Skip to comments.Do Those Who Commit Suicide Go to Heaven?
Posted on 04/09/2013 1:22:06 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
"I'm sitting here with a loaded shotgun. I want my family back or I pull the trigger," Al* threatened over the phone. "And don't call the cops. I'll kill them before I let them put me in some institution."
What could I say to this troubled parishioner? His wife and son had left him, he had been demoted at work, and he felt the church was unsupportive of him.
"Well, God loves you and I love you."
"Yah, yah. But if I commit suicide, I'll go to hell! Right?"
Al's question brought up the age-old question: Do Christians who commit suicide go to heaven or hell? In second grade, my Sunday school teacher had hanged herself. "How could someone who led her class in singing 'Happiness is the Lord' be so sad?" I had questioned.
My questions continued into my adult life and ministry as
I talked with survivors of suicide attempts and read actual notes left by those claiming to be Christians who succeeded. For instance, sixteen-year-old Matt left the following note before ending his life with a .22 rifle:
You that heard me preach saw how God changed my life. He can change yours too!! When he does, you better not turn back. Discipline yourselves now!! Draw near to God through Jesus Christ now!!! If you don't . . . you may some day find yourselves hopeless. It's your choice.
GOD FORGIVE ME FOR NEGLECTING YOU AND FOR BECOMING SO COLD!! TAKE CARE OF MICHAEL AND MOM. HAVE MERCY ON MY SOUL. AMEN."
And then a barrage of questions from Genny, a once bright, intelligent Christian women who since heart failure had become mentally impaired-and was well aware of her disability. Genny repeatedly tried to overdose with her heart medication. "Why didn't God just take me when my heart failed? I want to go home to be with Jesus."
I've come to two conclusions as I've dealt with questions of Al, Matt, Genny, and others:
Christians are not exempt from depression and, at times, despondency.
William Cowper, who wrote the popular gospel song "There Is a Fountain" proclaiming Christ's forgiveness and love, repeatedly attempted suicide. Even saints like Moses, Elijah, and Jonah went through periods of extreme depression and, yes, suicidal thoughts (Numbers 11:10-15, 1 Kings 19:1-5, and Jonah 4:9). I half joke that I would have committed suicide during junior high, but I knew if
I did, my parents would kill me. (The first part of that sentence is no joke.)
I believe the Bible is clear that we go to heaven or hell based on our relationship to Jesus Christ.
Yes, suicide raises many spiritual and psychological questions, but one thing is certain:
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it (Ephesians 2:8-9). We obtain heaven only by our belief in Jesus Christ as our Savior. And we go to hell only by our rejection of Jesus Christ as our Savior (Hebrews 6:4-6).
After nearly an hour, Al finally agreed to unload his weapon and meet his wife and son at the local police station. He has since been reconciled with his wife and found a church where he feels more accepted.
While I still fear the midnight calls from those contemplating suicide, I am assured that God dearly loves those who feel so depressed and desperate, and He will judge their actions with His mercy and justice based on their relationship with His Son.
* All names have been changed.
-- James Watkins is the author of 16 books and a public speaker. His website is: http://www.jameswatkins.com/
Suicide: Heaven Or Hell?
by Duke Taber
The topic of suicide is not addressed very often in Christian circles and when it is, it is usually coupled with very emotional responses that are not reasoned out very well. With the tragedy of what has happened to Rick Warren’s family and the inevitable public discussion that will happen because of it, I hope to be a voice of reason and grace in the midst of what is sure to brew controversy.
Let me start off by sharing that I have not been immune to this type of tragedy. At age 18, my father is suspected of committing suicide. It was the early 80’s and AIDS had just started being widespread. He engaged in a lifestyle of drugs and promiscuous sex and so was living a high risk lifestyle. The last picture that I have of him looks exactly like people who came down with full blown AIDS. Because of this my family suspects that when he found out, he took his own life.
The first funeral that I officiated at was of a high school friend who suffered from schizophrenia and ended up taking his life because the voices in his head told him that he was the anti-christ. My friend had accepted Jesus at my church and I truly believe that he was born again. Unfortunately due to the drug use earlier in his life, he had also become mentally ill.
About 10 years ago, my uncle, who pastored a church faithfully for 25 years, took his own life. He had suffered a nervous breakdown and never fully recovered. He was my mentor, friend, and father in the faith. I am confident that he had a personal relationship with Jesus.
