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SUICIDE

aymon de albatrus

"16 ∂ Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." (1Co 3:16-17)

"You shall not murder." (Exo 20:13)


Suicide is one of those "difficult" topic to deal with, because it is a very emotional issue charged with all sorts of fantasised opinions and also because the Bible does not deal with it in an exhaustive way.

The word "suicide" is not found in the Bible. It comes from the Latin sui-, meaning "of oneself", and -cida, meaning "to kill".

The response to this sensitive subject depends on which of the two soteriological views of salvation one holds: the Arminian view holds that every sin needs to be confessed to be saved, whilst the Reformed view maintains that salvation is a Sovereign act of God and that Christ has atoned on the cross All sins of the elect, e.g. His people. The first view believes that confession of every sin must be made prior to depart from this world to the next, therefore suicide is the most fatal of all sins because the victim cannot repent of, for he is dead. The reformed view believes that we are saved by the grace of God, not by works (Eph 2:8-9) and nothing (not even suicide) can separate a true Christian from the love of God (Rom 8:37-39).

The Bible view equates suicide as equal to murder, sure self-murder but still murder. God is the One who decides when and how a person should die and damaging the body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, by suicide is viewed by God very severely. (1Co 3:16-17) Also we must differentiate between saved and unsaved people. If an unsaved person commits suicide, he has done nothing but "accelerate" his journey to the lake of fire. Moreover, the unbeliever who committed suicide will ultimately be in hell for rejecting salvation through Christ, not because he has committed suicide: "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God stays on him." (Joh 3:36)

The saved person has the Holy Spirit that dwells in him and it is difficult to conceive that the Holy Ghost will permit that sad action. Nevertheless even if a true Christian were to, in a time of spiritual attack and weakness, commit suicide - that would be a sin that Jesus died for. In Rom 8:38 it is stated that no "created thing" can separate a Christian from Godís love, and even a Christian who commits suicide is a "created thing", then not even suicide can separate him from Godís love, for Jesus died for all of our sins, including suicide (if it were possible for a Christian to commit suicide).

There is no circumstance that can justify someone, especially a Christian, taking his own life. Christians are called to live their lives for God, the decision on when to die is Godís and Godís alone. There would be serious doubts about the genuineness of faith of anyone who claimed to be a Christian but committed suicide.

Notwithstanding all this, according to the Bible, suicide is murder, it is always wrong, and suicide is a serious sin against God. No Christian should ever contemplate such evil thing.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, which remains authoritative for the reformed doctrine, follows Augustine in relating one of the Ten Commandments to suicide. The Catechism asserts: "The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbor unjustly, or whatsoever tendeth thereunto."

Of course we cannot experience what passes through the minds of people in severe situations or if the brain was functioning properly and we ought to be slow to condemn people in a rush, for example, did this man actually committed suicide: A 78-year-old man was admitted to a hospital, an examination revealed an erratic heart beat, an enlarged prostate, a bowel obstruction and arthritic joints. When the patient learned that surgery was being planned, he pleaded: "Listen, doctor, I donít want to die with tubes sticking out all over me. I donít want my children to remember their father that way. Iím old and tired and have seen enough of life, believe me. But still I want to be a man, not a vegetable that someone comes and waters every day. You see, the engine is broken down; it is time for the engineer to abandon it." Despite this eloquent request, a tube for feeding was placed down the old manís nose into his stomach. Intravenous injections were made four times a day. Later the man was hooked up to a respirator to increase his oxygen intake. One night he reached over and switched off his respirator. For several hours the hospital staff did not realize what had happened. On the bedside table they found this suicide note: "Death is not the enemy, doctor. Inhumanity is."

Did this man commit suicide by pulling the plug? Or were the doctors taking the place of God?

In the eyes of God suicide has no justification, but so are many other sins, therefore in doubtful cases we just have to leave any judgment in the hands of our Sovereign and loving God (not that we may fancy to be able to do otherwise).

What we must not do is to find justification for suicide as many do in asking: "what about Samson? Did Samson commit suicide?" The truth is, God gave Samson the extraordinary strength to accomplish His purposes in this feat, and Samson gave his life that judgement would be accomplished. His life truly was entirely in the hands of God, and his death was to bring vengeance on the enemies of the Lord. Samson was a chosen vessel used in the "purpose of God" to get this done. Remember, Samson 'asked God' for strength to do this. Not for strength to kill himself, but to take vengeance upon these Philistines for what they had done to the Lord's anointed. In God granting his prayer, Samson would indeed die, but not for hopelessness, despair, faithlessness, sadness, depression or monetary ruin as is the case in suicides. Samson died for the glory of God: "And Samson called to the LORD, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray you, and strengthen me, I pray you, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes." (Jdg 16:28)

In prayer He left his life entirely in the hands of God. In faithfulness and righteousness he prayed to God for miraculous power to bring down judgment on God's enemies declaring, "Let me die with the Philistines." In other words, He knew that in bringing down the bricks upon these Philistines he would die, but the judgement of these ungodly was God's purpose, and thus to him more important than his life. He was asking that his death might be used to bring glory to God in this great judgment of the Philistines.

This act was not suicide and in no way this happening either defends suicide, or proves that Christians can commit suicide. God didn't give him strength to kill himself, but God gave him strength that he would kill more Philistines in his death, than he had in his life (Judges 16:30). Samson's prayers were to glorify God, and Samson is remembered for all time as a hero of faith in Heb 11:32.

