Is God a gentleman?

“But God won’t force people to go to heaven to live with Him against their will,” he said when he found out I believed in Universal Reconciliation. “Forcing someone to do something against their will is called rape, and God wouldn’t do that.”

“I should probably point out that I’m not saying He’ll let them into heaven,” I clarified. “I’m saying they’ll be resurrected to live forever on the new earth instead. But that’s probably beside the point. More importantly, though, I should point out that rape is actually a form of sexual assault, and has nothing to do with forcing people to do things or go places against their will outside of one specific sort of action involving unwanted penetration of one’s body. For example, parents make their children go places they don’t want to go all the time, such as to church or to the store or to school,” I added. “Is that rape, or the equivalent of saving someone without them doing whatever it is that you believe is necessary to be saved?”

”Well, it’s okay for parents to do that, because the children don’t know any better, but it would be wrong for God to do something against someone’s will once they’re no longer a child,” he replied.

“So you’re saying it’s not rape when a parent does something to a child against their will? That a parent can’t rape a child? That only someone who is no longer a child can be raped?” I asked.

”Okay, I guess rape was a bad analogy,” he admitted. “But God still wouldn’t do something to someone against their will, like forcing them to spend eternity with Him when they don’t want to. That would be coercive of Him, and God’s a gentleman Who respects our wishes.”

”What if it’s someone who actually wishes to spend eternity with God, but they haven’t been convinced that they have to ‘accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour’ because they aren’t sure that Jesus even existed, much less rose from the dead?”

”Well, if they don’t believe the Gospel, they can’t be saved.”

”So what would happen to the person who wants to spend eternity with God but isn’t able to bring themselves to believe that Christ died for their sins, was buried, and rose again the third day?” I asked.

”Well, they’d have to go to hell, because they didn’t accept Christ,” he affirmed.

”What if they don’t want to go to hell, but want to go live on the new earth with God instead? Wouldn’t it be coercive of God to send them to hell against their will rather than let them live on the new earth like they want to?”

”Well, God isn’t sending them to hell, they’re sending themselves to hell.”

”What if they say they don’t want to go to hell and want to continue living on the new earth after their judgement, and refuse to walk towards hell?” I queried. “Wouldn’t God then have to force them, against their will, into hell?”

”I guess so. But it’s still their own fault for not choosing to believe in Christ before they died,” he insisted.

”But it would still be God forcing someone to go somewhere against their will rather than letting them live in the place they actually want to live,” I pointed out. “And you originally implied that making someone go somewhere they didn’t want to go was so bad that you compared it to rape.”

”But it wouldn’t be fair for God to save them at that point. Then they’d get the same reward as me, even though they didn’t make the same choice to accept Christ that I did.”

“You believe salvation is a reward for something you chose to do?” I asked. “Are you saying you’re deserving of salvation because you were smart enough to make the right decision but they aren’t deserving of it because they weren’t able to convince themselves to believe something they didn’t see any evidence for?”

“Well, no, I guess not, but the Bible says that they’ll end up in the lake of fire if they don’t accept Christ,” he insisted.

“First of all, if you take the context of the whole of Scripture into consideration, you’ll realize it actually doesn’t say that everyone who doesn’t accept Christ as their Saviour will end up in the lake of fire, which is a different place from the ‘hell’ the dead end up in, I should add,” I explained. “That idea is based on a serious misunderstanding of Scripture. Regardless, though, I actually do agree that God will send many people to the lake of fire against their will, in order to die a second time, which is why it’s called the second death. However, Paul also tells us that everyone who was made mortal because of what Adam did will also eventually be made immortal because of what Christ did, although each in their own order — first the body of Christ, then the Israel of God, and finally, much later, when Christ finally destroys death altogether, He’ll also resurrect everyone who died a second time in the lake of fire so they can also be made immortal to live with Him for eternity on the new earth.”

”But that’s not fair!” He complained. “They didn’t choose to accept Christ like I did, so why should they get to enjoy eternity?”

“You know,” I said, deciding to wrap things up, “it sounds like you don’t actually care about people ending up in places against their will so much as you care about people having to make the same wise choice you believe you made. At the end of the day, it seems as though you don’t actually care if God forces people to go somewhere against their will at all, so long as He doesn’t let them enjoy eternity against your will.”