While fiction is by nature a story that didn’t actually happen, it’s a story we can learn a lot from, just like the stories in the Bible. Some of those probably didn’t actually happen either but they were used to teach people what was right and wrong. This week I have been immersed in “The Castle of Otranto” by Horace Walpole, as part of a class on gothic and horror literature. I really enjoyed the book despite not really thinking that I would. One thing throughout the whole book struck me.
Most of the people in the book didn’t even wish for their enemies to go to hell. When they talked about the eternal destinies of their enemies they still wanted God to send their enemies soul to heaven. This is probably as Christian as it gets: when we wish for those who cause us harm to be able to be alive in Christ with us in heaven. It’s part of what Jesus was talking about when he said that stuff about loving our enemies and blessing those who persecute us.
When I broke up with my ex-husband, someone who thought he wasn’t “saved” (as in, hadn’t prayed a prayer to ask Jesus into his heart” said that I should find comfort in the fact that one day he was going to get what was coming to him in hell. Even if I believed hell existed, it was not comforting for me to think about my ex going to hell, no matter how miserable marriage to him was. This was a gentle and kind friend whom I love greatly who said this, and it shocked me and reached down into the very core of who I am and I knew it was wrong. Never should we wish for anyone, all of us humans created in God’s very image, to burn forever in torment just because we don’t like them.
I’m not sure how the idea of any human being frying for eternity can be of any comfort to anybody. Even if there is a hell, we aren’t somehow superior because we are not going there. We’re all humans and God loves us all. I’ve been shocked to realize how many people that I have known and loved have been excited about the thought of somebody ending up in hell. If hell exists, it’s not a pretty place, although I believe our hell happens here on earth, different ones of us with our own private hell that seems like it was meant just for us.