Is it possible to avoid hell by self mutilation?

Jesus repeatedly, clearly and unambiguously directs us towards self mutilation to avoid hell, Jesus does not qualify these words as a parable. if we choose to dismiss these words of Jesus as untrue hyperbolic exaggeration can we also dismiss Jesus claim that hell exists as hyperbolic exaggeration?

Mark 9:47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.

Matthew 5:30 if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Matthew 18:8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into hell.

  • If you only have one remaining eye and it causes you to sin (because it is still directed by the singular brain) it necessarily follows that you should mutilate the remaining eye for the exact same purpose to avoid hell. In other words it is also better to enter heaven blind, lame, maimed and crippled than go to hell. Am I correct in understanding that you interpret these verses as literal truth, Nigel? Feb 28, 2020 at 14:48
  • Nigel, it seems you are advocating biblical self mutilation exactly as Jesus directs providing that you only mutilate a single hand, eye or foot so as to leave one remaining functional hand, eye or foot. Is it the brain that directs the hand, eye or foot towards sin? yes. Is it possible to continue sinning with the remaining hand, eye or foot? yes, is it then possible to perform a limited self mutilation of a single hand, eye or foot and continue to sin with the remaining body parts resulting in eternal torment in hell? yes. Feb 28, 2020 at 15:11
  • Nigel, do you advocate that we follow Jesus true statements? Feb 28, 2020 at 15:16
  • 1
    Like any library, Christianity Stack Exchange offers great information, but does not offer personalized advice, and does not take the place of seeking such advice from your pastor, priest, or other trustworthy counselor.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 28, 2020 at 15:23
  • Nigel, are you now claiming that Jesus directive to self harm is not literal truth and only a hyperbolic exaggeration? It is good to know that hell does not exist and I can keep my remaining eyesight. I am feeling somewhat relieved now, thank you for your discernment. Feb 28, 2020 at 15:24

2 Answers 2


It is clearly a parable. How could one eye be the cause of sin? Or one hand? By actually mutilating oneself for whatever reason in the way Jesus describes, no temptation is removed. Also, since our body is resurrected whole, the whole "it is better to enter the kingdom of god with a member missing than to go to hell with the whole body" is obviously figurative. We enter into both whole body.

He is clearly saying to remove anything from our live that causes us to stumble (tempts us, cause us to sin). That could be people, habits, hobbies, a job, our smartphone, anything that we cherish but which ultimately is not good for us. You know already what that is, and it is not your eye or hand. Like a body part, it could be something that is not in and of itself bad, but bad for you in particular.

Jesus is using drastic words to make clear that there is nothing that is above being sacrificed in order to remove yourself from sin if it tempts you. Using the own body is a good picture because that is what is closest, and most valuable, to us. Calling Jesus words hyperbolic exaggeration doesn't do them justice. This might be the most concise way to get across what he is trying to get across.

Self-mutilation does not save us from sin, Jesus does. Please don't harm yourself. If you think about harming yourself, please get help.

  • It is good to know that Jesus doesn't always tell the truth, I am glad I don't have to loose the other eye too. What bible verses can you offer that support the view that this is a parable, Jesus is usually clear when he's talking in parables. I found this method of detecting when Jesus was caught exaggerating. This article indicates bible verses must be interpreted literally unless the sense implies an impossibility, a contradiction or an absurdity. christiancourier.com/articles/… Feb 28, 2020 at 15:29
  • @MarcusSydney Please apply common sense, and prayer and the Holy Ghost to understand the Scriptures. Stay away from people who claim everything is literal. Also stay away from people who claim everything is a parable. Both is misguided. With regard to Jesus himself, he explicitely explains why he talks in Parables so much. Using metaphors and parables is also not the same as lying.
    – kutschkem
    Feb 28, 2020 at 15:43
  • I can't easily tell when Jesus is making up untrue stories and when he's making a truth claim. How do you go about separating the true verses from the false ones. I tried this method, but then I can dismiss it all as impossible. What method do you use? christiancourier.com/articles/… Feb 28, 2020 at 15:45
  • My common sense tells me that Jesus would talk in plain clear language for the common man without ambiguity instead of opaque riddles and made up stories. Is hell also a made up story parable? I hope you say it is. Thank you for your directions. Feb 28, 2020 at 15:49
  • @MarcusSydney That is a question better suited for local church leaders and missionaries, instead of random internet strangers. But I will leave this here, the history of Joseph Smith. Whether or not you believe what he wrote (I do), the issue he had at a young age wondering who was right, and the solution he found for himself is relevant: churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/pgp/js-h/1?lang=eng TL;DR he decided he needed divine assistance to figure out what is right, and decided to pray. That is, of course, not a full answer, but I am also not attempting one.
    – kutschkem
    Feb 28, 2020 at 16:01

The default position you should adopt when reading the Gospels is that if Jesus says it, it is usually a parable:

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. (Matthew 13:34 NIV)

When reading Scripture, also compare it to other verses for clarification. The Apostle Paul addressed this issue:

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3 NIV)

In place of hardship, some translations use the more literal "deliver up my body to be burned". The idea here (and elsewhere in Paul's writings) is that harsh treatment of the body does not make us holy. It is not the harsh treatment but the urgency, sincerity and commitment to avoiding occasions for sin that Jesus is speaking about.

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