I remember the precise moment I stopped believing in hell.
Over a decade ago I was at a Christmas dinner party in the home of a gay couple. From the outside it looked like any holiday gathering: a warm, beautifully decorated room filled with people laughing and telling stories in the glow of the tree, while the silky voice of Johnny Mathis wafted through the air along with the heavenly smells from a well-used kitchen.
Most of the guests that night happened to identify as LGBTQ, which hadn’t really occurred to me, until as I smiled and surveyed the room a sickening thought rudely interrupted: “Many Christians believe that these beautiful people are all going to hell. For no other reason than their sexual orientation, every one of them are doomed to spend eternity beyond this life in perpetual torment at the hands of a God who apparently made and loves them.” And as a Christian and a pastor, I was supposed to believe and preach this too. It simply no longer rang true for me. I couldn’t reconcile this with the character of a loving Creator.