Much has been said about suicide. Every culture has its own beliefs, filling every nook and cranny and ranging from honorable to dishonorable. The culture (or sub-culture) I’m most concerned with today is the Christian culture.
Update: This is the part where I tell you I’ve wrote quite a lengthy article but have decided to delete almost all of it and leave few remaining crumbs. The reason being is this meal is far too large for one chef to make it well. It grew and grew and grew and I was feeling like I gained ten pounds just looking at it. So, crumbs then..
The First Crumb
Heres one view: Suicide is self-murder. Murder is evil, and evil is sin, and sin keeps us from God. Ergo, suicide keeps us from God. That’s the over simplified gist of the majority position.
The Second Crumb
Heres another view: Christian suicide is a contradiction. The new creation (a christian) is eternal, finds joy in Christ, is fully satisfied, and therefore “will endure to the end”. Christian suicide is also an unrepentable sin. If one is not alive to repent from the act, then obviously one goes to hell. Because we must not only repent, but be repentant.
The Third Crumb
Those are both reasonable arguments if you know absolutely nothing about Christian doctrine.
The Fourth Crumb
Too harsh? Probably. Anyways, here’s the point that must always be remembered, especially in the case of suicide. The Christian’s suicide is not their final act. Their final act, and all their true acts, are in Christ.
To be “justified” is to be “declared righteous”. This old terminology carries with it a legal connotation. That means these words are a matter of verdict. And God’s verdicts are always final. So when God declares his children justified, righteous, perfect, holy, blameless, and to have eternal life, he isn’t waiting to see how they behave to make sure he means it.
That’s why Paul can say in romans 8:30, to be “called” (that means being born again) is equal to being justified which is equal to being glorified. And glorification happens post resurrection. So what happens at conversion determines what happens in eternity future. And what happens in eternity future depends on what happened in eternity past (your election, which led to your conversion, which led to your justification, and so on). My point is this, you cannot undo the atoning work of Christ, which is eternal past and future, even by murder.
The Fifth Crumb (maybe more like a slice)
You also cannot undo Christ by the work of theft, envy, lust, greed, adultery, strife, gossip, or orgies on the daily. But why would you do those things? And surely you wouldn’t justify them. So obviously I’m not justifying Christian murder. Even self-murder. I’m just putting it in it’s proper place.
“Do not gratify the flesh” when you have been given God’s Holy Spirit. “The desires of the Spirit are opposed to the flesh”, so that you would not walk in the flesh any more. So the obvious conclusion is that a Christian ought never commit suicide (or steal, lie, etc.). It’s wrong and dumb and makes for a very poor witness to God. On the other hand, so does just about everything else we do while living.
Hopefully you’re picking up some of what I’m putting down. There is a tension here. And unfortunately there is tension at the heart of all major Christian doctrine. Sometimes it sounds like I’m kinda talking out of both sides of my mouth. For example, you are saved, but you are also being saved, and will be saved. You are glorified, but also will be glorified. You are holy, therefore you must purify yourself.
Do you see what I’m saying? Tension. Two-sided realities. Now and not yet. This AND that. It aint so simple, Jack. The Christian that commits suicide is not acting in accordance with his new nature, and ought not do it, but that does not mean it invalidates his nature. He shouldn’t do it, and yet can do it. It’s a paradox, not a contradiction.
The point is you don’t get to reverse God’s verdict of you. You aren’t that strong, I assure you (1 Cor 1:25). I don’t go and make God weak and invalidate the newness he created every time I lie. And trust me, I lie. And I don’t sustain God’s strength every time I repent.
The Last Crumb
As always, I’m writing off the cuff and I’m too stubborn to proof-read. So I think I’ve made my point, but one thing that remains is to at least mention the text in Matthew 24:9-13 (and there are other texts that echo this same idea, such as Revelation 3).
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (emphasis mine)
It says the one who endures to the end in the context of not betraying and hating one another, not growing cold in love, and not being led away by false prophets will be saved.
It’s not at all saying those who don’t act in a way that causes death will be saved.
If it were, then the Christian that unintentionally drinks too much and dies from alcohol poisoning is also damned? What about the Christian that drives stupidly and fatal because of their immaturity? Being drunk and being stupid is condemned in scripture. Yet in a way you and I are both stupid drunks every day, even when we don’t drink.
Though I didn’t name it, I just barely touched on the implications of what we call the “federal headship of Christ”, but hopefully you’ll see its point, which is that our mistakes aren’t grand enough to rob a “Christian” of “Christ”. (Summary of the full doctrine: All that Christ has done, you have done. Voila)
The Seriously Last Crumb
I wish I had the mental bandwidth to address numerous other topics such as: Mental disease in the fall, the true nature of volition, human responsibility for actions, the impact of spiritual warfare on the flesh, the nature of joy, the history of Christian suicide, the nature of atonement, etc. Any mindful reader will be aware of the massive amount of material I didn’t mention. But this is enough for now.
PS. I know almost nothing more tragic than the Christian that commits suicide. The utter lunacy of meeting Christ face to face because I just took my life is precisely what keeps me from taking my life. But the point is that the suicidal Christian stands secure in what Christ has done, not uncertain because of what they have done.