The HyperTexts

Loving Christian Mothers and the Cult of Hell: Why Do They Torture Their Own Children?

by Michael R. Burch

Hell is child abuse, pure and simple.

First, the very good news: it is easy to prove that there never was a "hell," according to the Bible itself. Conservative Bible scholars know this, and so they have virtually removed the word "hell" from modern translations of the Bible, including the NIV (the best-selling Bible), the NABRE (published recently by the Roman Catholic Church) and the HCSB (published by the famously literal and conservative Southern Baptist Convention). Anyone who has actually read the Bible has to know that neither "hell" nor any possibility of suffering after death were ever mentioned to Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Moses, David, Solomon, or a long line of Hebrew prophets. So "hell" obviously did not preexist and was not created according to thousands of years of Old Testament chronologies. But there is also not a single verse in the New Testament that ever mentions the creation or purpose of "hell." So according to the Bible, hell did not preexist and was never created. (Nor is there any verse in the entire Bible that ever says that the penalty for sin changed from death to "hell.") Modern Bible scholarship confirms that the Hebrew word Sheol and the Greek word Hades both mean "the grave," not "hell." (You can confirm this by reading any accurate modern translation of the Bible online and comparing the "hell" verses to those in the King James Version.) To further confirm this, just try to find a single verse where prophets like Noah, Jonah and Moses ever warned even the worst sinners that they needed to repent in order to escape "hell" or suffering after death. There are no such verses in the Hebrew Bible! Noah didn't tell the people at the time of the wickedness that led to the Great Flood that they were in danger of "hell." Moses didn't tell the Pharaoh who defied God repeatedly that he was in danger of "hell." Abraham and Lot didn't warn the people of Sodom and Gomorrah that they were in danger of "hell." And God himself said nothing about "hell" to Adam and Eve, or even to the first murderer, Cain. To prove that Sheol/Hades is not "hell" is child's play, because King David said that if he made his bed in Sheol, God would still be with him. Job asked to be hidden from suffering in Sheol. The prophet Ezekiel and the apostle Paul agreed that all Israel would be saved, but Israel himself said that he would be reunited with his son Joseph in Sheol. In each case it is clear that Sheol means "the grave." If Sheol is "hell" then the Christian dogma of hell is immediately refuted, because Sheol is a place where God is present rather than absent, and where one goes to be reunited with departed loved ones in a place beyond suffering. According to Hebrew prophets like Job, Israel and David, Sheol sounds like heaven, not hell! If after reading this you still have any doubts about "hell," please read the following article, which explains why the very few remaining "hell" verses in the Bible are also mistranslations: There is no hell in the Bible!

But while the good news is very good, the bad news is truly terrible because all around the globe parents who call themselves "Christians" continue to teach their children that God and Jesus are petty, unjust monsters who will save some children by grace, but either cause or allow billions of other children to go to a "hell" where they will suffer for all eternity, with no hope of salvation. (Before anyone indignantly points out that children don't go to hell, please allow me to point out that children grow up ... a fact that seems to always elude orthodox Christian theologians.)

Why do so many Christian mothers condemn their own children to "hell" for the "sin" of having being born human? Do they understand that orthodox Christianity offers their children no possible chance of "salvation," if salvation requires "repentance," because human beings cannot "repent" of their sexual natures, and human children can't put their sexuality on "indefinite hold" until they reach a marriageable age?

The Cult of Hell (i.e., orthodox Christianity) is torturing children emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, with the consent of Christian mothers. If mothers truly love their children, why do they allow these abuses to continue?

What happens to a young boy who dreams of sex constantly (because that's how he's "wired"), then dies before he's married and safely monogamous? According to orthodox Christianity, he is an "unrepentant sinner" who must suffer in hell for all eternity. After all, God only saves Christians who believe in Jesus and repent of their sins. If repentance wasn't required, all sorts of riff-raff could believe in Jesus, get a free pass into heaven, then proceed to sin however they pleased here on earth. Salvation entirely by grace would be very bad business for church business and revenues! And what would all the pious, sanctimonious pastors do, if the prostitutes Jesus partied with were actually allowed to (gasp!) enter heaven? Of course most of the pastors would feel free to have trysts with the prostitutes here on earth, then conveniently condemn them to an "eternal hell," while taking advantage of "grace" for themselves. We see this happening with right-wing moralists like Jimmy Swaggart. When they get caught with their pants down, they confess and weep (crocodile tears). Then the very next day they're back at the pulpit, bashing gays and women with "loose morals." Christian mothers let the children sit in the pews, soaking up the fear of hell, while the real criminals earn rave reviews from the "Moral Majority."

