I am abandoning the wishful thought that we are free to regard hell as essentially a state of mind, where the torments are "spiritual," and that hell-fire and the undying worm may be reasonably conceived as figurative. The only thing that seems to work now in my understanding is that actual physical pain, which the Lord's words on hell invite us to think of, is the only appropriate description of the sufferings of the damned, however analogous its relation to the "real thing" may be. This is because wicked people on this earth enjoy their wickedness (otherwise there would be no desire to commit it), whereas hell is a place where they no longer can. Getting people to believe that hell is in some way less than it is is another demonic lie. One frequently hears it from the deluded who say, "I'd rather go to hell than heaven because the company will be so much more interesting." No, it won't.
S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
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