‘marriage (sexual intercourse) act’, was for the procuration of Children, the secondary good was the communion or unity of the couple (the pleasurable aspect). in this way the secondary is the servant of the primary. in this light Pope Paul VI’s ‘Humane Vitae’ made perfect sense. In our Time, the 2 ‘goods’ have been reversed, and the result is utter confusion, and misunderstanding.

  14. Agreed, Father. Another way to understand the phenomenon is —
    For centuries the Christian world has understood that marriage, sex, and children were interdependent — i.e., one really could not and should not try to separate them. Since the sexual revolution we now understand each to be an independent “choice.” The social costs this astonishingly quick transformation has wrought have been and will continue to be staggering.

  15. This saying is trustworthy:

    If we have died with him

    we shall also live with him;i
    if we persevere

    we shall also reign with him.

    But if we deny him

    he will deny us.j
    If we are unfaithful

    he remains faithful,

    for he cannot deny himself.
    (2 Tim: 11-13)

  16. Tutu has long played the clown. That having been said, I would be willing to wager he was quoted in a manner that made what he did say unrecognizable.

  17. Something tells me TuTu is gonna get his wish! What a STUPID, STUPID man! I mean I knew he was a HERETIC, but to actually prefer Hell to Heaven, WOW, mere words DO NOT DESCRIBE the INSANITY of this man!

  18. We haven’t been calling him Desmond “Tooty Frooty” for nothing! While he is an embarrassment to all religion, I’m so glad he isn’t Catholic.

  19. Did I misunderstand what Tutu really meant? I want to go to heaven. I want everyone to go to heaven. God doesn’t hate a homosexual or lesbian. What he hates is the actions, the sins they commit. I am sure he will welcome everyone who wants to live with Him, whether or not they are “straight” or “gay.” But if one flaunts the fact that he or she is gay, then that’s another story.

  20. Response to Anne Erdle, I agree with you. But ‘what Tutu really meant?’ The article said, “He added, AFP reported: “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place.” This word ‘homophobic’ describes a psychiactic condition using Latin and Greek respectively. ‘Homo’ in Latin is man as mankind, all men; ‘vir’ in Latin is the male gender. The application of this word homophobic by the leaders in society is saying what they arrogantly think of all not in agreement with them re homosexual activities or gay-marriage (sin) – that we all have a psychiatric condition. The lie of this accusation is revealed by the fact we do not act as those who have this phychiatric ‘phobic’ condition which is manifested by running away in fear and terror at the sight of men in the street. If we used the same languageof atheists ‘Fidephobia’ (fear of faith) or ‘Fidephobes’ imagine Richard Dawkins response. (By the way the Russians used such psychiatric jargon for putting Christians in psychiatric hospitals for drug testing. As Pope Francis said, “America will wake up one day and find itself communist”)

  21. Jaquie

    I think you will find that “Homophobic” is formed, not from Latin “homo” but from Greek ὁμός = Same. It is found in such words as “homogeneous,” “homogenized” (as of milk) and “homologation” (if one is a Scots lawyer)

    “Homosexual” was first used in English in in C.G. Chaddock’s 1892 translation of Krafft-Ebing’s “Psychopathia Sexualis” He borrowed it from German, where it was first used a decade or so earlier.

    It was part of the medicalising of sexual inversion, rather drolly described by Michel Foucault, “Sodomy, that of the old civil or canon laws, was a category of forbidden acts. Their perpetrator was nothing more than the juridical subject of them. The nineteenth-century homosexual became a personage: a past, a case history, and a childhood, in addition to being a character, a life-style and a morphology, with an over-inquisitive anatomy and, possibly, a mysterious physiology. Nothing that he was, escaped his sexuality… It was consubstantial with him, less as a habitual sin than as a singular nature…. The sodomite had been a lapse; the homosexual was now a species.” [My translation]

  22. Revelation 20:15
    Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

    Mark 9:48 (NKJV)
    48 where‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’

    Ezekiel 28:18 (NET) 18 By the multitude of your iniquities, through the sinfulness of your trade,you desecrated your sanctuaries.So I drew fire out from within you;
    it consumed you,and I turned you to ashes on the earth before the eyes of all who saw you.


    This lake of fire that those who rebel against God are thrown into seems to be all the Godless kept in one place. The fire comes from within them.

    All who say their sins are good and normal and come out in the defence of their sins or other peoples sins thoroughly have the fires of hell burning within them.

