If a sinner goes to hell for one unrepented mortal sin, does God purge his love? Love cannot exist in hell.

Full Question

In Luke 16:19–31 about the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, I’ve read that the rich man, when he called to Abraham, was in purgatory, not hell. The reason given is that the rich man demonstrates love and concern for his brothers and requests Abraham to help them by sending Lazarus to teach them the error of their ways. Since love and concern for others cannot exist in hell, the rich man must be in another place. My question is that if one unrepented mortal sin, such as adultery, will cause someone to go to hell, what happens to the love that such a person had for his children, friends, and spouse? Does God purge this love from this person before he is put in hell?

Answer

To say that the rich man must have been in purgatory because love cannot exist in hell is a conclusion based on an unsupportable premise. The Church does not teach that those in hell are bereft of all kinds of love. It is true that supernatural love of God cannot exist in hell, but a disordered love is involved in every mortal sin, and this perverse loving will remain.

What may appear as the rich man’s love and concern for his brothers may in fact be nothing more than self-interest. Thomas Aquinas asserted that the rich man knew that if his kin were damned his own suffering would increase. “[The damned’s] punishment would be greater if all their kindred were damned, and others saved, than if some of their kindred were saved. For this reason the rich man prayed that his brethren might be warded from damnation: for he knew that some are guarded therefrom" (ST Supp.–III:98:4 ad 1).

Also according to Aquinas, the damned are consumed with envy for those who attain glory, even for their own kin, though perhaps to a lesser degree.

God does not purge people of all types of love before they enter hell, but in hell the separation from God and his divine love is accomplished forever, making supernatural love, or charity, impossible. Love of evil, however, remains.









2 comments

  1. earthmont Reply

    Jesus said that we must forgive not 7 times but 77 times. (even if the person has hurt us grievously) Why then does He have an ETERNAL hell?? I can understand atoning your sins in a Purgatory but not being punished for Eternity. How can a loving God even create a hell?

    1. Aaron Allanigue Reply

      Jesus said to forgive 77 times on the condition that the other person was asking forgiveness. Which actually means that there is no limit to forgiving the other person for as many times that he is asking for forgiveness. God out of love for man gave him a “free will” so that man may love God not by force but out of free will. Man can choose to love God or not. God promises heaven to those who love Him with all their hearts and obey His will. To those who will not obey His will and choose to love sin will forsake Him forever. Sin is an infinite offense against God and the punishment of hell is even less than what sin deserves. Sin is a crime against an Infinite Being therefore the punishment should also be infinite. No one goes to hell unknowingly without full knowledge and full consent. Meaning, they go to hell because that “is” their choice out of free will. They choose to love sin and not God. God will not force anyone to love Him. God has an infinite love for us, that is true, but since God is perfect, He is also infinitely just. Hell was actually created for the devils who were the fallen angels in the beginning, who chose not to obey God’s most holy will. Now it is open to all who would prefer sin and be the slave of the devil.

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