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Did You Fear Hell As A Child?


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My husband and I are in couples counseling (I'm no longer a believer but he is) and the counselor felt like my childhood fear of Hell was exceptional. I DISAGREE. I think children who are exposed to the idea of Hell can and do become very fearful. I'm just wondering who else feared Hell as a child. I mean who wouldn't fear Hell???? If a child goes to a fundamentalist church and is taught that Hell is real, wouldn't MOST children just believe it is real? I was VERY VERY VERY afraid of Hell as a child and as a teen and as an adult. I've just now in the last few months gotten beyond my fear of Hell. I find it hard to believe that my childhood fear (starting at age 5) would be out of the ordinary.

 

 

 

freedom

 

 

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I feared hell even more than I feared nuclear war with the soviets (I grew up in the 80's). I also feared that many loved ones, especially the ones who believed the "wrong version" of christianity would go to hell or were already in hell.

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As much as I despise the doctrine of hell and hate the fear it has caused so many people, I must say that I never had any personal fear of it. As a child, my church had regular sermons on hell and the pastor "begging" us young people to come down to the altar and be saved. We basically paid it no attention and left church and had fun. Hell was just never a personal issue for me.

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I didn't start fearing it until I got into my teens. Hell really forced me to contemplate my mortality and see death around every corner. As much as I feared Hell in my teens, I didn't get the courage to ask to be baptized until I was around 16--and that was the only reason I got baptized was because I was taught that even if you were a devote Christian you would still go to Hell if you did not get baptized. I still heavily feared it even after getting baptized (the Churches of Christ do not teach the "once saved always saved" doctrine).

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I didn't start fearing it until I got into my teens. Hell really forced me to contemplate my mortality and see death around every corner. As much as I feared Hell in my teens, I didn't get the courage to ask to be baptized until I was around 16--and that was the only reason I got baptized was because I was taught that even if you were a devote Christian you would still go to Hell if you did not get baptized. I still heavily feared it even after getting baptized (the Churches of Christ do not teach the "once saved always saved" doctrine).

 

Hehehe, when I was baptized at 11, I did not realize that the CoC basically considered me a man for religious purposes. I was placed on the rotation list for leading prayer, the lord's supper, etc. Having to lead prayer at 11 kinda sucked. At another CoC congretation, at every wednesday night service, which ever "man" whose turn came up had the choice of leading a singing service or could preach. Well, I thought preaching was less embarassing, so I preached a sermon at 15. It fucking sucked. I probably could have got out of it if I protested, but then I'd look like a wuss and less like a man. At least other denominations have some common sense in regard to kids who get saved.

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Well for me I wasn't. Of course I was raised in a Methodist church. Honestly, I don't remember anything negative about the church then. Definitely not fundamentalist in any way shape or form. It wasn't until my sister took my kids to vacation bible school at a southern baptist church that we got into the fundamentalistic (new word?) aspect of religion.

 

My husband was catholic and I was going to become catholic but we were going to a major liberal catholic church where the priest believed in birth control, etc. I couldn't wrap my mind around it because to me you couldn't be catholic unless you believed what the pope/church believed in. I don't know but any questions I had about catholicism just couldn't be answered so we just stopped going to church.

 

My kids liked my sisters church and her kids are the same ages as my kids so we just started going there. At first I thought it was great that they were bible believers because after not getting answers for the things at the catholic church this made sense. Until you start reading the bible and getting so involved. By that time hell didn't scare me but I am sure it was because I was older.

 

At any rate, who gives a flying f*ck what the therapist thinks? I can't even imagine how scary hell would be coming from that background. My kids weren't very afraid because I certainly didn't emphasize hell in any way shape or form. My sisters kids on the other hand were very afraid of hell because they were major fundamentalists. The therapist should deal with what you are feeling whether he/she thinks it is excessive. That is their job. It is not to judge.

 

All I can say is that I wish you luck and I don't think anyone would tell someone suffering from post-traumatic stress that they are just over-sensitive. And personally I think that many people like you are suffering from post-traumatic stress from believing all that crap and having been taught such horrible things at such a young age. I think it is child abuse.

 

Good luck with your marriage as well.

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I was terrified of Hell, partly because I just couldnt escape the sin of homosexuality. i'd have to make guys invisible or make me blind. Still, I'd hear them and have the hots for their voice. Since I was unwilling to obey Jesus and pluck out my sinning eyes and ears, as I didnt have the confidence, I was afraid constantly i was on a highway to hell, and could get there at any minute. I was little and impressionable, one thing all children have in common.

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Yes, Yes, Yes, I feared Hell. Now I have no fear of hell and one problem I'm having is I don't seem to fear death as much as I used to either. Sometimes I kind of even invite it and I would like to go out in a blaze of glory, but I worry about what will happen to my wife and children when I'm gone. So I try and lead a semi-normal life, even though it's kind of a little boring.