Will Christians ever abandon their ridiculous Puritanism, for the sake of their children? It produces the most dreadful hypocrisy. We all know about Catholic priests and "celibacy." And probably every Baptist minister on the planet spends half his time mentally undressing the lovelier ladies in his congregation, saving up images for later, private re-play. When Christian organizations have conventions, the porn rentals at hotels go up, not down. Obviously, Christian "repentance" is less than foreskin deep.

Christian mothers may try to defend their irrational faith by claiming their children can be "saved by grace." But this holds no water, if non-heterosexuals can't be saved, as the Religious Right so obviously believes. What Christian mothers fail to see (are they blind?) is that heterosexual and non-heterosexual children are in exactly the same boat, if such things as sexual fantasies, looking at porn, and having sex before marriage are "sins."

While Christian churches, pastors and mothers desperately want human children to be sexless angels until they're married, and to this end carry on a great farce that the "Holy Spirit" can "help" human beings "overcome" their sexual natures, their children will have none of it, once they reach puberty. As Mark Twain pointed out, any red-blooded human male will forfeit any possible shot at heaven to be with the girl of his dreams, his Eve.

But this doesn't make the emotional, psychological and spiritual torture human children suffer at the hands of their mothers any less real. I know, because of the suffering I endured as a boy, once I reached puberty. My pastors lied to my mother, my mother lied to herself, and everyone lied to me. I became a small bundle of fear and confusion, weeping in my bed at night, knowing I was condemned to an "eternal hell" for the terrible sin of committing adultery in my sexual fantasies. Now that I understand what happened to me, and why, I'd like to strangle the pastors and Sunday School teachers who caused me so much suffering. And my relationship with mother has deteriorated, drastically. She can't understand why I am so angry with her. She chose to bring me into the world. What right did she have to bear me, then condemn me to hell for being born human, rather than a sexless angel like Jesus Christ?

When I see a pastor who stands before innocent children and tells them "Jesus saves," I want to break his teeth. What right does he have to torture innocent children with his infernal "faith"? He has no clue how anyone can be "saved," if repentance is required for salvation, because he hasn't repented of being human himself, has he?

***

I grew up in an evangelical Christian family. I was a prodigious reader as a young boy. By the fifth grade, I was reading at the level of a college sophomore. My proud parents handed me a Bible, told me it was the "infallible" word of God, and suggested that I read it, ten chapters per day. So I proceeded to read the "Holy" Bible, cover to cover.

What the hell were they thinking? Do Christian mothers have a clue what they do to bright, sensitive, highly impressionable children when they give them, essentially, Mein Kampf, and tell them Hitler is an all-powerful God?

For me, it was a soul-shattering experience, because I trusted my parents when they told me they "knew" that the Bible was the "word of God." But they had never read it honestly, the way a young boy would.

The problems should be obvious to Christian mothers, but many of them are oblivious. The Bible, as interpreted by the Moral Majority, condemns every human boy to hell (and most girls too, I imagine). Therefore, Christian mothers condemn their own children to hell, without having a clue as to how they can be "saved." This is easy to demonstrate (emphasis on "demon"), if the entire Bible is the "infallible" word of God (obviously, it isn't).

Jesus said thinking about sex is the same as committing adultery. From the onset of puberty, boys think about sex constantly, or near-constantly. Boys do not "repent" of their sexual desires, if "repent" means to reform or change one's behavior. The Holy Spirit does not "cure" sexual desire, because sexual desire is not a disease. But Christianity treats sex like a disease, heaping shame on the heads of boys who are only doing what their bodies are designed to do. Today most men don't get married until they're in their twenties or thirties. I didn't get married until I was 34. Does anyone really believe we will park our sexuality for decades, and never dream about sex? If so, "Christian" pastors, churches and mothers are off their rockers. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case, and this is why Christian churches have become bastions of hypocrisy and intolerance. The dogma of hell, I believe, is the biggest problem.

