A tough question was asked last week in relation to a circumstance that hits incredibly close to the heart and even closer to the soul.
Suicide is seen scattered throughout the annals of history yet the consequences of this self-crime continue to baffle minds. And so what to do within the Christian faith with this quandary? How do we respond to the broken-hearted mom, bewildered spouse, or high school best friend that are confronted with the tragic end to a promising life?
It seems the blanket religious proclamation of eternal damnation seems so harsh, so exclusivistic, so… unloving… so condemning…
… so true?
… so false?
The consistent danger in attempting to produce a blanket statement as an end-all answer to all questions concerning ANY issue is that we are declaring that our personal conviction should become a principle for all. I know, an example is needed:
Luke: 13:14 – “Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
This is a perfect example of taking something that was a personal conviction (healing on the Sabbath) and attempting to make it law.
Are we doing the same when we make a blanket statement about suicide? Suicide is such a tender subject because it draws from us a desire to supersede the consequences yet inflicts upon us reality of our inability to do so. It causes us to confront both our desire for superiority as well as our recognition of our inferiority.
The issue we’re dealing with is death. Without becoming a follower of Christ, the religious belief is that in death, the consequences will be separation from God. This is irrevocable and shows not bias to suicide or any other form of death. Simply stated, death without accepting Christ, will lead to separation from God.
So maybe the deeper question, the one everyone would want to know the answer to, is whether or not a follower of Christ would go to heaven if they took their own life? Does it depend on the motives? Are we as humans even remotely capable of judging motives? Should we even try? Some say suicide is a sin because it violates the sixth commandment. Well it also says in the 8th commandment that you shouldn’t steal. Does that mean all that steal are subject to separation from God as well, without redemption? No one would say yes.
So then we come to the thought of awarding grading levels to sin, so as to say some are worse than others. What to say of James 2:10 as well as 2:13? James proclaims that mercy triumphs over judgement to those who has been merciful!
The final argument is that once suicide occurs the human soul has no chance of recanting or asking for forgiveness. Does that apply to the person who sinned and then got in a car accident and died before they were able to ask forgiveness? Some say no, because it was not their will to die. Does that matter?
And does giving your life for another change the circumstance? Jesus in John 15:13 states that there is no greater love than someone laying down down their life for a friend. So if you throw yourself on a grenade that lands next to your friend to save his life, knowing you’ll lose yours, are you then going to hell? Aren’t you willingly killing yourself?
My conclusion? The secret things belong to the Lord.
Unfortunately, the bible is quiet on this issue. What I DO believe is that a life that is lived according to the desires of God through His world will find such great fulfillment on this earth that leaving it will not be a considered thought. I believe that a life connected to Jesus will desire to LIVE and to see others LIVE and discover the unprecedented love that covers a multitude of sin. We may never know what plans God has for those who have committed suicide. It may be far beyond our comprehension. I do know this. I know God is fair, just, and above all else, love… and I am thankful that I have not the responsibility to condemn anyone to separation from, God, but can have the joy of relying on Jesus, the pure definition of love.
Blanket statement on suicide? Not possible. Rely on the sovereignty of God and find peace in His plans that are far beyond what we could ever understand. Let the secret things belong to the Lord, and let us manage what He has revealed to us.