5th Commandment: Honour thy father and thy mother

Hypothetically speaking, say my father has sinned, he doesn't believe in God and won't repent on his deathbed. By all of the standards of Christianity, he is going to go to Hell.

If I live my life according to God's word and make it in to Heaven, what happens to my dad? If I am not happy then it cannot be Heaven right?

I could NEVER be happy with the knowledge that my father was in agony for all eternity in hell. In fact, I can honestly say that the knowledge would be so horrific that I would consider it a type of hell. Obviously this cannot be the case.

There are, as I see it, only 3 options: 1) My dad makes it to Heaven with me. This means there is no need to live a life without sin and be a believer. If he is allowed in Heaven then there is really no motivation/reason to live a pious, sin free life. Moreover, my father would have escaped the "justice" some people believe Hell provides. He may even meet his victim in Heaven which I am sure would not be their idea of Heaven. I think we can all agree, this option is not acceptable. 2) When I reach Heaven, I no longer care about my dad. This means my mind has been changed without my consent (as I would never consent to this). I consider this losing my free will, this is not an option. If we lost our free will in heaven, what was the point in having it on Earth? (It is often said to be why there is suffering in the world) 3) I am told he is fine/happy (and I believe it). I'm sure God could tell a convincing lie here but he wouldn't, this isn't an acceptable option in my opinion. It would mean Heaven was a lie and that God was willing to deceive me for eternity.

The problem doesn't have a solution that I can see but obviously there is one. Can somebody let me know God's solution please?

EDIT: I should say I am looking for an answer from a Catholic or Anglican perspective. The reason I think this question is different from "How can I be happy in Heaven knowing loved ones are in Hell?" is that I don't want to presume that my loved ones aren't in Heaven with me or any alternatives that may exist that I haven't thought of (hence asking in the first place).

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    This question is very broad, and is based on what I believe are a number of false premises. As such, I suggest breaking the question down into smaller questions which can be asked individually. For instance "How can a person be happy in Heaven knowing that their loved ones are in hell?" – Flimzy Aug 11 '14 at 11:15
  • This is a general philosophical question and is therefore off-topic. It is also a duplicate. That one is still open, but I just voted to close it too. – fгedsbend Aug 11 '14 at 16:53
  • Hi Flimzy and @fredsbend, I appreciate your comments but I don't specifically want to ask whether you can be happy in Heaven knowing loved ones are in Hell because I'm not certain that is the question given it is only one of the limited possibilities I proffered. I'm sorry if I wasn't clear enough in my question but it is not a duplicate of the one you linked. I also meant this to be a definitively theological question, not a philosophical one. Also Flimzy, if the question is based on false premises then part of the answer would be pointing those out. I want help understanding the reality. – GodHasAnAnswer Aug 11 '14 at 20:30

Can one be happy in Heaven, with loved ones in Hell?


He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4, NIV)

If we would still be weeping in Heaven because our loved ones are in Hell, it won't be Heaven at all. Heaven is a place where there are no more tears, no more sorrows and the past is forgotten.

Peter Kreeft, a prominent theologian says,

We know there is no sadness in Heaven: God "will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Rev. 7:17). I think we will not be sad about the damned for the same reason God is not. According to the Sermon on the Mount, he will say to them, "I never knew you" (Matt. 7:23). God will wipe our memories clean. This is not falsehood or ignorance, but truth, for in a sense, the damned no longer are—that is, they no longer are in the most real place of all, Heaven. They no longer count. They are like ashes, not like wood. They once were fully human, fully alive, real men and women. But hell is a place not of eternal life but of eternal death. We do not love or weep over ashes; we only love or weep over the thing that existed before it was burnt. In Heaven, however, we will not live in the past—we will have no regrets; nor will we live in the future—we will have no fears; but like God, we will live in the eternal present. Our heavenly emotions will be appropriate to present reality, not past reality.

7. If we have emotions in Heaven, why won't we be sad about those we loved who are in hell?

It is indeed sorrowful to know that some of our loved ones whom we fail to bring to Christ will go to Hell. However, this should motivate us to witness Christ to our loved ones and pray sincerely for them.

Many people have wondered how those in heaven could ever be truly happy, especially with the knowledge that unsaved loved ones were in hell. We do not know the full answer, but we do know what the Bible says concerning God’s people: “He [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

We can be sure that with the presence of the Lord, the fellowship of believers, and the wonders of eternity, there will be no sorrow in heaven.

