Christian Suicide

April 5, 2011 at 10:02 am | Posted in It's All About God, Questions for Pastor Glenn, Security and Assurance | 4 Comments

To my readers: I would encourage you to also read the comments section of this post.  Some friends with greater understanding than mine have written some wise words about this topic. –Pastor Glenn

I received the following e-mail from an unnamed source whose address began with Q, so I will simply call the person Q.  Pray for Q if you feel so led.  Maybe some others need this information as well.

Pastor Glenn,

I was wondering if you could tell me what the Bible says about a Christian taking his own life?  Would that person go to heaven or go to hell?  I was wondering if you could back it up with scripture?  I’ve contemplated this for long time and have come to no conclusion. I really need to know. Please help.

Thank you for your time!

Dear Q,

The Bible doesn’t say much about suicide directly, although much of what the Bible says impacts our understanding of that topic.  But your asking about it makes me wonder why.  I can understand that you might be in great physical or emotional pain, and I feel for you.  But God in his grace can help you deal with life and come out of your darkness.

With that said, I can only imagine four reasons why someone would ponder such a decision.  The first reason would be that you don’t know Jesus.  In other words you may not be a Christian in the Biblical sense of the word.  When someone trusts in Jesus, the Bible assures us that God’s Spirit comes into that person’s life and gives them a reason to live.  The manifestation of the Spirit in one’s life is joy and peace.  Maybe you aren’t trusting Jesus but are trusting in your religion, or your good works, or in your friends or family’s faith.  True salvation means turning our backs on everything we would seek life in and trusting totally in Jesus.

Second, you might ponder that decision because, though you have trusted Jesus, you haven’t learned what He means in your life.  He really does give abundance and meaning, but such meaning is for his glory and not our own.  Life really is all about God and not about us.  Suicide is the ultimate selfishness.  It looks at life from one’s own perspective regardless of God’s view and the feelings of others.  Take time to read the NT passages about who we are “in Christ,”  and spend a lot of time in the Psalms.  The authors of the Psalms are brutally honest about struggles and darkness in their lives, yet they always come back to God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.  Please read the first 50 Psalms numerous times in the next few months, even if you don’t think this is the reason for your question.

Third, you might ponder suicide because you have been oppressed by the demonic.  If this is the case, you need to get help from someone who knows God’s Word and has dealt with these situations before.

The only other reason I can think of giving rise to such ponderings is an imbalance in your own system that requires medical attention.  Though I tend to think the professional counseling community overemphasizes this, it is still a real possibility.  This too requires some professional help.

If you are a Christian, as you say you are, then God has a great plan for your life.  Your life is much more than the problems you face.  You have the amazing opportunity to be apart of something so much bigger, an opportunity to impact those around you for all eternity.  Focus on God and his plan rather than your self and your struggles.

Whatever may be happening, and whatever the reason, get some help.  Those who truly know Jesus will welcome you with grace rather than condemnation and will help you discover God’s purpose in your life.

In the grip of His grace,

Pastor Glenn

For another perspective on this matter, please check out my article called, Life Can Be Empty.

Advertisements

4 Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. Having dealt with a suicide in my family – my brother 20 years ago – and the threat of suicide from someone close to me today, I think that the situation is more complicated than you outline.

    Given that we are complex creatures, I venture that those who contemplate or commit suicide are bothered by a complex of internal and external factors. Some factors are emotional (deep emotional pain that affects the person), spiritual (including rebellion, sin, demonic), and medical (imbalances, pain, voices in one’s head). Treatment then should involve all these different areas. A failure to address any of them leaves an area of weakness that may result in that person taking his own life.

    From some of what I’ve read by those who’ve committed suicide, they are consumed by a deep pain that they can’t get away from and they believe that death is the only relief. This may be selfish and sinful, or they may have benefited from better treatment. Nevertheless, I don’t understand such a pain that would drive someone to abandon his young children that he loved and torch himself. I don’t understand hearing voices that constantly tell someone that they would be better off dead. And until I understand those situations, I’m reluctant to neatly categorize someone into your four categories. I think it’s more complex.

    I’m also not sure that we can say that God has a great plan for our lives if we define it in our terms as is often done. Many of those whom God has used throughout history were depressed (Luther, Spurgeon), persecuted, or ill during their lives. Not what we might call a great plan. But God used them through and often because of these factors. That’s the great thing about God’s grace. In spite of my sin, selfishness, pain, short-sightedness, he will use me for his glory and to further his kingdom. But he may do it through depression, illness, or even suicide. (Please don’t think that I’m excusing suicide or saying that it’s OK. It’s not. I just think that your thinking may be too simplistic.)

    I would recommend the following blog for someone who knows even more intimately about depression and suicide than I do. http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/category/depression/

  2. Having lost my brother to suicide in 1998 and not knowing what to do with my faith thereafter- I’d like to weigh in on this. When I went through this, I was shocked to see there was virtually no commentary on suicide in Christian literature, so I set out to write my own, titling it “What do I do with my faith now?” How could a God of love, allow my baby brother do such a horrific thing? He wasn’t a Christian, so my faith says he’s in Hell. It tortured me to the core. I didn’t get very far in my venture, it simply hurt too much- but I’ve had years to think it over and it all comes down to hope.