Many people will look at these types of situations and have a knee jerk reaction. It will be based on emotion rather than on reason and grace. In my father’s case, I believe he made his choice. I know that he knew the gospel and that God wanted a relationship with him. I don’t believe that he accepted that offer.
With my uncle and my friend, the choice had been made to accept that offer. They were Christians by any definition of the word. So the question is; did their suicide cause them to go to hell? Did they miss heaven? This is a doctrine that is taught in many churches, both Catholic and Protestant.
DO CHRISTIANS WHO COMMIT SUICIDE LOSE THEIR SALVATION?
Without getting into the whole argument on Calvinism Vs. Arminianism I want to address the reasons why some would say that a person who commits suicide can’t get into heaven. The Catholics believe that there are degrees of sins. They are called cardinal and venial sins. For those of us that are not Catholic, that means “sins unto death” and “sins not unto death”. In other words, big sins and little sins. Catholics believe that murder, including self murder, is a sin unto death, meaning that they lose their state of grace and fall under eternal damnation. So in this case, since there is no way for the person to repent and receive grace again, the person loses their salvation. I am not a Catholic theologian so I ask that you that are Catholic forgive me if I did not explain it correctly. I did the best that I could.
For Protestants who operate under a more Arminian theology, they believe that if we have unconfessed sin, that sin is not forgiven and thus someone who commits self murder has sinned and does not have the grace of God extended to that sin, thus they have lost their salvation. Only those with confessed sin are allowed to enter into heaven.
THE RESPONSE OF REASON AND GRACE
The first thing we need to do in order to be reasonable is to ask ourselves the question: Why do people commit suicide? In every situation that I know of, suicide is caused by mental illness. Nobody in their right mind commits suicide. It may be depression, it may be schizophrenia, it may be another mental illness. So since suicide is a result of mental illness, then the question is whether or not God holds illness against a person when deciding whether or not to allow them into heaven? Does He hold it against cancer patients that die of cancer? Or heart disease patients who die of heart attacks? Is that reasonable?
The second thing we need to look at is what was promised to us by God.
John 3:16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Romans 10:9-10 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”
Eph 2:8-9 “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you cant take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”
You see, salvation is not based on how good we are or that we get everything right. If it were, Jesus would never had to die on the cross in the first place and we would still be in the place where none of us would make it to heaven in the first place. Can you honestly from the bottom of your heart say that you have confessed every single sin you have ever done in this life? I have lived too long. I can’t remember the things I did last week, let alone remember sins from 40 years ago!
So when it comes right down to it, if a Christian suffering from mental illness resorts to something that is both sinful and tragic, how does God respond?
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, wont he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one - for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one - for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at Gods right hand, pleading for us. 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christs love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?
36 (As the Scriptures say, For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep. )
37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from Gods love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, 16 neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from Gods love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What about suicide? Can it separate us? I think not. It is tragic, it deeply wounds those that loved the victim, and those that are considering suicide need to get help rather than take a self centered way out hurting all those around them but it will not send a person to hell no more than cancer will send a person to hell.
In the case of Harry Reid’s father I believe he inherited some planet.
It’s not for any mortal man or woman to say yes or no about going to Hell.
But I will say that suicide is the ultimate in cowardice and selfishness. Any right thinking person know this.
But theres the rub....
If I have accepted Jesus as my personal savior, and I have been born again, would I be able to kill myself ?
If I do kill myself, have I really accepted Jesus ?
Otherwise, Paul's epistle to the Romans was all a lie.
Thou Shalt Not Kill.
Paul said “Nothing life nor death nor.... can separate us from the Love of God. For I know whom I have believed and He is able to keep that which I’ve committed.
Although I got to admit. If I was on the phone with someone contemplating suicide, I’m not sure I’d want to give them the warm fuzzy’s about what they are thinking of doing.
If I do kill myself, have I really accepted Jesus ?
Are you saying that suicide is proof that regeneration has not occurred? What about adultery? Drunkeness? Lying? Stealing?
RE: Are you saying that suicide is proof that regeneration has not occurred? What about adultery? Drunkeness? Lying? Stealing?
I’ll add murder to the mix.
Remember King David stealing Uriah’s wife and leaving him to die in the battlefield?
This is an interesting question.. Hmmmm.. Would depend on the REASON for self termination. ‘Severe chronic pain’ I think Jesus would understand.. During the Civil War a soldier returned home only to find his entire family slaughtered. Would Jesus understand him committing suicide? I believe so.. Now, killing yourself because you lost a large sum bet, not so much. THAT would be greed and selfishness that led you astray.
