I was reading a passage in Esther which mentioned two guards being “impaled on stakes.” This led me to google impaling – not that I did not know what was, but that, also in Esther, the book mentioned a man being impaled on a stake 50 cubits long, and I wondered how long that was.
My journey led me to reading about impaling itself. I came across a gruesome passage from an eye witness who described something he saw. I reproduce it below.
They lay the malefactor upon his belly, with his hands tied behind his back, then they slit up his fundament with a razor, and throw into it a handful of paste that they have in readiness, which immediately stops the blood. After that, they thrust up into his body a very long stake as big as a mans arm, sharp at the point and tapered, which they grease a little before; when they have driven it in with a mallet, till it come out at his breast, or at his head or shoulders, they lift him up, and plant this stake very streight in the ground, upon which they leave him so exposed for a day. One day I saw a man upon the pale, who was sentenced to continue so for three hours alive and that he might not die too soon, the stake was not thrust up far enough to come out at any part of his body, and they also put a stay or rest upon the pale, to hinder the weight of his body from making him sink down upon it, or the point of it from piercing him through, which would have presently killed him: In this manner he was left for some hours, (during which time he spoke) and turning from one side to another, prayed those that passed by to kill him, making a thousand wry mouths and faces, because of the pain he suffered when he stirred himself, but after dinner, the Basha sent one to dispatch him; which was easily done, by making the point of the stake come out at his breast, and then he was left till next morning, when he was taken down, because he stunk horridly.
I do not understand how something so horrible could exist. The pain involved must be unimaginable. I get a paper cut – the tiniest incision – and gasp in shock. It lasts a mere moment, but the pain itself draws that moment out in the mind to make it feel longer.
I ask, how can one imagine being impaled – having a spiked rod literally hammered with a mallet up your rectum until it comes out randomly at some point in your upper body (it was not always easy to make it come out “cleanly” where they wanted)?
How is that fathomable? How possible? Who can possibly imagine it happening to a thinking feeling human being? And yet it did.
Furthermore, who can imagine it happening to a loved one? Who can imagine their spouse, their friend, their parent, their child, being sat upon a spike, nakedly with their genitals exposed, moaning and begging for death, with the tip protruding from their chest, for days?
The whole thought nearly paralyses me. It makes me wonder how the world could be ruled by a God who is love essential. It seems that to even make such a thing possible is just too terrible a thing. For if it is possible, the Creator must already be saying in his mind “it is tolerable for such a thing to happen to my creature.”
Even if it doesn’t occur, the Creator has still said it could occur – that such a universe is something he could possibly allow to go through. So in a sense, in creating a world where such suffering is possible, he has already seen and ok’d the suffering of each person that could suffer – that is, each person he had made.
If the possibility is not tolerable to God, then where did it come from? All possibilities regarding creatures were created by him. Therefore he must, somehow, find such a possibility tolerable – that is, it is something he really could create.
“But God may have reasons for allowing such a horrible thing, which, in the end, will pass away. As terrible as it is, the pain will eventually end.”
But have you forgotten about the doctrine of Hell?
Being nakedly impaled on a spike for 3 days is unthinkably terrible. It nauseates me and nearly extinguishes in my mind any possible worldview of hope. But it is nothing compared to an eternity of even more intense suffering.
How can one endure the thought that the universe is such that it is possible for your loved ones to be set up on spikes for eternity, for you to gaze at forever? I cannot bear it!
If a man in this world will moan and beg to be taken out of existence, will not the damned in Hell? If a human being in this life’s body becomes mutilated by the torture described above, and if it is shamed by being nakedly displayed, will not the damned in Hell be unspeakably shamed and more mutilated? And how could our heavenly bliss be constituted by the vision or knowledge of such gruesome and violent facts?
Who could bear to look upon such a scene in this life, and not be moved with the slightest amount of pity? Who could look upon a person being impaled and not think for a moment “that poor soul”? And yet, somehow, the saved in heaven will look upon the damned – who will be suffering unimaginably more, in much more horrid fashion – and be “satiated with joy.”
Is it even morally right for someone to be disturbed by the idea of Hell? To wish it did not exist, is that not to wish that the divine justice is not carried out? Is it not to have your will opposed to the revealed will of God, which plainly does will that some shall be punished eternally? Can one say with a clear conscience “I wish there were no Hell” if he believes the prophecy of Christ – which cannot be wrong – that “some shall go away into everlasting punishment”?
Does not Christ’s prophecy, and do not the Scriptures, tell us the revealed will of God which we, as his followers, must submit to, or else be in rebellion against?
I do not know how to process the possibility of Hell. Presumably, the saved will be so filled with God that they will see all things through the light that he is flooding into them. Therefore if he wills that they be pleased at the punishment of the damned, they will and must be. If God is the source of all human happiness – if he has created the very phenomenon of “happy created human soul” in the first place – I see no problem with the logic. I just have a hard time matching the reality of the next world up with what I feel about the current one.
Then I read of someone like Vlad III, who had around him a “forest” of 20,000 impaled and rotted corpses, who would feed children to their mothers, cut the breasts off of the mothers and feed to the husbands, and them impale all parties. Or I read about being being skinned alive, or nailed to crosses, or roasted in boiling water, or raped and then genitally mutilated.
Such things are so incredibly horrible! To know that the world is such a place where they can happen! I am caught between feelings of deep pity for the sufferers, and righteous hatred at their perpetrators. I am also filled with deep fear of the possible pain that could await me at some point. To know that my body and soul are such to be capable of such horrible feelings frightens me to nearly madness. Or to know that my loved ones may fall to such a fate, brings tears of helplessness to my eyes.
Finally, I am perplexed at how a good and loving God could even think up a world where such things could be. Their could be, after all, must still find its root in He who made all things.
How would Jesus Christ respond to the questions laid out in this post, I wonder?