People, in general, have always been fascinated by the concepts of "heaven" and "hell" and religions around the world use them to provide a moral compass to us sinful mortals. "Be good and prosper in Heaven, but if you are bad, be prepared to be tormented in Hell" has been the lesson handed to us by Christianity in particular. Heaven conjures up visions of golden mansions beyond the clouds, along gold-paved and diamond-encrusted streets, and people in long-flowing robes sitting at the feet of Jesus, enjoying eternal salvation. Hell, on the other hand, brings us images of both darkness and burning flames, pots of boiling oil and a grinning, horned devil enjoying his torment of all the sinners doomed to eternal damnation.
Like everyone else, I have always wondered why a loving God would punish sinners forever by sending them to Hell. My understanding is that the idea of Hell has been employed as a deterrent to people, to steer them from their sinful ways. Sometimes, love alone does not do the trick, and a little fear goes a long way in the moral policing of humankind. Though we have implicit faith in a loving God, we tend to stray away from the path of goodness at times, but the fear of the devil and the torment of Hell is sure to keep us on the right track, I guess. It's good for us to exclaim, "What the hell?!?" and keep on living our lives as well as we can, with our eyes trained only on all that is good and fair!