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, there is HOPE and there is HELP, in abundance! You matter. You are loved. You have infinite value & worth. Your loss would be devastating. If you are severely depressed and/or suicidal – or you know of someone who is – get help immediately. Talk to someone – anyone. (Click here for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.)
***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 of life – suicide makes its way into scripture.
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. But, before begin judging someone for taking their life, calling them ‘cowardly’, and the like, many end up taking their lives due to debilitating mental illness. In short, they died of a disease no less than a cancer patient. Hence, technically, my son, died of a disease. I address this topic more at length in another blog.
People ask, “What was Jordan thinking?” My response: “He wasn’t thinking!” His brain was broken, causing him to lose all mental connection with logic and reality. I can promise you: had his brain been chemically balanced, ‘firing properly on all cylinders’, he would have never – never – taken his own life.
Clinical Depression is the most common mental illness associated with suicide. (Read more about this topic here.)
19th century, British writer, Richard Burton, once wrote,
“If there is a hell on earth it is to be found in a depressed heart.”
Dr. Dan G. Blazer is Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; Duke University Medical Center. He describes clinical depression as,
Emotionally & psychologically crippling, debilitating, incapacitating. In short, it is painful – a form of suffering.
My son suffered from clinical depression/major depressive disorder.
Are People Who Take Their Own Lives Doomed to Hell?
This is an all-too-common question. Therefore, I will address it at length.
Sadly, many have come to believe the satanic lie that “if a person commits suicide they will go to hell.” This is a 100% man-made, satan-driven lie.
You will find this taught 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.
Make no mistake: 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 be earned by human effort. This lie was based solely on the attempt to scare the common people into giving money to the church. Again, this lie was created by corrupt religious leaders out of thin air to oppress the people, and absolutely nothing to do with what God says in his Word.
Reeves 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 it: the origination of the heresy stating that those who take their own life (murdering of oneself) are bound for eternal condemnation. 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 – that suicide dooms a person to hell – has morphed into the lie we now see infecting public thought. To be clear:
- 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. In other words, if the Cross doesn’t cover all sin, it covers no sin.
Systematic Theology: If murder was the unpardonable sin, Moses, David & Paul would be in Hell
Systematic Theology, the opposite of cherry-picking scripture out of context to make it mean what we want it to mean, is the principle of allowing ‘scripture to interpret scripture.’ So, if God says something in one part of his Word, he will always affirm it everywhere else in his Word. By the way, I’ve not visited with a single person able to biblically support the lie that suicide sends a person to hell.
So, let’s take a quick look, systematically, at the heretical assertion that murder is the unpardonable sin.
To those who choose to continue to ignorantly argue and insist that the sin of murder is unpardonable I submit to you, in addition to the other biblical passages cited in this blog, the following list of men who would also be in hell:
- 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.
Speaking of Systematic Theology, let’s take this one step further: Murder and Its Relationship to Other Sin
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. The Cross was sufficient to cover all sin, not just most.
In the New Testament: When Paul lists sins representative of rebellious mankind he includes not only murder, but a laundry list of other sins including deceit and being disobedient to parents, placing them all on level ground. Want to claim murder is unpardonable? Go ahead. But, have you ever been dishonest? Talked back to your parents? Gossiped? Bragged on yourself? Based on your erroneous view of scripture, you’re doomed.
“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. (emphasis mine)
***In other words, Jesus, himself, said, “murder, in God’s sight, is no different from being angry with someone, and subject to the same judgment as murder.”
As stated and biblically supported repeatedbly, 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.”
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 poisonous altogether out of thin air and then claiming it to be biblical truth.
Heed God’s warning: those who did – and do – spread this heresy place themselves in danger of incurring God’s wrath. Job’s friends lied to Job (rhymes with ‘robe’) about God. That was a bad idea. God said to one of Job’s friends,
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 and completely free from his debilitating depression….and he saw Jesus Christ.
I saw the photo below on social media. As they say, a picture says a thousand words. When we die, regardless of the manner, if we’ve placed our faith in Christ, we will wake up exactly like the thief on the Cross next to Jesus that day, to whom Jesus said, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.” There is no painting – no visual representation – I’ve seen possessing more force for what our loved ones saw when they first opened their eyes after leaving this earth. Because of the Cross and the Empty Tomb, a reunion is coming.
I love you, my son.
I love you, Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick