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
ALSO: 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 nightmare.
This is Part 1 of a two-part blog. Part 2 is linked for you here.
Is Suicide Found in the Bible?
Since the Bible is based on human life in all its rawness and reality – and not some romanticized, dressed-up version – suicide makes its way into scripture.
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. Samson’s account is even more perplexing since God granted Samson’s request to kill himself. We will leave that theological conundrum for another time. (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 have succumbed to the hopelessness that motivated their own self-imposed death.
My son suffered from clinical depression/major depressive disorder.
19th century, British writer, Richard Burton, once wrote,
“If there is a hell on earth it is to be found in a depressed heart.”
Clinical Depression is the most common mental illness associated with suicide. (Read more about this topic here.) Hence, technically, my son, as others suffering from mental illness, died of a disease. I address this topic more at length in another blog.
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. Search for it – it’s not there. 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.
So, Who Started the Lie that Suicide Sends a Person to Hell?
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. This lie was based solely on the attempt to scare the common people into giving money to the church – and not on scripture.
He cites how the corrupt and oppressive medieval Roman Catholic religious leadership preached that murder was the unpardonable sin. Reeves, writing of the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, explains,
Unless Christians died unrepentant of a mortal sin such as murder (in which case they would go to hell) they would have the chance after death to have all their sins slowly purged from them in purgatory before entering heaven, fully cleansed.
So, here we have the origination of the heresy stating that those who take their own life (murdering of oneself) are bound for hell. You will find this teaching nowhere in scripture. (You can read a more thorough biblical response to the idea of Purgatory here.)
Tragically, over the years this unbiblical nonsense has 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 for all sin.
Moses, David & Paul Would be in Hell
To those who choose to continue to ignorantly argue and insist that the sin of murder is unpardonable (NOTE: I’ve not once visited with a single person able to support this school-of-thought scripturally), I submit to you, in addition to the other biblical passages cited in this blog, 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 murderer.
- King David, who authored 73 of the 150 Psalms, was guilty of having Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, murdered.
- Paul (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.” Considering that Paul spent a good deal of his early adult life persecuting Christians, there’s no telling how many executions he encouraged.
- Further, not only does the mindset make no biblical sense – even a cursory reading of the Bible reveals that this lie makes no logical sense:
- In the Old Testament: Surrounding the commandment, “thou shalt not murder”, are “honor your father and mother,” “don’t commit adultery,” “don’t steal,” “don’t lie,” and “don’t covet.” When God gave these commandments to mankind through Moses he never once mentioned that breaking one commandment was worse than the others, much less unforgivable. The breaking of any commandment is, biblically, deserving of death.
Murder and Its Relationship to Other Sin
Murder, although heinous, is not the unpardonable sin.
Clearly, there is no other sin with more devastating earthly consequences than murder. That said, when speaking of a single sin that would keep us from heaven, all sin – not merely murder – applies.
In the New Testament: When Paul list sins representative of rebellious mankind he includes not only murder, but a laundry list of other sins including deceit and being disobedient to parents:
“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,…”
Finally, when Jesus, in another scathing public rebuking of the religious leaders, addressed murder he warned,
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
- ***In other words, Jesus, himself, said, “murder, in God’s sight, is no different with being angry with someone, and subject to the same judgment as murder.”
To be crystal clear, according to Scripture, all sin is equally unpardonable. (not just murder, but gossip, lying, greed, hate, unforgiveness, lust, etc.)
This is why we desperately needed a Savior.
It Is Finished – All Sin if Forgiven in Christ
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.
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.”
To claim human effort – whether it’s how we live, or how we die – has the slightest bearing on determining our eternal destiny – is satanic heresy.
Irresponsible Biblical Scholarship is Dangerous
We are a corrupt lot, we humans. Always having a bent toward misusing and misquoting the Word of God, taking passages out of context and molding them into what we prefer them to mean. Or, as in the case of medieval Catholicism, making up something altogether out of the poisonous thin air and perpetuating it as biblical truth.
John, the disciple and eye-witness of Christ, adds to the clear teaching of scripture,
The Power of God’s Love in the Cross of Christ
God’s love for us is fixed – inexorably unmitigated, based not on anything we’ve done, but on a death-destroying event 20 centuries ago outside of Jerusalem – the crucifixion of His Son, Jesus Christ.
To a grieving Martha, Jesus said
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.
I saw this photo on social media. A picture most certainly says a thousand words.
All Who Have Died in the Christian Faith Are Very Alive
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),
Jordan, my love, a reunion is coming.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick