Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Christian's View on Suicide

In my previous post, I discussed how we as people can only survive through the pain we face in life if we have the hope of Jesus. As part of the discussion, I asserted that suicide is a choice that only leads to a Christ-less eternity. I was not expecting the firestorm I would get from that assertion. In this post, I will briefly define my position on this issue, but I will also pose some questions that will need to be answered.

My first postulate is that suicide is a choice. Some may argue that it is not that simple. Yet, the concept of suicide is not that complicated. To state that it is a choice is asserting something rather obvious. The only way ending one's own life is not a choice is if a person is forcing someone to do it to themselves, and they can still choose to either concede or fight it. Suicide is a choice because the only one who can initiate it is the person considering it. It doesn't happen spontaneously.

If we bring clinical depression into the picture, it doesn't make any impact on the validity of the previous postulate. Clinical depression is a legitimate disease. People will argue that it is something that can be fixed by simply getting a new outlook on life or just believing in God's providence. They will say that depression is a mindset and that the Christian shouldn't ever have this kind of problem because of the hope they have in Jesus.

This position fails to take into account the fact that our souls and our bodies are inextricably linked while we are on this earth. Mental illness is as real of a problem as cancer or heart disease, and is possibly even more disturbing because of the unique connection to the person's mind that no other disease really has. So depression is not simply a mindset or an attitude; it is a real disease that must be treated with care and sensitivity.

However, even under the circumstance of a person suffering from depression, suicide is still a choice. It may seem like a more reasonable alternative to the hell that the person faces while dealing with the disease, but the choice to end one's life is still a choice.

Now that we have established this as something not relative, let me provide my view on the eternal consequences of suicide. (I do not mean to ruffle feathers, and if you do not want to hear it, do not read on. Just remember that my whole goal is to lead people to committing their lives fully to Jesus.)

I believe that suicide guarantees a person's exclusion from an eternity with Christ. It is a willful act of rebellion against a God who desires that we place everything in His hands and surrender all our desires and our will. It is a final decision to not let Jesus have any more opportunity to be Lord over their lives. Suicide says, "I am going to fix this my way." It is the easy way out.

How can I back this up? This is where I am stuck. You see, I was taught this position by my family and other influential people in my life. It is also reasonable to me. One person has said that there is not one place in the Bible where it says suicide is a one-way ticket to hell. I admit I have never seen a verse about this, and I am one who always desires to base every detail about his theology solely on what the Bible says. I will continue to look into this from a biblical standpoint. I want to get it right.

But let me offer a few reasonable thoughts that corroborate my position:

  1. Suicide goes against the very nature of a relationship with Jesus. Christians are supposed to place their hope and trust in Jesus and refrain from taking matters into their own hands. We submit completely to His leading, especially in the area of dealing with suffering.
  2. Depression is not a sin, but it is certainly an evil tool of Satan aimed to deceive a person from the unchanging truth of God. Seeing it from this point of view, suicide is the desired goal of Satan that takes a person out of eternity with Jesus, which is the desired goal of God.
  3. I can only think of two Bible characters who committed suicide. King Saul fell by his own sword when he couldn't get anybody else to do the deed for him. Judas Iscariot hung himself after he started realizing what he had done, which was initiating the death of the Son of God Himself. The Bible specifically states that the Spirit of God was not in these men, but instead Satan had a foothold. Neither had faith or salvation when they took their own life.
  4. The fact that nothing verbatim is mentioned by any of the New Testament writers about suicide shows me that it is not an option for a Christian. Instead, we are called to "consider it pure joy when we encounter trials." (This is easier said than done, especially for a person suffering from depression. However, God's Word is unchanging and is His truth is not relative.)
But there is one point of argument that has validity: the grace of God. Grace covers all sin for a Christian. What makes suicide, a conscious decision not unlike every single other sin, exempt from this?

And here we are left with still more questions. I hope this discourse has helped you to understand my stance and the reasoning behind it, but I also hope you see that I have not arrived at a hard answer. The way I look at it, a person shouldn't commit suicide regardless of whether it guarantees hell or they can still get to heaven. It's like the question of whether a person can lose their salvation: don't test it!

But again, if suicide is something you are considering, please don't test those waters. Placing your trust in Jesus doesn't mean that everything will be okay. It will someday, but until then we still face the burdens of this life. Just remember: even if you feel hopeless, you don't have to be hopeless. Jesus is the hope that will never fail, the One of promise worth waiting for. He will walk with you through the storm, and will lead you to a place of peace with Him in His time. Leave your date of departure in the hands of a God who fashioned your existence before the beginning of time and has a plan for your life to give you a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11) and to bring glory to God.

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