In today’s blog, I want to offer a biblical answer to the question of suicide.
As many people have heard by now, Pastor Rick Warren’s son committed suicide recently. You probably already know this; Pastor Warren is the Pastor of Saddleback church in California – one of the largest churches in the nation.
As a result some of the same questions surrounding suicide have resurfaced again, so I thought I would share about suicide from both a personal and a biblical perspective. Personally, I have walked in those shoes. Several years ago, my brother, James, took his life. I have walked a lot of hard roads over the year, but that was by far the hardest. The feelings of pain, grief, failure and helplessness were in a word, “overwhelming.”
As a Pastor, the one thing I should have been able to do was to preach at my brother’s funeral, but for those who went, they know that I did not say a word. Honestly, I could not, and that still hurts to this day. No, not as acutely as it did those few days after he took his own life, but the pain, grief and feelings of failure still linger.
When I hear about Pastor Rick Warren’s son taking his life, or anyone else, my heart goes out to those families, and I pray and ask God for strength and compassion in the days ahead.
Today’s blog focuses on answering biblical questions about suicide. I am going to try and deal with several specific questions about suicide that I believe will help you gain a better understanding about what the Bible does and does not say about the topic of suicide.
Question #1: What does the Bible say about suicide?
The Bible mentions six specific incidences of people who committed suicide. Five are recorded in the Old Testament Book of Judges (Judges 9:5), two in 1 Samuel (1 Samuel 31:4-6), 2 Samuel (2 Samuel 17:23), and one in1 Kings. The lone New Testament reference is that of Judas taking his own life after betraying Jesus in Matthew 27 (Matthew 27:5).
Question #2: Is suicide murder?
The Bible says that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die…” However, the matter of life and death is left in God’s hands. Thus, I believe the Bible views suicide as equal to murder, it just happens to be self-murder.
Question #3: Can a Christian commit suicide and still go to heaven?
Probably the question I get asked most about suicide is “Can a Christian commit suicide and still go to heaven?” This question really stems from the fact that some major religious organizations have taught over the years that if Christians commit suicide, they cannot go to heaven because they no longer have the opportunity to repent or confess their sins.
So is this a correct view? Can a Christian go to heaven even after committing suicide?
Here is the Bible Truth: According to the Bible, the manner in which a person dies does not determine whether a person goes to Heaven or not. If an unsaved person commits suicide it was not the suicide that determines where he or she will spend eternity.
Conversely, if a Christian commits suicide, it is not the suicide that determines whether he or she can go to heaven or not. Where a person spends eternity is determined by one factor and one factor only… “Did that person accept or reject Jesus Christ?”
Here is the Good news:
1) We “all” sin (Romans 3:23), but Jesus died for “all” of our sins (Romans 6:23)…and it is our sin that separates us from God.
2) However, the Bible teaches that at the very moment a person accepts Christ he/she is guaranteed eternal life (John 3:16)…that brings forgiveness of sins.
3) Once we have accepted Christ and have been guaranteed eternal life, nothing can separate us from the Love of God (Romans 8:38-39)…neither things present or things to come…even if that includes suicide.
In conclusion, suicide is a serious sin. It is murder, even though it is “self-murder.” However, because of the grace of God and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for all my sins, even the most grievous sin I can commit is completely and totally forgiven. It is removed as far as the “East is from the West” (Psalm 103:8-12)
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
The most important question to be answered about death or suicide is not the manner in which a person dies, but whether or not that person accepted or rejected Christ while he or she was alive.
I hope this helps, and I am honored and blessed to be your Pastor.
John Mark Caton, Ph.D