I've been involved in a few discussions the past few days, and a common theme was in all of them: we have rebelled, and deserve hell/eternal punishment. In my view, this is the same as saying we don't deserve love, since hell would be the absence of God, and thus love as well. In other contexts, it's that all of creation deserves death.
One of the reasons this view angers me is because I don't see where lines can get drawn between eternal deserts and temporal ones. For instance, if we deserve nothing but hell, then wouldn't that also mean that starving people don't deserve help? Or food? That the Holocaust victims not only deserved to die, but deserved to die in the manner that they did?
That abuse victims in fact deserved to be abused? That rape was deserved? Murder? Hurricane Katrina? I mean, if we deserve nothing but eternal torment, which is pretty much the absolute punishment, wouldn't we in turn deserve the temporal sufferings as well?
Yet, for the most part, I don't see Western civilization acting this way. If a woman is abused, we tell her she doesn't deserve that, and should leave. People are raising awareness in terms of AIDS, poverty, genocide -- and a prevailing idea behind all of that is that such suffering is not only not deserved, but actually deserves our mercy. Our compassion. Our help.
But people can turn around and say that those same people, if they reject Jesus, deserve to suffer eternally? I just don't see how the two can be compatible.
The anger truly stems from the horror I feel behind this idea. If someone feels that we all deserve hell, then how am I suppose to trust that person to respond to the suffering s/he sees on a daily basis? Why would I trust that person to be moved with compassion, to help my family? Or the world?
I'm sure the response to this entails that one feels compassion because one is saved, or one is nudged by God, or responds to such pleas because God rescued them. I don't say that dismissively, but it doesn't remove the intial problem that if you truly, truly think that every single person does not deserve an iota of love ... then why be outraged at evil? Why be so outraged at how unjust the situation is? If a rape victim is told that she brought the rape on herself, how can this be argued against when we deserve something much worse? How can you deserve hell and not deserve rape?