Talking about sinners today is a really tricky, sensitive issue because it makes it sound as if the Christians who are talking about it are hateful, insensitive, intolerant, and judgmental. We’re accused of being unloving. Worse yet, gasp, unchristlike. Unscriptural.

Yes, there are Christians who go overboard and become unchristlike in their stance for righteousness and the truth. Some mean well and don’t know any better. Others are just plain hateful. So, yes, whenever anyone of us acts unchristlike towards anyone, the unsaved especially, we deserve a good tongue lashing and verbal trashing.

But what happens when we take a stance for truth and right and we aren’t hateful, self-righteous, judgmental, or unchristlike about it? What happens when we speak out with love and in love? Would taking a stance against sin be wrong or inappropriate? Truth be told, a lot of people would rather that everyone just shut up and not say anything about sin or sinners.

I’m not hateful or judgmental. I love sinners. I really do. I hate the sins they’re doing. But I’m concerned enough about their souls and eternal destiny to speak up against their sins and lovingly offer them the hope of salvation and the hope of a changed life found in Christ.

I was thinking about God’s love not too long ago. Namely, John 3:16, For God so loved the world. He loved the world. He loved and cared enough for sinners to send them His Son as a saving sacrifice for sin. If you had one, and only one, son would you kill your son, or have him killed, to save the life of a stranger or an enemy? God did. Jesus is God’s undeniable proof that He loves sinners and wants to save them from Hell. God is love (1 John 4:8). He loves sinners.

Only thing is, God left the gates of Hell open. He didn’t shut them up. I mean, if I saw the entrance to an underground world of eternal pain and misery I would shut the entrance up, cover it over, and secure it so that no one would ever fall in. This is love, isn’t it? You would do the same thing yourself. Why? Because this is what love does. Right? Yet God in His love for sinners didn’t shut the gates of Hell. Why? Damned souls are still falling into that pain pit at a record clip. These souls He loves He lets perish in the pit. And yet, He calls Himself, He is, the God of love.

The very talk of Hell causes many to deny God’s love. In their view, there’s no way God can be love if He sends people to Hell. Hell, to them, is proof that God isn’t love. He isn’t loving.

But God is love—even with Hell and in spite of Hell—because that’s what He says He is and I naively believe God for who He says He is. Besides that, I have human and world experience to prove it. Read on and I’ll show you.

God is love. And He works very hard and long to try and save sinners. 2 Peter 3:9 shows us God’s heart of love towards sinners, The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, he is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins.

No, God doesn’t send people to Hell. All of us are free to choose our way and make our own decisions. God honors and respects our choices.

But choices have consequences. We suffer whatever consequences our decisions bring. We can blame God and everyone else for the consequences we suffer. We can choose to reject all blame or responsibility for our decisions and actions. But doing so will not relieve us of the self-inflicted consequences of our choices.

It’s like the crook who cries Foul! behind prison walls. He’ll ramble on about the unjust nature of his  incarceration and blame a cop, a lawyer, a jury, and a judge for being in prison. But for us who know better, the guy robbed a bank. He got caught. His imprisonment is his fault and no one else’s.

Generally speaking, a crook doesn’t commit a crime with the intention of going to prison. He figures he’s gonna make a clean getaway. If he gets caught he’s smart enough to beat the rap. Yet, for all his smarts and swagger, he lands up in the prison he never thought he would see.

This is the way it is with sinners and Hell. For all their bravado, sinners don’t want to go to Hell. But they end up there because of their sins. Now, really, whose fault is that? God’s or their’s? God didn’t make them sin. They chose to sin. They wanted to sin. So if Hell, like prison for a crook, is where sinners go to be punished for their sins; why do we blame God for sending sinners to Hell? If, in our right minds, we don’t blame a cop, lawyer, or judge for a crook’s incarceration; why are we so otherwise minded to blame God for all the damned souls in Hell?

God is love. In our preferences of love, He could have covered over Hell’s gates. He could have done away entirely with that miserable place and make it non-existent. But what good would that do? Seriously, stop and think about it. What good would that do?

Let’s translate the question into the reality of our day. What would happen if we closed all our jails and prisons? What if every prisoner was freed and loosed? What if no rapist, murderer, or pedophile was locked up or put away for good? What would our society and community look like then? Would we want to live in such a dysfunctional, No Hell, “utopian” society? The fact is, we’re already surrounded by gobs of people with criminal tendencies. That’s scary enough! Would we want to add to that sense of insecurity by emptying our prisons and letting every criminal go free? Life wouldn’t be normal as we know it now: it’d be a war zone where everyone’s attention would be riveted around self-protection and preservation. You can choose to live in such a society if you like. But I believe I speak for the majority when I say that that’s not the kind of place I’d like to live in.

It’s lamentable that people choose to be criminals. It’s sad when criminals are locked up. But it’s for everyone’s good. It’s what we call a necessary evil. A necessary evil that’s spurred by society’s care for its citizens, its efforts to promote the common good, and it’s vigilant, unceasing work to preserve peace, security, and the pursuit of happiness.

Turns out, God is similarly-minded. He really is a God of love. He has the smarts on us. He knew what He was doing all along when He made Hell and He was doing it for everyone’s good. Hell is undesirable and unpleasant. It’s a necessary “evil” if you want to call it that. But necessary nonetheless.

Hell’s existence doesn’t deny God’s love, any more than all our jails and prisons are a denial of society’s need to protect itself and promote the common good. If anything, and to the contrary, in my thinking, Hell proves God is love. When you do everything you can for everybody’s good—Calvary and Hell included—that is good and that is love.