Unleavened Brett

Brett’s Friday Blog Post

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Is suicide forgivable?

Suicide has become one of the top causes of death worldwide. Even more have attempted it, & many more have considered it. If you find yourself being lured into such dark ways of thinking, before I go any further, I want to urge you to stop. Let someone know–a family member, friend, counselor, doctor, or minister. Call 988 or 911 if you have to. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It’s an overreaction to a painful, triggering event or ongoing state of hopelessness. It fixes no problems; it only creates more for those left behind, bringing no relief or comfort to anyone. Given time & a changed perspective, your problem will be solved, dissipate or disappear.

Most of all, turn to God. Christianity is a faith with a solid hope that we can hold onto (Rom. 5:5, Heb. 10:23). Scripture tells us that all who die in any form apart from Christ continue in that miserable & regretful state of separation in the afterlife. But what of those who have trusted Christ for salvation, yet in an awful moment do the unthinkable? It’s heartbreaking to see families of the deceased struggle with this question. We know that murder is a terrible sin, but even that is forgivable. Suicide is self-murder which would make it a sin too. But is it an unforgivable sin since the person didn’t have the opportunity to repent?

The difficulty in answering that question biblically is that it’s not directly addressed in the Bible. Suicide is not called an unforgivable sin. Speaking to those thinking of taking their own lives, I would err on the side of judgment. I would warn that because you don’t know exactly what will happen to you, don’t risk condemnation by committing this horrific act. While God is a loving, forgiving God, don’t take that gamble by presuming upon his grace. But to those who may be grieving over a suicide, I would emphasize God’s grace as sufficient even for this.

I once received an email that read: “Yesterday, a man committed suicide. I am spiritually stricken over this. I was raised to believe that suicide is the ultimate sin against God and a guaranteed ticket to hell. A friend of mine tried to ease my hurt by saying that the man is now with God. I do not believe God forgives suicide because there is no repentance or asking of forgiveness.”

I responded that if a Christian commits suicide, only God knows his/her heart. Contributing factors for suicide can involve mental illness, drunkenness & drug use, intense crisis, or loss. We can envision circumstances where we may not have the opportunity to ask forgiveness for sins because of death (for example, having a hateful argument with someone in the car, & then crashing before repenting). Does that make that particular sin unforgivable? No. We all die with sins not recognized or repented of. Individual sins are not equivalent to apostasy. What’s unforgivable is continuing in sin defiantly, rejecting the sacrifice of Christ. We’re justified by faith & under the umbrella of grace, even when we sin. Nothing, including suicide, separates us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). So I’m convinced there will be some brothers & sisters in Christ in Heaven who having felt trapped or helpless, made a momentary bad decision.

All around us people are grappling with crippling challenges we may know nothing about. But God knows, understands, & cares. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). King David, who wrote that Psalm of encouragement, also wrote many times of his feelings of discouragement. He didn’t hide his feelings–he expressed them openly, yet re-directed his thoughts back to God. “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Ps. 42:11). So it’s OK to not be OK sometimes. You’re not alone. Seek the Lord & seek help from others.

Look to Jesus. He went through great suffering, rejection, abandonment, & betrayal–more than we can understand. He invites: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

We should also note the difference between someone who sacrifices his life for another, & someone who just does away with himself. A person may throw himself on a grenade, not to commit self-murder, but to save others at his own expense. Jesus did that on the cross (John 15:13). He also rose from the dead so that we could have the hope of eternal life. In the words of the old Gaither song we used to sing in church when I was young: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, All fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living just because He lives.”