Among the curse words which are so abundant especially in this day and age one which has “enjoyed” perhaps the most popularity and which apparently lends itself to such a multitude of occasions and circumstances is the word “Hell”. And, unless you are virtually cloistered in your home and never contact the husk which surrounds you as a kernel of wheat, you must also be aware of its prevalence. It is so popular and versatile a word that it is used by all ages from the lisping child to the gray-beard, who, above all, should be thinking of that place rather than carelessly using the word as an expletive!
The word is prefixed to such simple statements as “yes” and “no”. In carnal wrath one directs another to that place. (I’ve never heard anyone say “Go to Heaven!”). Even remarks about the weather are filled with the word and the weather is referred to as being as hot as or as cold as that place! And some, even among us, feel that we have a little right to use that word especially when speaking of war. If we don’t literally say that war is hell then we do it a little more slyly by saying that war is what Sherman said it was which is the same thing.
We think that we perhaps may quote others without becoming guilty our self and we say “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” or “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions!” Or perhaps we use the substitute “Heck” to give vent to our emotions. And why?
Well, one reason, I believe, is because we do not think of what we are saying and have lost consciousness of the awfulness which is to be found in the place called “Hell”. And all these expressions are untrue even when we seek to describe war.
For war is not hell! Describe its terrors, pain, death and destruction in whatever way you will, but please do not say it is hell! For war is very, very limited. It is physical and material and temporal. And we can have no more a man-made hell than a man-made heaven. For its pain and anguish cease when you draw that last breath. Hell, on the other hand, is eternal. Its fire is not quenched and its worm dieth ne’er! And if we are to believe that the awfulness of hell is to be forsaken of God, then certainly no man-made agonies or distresses may be characterized by such a term. And thus, with all due sympathy for our brethren on the battlefields of the world, let us never express our description of troubles by the use of this word in any of its forms. It is a dire evil which, even apart from spiritual conceptions—which are of course the weightiest of reasons—denotes a sore lack of our limited means of expression. It is uncouth, vulgar and ill-mannered and reveals an ignorance of a true knowledge of the spiritual realities of hell.