THOUGHTS

Some of my thoughts and musings on faith, life and ministry. All that is posted here are of my own opinions and do not necessarily represent any organisation, church or ministry that I am a part of/affiliated with. 

Does Committing Suicide Send A Christian To Hell?

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Edit: If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, I urge you to talk to someone about it. Contact your pastor, your local church, your family and friends to get the comfort you need. All life is precious, including yours. It does not matter how you are feeling, what you have done or what has happened to you. The fact that you are alive because God wants you here does not change. If you have no one you can turn to and you are in Malaysia, contact the Befrienders who are available 24/7 at 03-79568144 or 03-79568145

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Recently, news of a student who committed suicide at Sunway University College was the talk of the town (as well as Facebook and Twitter). You can read more if it here as well as here. 

Some conversations and comments that ensued from this incident actually made me realised that many people (mostly Christians) equate the act of committing suicide as automatically you being condemned to hell. It made me wonder: where did we get this idea from? 

This is probably more Catholic in thinking, although some protestant and evangelical movements take it on as well. The idea behind it is that it is violating the commandment "You Shall Not Kill" (Exodus 20:13 cf. Deuteronomy 5:17), in this case the victim has killed/murdered him or herself. 

The problem with this kind of application is this: Firstly, is it appropriate to apply it in this manner? Secondly, if I violate any of the other commandments (for example, honour your father and mother or even keeping the Sabbath) up to the point or at the very moment of death, does that automatically mean I am condemned to hell? 

Why is the second one a problem? Just think about it this way: if I did 10 good things but 1 bad thing, does the latter override all of the former? This where our understanding of salvation comes into play: are we saved by good works (or the avoidance of bad deeds) or by grace? 

So my answer to the question posed in the title is NOT NECESSARILY. My explanation below. 

 

1. SUICIDES IN THE BIBLE

There are 6 accounts of suicide in the bible: (1). Abimelech (Judges 9:50-54) (2). Samson (Judges 16:23-31) (3). Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23) (4). Zimri (1 Kings 16:15-20) and of course the most well-known ones are (5). Saul (1 Samuel 31:2-5) as well as (6). Judas (Matthew 27:3-5

As far as I can tell, none of these people are explicitly condemned in the Bible for the act of committing suicide. This does not omit the fact that they were guilty of other sins, but here we are talking strictly in terms of suicide being a sinful act. 

But what about the commandment "you shall not kill" as we discussed above. My response to this is that we have to read the Bible as a whole. We cannot build whole theologies on subjects just based on one scripture. 

 

2. Hell IS ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO REJECT CHRIST

Matthew 10:32-33 (NIV)

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
Hebrews 6:4-6 (NLT)

4 For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— 6 and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.

I think the Bible is very clear on the type of people that actually ends up in hell - those who consciously reject Jesus. That is the bottomline: heaven is not just a gathering place for the holy and righteous, but a place where people who genuinely and sincerely love God are finally reunited with Him. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Back to the Sunway Student mentioned above - I was in fact asked if I could do the funeral. Upon further clarification, I was relieved to know that the family (including the victim) were Christians. Who is to say that the student did not love Jesus or had no real relationship with Him? Suicide, depression and other psychological issues are not straight forward matters that we can just label generally.

There are some that say suicide cannot be forgiven because the person would not have a chance to repent of it. But I would say it is almost impossible for us to repent of ALL our sins up to the point of death - we just do not have the capacity in our fallen nature to recognise and identify every sin present in us. 

What is the difference between a sinner and a sinner save by grace? The former is content to live his life on his own accord while the latter is not perfect and stumbles from time to time, but ultimately he still believes in God and has a heart to want to follow Him.

 

3. NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 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.

I did not get around to do that funeral because of other commitments, but the pastor who eventually did shared this verse with me. Wow! I encourage you to look it up in the Bible and read the 7 verses before it, but it essentially says that if we are in Christ, NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.

No depression, no confusion, no psychological disorder, no ungodly presence, no dark spiritual force, no demonic power can take us out from the palm of His hand. You may be struggling, or someone you loved may have fallen victim but know this: Our God is so much bigger and His love is so much stronger! Turn to Him, and you will not need to fret about this life or the one beyond. 

Nonetheless, suicide is not the answer - if for whatever reason you are feeling the need to end your life, I want you to know that death is not the answer. Do not feel ashamed or guilty to ask for help, there is no weakness in that - choosing life is strength! 

Psalm 34:18-19 (NLT)

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances.