[Edited because I first got confused from the answers about for whom should "hell" be a permanent place (I had assumed that the SE answers meant that it was not a permanent place for anyone).]

This is related to this other StackExchange question about who ends in hell according to LDS doctrine.

In this other question, the topmost of two current answers state about hell:

Instead of a place of suffering and torment, it's a temporary prison where they will get a chance to learn about the Truth, and if they are willing, repent and embrace the Truth.

Those who reject it are cast into outer darkness with Satan and his angels, and the "sons of Perdition".

The second answer states that:

While some refer to spirit prison as 'hell' it is not actually referred to as that in any official church teaching. It is as @David said a temporary place where people have a chance to accept the gospel of Christ. See: 1 Peter 3: 18-20

In all actuality no place in LDS teachings is actually called hell. The 'Sons of Perdition' are relegated to outer darkness, after the final judgment (as opposed to right when you die) So after the second coming of Christ.

However the page at lds.org (quoted in the first answer) says that:

Latter-day revelations speak of hell in at least two ways. First, it is another name for spirit prison, a temporary place in the postmortal world for those who died without a knowledge of the truth or those who were disobedient in mortality. Second, it is the permanent location of Satan and his followers and the sons of perdition, who are not redeemed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I am not intending to nitpick on answers, but I probably need some clarification.

On one hand the official lds.org answer refers to hell as a permanent place for Satan, his followers, and the sons of perdition.

On other hand the answers here refer to hell as a temporary place where people can learn about God.

The questions I wanted to ask about this:

  1. Is the hell that is a spirit prison in the lds.org answer, or the place were people learn the truth about God, the same as the hell that is a permanent place for Satan and the sons of perdition?
  2. What is the "outer darkness" referred to in both answers?
  3. Is anyone tortured in hell or in the "outer darkness", by God or because of the will of God, according to LDS beliefs?

Please indicate whether your answer is the official church answer (or if that is what you have been taught in church) or if it is your own interpretation.

  • 1
    The page at lds.org you linked to says: "First, it is another name for spirit prison, a temporary place in the postmortal world for those who died without a knowledge of the truth or those who were disobedient in mortality. Second, it is the permanent location of Satan and his followers and the sons of perdition, who are not redeemed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ." It discusses both. Why do you quote it as only saying the one thing? Both are correct. The term "hell" has two meanings, and is ambiguous alone.
    – Matt
    May 24, 2017 at 21:11
  • Thank you @Matt, my confusion stemmed from that I read the SE answers as meaning that "hell" is not a permanent place for anyone. I have now updated my question.
    – user100487
    May 24, 2017 at 21:29

4 Answers 4


Is the hell that is a spirit prison in the lds.org answer, or the place were people learn the truth about God, the same as the hell that is a permanent place for Satan and the sons of perdition?

No, they're different. Alma 40 says:

6 Now there must needs be a space betwixt the time of death and the time of the resurrection.

7 And now I would inquire what becometh of the souls of men from this time of death to the time appointed for the resurrection?


13 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.

14 Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.

(Alma was not a very concise speaker.)

This refers to a temporary place between death and the resurrection for those who were wicked. (It's confusing that sometimes the terms are used interchangeably, but in the eternal scheme of things, it probably doesn't matter, since the one who is consigned to hell, was always there in the first place (CS Lewis).)

2 . What is the "outer darkness" referred to in both answers?

Those answers refer to a place called "outer darkness" which is permanent.

3 . Is anyone tortured in hell or in the "outer darkness" according to LDS beliefs?

Yes, I think so. The scriptures refer to hell as a state of "weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity" and being led captive by the devil. Sounds pretty torturous to me, anyway. (I should clarify too that Mormon belief sends way fewer people to this hell than "traditional" Christian belief systems.)


To add to Matt's answer, and speaking to question 3,

Is anyone tortured in hell or in the "outer darkness" according to LDS beliefs?

Doctrine & Covenants Section 19 answers this question well. It also speaks about the punishment in hell (the temporary one in Matt's answer) being a punishment that has an end. I would recommend reading verses 1-20. I quote a few verses here to provide an answer.

4 And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless.


15 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.

20 Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit.

So, those who do not repent must suffer. Although I don't have a good reference right now to demonstrate this, as a Mormon I have always been taught that this suffering is suffering for one's own sins (suffering the punishment thereof) and that this suffering occurs in hell. Those who commit the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost (another question for another time) will go on to outer darkness, where their suffering has no end. Those who do not repent but do not commit the unpardonable sin, I have been taught, have their suffering occur in the temporary hell that Alma describes in Matt's answer, which has an end.


In LDS doctrine, multiple things are referred to as Hell, and none of them can be confirmed as permanent. Here is (hopefully) a comprehensive answer:



Spirit Prison - After death, before the resurrection, being in a state of darkness because of wickedness during life. See D&C 138: 20-22
Outer Darkness - Dwelling place of the devil, his angels, and sons of Perdition - those who denied the Holy Spirit after having received it. See D&C 29:36-38
Spiritual Death - The state of being separated from the presence of God. See Alma 42:9

Is Hell Permanent?

Hell (as Spirit Prison) - NO

D&C 76:84-85
84 These are they who are thrust down to hell.
85 These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work.

Hell (as Outer Darkness) - Not Revealed

D&C 76:44-46
44 Wherefore, he saves all except them—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment—
45 And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows;
46 Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof;

Hell (as spiritual death) - NO

2 Nephi 9:12
12 And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.

See also: Bible Dictionary - Hell, D&C 19:4-12

  • Thanks JBaczuk, for your explanation about the differences. One thing that is not clear from the answer is if anyone is tortured in hell or in the "outer darkness"? I do see the quoted passages as implying that that is the case but is that the official interpretation?
    – user100487
    May 29, 2017 at 18:38
  • Yes, in a sense. I'm not sure what exactly you mean by torture, but if you look up D&C 76:36-37 they "shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone" which is interpreted in Revelations 20:10 (and many places in the Book of Mormon) as "torment" and "misery" in 2 Nephi 9:9. It will not be a pleasant experience.
    – JBaczuk
    May 29, 2017 at 19:30

As referenced in 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 (Bible citations KJV)

"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: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:"

Our belief is that everyone on the earth will receive of the glory of God. Some will dwell eternally in Telestial or Terrestrial glory (kingdoms) outside of the presence of God and Jesus Christ, while those who fully accept Christ and receive all that He offers, will live with Them in Celestial glory; Romans 8:17:

"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."

So in a sense of "hell" and "fire & brimstone" it is more a state of mind that an eternal location. The Book of Mormon speaks of this in several passages including Mosiah Chapter 3:

"25 And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls. 26 Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever. 27 And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever. Thus hath the Lord commanded me. Amen."

In essence, torment "is as" a lake of fire and brimstone. For eternity, those who chose the things of the world over Christ and His Atonement and mercy, will have to realize that while they are in a place of His glory, they are not with him and will forever have the realization of what they gave up in eternal relationships.

Outer Darkness is a result of what the scriptures also refer to as the unpardonable sin or denying the Holy Ghost: Matthew 12:

32 "And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."

(Note: this is also an interesting verse as it relates to the nature of the Trinity and the LDS view that the three members of the Godhead are separate, but that is for another discussion).

In 1 Corinthians 12:3 it states, "… no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." If someone has come to know that Christ is the Savior of mankind, that He is the literal Son of God our Heavenly Father, that He is our Creator, that He overcame sin and death, that through Him each of us may also overcome sin and death and live with God forever in His Kingdom and His Glory; this knowledge would have come through a relationship with the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit). If that knowledge and relationship is then rejected, or in other words, that person chooses to reject the Light given them through Christ, they have chosen to dwell in Outer Darkness (or without any Light from Christ). One is not necessarily cast into Outer Darkness, as much as one would choose to be there by deliberately rejecting the light of Christ.

Hell can be described as a separation from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. in this life - those who do not enjoy the knowledge of Christ and the inspiration and comfort the the Holy Spirit - even if they live next door to or work in the cubicles next to someone who does, could be considered to be living in hell (not knowing Christ), after this life, there is an interim space known as the Spirit World where, like here, those who know of Christ will continue to teach those who haven't learned of Him, so that all can have the opportunity to know and be saved through Christ. Then, when all have Learned and chosen, will be the final judgement.

Hell is not a place where we will be tormented or tortured by anyone other then ourselves for our choices and the results (i.e. Why did I smoke all those years when I knew it was bad for me and now I have cancer and won't live to see my children get married or my grandchildren grow up; why was I so selfish and stupid; only on an eternal scale; why didn't I follow Christ and accept of His Grace and now I can't live with Him forever…)

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