By Kalena Reynolds | Reporter
Growing up in an uber-religious household, hell and the devil were common themes in family conversations. They would come up at the dinner table, on the way home from school and, of course, at church.
While this was a casual conversation for my parents, the idea that an ominous evil entity was constantly lurking and waiting to affect my life never sat too well with my hyperactive mind. As a result, I suffered from parasomnia throughout my childhood, and I had horrible nightmares that mostly revolved around hell and demonic entities.
Around the age of 12, I remember asking the people around me for help to stop the dreams, and the best answer anyone could come up with was that I needed to pray more — especially before bed. When the nightmares kept coming, I started to question my beliefs and what I thought about hell and the devil.
Deconstructing my views began with research. I started talking to the few family friends I knew who weren’t Christians. I was unsure of my views until I spoke to my mom’s friends, who were Jewish, who told me that hell wasn’t a big topic in their culture; they had a word for it but never really discussed it in depth.
It shocked me that this thing that had been such a central point of my life was nothing more than a word to some people. I suddenly began chipping away at my strict Christian viewpoint and reconstructing my beliefs until I came to the decision that I no longer believed the “pit of eternal fire” was hell.
If you think about it, the Christian viewpoint of hell makes no logical sense. I’ll preface this by saying that I do believe in an afterlife for the simple fact that our essence has to go somewhere once we shed our body. I just don’t think that place is hell.
In the Christian religion, hell is made out to be a form of physical suffering and a place where a soul goes to burn for all eternity. However, it should be noted that because the soul is not a physical entity, it has no nerves. Therefore, the “fires” of hell should be interpreted as a metaphor — emotional suffering. In theory, if an almighty God really wanted to punish someone for their sins, wouldn’t he do it through a form of emotional torture? Most people would say that emotional torture far outweighs the burden of physical torture in most cases.
I believe what the “fires” of hell should be interpreted as is the possible feeling of the pain that a soul caused on Earth. Once a soul feels the deep amount of pain they caused on Earth, they are able to pass on to heaven, for lack of a better word.
The word “hell” is not mentioned in the Old Testament, and there is only one possible spot in the New Testament that could be translated to the word “hell.” In 2 Peter 2:4, it uses “tartarus,” which translates to a temporary place or restraint. The key here is “temporary.”
The idea of eternal punishment insinuates the notion that it’s not possible to grow past your mistakes. What makes the most sense based on this interpretation is purgatory — a temporary place for purification. A temporary place for learning from mistakes is what can actually give people the ability to achieve a justified afterlife.