This is a hard issue. Suicide is a deeply saddening topic for many, very uncomfortable for most but a harsh reality for some of us. Some of you reading this may know someone who has committed suicide or have been suicidal yourself. While many people would like to just ignore this, bury their head in the sand and simply feel great sympathy for the ‘weird cousin’ who ended up taking their own life, I don’t think we can do that. Not anymore. For too long, we’ve let suicide be a completely taboo topic and never try to actually deal with it.
According to this study, every 40 seconds someone, somewhere in the world, takes their life. Society is slowly becoming more aware of suicide and how to become more aware of those at risk of committing suicide. And that is good. But we need to do more. This shouldn’t be happening. But what does the Bible say?
I’m going to get back to that, but I’m going to tell you about my two experiences of suicidal ideation (its a fancy word I learned doing psychology, it just means thinking about suicide) so you can have some context into my thoughts of this.
Okay so my first experience was before I was Christian. I saw no meaning or purpose to the world and to life, and was confronted with this wall of believing that it was all ultimately pointless and that human life was one of futility. This is the end result of atheism. I remember seriously pondering if it was worth living in a world devoid of meaning shortly before I ended up getting saved.
My second experience is a bit harder to explain. So for the past few months I’ve been living out Philippians 1:21-24. I know it’s waaaaaaaay better to be with Christ but I also know that God also has His plan for me you know? And His plans are perfect and pure. It’s for this reason, knowing that God has plans for us, work for me to do, that I would say I’m not at risk of suicide.
Now that you’ve got some context, I want to examine the Biblical view of suicide. So, what is suicide? The taking of one’s own life. This brushes against the law in the Ten Commandments that says “You shall not murder” (Ex 20:13, Deut 5:17) and so at that point, we can consider it a sin to take one’s own life. Suicide is not enlisting in the army and dying while serving, nor is it willfully sacrificing yourself (John 15:13), Jesus blesses self-sacrifice by calling it the greatest love one can have. So, are we completely clear? Suicide is the taking of your own life without the motive of loving sacrifice or service.
My view of suicide is one that says, should a Christian end up taking their own life, they will be with God. I’ll explain it all later on in the post. Let’s see what the Bible says about suicide. Disclaimer: I thoroughly loathe taking single verses from the Bible unless its a commandment and I like to use whole passages when discussing Scripture, but in this way, suicide is not really dealt with openly in the Bible so I have to revert to inferring from certain phrases and verses.
Biblical View of Suicide:
So, let’s first start at the human being and our relationship to God. God makes mankind in His image (Gen 1:26-27, 9:5-6) and thus has authority over human life (Job 12:10, Psalm 31:15). This means that God has sovereignty over human life. Anyway. So, because God has made us in His image, how are we meant to view our body and life? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says that our body is not our own and that we have been paid for with a price (namely Christ). Romans 12:1-2 says that we are to worship the Lord with our lives and offer our lives as a “living sacrifice” to God. Keeping that in mind, what does that mean when someone commits suicide? It means a rejection of the gift of life, it means that we have taken poor care of the body God has given to us (we can talk about healthy living at a later date) by killing it and it has a warped view of human suffering. We, believers in Christ, are called to suffer for Him as seen in Romans 5:3-5, 2 Cor 4:17-18, Philippains (see what I did there?) and there is also the promise of persecution for His name (read the book of Acts). Romans 8:17 sums it up beautifully:
Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering in order that we may also share in His glory.
Now, as beautiful as all this is (we’ll return to the topic of suffering later), we must again turn to the act of taking one’s own life. We can see from above that suicide is ungodly and is a sin in the eyes of God. But now I want to deal with the issue of ‘will suicide condemn someone to hell?’ Short answer: no. Long answer: well no. That depends on if the person has accepted Christ into their heart. If they have, their sins are forgiven. Jesus says that all sin can be forgiven (Mark 3:28) and indeed, by His death on a cross, our sins have been forgiven. So, if someone has accepted Christ into their heart and been made anew, their sins are forgiven. If they have not come to Jesus, well…yeah. No. Their lives and their choice to reject God has condemned them. So it is not the act of suicide that will condemn them to an eternity without God but rather their choice to reject him.
Now, I don’t want to spend too long talking about this topic because I have another post about it that will deal with it in more detail, but we need to talk about this. Suffering is real and present in our world. It exists. It’s in our daily lives. And I believe that most people who are in a position where they are seriously contemplating suicide are suffering in the extreme. If you know someone who is at risk of committing suicide or come across someone who is considering it, please be very careful about what you say to them but do talk to them, pray for/with them (if you can and they allow it). If you are reading this and considering it, please let me appeal to you personally: there is joy in life. Purpose. There’s a reason for your pain and suffering. We don’t always know what it is, but God works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Please, don’t harm yourself, find someone to talk to. Here is a link for the suicide hotlines in various countries. If you don’t see yours there, find someone to talk to, such as a police officer, doctor, counsellor or psychologist.
I pray that you all will find some peace or usefulness from this post, I pray that you all will be blessed with a deeper and more intimate relationship with God and also that you have a wonderful week, filled with joy and love and sharing of the Gospel.
Please pray for my home of Cape Town, South Africa. We are currently experiencing a very severe drought and so far have not had much winter rain.
All the best and God bless you all.