Suicide and salvation

I know this is likely to be a touchy topic.

Soon after the tragic death of Matthew Warren I found a list of ‘helpful links’ which included an article from the ministry of John MacArthur, Grace to You. The article is titled: Can someone who commits suicide be saved? and frankly caused my hackles to rise.

As such it is clearly sinful to commit murder. God has stated unequivocally that murder is sin (Exodus 20:13), very cut and dried – perhaps we can leave the topic there?

There can be many motives for murder, summed up by author John Lescroart as: love, lust, lucre, and loathing. To kill another person is something most of us recoil from as being utterly abhorrent and we struggle to comprehend how someone could do such an act. What then can be the motive for the violence of annihilating self?

Again, there can be many motives: financial troubles, pain/illness, shame, romance problems, substance abuse, mental illness.

All sin can be forgiven in Christ

Suicide is a grave sin equivalent to murder (Exodus 20:1321:23), but it can be forgiven like any other sin. And Scripture says clearly that those redeemed by God have been forgiven for all their sins–past, present, and future (Colossians 2:13-14). Paul says in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

So if a true Christian would commit suicide in a time of extreme weakness, he or she would be received into heaven (Jude 24). But we question the faith of those who take their lives or even consider it seriously – it may well be that they have never been truly saved.

That’s because God’s children are defined repeatedly in Scripture as those who have hope (Acts 24:15Romans 5:2-58:242 Corinthians 1:10, etc.) and purpose in life (Luke 9:23-25Romans 8:28Colossians 1:29). And those who think of committing suicide do so because they have neither hope nor purpose in their lives.

Is considering suicide sin?

The ‘Grace to You’ article claims that a person who repeatedly considers suicide is practicing sin in their heart based on Proverbs 23:7 in the NASB translation. However, in other translations, such as the ESV and NLT, the idea of “as he thinks in his heart, so he is” does not come across so clearly. I do get the point though – a suicidal person is constantly thinking of committing a sinful act of self murder so surely they are wilfully playing with sin.

The issue here is not so much about suicide per se, but a question of whether repeatedly considering any sinful act is a sin in it’s own right (i.e., is the thought of the sin a sinful act?)

Furthermore, one who repeatedly considers suicide is practicing sin in his heart (Proverbs 23:7), and 1 John 3:9 says that “no one who is born of God practices sin.” And finally, suicide is often the ultimate evidence of a heart that rejects the lordship of Jesus Christ, because it is an act where the sinner is taking his life into his own hands completely rather than submitting to God’s will for it. Surely many of those who have taken their lives will hear those horrifying words from the Lord Jesus at the judgment–”I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).

So though it may be possible for a true believer to commit suicide, we believe that is an unusual occurrence. Someone considering suicide should be challenged above all to examine himself to see whether he is in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).


(I am choosing to publish this draft that I started in 2013 as it stands despite it being very incomplete. My rationale is that it maps some of my thinking at the time which I want to keep a record of [14 February 2018])

The ache of love won

It is 5 minute Friday, and this week’s prompt is Ache. I had gotten into the habit of saying “easy peasy” but with this prompt and what is on my heart this 5 minutes could seem very long. Just to reassure folks, what I describe here is from the past, it is not my current state of mind.

Ache

The week didn’t start well and went downhill. Not “steadily downhill”, more like in gut-wrenching plummets. By the end I simply wanted it to end.

Not just work, not just the kids squabbling, not just the cold, wet, gloomy weather – everything.

And I knew how. Few of my waking moments had been devoid of considering how. Lots of possibilities, none nice but then the aching void screamed out for an abrupt end.

With heavier heart than I ever thought possible I kissed them goodnight, prayed for each and committed them into Jesus’ care. Aching with pain and despair I wept over the youngest.

What was I about to do? Would this destroy his life, a life only just begun?

In the end the ache of love won. I am still here.

Stop

Sorry for the rawness, but these things do need to be discussed sometimes.

Respite


The video below was pointed out to me recently by a friend. It is interesting for several reasons:

  • New Zealand has a high suicide rate, particularly in the 15-24 year-old age group.
  • Not discussing the issue compounds the problem.
  • The video both highlights one helpful way to cope with being suicidal and gives insight into how one person thinks about it.

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/society/video/2011/jul/22/suicide-taboo-subject-remains-video

The video runs for 8min, 31 seconds. (If the embedded video is broken, click through to the Guardian website: Suicide remains a taboo subject, something few people are prepared to talk about)

Suicide remains a taboo subject, something few people are prepared to talk about

Mark Casebow’s short film follows Richard, who has attempted to take his own life and spent time at the Maytree Respite Centre, a sanctuary offering a short residential stay for those in crisis. (Mark Casebow guardian.co.uk, Friday 22 July 2011).

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26 ESV)

Live!

The fight continues, but my King has not only ordered me to keep battling, He also fights alongside me.

chaos-inside-300x224

Like devouring black insects they settle on me, these swarms of self-destructive thoughts.
Graphic imaginings. I try to push them away, thrashing around internally, but these thoughts persist. Buzzing at me, biting into me, infecting my heart with poison.

They need competition, so I open and read. Letting the words wash over me – Job of all places – and after five chapters the swarm has been beaten back. The buzzing blackness still threatens, though for now better thoughts have lifted my eyes to God. I realize a life is not mine to dispose of. Misery can be endured.

Later, I read of living the resurrection and the Spirit brings to mind His words: I said to you in your blood, “Live! (Ezekiel 16:6 ESV).

Those words, these thoughts – strangely fitting.

The fight continues, but now I know my King has not only ordered me to keep battling, He also fights alongside me.

There is an element of this life of mine which does need to die – sin. But the killing is not mine to do. Jesus ordains life, my Father willed that I be born (John 1:13) and the Spirit of resurrection is actively giving life to this mortal body (Romans 8:11).

So I am holding fast to the word of life (Philippians 2:16), knowing this is God’s will at so many levels. It is comforting to have this boundary firmly fixed, redirecting me from death to resurrection.

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
(Romans 8:11 ESV)


Photo credit: h.koppdelaney / CC BY-ND