    Romans 1:26-32
    New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
    26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

    28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[a] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

  23. Pray for this mans soul. Satan comes to LIE AND DESTROY>He has bought the LIE, My people parish for lack of knowledge. In the Last days(end of an era/not world) people will not listen to sound doctorine and will go (Paraphrasing and you can pic it a part if you want) GO WITH THEIR FEELINGS. AND EMOTIONS AND WHAT TICKLES THE EAR! /wow is that our world today. The Warning and the Illumination of conscious is so close. St., Faustina’s Diary. Prophcies of Garabandal. Bishop is now looking into it. It was prophecied it would be when it was close to happening. I was there on good friday 12 noon staning at the pines. Seen many a miricle with my owng eyes as many did that day! God Bless. Pray for those who will stand before God soon in the WARNING. Many will die of fright. but the Lord will correct what is broken. If we do not respond to the Warning. Then very shortly after. The three days of darkness. Confession. Prayer and the Triumph of Our Lady is nigh. Who do you think the women is clothed with the sun. Hint. LOOK at the Tilma and see latest scientific evedince. I met Joey Lamengino. The Blind man who will be healed after the warning and the Great Mirircle soon to follow. It will be in March April or May. Following the WARNING. Joey Lamingino is now about 87 as best I can tell. I have been following Garabandal since I was about 12 yrs old. Im 51. I belive we will soon see the the warning with in a year two or three. then the rise of the antichrist. Its a war. It is allowed by God becouse of our sin. A deception is
    allowed upon the people becaouse of their sin. Isn’t it interesting to that in 2014 starts a tetrad of blood red moons and sackcloth moons that fall on God the Fathers Feastdays. Look what happenened on previous Tetrads. Lord was crucified on a elicipse. ETC. Just SAYING. Is the first one the breaking of the sixth seal, And the earth will shake like never before in time. Then the WARNING ETC. Just saying. God Bless.

  24. It’s that Tutu, and the rest, worship the creature not the Creator.

    “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’” Matthew 16: 23

  25. Perhaps what Archbishop Tutu understands is that there is a clear difference between Homosexuality and Homosexual Acts. There are homosexual people who choose to remain chaste so as Not to sin against God. You must educate your use on the use of the English language. Therefore, Homosexuality is “The state of being attracted to the same sex”. Homosexual Acts is “Engaging in sexual acts with those of the same sex”. Does anyone understand this??

  26. Tom,
    Pretty much everyone who visits this blog understands that rather elementary point, and you are correct that Tutu’s comment could technically be interpreted in that way; but if TAC is misinterpreting Tutu, then it is in good company. I’ve only heard of one person who has offered such an extraordinarily charitable interpetation — you.

  27. Only God is good. We are all sinners. We sin because we are sinners, not vice versa.

    Hate the sin. Love the sinner.

    The Spiritual Works of Mercy. Charity and moral courage.

    Admonish the sinner.

    Bear all wrongs patiently. Carry your crosses without complaining.

    Counsel the doubtful.

    Forgive all injuries.

    Instruct the ignorant.

    Pray for the living and the dead.

  28. JMJ Acts of homosexuality are the Sin not the Tendency. When ever we use the word gay, we are Condoning homosexual acts. The word Gay does not mean Homosexual acts are good, people who support homosexuals use the word (gay) in order to to get God and us to think they are not Sinful, their Problem is God Condems homosexual acts. No homosexual is gay, They Unhappily (sexual feelings are God given, out side of Marriage they are Evil, by the way so called same sex marriage is still Sodomy) are Sinful. When you call someone Gay who is Actively sinning than you support them in their Sin, they Are Sinful(Sodomites) not gay. Changing homosexual acts to gay acts doesn’t change the acts to gayness the acts are still EVIL! Homosexual acts are Evil not Gay! Not to good in trying to Explain the Sodomite groups changing Homosexual to gay. The Catholic churches Error (Sin ?) is accepting what is being done!

  29. And Jesus said, “Let them alone: they are blind, and leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit.” Matthew 14:15

  30. I am sure God will grant him his ridiculous wish and then he will have wished he had never had said that statement.

  31. “The Lord never tires of forgiving,”Pope Francis said March 17, before leading his listeners in praying the midday Angelus. “It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness. “The Lord, our God is merciful, compassionate and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him. It appears that South Africa Anglican archbishop Tutu doesn’t know nor fully understand God. Hell, purgatory and Heaven are real. The retired Anglican archbishop would be a different man, if he would visit Medjugorje, Croatia where Mother of Jesus (Virgin Mary) appeared daily since 1981.

  32. Michael
    Thank you for the correction on source of homo. ‘Homo’ was from greek somewhere along the line of transmission and into latin but homo in the Latin dictionary means “Human Being, man” plural people”. hence homocide, Pilate’s famous “Ecce Homo” singular, – behold the man, or, human being. The new Psychiatrics Diagnostic Manual V no longer uses the word ‘homosexual’ but G.I.D. Gids are those with a Gender Identity Disorder and the Manual adds to its description, in brackets, ‘some homosexuals have this’. However ‘homophobia’ is still a psychological condition wrongly attributed by society or governments to those who hold Judeo-Christian morals.

  33. Jaquie

    Greek ὁμός (homos) comes from an Indo-European word somos (cf. Sanskrit “samah” = “even”) The Latin form is “similis,” whence English “similar.”

    The Latin word “homo” comes from “humus,” meaning “earth” or “soil.” It has nothing to do with the Greek word ὁμός.

    They are accidental homophones (another example of the Greek prefix homo-, meaning “same sound”) like “down,” meaning a hill (which is Celtic) and “down,” meaning feathers (which is Old Norse) They are quite unconnected.

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