I received an email years ago:
“Yesterday, a man committed suicide. I am spiritually stricken over this. I did not witness it, but its effect is as strong as if I had. I was raised to believe that suicide is the ultimate sin against God & a guaranteed ticket to hell. A friend of mine tried to ease my hurt by saying that the man is now with God. I don’t believe this…. She stated that God forgives all and everything. I do not believe God forgives suicide because there is no repentance or asking for forgiveness.”
Some say that suicide is the unforgivable sin because once you commit it, it’s too late to ask for forgiveness. Theologian Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th century, wrote that it was the worst sin of all because you could not repent. But is that true? Scripture doesn’t say that. Suicide has become one of the top causes of death worldwide. Many people, from teens to the elderly, have committed suicide…even more have attempted it, & many many more have considered it (especially during the pandemic). Chances are you’ve had to deal with it yourself or know someone who has.
People sometimes commit suicide when they’re in pain & hopeless despair. Even seemingly happy people can be struggling with secret burdens of depression we don’t know anything about. It’s been said that suicide sadly becomes a permanent solution to a short-term problem. Motives can be very complex & difficult to comprehend. Yet, if a person is planning suicide, & for example, overdoses but then realizes he made a mistake & repents, yet still dies, does he go to heaven or hell?
The Bible tells of six self-killings: Judas Iscariot who hanged himself; King Saul who fell on his sword rather than be captured by the Philistines; Samson when he took revenge on Israel’s enemies by pushing against the pillars of their temple and shouting, “Let me die with the Philistines!”; as well as 3 other minor Old Testament figures. What does the Bible say about these specifically? Nothing. You can’t turn to a passage that says, “You shall not take your own life.” But suicide is self-murder, & God does prohibit murder. Murder is not an unforgivable sin. There are murderers in the Bible who repented…the only difference with self-murder is there is no opportunity to repent.
What enables us to go to heaven is our trust in Christ for salvation who offers forgiveness. So outside of Christ, there is no forgiveness. But it’s conceivable that a Christian could be so impacted by such severe mental trauma or emotional stress that he or she temporarily succumbs to self-destruction.
If a Christian commits suicide, only God knows that person’s heart. We can envision circumstances where we may not have the opportunity to ask forgiveness for sins because of death. For example, a couple may have a mean-spirited argument in the car, & then crash before repenting. Does that make that particular sin unforgivable? I don’t believe so because, certainly, we all die with sins we’ve failed to recognize & therefore repent of. God’s grace extends to all our sins when we put our trust in Christ. The difference would be in defiantly persisting in sinful behavior that we refuse to repent of.
If I were speaking to someone considering suicide, my emphasis would be on the possibility of going to hell so as to prevent him from doing it. To those who are grieving from a suicide, my emphasis would be on God’s grace. A Christian perspective on suicide begins with an affirmation of faith that nothing separates us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). Because of Christ’s death and resurrection for us, we can entrust such a troubled believer to God’s mercy. Human beings can put up with almost anything as long as they have hope. If hope dies, oblivion doesn’t look so bad. Remember that with Christ, no situation is hopeless.
Years ago one Sunday, a man came to our church. He had been going through hard times: losing his business, family falling apart, addiction, anger, etc. One of our members who knew him began to explain how Jesus had changed his own life. A few weeks later he showed up again sitting in the back of the auditorium. That same church member approached him again. The man said he was doing worse and was considering suicide. He pulled out a bullet from his pocket. But the message in church that day dealt with death and suicide. He said that it was like God was talking to him. The man then handed over the bullet. I still have that bullet–it’s in the photo with this post.
God may be speaking to you right now through these words. He has a purpose for your life. If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, reach out to someone for help. Seek the Lord & hold on to the promises of His Word. Please visit OnlyGodCanHelp.com. Hand over your bullet too.