A true Christian, by definition, has faith, has trust and has hope in Christ. Nevertheless, "if" (a huge IF) a true Christian should in an instant of weakness decide to drive his car off a cliff, or hang himself, that instant of bad judgment would certainly not keep him out of the Kingdom. Because true salvation means that all of his sins were forgiven, and being faithful to scripture, understanding the sovereignty of God, and the doctrine of eternal security, we can come to no other conclusion. But that is a big "if!" So even though it is theoretically possible for a true Christian to commit suicide and having been saved, God is faithful in His promises and the question must be asked: "what would ever make us think that God would abrogate His care over the elect in time of trial to allow this hopelessness and despair, without solution and resolution?" Certainly there is nothing in Scripture that would lead us to believe that.

Another sad story:

To anyone who is of the opinion that suicide somehow "solves" anything, there is a story of a lovely family. They were a happy, married couple in their late 40's, they had 2 fine children, an expensive new home. Everyone liked them. They even had a large "hobby farm" with a number of horses. They seemed to be a modern-day success.

Then one day, the wife lost her job due to corporate "down sizing." Ignoring all that she still had, one warm, sunny morning she went out and hanged herself in the horse barn. Did her death "solve" anything? No, absolutely not. It only caused more tragedy.

The husband, after grieving for his wife nearly a year, went to the local funeral home to make pre-arrangements for his own funeral - now a commonly accepted practice in many countries. After filling out all of the papers, and then giving a check for full payment to the unsuspecting funeral director, he went outside, took a 12-gauge shotgun out of his car, and killed himself in the funeral home parking lot. Did his death "solve" anything? No, absolutely not. The couple's 2 children, a son and daughter in their mid and early 20's are now left without both of their parents, and with the terrible knowledge of what happened to them. We can only hope and pray that tragic events for that family have now ended.

The taking of one's own life does not "solve" anything. It just creates more misery.

Yes, suicide is a sin, one of the many thousands of kinds of sins that humans commit. But that's why we have a Saviour, so that our sins may be forgiven. Only God is the Judge. Amen

Conclusion:

  • Suicide is definitely a sin, and a sin that the person committing it has no possibility to repent of,

  • The sixth commandment forbids the taking away of our own life, or the life of our neighbour unjustly,

  • If an unsaved person commits suicide, he has done nothing but ďexpediteĒ his journey to Hell for he is condemned already for not accepting Christís salvation,

  • A saved true Christian that commits suicide (if it were possible at all) will still be saved for Christ died on the cross to atone every one of his sins (including suicide) and nothing can separate him from the love that God has bestowed on him,

  • As far as a "must" to confess every one single sin we have committed to be saved, we have the example of the malefactor on the cross next to Jesus, he simply asked Jesus: ďAnd he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingdom.Ē (Luk 23:42)  To which Jesus responded: ďAnd Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.Ē (Luk 23:43) The love of God is greater than any memory, God is more interested in a truly broken heart in front of Him rather than an efficient accountant,

  • Of course, in extreme suicidal cases, such under terrible torture or brain damage, we better not pass judgment but leave everything under the grace of God.


Perspective on Saints that were desirous to leave this valley of tears:

Some times we get very discouraged, and so also for biblical saints but their lives experiences are instructive to us on the issue of suicide. There were times when certain servants of God in biblical times were so severely tested and distressed that they wished for their own death. But these individuals did not take matters into their own hands and kill themselves. Instead, in these cases, God always rescued them. We can learn a lesson here. When we despair, we must turn to God and not commit suicide. God will see us through.

Moses: was in despair because of the complaints of the Israelites whom he was leading. The burden of leadership was too heavy for him to bear. He asked God:"14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. 15 And if you deal thus with me, kill me, I pray you, out of hand, if I have found favor in your sight; and let me not see my wretchedness." (Num 11:14-15)  The Lord understood the burden of Moses and gave him relief by providing seventy elders to help him and the meat that the people desired so much.

Elijah: after a major victory against the Prophets of Baal fled for this life to Beersheba for fear of Jezebel, went into the wilderness, and "prayed that he might die "But he himself went a dayís journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." (1Ki 19:4) But do notice that he did not think of killing himself, but he asked God do take his life. Also God did not take Elijah's life but rather sent an angel to help him to give him strength and comfort.  Such is our great God.

Jonah: God had threatened the destruction of the Nineveh, a city of 120,000 people. But the king and people of the city listened to Jonah, repented of their sins, and fasted. God changed his mind and did not destroy the city. Jonah was so angry at God's display of mercy that he asked God to kill him: "Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech you, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live." (Jon 4:3) (Jon 4:1-11But God understood also Giona and comforted him by teaching him a lesson. 

Paul: certainly went through tough times and had great desire to depart this valley of tears and be with the Lord. Paul contemplated whether it was better to live or die. He was hard pressed to decide between the two: "For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better" (Phi 1:23) (Phi 1:20-26) Nevertheless, Paul did not succumb to breaking God's commandment against murder and commit suicide. He depended on God, and God came through and gave him all the sustenance he needed to make it through his ordeals.  Not only this, but God encouraged him in an exemplary manner: ďAnd he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me.Ē (2Co 12:9)

When in dire despair we must follow Paul's example and depend on God when life throws us a punch. And just as God sustained Paul through his difficulties, so He will sustain us:"8 For we would not, brothers, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life: 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raises the dead: 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;" (2Co 1:8-10)

To be desirous to leave this valley of tears and to be with the Lord, which is far better, is quite normal in time of great difficulties, but as the saints above we must not despair too much to the point of committing suicide for the Lord does not put us in situations that we cannot bear and always provides a way out for He has promised to deliver us, and does deliver. "There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it." (1Co 10:13)