 

I've been drinking to much Patron (Tequila) again. Maybe I'll feel different in the morning.

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I was very afraid of hell. I was "saved" at 9, and then did it again at 13 or 14 because I was afraid I hadn't done it right the first time and was still going to hell. I had frequent nightmares about hell.

 

I think teaching the doctrine of hell to children is child abuse.

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Well, I wasn't petrified, but I can remember lying in bed as a child and worrying about going to hell when I died, and what I had to do to get into heaven. That's why I was so easily converted the first time I was presented with fundy-version "say this prayer and be saved" theology.

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I was terrified of Hell, partly because I just couldnt escape the sin of homosexuality. i'd have to make guys invisible or make me blind. Still, I'd hear them and have the hots for their voice. Since I was unwilling to obey Jesus and pluck out my sinning eyes and ears, as I didnt have the confidence, I was afraid constantly i was on a highway to hell, and could get there at any minute. I was little and impressionable, one thing all children have in common.

 

Heh, my fear of hell was for not quite but pretty much the same reason. Decades of fearing hell because surely, I was a pervert and an abomination.

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My question for the OP is, is this a Christian therapist? If so, I'd not just walk, but RUN away as fast as you can and find a qualified secular therapist who can really help you.

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My question for the OP is, is this a Christian therapist? If so, I'd not just walk, but RUN away as fast as you can and find a qualified secular therapist who can really help you.

 

 

This counselor was a compromise for us both. I refused to see a fundamentalist christian and he didn't want to see an atheist. So we are seeing a batshit crazy catholic with buddhist/hindu leanings. She definately believes in god but not the damning you to Hell god. It kinda sucks (in a way) because I feel like she bullies me over religion BUT it could be ALOT worse. I think having someone that has some faith (even if he disagrees with her "type" of faith) comforts my husband.

 

She thinks taking church away from the children would be harmful to them. She fails to understand the indoctrination that is going on in fundamentalist churches. She thinks that kids aren't internalizing what they are being taught. I KNOW that they are, but she just doesn't have a real frame of reference for what is going on "in the fundamentalist world" She thinks it's as easy as just finding another church. BUT any church that my husband picks will be teaching the same things that our current church is teaching.

 

She is helpful to us as a couple and as a mediator, just a bit too subjective over the religion aspect of it. I think it would be HARD to find a truly secular therapist in our area. I went to see a psych. last week and even HE was Catholic and not at all supportive of non belief.

 

freedom

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From the information provided, I don't see where the therapist is being judgmental or dismissive. If it's a marriage counselor, I think she's just making a point to get some common ground because if your husband, his family, whoever, is telling you you're hypersensitive, she'd be trying to shed light on why they think so. She may be right ... I wouldn't guess that fear of hell is qualified as a main trauma issue in her field because of the tolerance given to religion in general.

 

I guess I "feared" hell at five, but it wasn't until my teens when I started getting into theology more and discovered that the salvation deal wasn't as simple and clear cut as I'd been led to believe that it tormented me.

 

 

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My husband and I are in couples counseling (I'm no longer a believer but he is) and the counselor felt like my childhood fear of Hell was exceptional. I DISAGREE. I think children who are exposed to the idea of Hell can and do become very fearful. I'm just wondering who else feared Hell as a child. I mean who wouldn't fear Hell???? If a child goes to a fundamentalist church and is taught that Hell is real, wouldn't MOST children just believe it is real? I was VERY VERY VERY afraid of Hell as a child and as a teen and as an adult. I've just now in the last few months gotten beyond my fear of Hell. I find it hard to believe that my childhood fear (starting at age 5) would be out of the ordinary.

freedom

 

 

 

I agree completely. Supposedly knowledgeable adults telling kids almost weekly. Sick practice.

 

 

 

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Yes. I believe it was the primary driving force in my OCD, mainly with the sinner's prayer and "making sure" I understood everything clearly. Rolling in bed, saying "Please forgive me" seemingly hundreds of times... Ugh. Just a year ago, causing me to have the desire to die and just get it over with and be in happy sparkleland with Jesus...

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They didn't teach us hell much when I was a kid. They mostly focused on the fluffy feel good stories like Jesus healing people and walking on the water. They didn't start teaching us hell until middle school but after I realized I was gay, it was my fear of hell that lead me away from the horrors of it all. The idea that God would torture somebody for all eternity was one of the reasons I started to question my former faith and such a god is not a loving god at all worthy of any worship.

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I was bought up in a Christian home from birth and never had a fear of hell because my parents always told me I was going to Heaven. And I gave my heart to Heysusse when I was seven so it was never an issue for me.

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I did fear demon possession after seeing The Exorcist, but I do have good friends who cried themselves to sleep at night over hell when they were little and innocent and sweet. Pisses me off! Anyway, I think it's perfectly normal!

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