    I don’t believe there to be a “Christian Suicide”. Because we as Christians, have one thing- HOPE. There is always hope, even in the smallest of things. Things we think surely, we’ll never live through, we do. There are ALWAYS new mercies around the bend without even looking for them. Not discounting that we do not share the same human emotions as the rest of mankind- from despair to peace- sometimes for me, I think I have it worse! However, we have above all else, hope in a God that does not give to us more than we are able. If we have more on our plate than we think we can handle, perhaps we’re not letting God determine the portion size. I struggle with this every day.

    While that’s all broad spectrum and fluffy, the truth is despair is real. Thus, our duty as Christians is to “hope plant”. I would give anything to go back to that devastating day that my brother pulled the trigger, and plant a little hope in his life. He was without any: No relationship with God and embarrassed by a divorce that his brilliant mind could not fathom. Ironically, God had pressed upon my heart to do some planting the day before in the form of money to feed his babies with, and out of my own fear of rejection, I did not obey. While it’s not my fault that he’s gone, I do believe I could have made a difference and perhaps he’d be here today, aging with the rest of us and watching his children grow. As the holders of hope, we have a responsibility to share it. As believers in hope, we have the duty not to doubt in it. Thus, right or wrong in my thinking, I believe a Christian genuinely walking with God, would not commit suicide. The desire to do so is merely a symptom of a bigger issue. I don’t mean that to sound judgmental, as in “Well, if they committed suicide, they must not have been a Christian.” It’s implied, but not necessarily so. Rather, we have an obligation to prevent it.

    I believe this verse sums it up, that we are to be steadfast in despair:

    “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” ~James 1:2-6

    Patience in our “fix it now!” culture is tough, but it’s after patience we look back and know the worth of our trials. I believe that verse also touches on how unfavorable it is to doubt. The world tells us, It has to get worse for it to get better, you have to hit rock bottom to find your way up. True, but the bible says it better:

    “For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word” ~Isaiah 66:2

    Be willing to be broken, it’s the weak who are strong in our faith; have faith in hope, that is, God.

    My Mom, while raising me as a teen, told me that to commit suicide is to murder oneself, and the bible says, “thou shall not murder”, and thus, you’re hell bound. Of course, there’s a whole lot more theology beyond that to argue that basic theory, but in essence, she’s right. God is perfect. He doesn’t make mistakes. He opens and closes the womb, he knows the number of hairs on our head. Thus, as Bill Cosby said years ago, “I brought you into this world, I’ll take you out!” Suicide is “playing God” over something that’s His to decide.

    So to you, “Q” I would say, the answer isn’t black or white, but the gray area screams it’s not God’s will. If we have to view it past tense, where they went is not going to bring a lot of comfort, necessarily~ but to learn from it to share with others, that can bring peace. As a Christian contemplating if this is so, the Spirit in you knows better. You have hope, you need to re-evaluate your faith in it, your definition of it. Hope is an absolute to the Christian. To say you believe in God, is to say you believe in hope.

    “Joy is not the absence of suffering, but the presence of God.” ~Janet Erskin Stewart [aka hope!]

    I’ve always said that the purpose of Satan is to be God’s cattle dog: When you think about it, he’s out there rounding up the hurting. What an idiot he is. I picture him out there chasing us down, gnashing at our feet, barking at our faith with great effort. If you’re hurting, see it for what it is- Satan, unbeknowingly driving you into the arms of the God who knew the hairs on your head by no accident.

    There’s comfort in hope, that’s the beauty of it. I hope my brother is in heaven, and that is answer enough for my question.

    *Officially stepping off my soap box and returning to housework!*

    romerobunch@comcast.net

  3. Thanks Stephen and Michelle for your insightful comments. I appreciate your experiences and thoughts in this area, which are vastly superior to mine. I am clearly out of my expertise and comfort with this question.
    Stephen, I would agree that the issues are much more complicated than I have listed here. I was trying to be simplistic because I have nothing to go on; I don’t know who Q is and have no knowledge of Q’s situation. Like you, I don’t understand any of the things you describe. I wanted to point out the only things I can imagine which might be causes. Certainly many of these factors, and many more I can’t imagine, can all play into this matter.
    Michelle, thanks for your reminder of hope. I can only hope that Q will read these comments, take hope in them, and seek better counsel than I have to offer.
    Pastor Glenn

  4. Dear Q,
    Here are some thoughts I’ve had since my last correspondence with you. Again, I am not in any way an expert on this matter. I can only pray that these thoughts might help you.
    I have prayed that you will not lose heart. I have run across that phrase a few times in my reading recently, and thought of you each time. I looked up some passages with that idea and want to share them with you. “We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:14-18) “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:2-3) “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6:9)
    God created us for his glory. As a sovereign God, he can do with his creation as he sees fit. Though that may sound scary, we know that he is good and he is loving. And, since we were created for God’s glory, what glorifies him in us is also the thing that’s best for us – the thing that fills our purpose for being created – even if we can’t see it that way now. That means taking one’s own life is defeating the very purpose for which we were created. I pray you can grasp, even embrace, the supremacy of God’s glory in all things, even in your life, as miserable as it may seem to you now. God has a great purpose for you.
    Finally, I read this prayer in my devotions last week and offered it back to God for you. “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
    Blessings, Pastor Glenn


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: