The death this week of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner brought about a very disappointing response from some Christians on the notion of going to Hell.
When Hugh Hefner passed away, was his soul going to Hell?
That’s a question I’ve seen and heard several Christians discussing since Hefner’s death was announced. I’m a Christian, and frankly, it didn’t dawn on me to find something worth celebrating in the notion.
It’s as if some believers — fortunately not all of them by a long shot — are lining up to say, essentially, “I told you so.”
They told us, they say, practically beating their chests with a primal roar of holier-than-thouness, that people who favored worldly passions instead of Godly pursuits, would pay for their transgressions.
They told us that those who let physical pleasure take priority over spiritual growth would spend an eternity feeling the firepits of damnation.
But as I heard and saw these conversations taking place, a question kept coming to me: Why do these people think this is something to celebrate?
We’re supposed to love our neighbor. We’re supposed to pray for our neighbor. We’re supposed to be fishers of men. We’re supposed to be extending grace and giving a message of hope to the world. We’re supposed to be God’s light on earth.
And we’re going to celebrate the notion of one of our brothers going to Hell?
It has to be pointed out, though it shouldn’t have to be, that we don’t know this for a fact. We don’t know — we can’t know — what was going on in the man’s heart between himself and God in his final days. We don’t know whether he did what the Bible tells us would have spared him the judgment too many Christians seem willing to assume he didn’t.
Without trying to sound facetious, it seems to me that this is God’s business, not ours.
But even if we pretend for a moment that the man never made any religious connection at all, why is this something to embrace?
Why is this something that Christians should be even remotely pleased about?
In my book, it isn’t. I recall, in that same book, that there’s something about us not judging others so that we can avoid the same kind of judgment. Christians, particularly male Christians, can be as smug as they wish in thinking about the notion of Hell and whether he deserved it. But in doing so, they’re not showing the world a side of Christianity that makes non-believers want to join their ranks.
The message they’re sending as they wink at each other with satisfaction about how much better they are than this man who, in their eyes, clearly didn’t pass muster, isn’t about love of a neighbor. It isn’t even about loving God.
I wonder how much damage that’s doing to the church in the minds of those who don’t yet have a church home and may be searching for a reason to begin making that commitment.
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.