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← Religion's Real Child Abuse

kwirth's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by kwirth

Last summer I enjoyed a pleasant visit to the Seattle zoo with my wife. At one point we stopped to get a bite to eat, and were standing in line at an ice cream counter. Ahead of us were 3 young boys of about the age of 8 or 9. They were all leaning up at the counter, with their backs to us, trying to decide which ice cream they should choose. Being the outgoing person that I am, I spoke up and recommended a flavor to one of them. Immediately, they all turned around with a wide-eyed look of absolute terror on their faces, and literally began to shrink away from us in dread fear of this stranger speaking to them. I assured them that I was just being friendly and making conversation with them, but nothing I said reassured them. They refused to talk with me (they spoke native English, so, they understood me). Now, they had no reason to fear me - I was, after all, standing in line with my wife in a crowded public place. No matter – they remained in such a state of terror that they could hardly continue making their purchase.

Upon later reflection of this incident, it occurred to me that the parents of these boys had perhaps deeply ingrained in them the notion that there is an acute danger in talking to strangers in ANY situation (or at least, this is how they probably processed that conversation). I can hear a lot of parents murmuring something like "yeah, well, being scared of ALL strangers is a small price to pay if it prevents a child from getting abducted and killed." I understand this, but I also somewhat disagree. Parents need to teach their children how to discriminate between situations where it's probably OK and not OK to talk to a stranger, or they could be terrified of everyone in every situation.

One other quick example…

I vividly recall, as part of my public school driver education while a young teenager, watching movies of people who had been gruesomely maimed and disfigured in automobile accidents. The purpose of those movies was to give us all something to think about so we'd turn out to be careful drivers. Based on the drivers I see on the road today, I don't think those movies were were either widely viewed or else had little impact. The idea behind showing them to us was clearly "let's SCARE our kids into confronting the ugly reality of what could happen to them if they don't drive carefully".

Now to the point about Hell...

First off, talking to children about Hell (or Heaven, for that matter) isn't akin to talking about a Cinderella fairy tale, and it isn't about "abusing children" as Dawkins insists (unless the discussion with children on the subject of Hell is conducted without any regard for their sensibilities), nor is it about "implanting beliefs", "imposing religion", using "threats" or "terror" to manipulate the minds of children. Yes, those types of behaviors DO unfortunately occur when some parents talk to their kids about Hell, and I certainly do not condone that. But just because someone MIS-uses a baseball bat to club others over the head does not mean we should all stop playing baseball.

The need to warn others about Hell still remains, regardless of how ineptly some people may communicate that warning. But I don't know if there is a particularly pleasant way to discuss the topic of Hell - which is probably why so many poeple avoid such conversations in the first place.

Secondly, the real point of all this is: Hell IS a real destination, just like going to any travel destination on this planet, though it's not like we have a bunch of handy travel brochures available describing all the scenic 'hot spots' of Hell.

And… we do have an eyewitness who claims to have been there, who says it IS a real place, and tells us something about the awfulness of it. Would we believe a report about Hell based on the credibility of someone with an impeccable reputation?

Jesus Christ has been to Hell and back, and here is what HE had to say about it:

"fire" Matt 7:19, 13:40, 25:41
"everlasting fire" Matt 18:8, 25:41
"eternal damnation" Mark 3:29
"hell fire" Matt 5:22, 18:9, Mark 9:47
"damnation" Matt 23:14, Mark 12:40, Luke 20:47
"damnation of hell" Matt 23:33
"resurrection of damnation" John 5:29
"furnace of fire" Matt 13:42, 50
"the fire that never shall be quenched" Mark 9:43, 45
"the fire is not quenched" Mark 9:44, 46, 48
"Where their worm dieth not" Mark 9:44, 46, 48
"wailing and gnashing of teeth" Matt 13:42, 50
"weeping and gnashing of teeth" Matt 8:12, 22:13, 25:30
"torments" Luke 16:23
"tormented in this flame" Luke 16:24
"place of torment" Luke 16:28
"outer darkness" Matt 8:12, 22:13
"everlasting punishment" Matt 25:46

The question you need to be asking yourself is, WHAT IF JESUS WAS TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT HELL?

If Hell IS a place like what Jesus described, then warning someone about the danger of going there, and how to avoid it, is a SERVICE to them.

Like any good scientist, I'd make sure I did a VERY good job of investigating this issue before I came to any quick (or dismissive) conclusions that Hell is just a form of religious brain-washing.

Dawkins cries out that "the threat of eternal hell is an extreme example of mental abuse, just as violent sodomy is an extreme example of physical abuse", but his remarks assume that this is because there really is no such place as Hell.

But WHAT IF he is wrong about this?

I say he is.

Sat, 20 Jan 2007 15:17:00 UTC | #16405