A mouse showed up in my basement. I chased it but…

I got some traps, set them down. No luck. I was moving stuff out from under the sink and found a trap I didn’t know was there. It was set by a vermin man many months earlier. It was one of those black sticky ones. And there lay the poor wee thing, dead on it; a slow traumatic death. Maybe they can’t reason but they can suffer and I attribute to the little creature the panic I judge it must have felt and it’ll be a while before I can like what I see in the mirror.

I don’t live where such creatures are a threat to me and I have no criticism for those who must deal with them as disease carriers. It’s the world we live in and we must deal with threats of this kind for many good reasons. Finish this off for me so I can move on without further discussion of it.

The sight of the mouse with its limbs outstretched to the limits, striving for freedom, and now the memory of it, still troubles me. If you were to write and criticize me for having the trap I won’t complain. Currently I feel I deserve all the criticism I’d get. Later I’m sure I’ll calm down and reason my way to my “freedom” but I’ll have to say it hasn’t arrived yet.
But the incident has led me to think about the doctrine of everlasting, conscious and ceaseless torment inflicted by God on unrepentant sinners (a doctrine I cannot and therefore do not hold).

There are kind, generous and deeply religious people who fervently believe that God is going to everlastingly and ceaselessly torture human beings. These are not insensitive people; they hurt, and weep over people in far-off lands who go on hurting day after day without hope of change. They sometimes sob over people that live much nearer; people born in stinking tenement buildings, vermin infested, oppressed, unemployed and often unemployable. Many of these sincere believers are kind even to their enemies and they do them good. And yet they believe that God will everlastingly and ceaselessly torture humans and they believe it because preachers and writers teach them that this is what God has said He will do; the God and Father of Jesus Christ is the kind of God that would do such a thing? And Jesus is such a Person as would approve of His beloved Father doing it and doing it in Jesus’ presence; this endless torment will go on in Jesus’ presence? (Revelation 14:10-11 is used to prove the doctrine). Sigh.

These sensitive and kind people see the brutal and unrepentant torturers of fellow-humans and are horrified and then believe that God will keep humans alive forever so He can ceaselessly do to them what vicious and heartless troops in war did to their enemies; the kind of thing that horrifies us even to watch in a documentary. Jesus approved of that by His Holy Father? Jesus, the One who said, “When you see Me you see Him”? Jesus, the Man in whom God was revealing Himself approves of that?—what does this say about that Jesus? Jesus, the One who died for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2)?

This the teachers say He will do even to multiplied millions who’ve never heard and will never hear anything about God and His glorious Son, Jesus Christ. They will only come to know this loving Father and His loving Son on that day when He consigns and subjects them to endless and unceasing conscious torment because they sinned? Sigh. Don’t be afraid to doubt such teaching!

All who knowingly and unrepentantly choose Death in knowingly rejecting the Savior who says, “I am…LIFE “ they get what they insist on having: They die never to live again  and so they miss the LIFE that they could have.

I’ve been reminded more than once “but they won’t know it, they won’t suffer missing it if they are forever dead.” That’s true; but it is still true that they miss the glory, the joy, the adventure, the mystery, the fellowship in a ‘new world’ with the experience of everlasting peace and love of righteousness in a new mode of being in which humans can be God’s companions forever. “I won’t miss any of it,” is already ‘death’ and love of profound darkness and that qualifies us for unending loss. God’s inexpressible gift is there to be missed. Godless and ungodly wretches who feed on the lives of others, who despise life, they earn Death. All who unrepentantly reject God and His offer of life experience everlasting destruction (compare 2 Thess. 1:8-9) in that day when God judges the world in fairness (righteousness) through Jesus Christ, the Man God raised from the dead): Acts 17:31.

I wonder if it is significant that I (we) can feel pity for a little mouse’s passing anguish but can live easily with the doctrine of ceaseless and everlasting torture of sinful humans who were once born innocent babies. But more pointedly: Can we really believe and love and commit to a Jesus who adores and serves a God who will forever and ceaselessly torture humans? Better by far to love and commit to the Jesus who says, “Father forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” And this, while He is dying for them.

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About Jim McGuiggan

Jim McGuiggan was Ethel's husband for fifty-three years. They have three children and eight grandchildren. Ethel went to be with Christ on Easter Sunday, 2009 at the close of a gallant life. He has written some books including: Celebrating the Wrath of God; Heading Home with God; Life on the Ash Heap; Jesus: Hero of Thy Soul; The God of the Towel, The Scarlet Letter; and The Dragon Slayer.