Suicide and the Bible

NOTE:  On May 13, 2013, my son, Jordan, took his own life.  He was 19.  What follows is one of the blogs I wrote in response to that event.  nw

Two biblical principles come to mind in light of the topic of suicide and what God has to say about it.

FIRST: Is Suicide Found in the Bible?

When I was a young Youth Pastor back in the 80’s, I attended a local seminar on Teen Suicide. I learned there are seven suicides recorded in the Bible. (1) Abimelek – this one is subject to interpretation since Abimelech was already mortally wounded and, as a result, ordered his servant to kill him. Technically, it’s homicide. But, Abimelech ordered it nonetheless. (2) Samson – this one’s tricky since, although Samson’s prayerful request was to kill the Philistines, he would end up taking his own life as well.   (3) King Saul, (4) King Saul’s armor-bearer, (5) Ahithophel, (6) Zimri, and (7) Judas Iscariot.

I heard a wise preacher years ago say,

“Just because the Bible records something doesn’t mean God approves it.”

The Bible is an unedited, unsanitized story of God’s plan to “turn right side up” what mankind “turned upside down” in Eden. As such, there are far more graphic stories throughout Scripture than the suicides cited above.

Biblically, suicide is never approved in Scripture. At its most basic root, suicide is murder – of yourself.

That said, there is no shame, biblically, for those who, due to mental illness, have succumbed to the hopelessness that motivated their own self-imposed death.  My son suffered from clinical depression/major depressive disorder. Clinical Depression is the most common mental illness associated with suicide. Hence, technically, he, as others suffering from mental illness, died of a disease.   I address this topic more at length in another blog.

NOTE: if you suffer from major depression please seek help immediately.  There is help and there is hope.  (See my disclaimer at the end of this blog.)


SECOND: Are People Who Take Their Own Lives Doomed to Hell?

The short answer is an emphatic no.

Here’s the longer answer…

Sadly, many have come to believe the satanic lie that “if a person commits suicide they will go to hell.” This is 100% man-made myth. You will find this nowhere in Scripture. What you will find is the complete opposite. God’s Word speaks with absolute clarity. Paul wrote, 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

In short, what Paul is saying is that nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ – regardless of the manner in which we meet Him face to face “Nothing” means “nothing” – this includes suicide.

According to the Bible, suicide sends no one to hell. 

Rejecting Christ sends a person to hell. 

So, where did the idea come from that says a person who takes their own life is doomed to hell? (good question)

In his outstanding book, The Unquenchable Flame, Michael Reeves writes in detail about the commonly known medieval (and, sadly, modern) unbiblical belief that salvation could/can be earned by human effort.

He cites how the corrupt and oppressive Roman Catholic religious leadership of the day preached that murder was the unpardonable sin.  This idea, based solely on the attempt to scare the common people into giving money to the church – and not on scripture -, over the years morphed into the lie we now see infecting public thought that suicide (murder of oneself) dooms a person to hell.

This is heresy, fully contradicting the gospel.

This erroneous belief completely nullifies the sufficiency of the Cross and the atoning power of Jesus’ shed blood.

To those who choose to continue to argue and insist that the sin of murder is unpardonable (mind you, I’ve not once visited with a single person able to support this school-of-thought scripturally), I remind them, in addition to the other biblical passages cited in this blog, of the following:

Moses, a man who received the 10 Commandments directly from God, and (many scholars believe) authored the first five books of the Bible, was a murdererKing David, who authored 73 of the 150 Psalms, was guilty of having Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, murderedPaul (formerly Saul), author of 13 books in our New Testament, was a direct accomplice to Stephen’s murder.  Luke recorded, “And Saul approved of [Stephen’s] execution.” 

We are a corrupt lot, we humans. But, to quote the same Paul who knew well the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ:

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!…”

According to the Bible, the only “unpardonable sin” in all of Scripture is rejecting faith in Jesus Christ as Savior & Lord. John, the disciple and eye-witness of Christ, adds to the clear teaching of scripture,

 “This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

To be crystal clear,  according to Scripture, all sin is equally unpardonable (not just murder, but gossip, lying, greed, hate, unforgiveness, etc.) This is why we desperately needed a Savior.

There’s a reason Jesus, from the cross, said, “It is finished.”  His mission was fulfilled, dying for all sin – past, present & future.

Either Jesus’s death cleanses us from all sin, or no sin.

This is the Gospel:

Our eternal destiny is based not on what we do, but on what Christ did.

My friends, as author, Philip Yancey, has so beautifully written,

“There’s nothing we can do to make God love us any more; and there’s nothing we can do to make God love us any less.”

God’s love for us is fixed – inexorably  unmitigated, based on a death-destroying event 20 centuries ago outside of Jerusalem – the crucifixion of His Son, Jesus Christ.

To a grieving Martha, Jesus said

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

As a young child, my son, Jordan, professed his faith in Christ. (You can read more about Jordan here.) And when he first opened his eyes after his final breath, according to Holy Scripture, he was in Paradise, finally free from his debilitating depression….and saw Jesus Christ, as is beautifully pictured here:

welcome home

I often tell friends who have lost loved ones, “They are more alive than they’ve ever been.”  For Paul wrote,

“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive…..Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And what that means is that, through Christ, alone, death has been conquered for all who have placed their faith in Him – regardless of the manner in which we die. 

To echo Job (who lost ten children),

“Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

Of note – I address a reader’s very good question about “suicide and the Bible” (a question I didn’t address in this blog) in another post which you can access here.

For Narnia,

Jordan, my love, a reunion is coming.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

NOTE:  If you have been, or are, suicidal, please do not misconstrue my intent here by interpreting this blog as it being ok to take your life since the Bible clearly says, if you’ve professed your faith in Christ, you will go to heaven. Suicide is never the answer to one’s problems.  I know from personal experience the devastation suicide has on a family and friends.  If you are depressed and/or suicidal, get help immediately. Talk to someone – anyone.  Help and hope are available in abundance. (Click here for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.)  The sole purpose of this blog is to give peace to those of us who have been forced to live through this horrific tragedy.

5 thoughts on “Suicide and the Bible

  1. I was given this link to here by a dear young girl in Christ. On 3-10-2008, my child, my son, age 23, took his life. For many years he suffered day and night with bipolar disorder along with horrid mood swings. At the tender age of 11, my son was baptized in Jesus Name and filled with The Holy Spirit. As time went on, the mental illness returned. It grew worse. I was shown in a dream that he would die. I knew he would die. I begged Jesus, I soaked my carpet on my face, to please spare my beloved child. When his dad found him, I had to go to our church, where my oldest son was meeting with our new Pastor. My oldest wanted to return to God!!!! I had to halt the meeting to inform him that his baby brother was found dead. It is now 7 years, not ONE of my christian family helped us. They scattered. Our new Pàstor had told them to steer clear that we wanted privacy! This was untrue. I’ve not given up on God, but this very morning I asked Jesus to pls send me a sign that my child was NOT burning in hell like all of them believe. God has answered my prayer. Perhaps now I can move forward? I trust no one anymore. I am broken beyond words. I’ve searched for seven long years to read what I just have read. I just don’t wanna be tormented anymore. Is that to much to ask? I am so alone and nobody knows for I’ve hidden it so well. You have helped me so much. You may have saved my life! I wanted to die. Now I have HOPE. Thank you.

  2. March 4, 2015 I have lost so many cousins to suicide. Life was so hard for all of them. I have read these scriptures many times. This article makes it so clear. Thank you so much for this clarification.

  3. Pingback: MUSIC NOTES: 3.3.15 | BHBC Music Notes

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