"Hi Rivka, do you honestly believe that God loves everybody unconditionally?
What about people who are satanists? Paedophiles? Mass murderers? People who hate God and desecrate places of worship?
The world isn't all roses you know. There are people doing things out there so heinous, normal minds like ours wouldn't even begin to fathom.
Do you seriously wana tell me that God loves these people and He's just disappointed at their behaviour?"
Here’s the thing: God’s love for His creations is not conditional. He loves us whether we’re feeding the homeless on Calcutta’s streets, or whether we’re chopping people to pieces with machetes in Rwanda.
BUT – and it’s a huge ‘but’ – God absolutely hates, loathes and despises our evil behavior, and that distinction is crucial.
If a person believes ‘I’m evil, there’s no hope for me, I’m going straight to hell forever and there’s no way around it’ – what possible motivation would they have to try to change or improve? Judaism teaches that God doesn’t want the evil people to just fry and that’s it; He wants them back. He wants them to recognize the evil they’ve done in the world, to feel sorry about it, and to make their level best efforts to start fixing what they broke.
Judaism also teaches that when a ‘sinner’ (for want of a better word) recognizes their wrongdoing and tries to make amends and sincerely returns to having a relationship with God, that brings God indescribable pleasure. Once again: God is compassionate, kind and understanding. He made every single one of us, and He understands what a fight we’re up against to act in an honest, compassionate and moral way.
Every single one of us is going to fall down and make mistakes at some point – that’s the human condition, and we’re all afflicted with it. The question is, what do we do after we fall? If we start to tell ourselves that we’re evil, inhuman, disgusting, the dregs of the earth etc etc – we’re probably going to go on to commit more crimes against humanity that are even more depraved, evil and cruel.
If instead, we tell ourselves that the real us, our souls, is only good and pure and holy, but that it’s in a duel to the death with our materialistic, coarse, selfish, greedy bodies – and that often the body wins – then it’s a completely different picture. (That doesn’t mean the body is innately ‘bad’ btw, it just means the soul should be calling the shots, and not the other way round.)
The first person – the ‘evil’ person – probably completely gives up on themselves and their humanity, and goes on to be a Hitler, or a satanist, or whatever brand of evil speaks to them. And God grieves over the loss of that soul tremendously, because He knows what good they could have achieved in the world, if they hadn’t given up on themselves and gone over to the dark side.
By contrast, the second person recognizes that at their core they are good, and holy, but that they often act and behave in nasty, callous and cruel ways, and that they need to stop making excuses for themselves, get God involved in the process, and start the hard work of working on and overcoming their negative character traits.
Of course, this is not an instant process, and most negative character traits develop because people experience trauma, cruelty and hardship themselves, and develop an emotional ‘tough shell’ to try and cope with it. There’s a lot of layers to peel off, and a lot of hard work to do to get to the root of the problem and cure it. But if someone believes they will find ‘good’ under all those wrappings, they’ll keep digging until they hit it.
If someone believes that all they’ll find is ‘bad’ underneath, then they’ll do everything they can to avoid looking inwards, and facing up to what they are really doing and who they really are – and then any amount of cruelty and evil is possible.
So to sum up: God loves everyone, even very evil people, unconditionally, because the core of every person is their soul, and the soul is only pure, holy and wants ‘good’. Unfortunately, when people cut themselves off from God and from their spiritual dimension, they start believing that they’re only evil, and lose any motivation or hope of changing, and fixing what they broke. In the most severe cases, this can lead to every evil behavior in the world.
God abhors evil acts and behavior, and everyone will have to ‘pay down’ the spiritual debts they create by acting evilly, both in this world (often by way of being reincarnated into a very difficult life or situation), and in the next (where the full shame of what they did hits them – and now they can’t even do anything to try to rectify it) - causing the experience known as ‘hell’.
But for as long as a person is alive, they can still come back to God – regardless of how evilly they acted – and start the process of trying to fix what they broke.