If mothers tell their children that there's an "eternal hell" where non-repentant sinners go . . . well, what can their children conclude, if they're honest, but that an eternal hell awaits them?

But if mothers were truly "Christian" and had an ounce of compassion for their children, they wouldn't have them, if there was any chance they might go to an "eternal hell."

What sort of fucked-up religion and fucked-up mothers are willing to take eternal chances with the souls of innocent children? Any Christian mother who believes in hell ought to have herself sterilized immediately, because if she has a son he is damn sure going to be a "sinner," and he is not going to "repent" of wanting to have sex, because that's what human males do.

What sort of fucked-up religion tortures little boys with the threat of an "eternal hell" for acting on their most cherished dreams?

***

But of course Christianity has problems other than hell. After all, its God seems to be Devil. I figured this out as soon as I began reading the Bible, as a fifth-grader.

The God of the Bible, Yahweh (aka Jehovah), was schizophrenic, unjust, arrogant, bloodthirsty and cruel. He slavered after the "sweet savor" of holocausts (burnt offerings) like a wild beast, or a fiend. Why would a loving, wise, just, enlightened God want bloody animal carcasses? (Obviously the Levite priests wanted free meat; six Hebrew prophets and Jesus all denied that God could have desired sacrifice.) Did my loving, compassionate mother have any idea what the Bible really said about its bizarre God? No, even though she taught Sunday School class for years and studied the Bible nearly every day. Only when I was much older did I realize that many adult Christians are incapable of reading the Bible rationally. They have been brainwashed to believe anything the Bible says is "true" and that evil is good, when God commands evil. Therefore, when the Bible says "men of God" like Moses, Joshua, Caleb and King David killed defenseless women, children and babies, suddenly killing women, children and babies becomes "good," ostensibly because the victims were "demon worshippers." But of course babies don't worship demons. Nor did the livestock the "men of God" slew in their murderous frenzy. Why did the invading Israelites kill women, children, babies and livestock? Obviously, because this threw terror into the natives, who would flee rather than stand and fight. Just imagine how much easier it would have been to take Palestine, if the natives knew that not a single life would be spared, if they lost a battle.

But unfortunately for the Israelites, they were minor tribes hemmed in by much larger, equally bloodthirsty tribes. So even though they "gave" themselves the "promised land" in the name of their schizophrenic God, they would seldom possess the land, and never for very long. The "glory days" of Israel lasted for around 70 years, during the reigns of King David and King Solomon. Shortly thereafter, the Israelite tribes would be divided, and soon ten of the tribes would be lost forever. The word "Jew" comes from the tribe of Judah, one of the twelve tribes (well, actually there were thirteen or fourteen tribes in all, depending on whether one counts Joseph [twelve], or his sons Manasseh and Ephraim [thirteen], or Joseph and both of his sons [fourteen). The Bible is an interesting book because its writers never resolved such conundrums. They invariably left out one or more of the tribes of Israel, because they wanted to get back to the magical number twelve. If they included both sons of Joseph, they had to leave out one of the other tribes. The writer of Revelation made an especially egregious error. He included Joseph and one of his sons, but not the other. This forced him to leave out the tribe of Dan, which no other writer of the Bible had ever done. It was as if God Almighty had lost track of his own beloved tribes. The Occam's Razor solution is that the writers of the Bible "knew" there were twelve tribes, when in reality there were fourteen, when the sons of Joseph became tribes in their own right. But the Bible is riddled with such errors, which is not really surprising when we consider that it was written primarily by a tribe of ancient nomadic goatherds whose Levite scribes periodically changed the texts entrusted to them, to suit their own ends.
***
The results might be considered be comical, if so many Christians and Jews didn't base their beliefs on the "word of God." The witchdoctors of the Israelites, the Levites, would tell the commonfolk that success in battle was "assured" if only they were "righteous" (which meant giving the Levites free food in the form of sacrifices, and jumping through various hoops like trained dogs). But soon more powerful nations would roundly defeat the Israelites and leave them in chains, whereupon the Levites would tell them they were "sinners" who had offended God. The Israelites never understood that their main problems were the Levite witchdoctors, their inability to get along with their neighbors, and their lack of numbers and military power.