We also know that God is perfectly just, and those who are in heaven will have every confidence that whatever has happened at the final judgment has been totally just and right. The terrible possibility that our loved ones might miss heaven should motivate us to earnestly pray and lovingly witness to them while there is still time in this life for them to experience salvation. (Billy Graham)


You have not specified a denomination from which you wish to receive your answer, so I will give you the LDS answer, being a family centred church, I feel it will give you the most hope.

Families can be eternal, modern revelation has opened the gates of heaven and revealed to us that we can be sealed to those that we love for time and all eternity in this life or in the life hereafter through proxy work. Sealed together, we can live togeather forever in heaven.

Modern revelation has also given us a clearer understanding of heaven and hell. Hell is not a literal fiery place as it is painted by may sects of christianity. Hell is that part of the spirit world inhabited by the wicked awaiting the eventual day of the resurrection. In it, the spirits that dwell there suffer the torments of the dammed, but hell has an end.

The Book of Revelations tells us:

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (Rev 20:13;)

All of God's children born on earth have kept their first estate and will be rewarded with a resurrected body, as well as a place within a kingdom of glory. There are three kingdoms of glory, but only one where the exalted are blessed with eternal progression: the Celestial Kingdom.

40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: (1 Corrinthians 15:40-42)

In the Celestial Kingdom we receive a glory likened unto the glory of the Sun, in the Terrestrial Kingdom, a glory like the light of the Moon, in the third kingdom, the Telestial Kingdom, a glory of the stars. God dwells in the celestial kingdom, there is no end to glory in the celestial kingdom, no limit of joy. In the terrestrial and telestial kindoms, there is a limit to your progression, once you have reached that limit, there is no further progression of joy, and just as a river is stopped, you're soul is eternally damned there. Damnation means you will progress no further.

The telestial kingdom is largely regarded as hell, and is reserved for the most egregious of sinners, the murderers and adulterers, the unrepentant, but it is in fact still a degree of glory, a perfected earth free of pain and suffering, the hell experienced there is the regret of falling short of a greater degree of glory, and being able to experience greater joy. I doubt your father will end up there, those who do not believe in God, or do not accept him or his church, but still live good lives, will dwell in the terrestrial kingdom, which is greater in glory to the telestial as the moon is to a star. The celestial kingdom is where all the followers of Christ will dwell, and it is generally accepted that most of Gods children will return to live with him.

The vision of the kingdoms of heaven is given in Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

For more information on eternal families, click here.

  • Hi Shem, I was raised a Catholic but my beliefs are more in line with Anglicanism as I can't reconcile a belief in the literal transubstantiation (and I'm English, edit: and my father is a staunch atheist obviously). I like your answer as it gives a vision of "hell" that fits more closely with the God I believe in. However, I want to see some more answers before I mark one as accepted. Also, I'd like to see how somebody with the more traditional belief of hell (as imagined by Dante and Milton etc) rationalises my dilemma. Thank you for the time you spent answering! – GodHasAnAnswer Aug 11 '14 at 8:25
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    I have accepted Mawia's answer over this one simply because it is the traditional version of Heaven and Hell subscribed to by my church. I prefer your answer in my heart however and it's yours that I shall choose to believe – GodHasAnAnswer Aug 11 '14 at 22:20
  • Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." It is through the heart that God reveals truth to his children, what you feel in your heart is the Lord's spirit speaking to your spirit. Now take my answer to prayer, and God will speak to your heart through the fruits of the spirit and tell you if it is true. – ShemSeger Aug 12 '14 at 2:06


Our feelings, your feelings, are all valid--but some are corrupted by the flesh. When we die our flesh dies too, along with all the deceitful desires that went with it.*

One deceitful feeling can be to love your parents (or anyone) more than you love God, your savior. You say that you could never be happy knowing that you Father is in Hell. Well, I have some bad news for you:

Luke 14:26-27 ESV “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Jesus doesn't want us to hate our family, he wants our love for him to be so great that our love for our family in comparison is practically hatred. This might be an extremely hard thing to grasp, but God gives us these comforts:

1 Corinthians 2:9 ESV But, as it is written,“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

Colossians 3:1-4 ESV If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

All the more reason for us to give them the good news now while we can.

*Helpful resources: Can there be free will in heaven?

  • Hi LCIII, thanks for this detailed response. I have no doubt what you have here is what is written but it is at odds with how I perceive God and Jesus. It's simply too petty and "human". I believe this shows the fallibility of the authors of the bible. Where God was not clear enough an anthropomorphic interpretation has been made. – GodHasAnAnswer Aug 11 '14 at 22:27

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