Your Deconstruction and the Fear of Hell

"Literal Hell" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Literal Hell” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward


Your Deconstruction and the Fear of Hell

I’m a coach.

One of the areas I love helping people with is spiritual transition. Deconstruction. I empower people to do that, and to do it well.

My observation is that one of the most terrifying aspects of changing beliefs or losing faith is the fear of Hell.

If you’ve been raised your whole life to believe in a literal Hell after death, it is so enmeshed in your brain that the belief itself is cellular. If your brain has been soaked in the belief that if you don’t believe in Hell then you’ll spend eternity there, how do you recover from that?

It’s very real. Not Hell, but the fear of it.

But, I’ve worked with enough people now to know that given a listening ear, a gracious and spacious space to question and vent, as well as time, people recover and achieve peace of mind where they are no longer anxious about Hell. It becomes a non-issue of no concern.

We can grow to understand that the idea of Hell was useful for a while to keep us in line and to keep us perpetually afraid of punishment for our disobedience and faithlessness.

You see, time is a mental construct, and concepts like eternity and death are a part of this construct. This is where fear and suffering thrive.

All there is is now. Always.

And this is where there is peace.


3 Replies to “Your Deconstruction and the Fear of Hell”

  1. David,

    Brilliant cartoon as to how it can feel. And I would suggest the living hell that it portrays is one in the same thing as a literal hell. So if I go with my feelings I am 100% with you on this. And my initial reaction was that.

    On the other side of the coin if there is no hell whether (literal or living) what hope does anyone who is facing oppression, disenfranchisement and abuse have for justice? Shouldn’t perpetrators be made to experience the consequences of their actions?

    As I think about it I balance that with the idea when I have done wrong, that automatically separates me from someone, and if I love them I might burn with desire to be with them, in mental anguish, living in darkness, hating who I am and regretting what I have done, at least for a while. And if I am to live by truth and justice then I would be deserving of that. Obviously similare is true for anyone who has wronged me and loves me.

    But surely a message of love is about forgiveness for wrong I have done. And if I am loved perfectly and forgiven then I am free to love and forgive anyone who has wronged me (with boundaries). So what I see now as hell is a boundary. And I am more ready to accept, establish and maintain boundaries be loved and loving, be forgiven and forgiving finding that this leads to strength, peace and joy.

    Though I haven’t got this perfectly worked out – every day is a school day. :).

    And all I can say is thank goodness I am not perfect and get things wrong – can you imagine how impossible I would be to live with if I were perfect? ;).

  2. Haha.

    I think it’s obvious I am not perfect from the half dozen things I get wrong every day. And that’s before I leave the house in the morning haha.

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