Now many Christians suffer from the same blindness. When a hurricane strikes New Orleans, God is "full of wrath" at homosexuals and prostitutes, even though Christian homes and churches have also been obliterated. When an earthquake devastates Haiti, God is angry about "devil worship" even though it occurred hundreds of years ago. Every disaster has a supernatural cause. The witchdoctors of Christianity (men like Pat Robertson) pretend to divine the "mind of God" and explain why things went wrong.

Animal sacrifice and prayer have the same aims: to control the "gods." But Jews and Christians age, sicken and die like everyone else. There is, of course, absolutely no evidence that Jews and Christians are the "chosen few." They only claim they are, despite all the evidence to the contrary. All the animal sacrifices and all the prayers in the world haven't saved Jews and Christians from death.

Rather than claiming God preferred them to other, more powerful, tribes, the Israelites should have tried to achieve peace with their neighbors. American Christians might consider the same tactic, for the same reason, in dealing with Muslim nations today. The idea that Christians will earn the favor of God by favoring Jews over Muslims would be comical, if the world wasn't heading toward World War III as a result of Israel's brutal treatment of innocent Palestinian women and children. Jews and Christians still haven't learned the simplest lessons the Bible has to teach. The Israelites thought they had "divine fiat" to kill the inhabitants of ancient Palestine. Today Israeli Jews seem to believe much the same thing. Of course they were wrong then, and they are wrong now.

***

But the problem didn't lie solely with the "men of God" who killed women, children, babies and animals in "the name of God." According to the Bible, God himself killed multitudes of innocents. When he became angry with men for "sinning," time and time again he inflicted suffering and death on innocent animals. He was the first murderer, because he gave Adam and Eve animal hides to wear. Why didn't he give them clothes of cotton or wool? When he became angry with human beings at the time of Noah, why didn't he send a human-only plague and spare the poor animals? There was no need to drown them so mercilessly! And when God wanted the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, why didn't he just put the Egyptians to sleep for a few days? There was no reason to kill so many innocent animals and children. It seems the "men of God" of the Bible were merely emulating their "Father," Yahweh.

When I read about the Israelites suffering in the wilderness, I knew that I, too, would have asked for food to eat and water to drink. No doubt Yahweh and his murderous henchmen Moses and Aaron would have forced me to eat rotten quail until I died, like so many of the others.

In Numbers 31, Moses ordered his warriors to kill captured, defenseless woman and male children, even babies, keeping only the virgin girls alive (obviously as sex slaves).

In Deuteronomy 22, Moses commanded that girls who had been raped should be murdered or sold to their rapists (so they could be raped "legally" the rest of their lives).

King David, the "man after God's own heart" killed every woman when he "smote the land" and ordered the slaughter of the lame and blind when Jerusalem was taken from the Jebusites because he "hated" them. He never "repented" but remained a bloodthirsty, hypocritical murderer to his dying day, because with his last breath he ordered the assassination of Joab, ostensibly because he had "shed innocent blood." But it was David who had offered Joab the captaincy of his armies for slaughtering the handicapped!

Samuel, another "man of God," hacked Agag to pieces as he pled for mercy.

These are not isolated incidents. The Bible is replete with accounts of God and "men of God" slaughtering innocents. Christians believe God "gave" Palestine to the Israelites, but according to the Bible, Moses, Joshua, Caleb and King David took it the "old fashioned way," via ethnic cleansing and genocide ("the slaying of everything that breathes").

The Israelites were barbarians who stoned their own women and children to death. When their kings were called "righteous" it was not because they were good or kind rulers, but because they were successful at war, and killed the priests of other religions (and sometimes those of sects within Judaism).

The New Testament is even worse, because it condemns human beings to an "eternal hell" for not being "perfect" like the sexless space alien Jesus Christ. The horrendous book of Revelation says human beings will be tortured with fire and brimstone, in heaven, at the foot of the throne of God, in the presence of the Lamb and the Holy Angels. (So much for "hell" being "separation from God.")

So of course I hated the cruel God of the Bible. And when I figured out that God had given me sexual desires I couldn't deny, while Jesus had condemned me to an eternal hell for just thinking about sex, I hated Jesus too.

