Rebuttal: 10 Reasons Christian Heaven Could Be Hell

An article recently surfaced around social media essentially claiming that they have 10 good reasons why Christian Heaven could quite possibly be a hellish experience. I first want to address the fact that both Alternet and Salon.com are known for click-bait articles attempting to drive insane amounts of traffic via outraged readers who will then share their article to garner more support from other outraged suckers. All of that aside, there will be people who will read the article and glean information from it that is just not true. In fact, I would go so far as to say the information is biased and uneducated.
I will dissect the article by each statement I find is significant enough to warrant a response.

“Most Westerners are at least vaguely familiar with the popular Christian version of Heaven: pearly gates, streets of gold, winged angels and the Righteous, with their bodies made perfect and immortal, singing the praises of God forever. What’s surprising is how few people have actually thought about what a nightmare this kind of existence would be.”

-Instantly the author has imputed her bias into the article which gives the reader the assurance that this article is going to “prove” to you that she is right.

To many people the biblical description alone is enough to make Heaven sound unappealing, especially if you add in the company of noxious public figures like Pat Robertson, Mel Gibson, Sarah Palin, Ken Ham, or Anita Bryant. (Why does God have such a bad marketing department?) But the problem isn’t just bad company. The closer you look, the more the Bible’s version of paradise seems like another version of eternal torture. Let me spell it out.

-The authors stance has been made clear that if you go to Heaven you will be stuck with “these” people. Naming off many names of individuals most secular individuals consider toxic. “Why would you want to go to a place where these people will be?” is essentially the question. We go into this article already saying – “Well, I don’t want to be around those people.”

1. Perfection means sameness. Much of what makes life worth living is the process of learning and discovery, growth and change. We delight in novelty and laugh when we are startled by the unexpected. Curiosity is one of our greatest pleasures, and growth is one of our deepest values and satisfactions. In fact, our whole psychological makeup is designed for tuning in to change, including our senses. When a sound is continuous, we mostly stop hearing it; a static image on the eye registers as a blind spot. Even art relies on imperfection and newness to create beauty or to trigger our aesthetic sense.

By contrast, timeless perfection is static, as Christians are reminded in the traditional hymn, “Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise”: We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree/And wither and perish but naught changeth Thee. In the book of Matthew, Jesus commands, “Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect,” and in Heaven, supposedly, this ideal is finally attained. The problem is, perfect means finished and complete. It means there’s no room for improvement—for change and growth. Perfection is sterile, in every sense of the word.

-There is an absolute appeal in the idea of growing and maturing into perfection. For the secular mind, this is one of life’s goals: to reach a point of perfection through hard work and determination. What the author doesn’t consider is that the desire to grow and improve comes directly from God. The longing feeling that something isn’t right in our world and our pursuit to find the fulfilling “thing” comes directly from God. We groan, as does nature, for His presence. I heard it once said that “there is a God shaped hole in us, that only He can fill“, and I believe that. When we are finally in the presence of our creator, that longing will be gone. Much of the joy we find in the secular world is in our fruitless pursuits to find that thing that satisfies us.

2. Your best qualities are irrelevant. If everything is perfect, then many of the qualities we most value in ourselves and each other become irrelevant. Compassion and generosity are pointless, because nobody is hurting or in need of anything. Forgiveness? Not needed. Creativity? Courage? Resilience? Decisiveness? Vision? All useless. Sigmund Freud once said that mental health is the ability to love and to work, but in the state of perfection both lose their meaning. There is no need to create or produce, and little value in offering our affection and commitment to another person who is 100 percent perfect and complete without us.

-Our pride is what makes us place value in the works that we as humans do. It causes us to feel satisfied when we have achieved a level higher than those around us. When we do reach Heaven, the desire for striving for “better” will have left us; we won’t be left wanting anymore. There will be no need to “prove” ourselves or outdo our colleagues, we will all be on equal standing. Think of the non-existence of stress and approval that we so crave in today’s society.

3. Gone is the thrill of risk. In addition to loving and creating, some of life’s most exhilarating experiences require risk: flying down a ski slope almost out of control, jumping out of airplanes, racing cars, surfing, performing. The adrenaline rush—the high—and the euphoria afterwards surge only because, despite our skill and preparation, there was some chance we would fail.

-All completely and psychologically euphoric stimulants. We crave those thrills like some addicts crave drugs. When we meet our Lord and Savior in eternity I can only imagine that intensity of full euphoria of being in the presence of God. Have you even been in a place of worship with the Lord where you felt like you could just live in forever? Well, guess what eternity in Heaven would look like?

