As a pastor and preacher, I haven’t found much use for Hell.
That is, the concept of hell is, at best an ancillary part of my theology and ministry. To that end, I do not spend great deal of time speaking, preaching or counseling about it.
And I certainly haven’t condemned someone to hell for their actions, omissions, or their level of faith in Jesus.
I know there are a great many clergy who use the concept of Hell as their medium to explain Jesus, much the same way an artist uses oil paint and canvass to illustrate a subject.
Those clergy who talk about Hell incessantly, heave and sweat and preach tirelessly about Hell, telling their congregants that if they do not do one thing or another, or even a set of things, well, then it’s to hell they — the congregants will be going.
You might even say these preachers would say there is a “special” place in Hell for congregants who do not listen to instruction.
While I don’t knock the collective hustle of these preachers, I am incredulous of the lot of them.
Why? Because Jesus is kind of my guy. I spend all of my free time and a little bit more than that on Sundays talking about this guy called Jesus.
I spend my time talking about how kind and loving and wise and wonderful he is. I talk about how he led a perfect life and how he lived a perfect life to serve as an example for us — to teach us how to love better, to live better, to treat each other better.
And from my perspective, that’s been an awesome selling point for Jesus. I have found that I don’t need to scare anyone into loving Jesus.
And if for some reason I, or any other preacher, has to use scare tactics to sell Jesus, then we’re not doing our jobs — we are not communicating Jesus and his love and life properly. Do people who are scared into loving Jesus actually love Jesus, or are they simply scared of Hell?
Which is why I was tickled when I saw and heard Madeline Albright’s remarks at a Hillary Clinton event about there being a special place in Hell for women who do not help each other.
Even after Albright and Hillary Clinton clarified it several times over several days, the comment still felt funny on my ears.
Because you see, Albright is using those same scare tactics lazy preachers use to advocate for Jesus.
Albright is assuming a few things. First that young women are not smart enough to make decisions for themselves.
She’s also assuming that young women,in order to be pro woman and feminist, also have to like Hillary.
It is entirely possible that young women cannot care for Hillary because of the racist tactics she pulled against President Obama in the 2008 election, and also be feminist and pro-woman as well.
And what’s more, what space in Hell is reserved for all the women who didn’t support Barbara Jordan when she ran for president, or Shirley Chisholm when she ran for president, or Carol Mosely Braun when she ran for president? Perhaps that’s Hell is just reserved for the women who don’t support viable white women candidates.
And, Albright assumes she can simply scare young women into supporting Hillary Clinton. From my perspective, that says more about the characteristics she believes her candidate possesses than anything else.
You see, if Albright believes that her candidate is the best and most viable candidate, then she would’ve spoke of her candidate’s qualifications and virtues, rather than scaring young women into voting for her candidate.
Scare tactics to make people love Jesus doesn’t work in Christianity or politics. Young women of today are smart enough to discern who is best for the future of America and for the future of women.
Let them decide without fear.