Many years later I studied the Bible in depth and found multitudes of errors, discrepancies and false prophecies. For instance, the Bible "predicted" that Nebuchadnezzar (the Alexander the Great of his day), would sack Tyre. But the Bible itself admits this didn't happen. The same prophet who admitted his mistake then predicted Nebuchadnezzar would sack Egypt and leave it an uninhabited wasteland for forty years. But nothing like that ever happened either. The writers of the Bible said a heir of David would always sit on the throne of David, and that Levite priests would always offer sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple. Those prophecies proved false long before the time of Jesus.

Most of the prophesies said to be fulfilled by Jesus in actuality had nothing to do with Jesus, or any Messiah. And some of the "prophesies" cited in the New Testament don't even appear in the Old Testament, or the citations are incorrect, or the names of the prophets are wrong. The reason is simple: much of the New Testament was written in Greece and Rome, far from Israel, and the writers didn't have the Old Testament scrolls for reference. If the Holy Spirit had been dictating the new texts to the writers of the New Testament, the infallible memory of God would have kept such errors from arising. But many errors do exist (even conservative Bible scholars acknowledge them), and the causes are obvious, if only Christians will be honest with themselves, and each other.

The New Testament makes Jesus a false prophet, since he predicted that not one stone of the Jerusalem temple would be left standing on another. But the Wailing Wall still stands to this day. Here's an image of the Wailing Wall:

Bible Archaeology: Jerusalem: Western or wailing wall,Jerusalem

That's a lot of stones still standing! And Israeli archeologists continue to turn up other parts of the temple, so it's clear that, while much of the temple was leveled, the prophecy attributed to Jesus was not fulfilled. And of course other things attributed to Jesus cannot be credited. For instance, the mustard seed is not the smallest seed on earth. Orchids have smaller seeds, and orchids grow in Israel. The little parable about ravens depending on the provision of God because they don't plan and store makes no sense whatsoever. Are ants, bees and squirrels "sinners" because they plan and store? Was a church or cathedral ever built without human beings planning and storing? If only Christians would be honest with themselves and each other, they would see that much of the "wisdom" attributed to Jesus is not really wise. For instance, Jesus forgot to ever mention to his disciples that slavery was an abomination. And if he was all-knowing, why didn't he tell them about naturally occurring wonder drugs like aspirin (willow bark) and penicillin (mold)? If God wants human beings to be compassionate, why wasn't he compassionate enough to tell human beings simple things that would have saved millions of lives during the Dark Ages? Why didn't he tell human beings the Bubonic Plague was carried by rats, and that better rat control and sanitation would save multitudes of lives? In reality, Biblical prophecy works "in reverse." The writers "prophesied" things they already knew had come to pass, as a way of making other people believe their other "revelations." The prophecy Jesus made about the destruction of the temple is easy to explain. The Christians in Greece and Rome knew the Jerusalem temple had been destroyed, so they had Jesus "predict" it. But when the rubble was finally cleared, many stones were still standing on other stones, including the Wailing Wall.

Jesus was an important teacher in a number of respects. But his words and teachings are far from "infallible." After his death, his disciples turned him into a petty, unjust tyrant who condemns other human beings to an "eternal hell" for not "believing" in him, even though he never bothers to introduce himself to living human beings. I know because I prayed to hear from Jesus as a child. He never responded to my prayers. This tells me something important: either Jesus doesn't care if I believe in him or not, or he can't communicate with me. If he doesn't care, why should I? If he can't communicate with me, how can he be an all-powerful God?

If you're interested in "things mysterious," you may be interested in these other Mysterious Ways pages:

Kids on Love: What the Real Experts Have to Say
Dear God: Kids "Wax Metaphysical"
Kids Say the Damnedest Things, Usually in Church
SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN TO COME UNTO ME
A Direct Experience with Universal Love
Two Tales of the Night Sky
Genie-Angels
Darkness
Michael, Wonderful and Glorious
The Poisonous Tomato
Of Mother Teresa, Angels and the Poorest of the Poor
Thy Will Be Done (Iron Lung)
Did Jesus Walk on the Water?
Mysterious Ways Index

The HyperTexts