4. Forget physical pleasures like food, drink, sleep, and sex. Does the risen Jesus with his new and perfect body have a penis? Do angels? Eating, drinking, or fornicating—each of these physical pleasures depends on hunger of one sort or another. Ice water tastes most heavenly when you are hot and thirsty. Falling asleep is most delicious when you simply can’t stand to be vertical any longer. The reality is that our bodies and brains are made for each other and optimized for life on this planet where our pleasures are linked to survival.

To make matters more complicated, we are predators in a complex web of life. The eating that gives us so much sensory pleasure and sustenance simultaneously destroys other lives and creates waste. Christians disagree about whether there will be meals in Heaven. Some point to “feasting” in the book of Revelation and reassure foodies that eating and drinking will be part of paradise. But none dare speculate on the perfect slaughterhouse and sewer.

-Our body craves food because we are hungry, we sleep because we are tired, and we enjoy sex because God designed it to be shared between a husband and wife and that pleasure is a tool that He uses to assist in the process of us becoming one flesh. Sex is enjoyable because if it wasn’t it would be awkward and gross. It was never intended to be experienced across a plethora of partners. We crave these things because they satisfy a desire, and God has given us so many great experiences and talents to make food, drink, and sex amazing. When we no longer crave, we no longer need to be hungry, or thirsty, or tired – how much more potential will there be for enjoying an eternity without carnal needs?

Drew Koehler

Founder and writer for Geeks Under Grace. Christian, Husband, Father, Sailor and Geek!

6 Comments

  1. Sean Quillen on May 30, 2015 at 1:13 am

    It is sad that usually these are the strongest arguments I keep hearing from Atheists. This, and the whole Mithras/Horus copycat nonsense and the idea of evil somehow disproving God (which even when I was an atheist I recognized how illogical it is). Sad too that the writer of the original article couldn’t abstain from slanderous attacks toward the Ancient Israelites (calling them desperate iron age goat herders is like calling The Founding Fathers “Illiterate White Enlighteners with Bad Teeth and Poofy White Wigs”).

    Really good rebuttal though. Would be interesting to see what scripture has to say in comparison to these arguments though.

  2. Jackie on May 20, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Well done! I totally agree with your responces.

    I can’t believe how the [secular] world views heaven. They complain all the time about how ignorant [Christians] are but then they write stuff like this? *sigh* And where ever did she get the idea that “perfection” == “sameness.” I get that it’s hard to imagine not needing anything at all, but I think that’s beautiful – how much room is left for WANTING to do things instead?

    I for one believe that I’ll still be me when I get there, just a complete, perfect me. I don’t think that God would design an eternity for us in which we’ll be bored out of our minds. The Bible never says that the things that we enjoy on earth aren’t part of our eternity; not everything on earth is bad. We may still enjoy the good things that we’ve blessed with the way they were intended to be enjoyed before the fall.

    I know to the world it won’t make sense, but I can’t wait to get there an worship Him with a voice that never cracks. Even down here on earth, I dunno about you guys, but when I’m in the worship “zone,” I never want to leave. Some day I won’t have to!

  3. T.CLewis on May 13, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Good answers Drew! Most of what I thought about was how Revelations describes Jesus creating a new heaven and a new earth, so that some of our material experiences might live on in eternity, minus sin and sorrow, and plus God’s presence. It is also true though that our world is very different and we only know unmet longings – what C.S. Lewis compared with a series of inns along the ride that provide rest for a time but are never confused with a permanent home – so there isn’t a comparison in this life for the wholeness in the age to come.

  4. Drew Camp on May 13, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    My favorite writing on heaven, ans one that clears up a lot of these misconceptions really well, is C.S. Lewis’s chapter on Heaven in “The Problem of Pain”.

  5. Lari Burkhart on May 12, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Honestly, the entire original article reads like a list of forced misinterpretation by someone with a minimal knowledge of the topic and I’m glad that you chose to address it instead of just letting it go. Also, I find it interesting that the author of the original article thinks that perfection means “sameness”. God designed each of us individually (Psalm 139:13) and with it, he gave us a unique personality and unique talents. That doesn’t indicate “sameness” to me! The perfection the author is so against is the absence of evil (war, famine, hatred, etc.). These are also the things that non-believers use to prove to themselves that God isn’t worth following. For her to lash out against perfection simply shows her basic misunderstanding of who God is.

  6. MB on May 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Good, solid approach. I was slightly amused as the Google ad under this article was entitled “Hell Does Not Exist” 😛

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