People who are about to commit suicide are usually already suffering a Hell. Perhaps they stay there.
Accepting Christ must acknowledge His lordship of my life. Suicide seems to deny that, doesn’t it?
I had a friend who killed himself, he was afflicted with clinical depression. Another friend told his children, “That wasn’t Jimmy that killed himself. His mind was someone/something else. It wasn’t Jimmy.”
Tough question, for sure.
What about suicide by cop? There’s one that I wonder about.
I agree. We all sin in deed, word, and thought, every day, every hour, every minute, possibly every second.
We would all have to find a very exact perfect moment to die to not be within hours of some sin we may have had.
I don’t buy that last sentence for a second! It is self-murder. We don’t own our lives, God does. Being that murdering yourself is the last act on earth there is not chance for repentance.
Saying otherwise is feel-good bologna. Weep for those around that are family and friends, but the person made their choice.
>>If I have accepted Jesus as my personal savior, and I have been born again, would I be able to kill myself ?
>>If I do kill myself, have I really accepted Jesus ?
That is the right answer to this question. Skeptics like to use the suicide paradox as one of their “proofs” that if God is real, then He is not love. They just don’t understand the question.
Now, the hard part is what do you tell the family of a suicide who want to believe that their loved one is in heaven anyway.
In Catholicism, for a sin to be a sin it requires knowledge that it is a sin and full consent of the will. A mentally ill person may not be in his right mind, and thus may not fully consent. In the end, it is up to God and not for any of us to judge. Some people talk about how selfish suicides are. I know people who have attempted or succeeded at suicide. In one case the person had reached all around to family and friends, but people were busy with their jobs and their kids and just didn’t hear. Who is the selfish one there? Another friend had manic depression and made a split second bad judgment. Who among us has not made a really bad choice in our life? Some people are in so much psychic anguish that hell holds no terror for them, they live in hell every day. Leave it in God’s hands.
No one can take your salvation away. Not even yourself. It is God who guards our salvation, there’s no way He’s going to let a child go once He has him.
What?! You mean they don’t become civil servants in purgatory?
I thought that was all pointed out in specific detail in Beetle-guise!/sarc
I don't know if one would go to hell or not, but if one believes it would, then I am thankful for that belief.
Or falling on a grenade to save others.
Read “Too Bruised to be Touched” by Father Ron Rolheiser
I shared that with many a grieving person who lost a loved one. At least some were grateful and reassured that their loved one was not condemned to hell by God, maybe just by people who take it upon themselves to act on His behalf
“Being that murdering yourself is the last act on earth there is not chance for repentance.”
Being that Christ paid for all that person’s sins, past present and future, he is forgiven already. If he truly entrusted himself to Christ, he will be in glory.
How could anyone actually prove if they do or don’t go to heaven?
What about suicide missions in the military, or being a martyr?
What about the people who jumped from the Twin Towers to avoid burning alive?
BRIDGEKEEPER: Hey, it's against the law to commit suicide around here! CLARENCE: Yeah, it's against the law where I come from, too.
My sincere suggestion is to just keep one's mouth shut. It really is not for us to know or judge.
Is overweight person who has a heart attack from obesity a suicide, and denied heaven? How about the smoker or drinker who dies from the chronic effects -- a suicide, only slowly? What about the chronic worrier, even if he or she is sincerely concerned about his or her grown children, who strokes out from anxiety? What about the person who skipped some work-related duty to leave on time, and is hit by a car and killed on the way home? Did they commit suicide because they consciously shirked their duty, and then were in the wrong place at the wrong time?
And if any of the above are technically suicides, should we comment upon it to the survivors -- "You know, if only they had done what they were supposed to do, they would be able to go to heaven; but as it is...."
I think not.
Not true. You should read the parable of the sower.
Did the Apostle Paul consider suicide???
New International Version (NIV)
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;
I see a situation..that's life threatening for others..and if I intercede..I'm reasonable sure I will die. Is that suicide?
Say...I know, after days on end of warfare...I'm going to die, and my family is going to die or be tortured. Probably cruelly..and they might make me watch. I've given the good fight, I've suffered much..as has my family. And we decide to not give our enemies the satisfaction..not cause us cruel pain and suffering.
You remember that last part of the movie "Last of the Mohican's"? IF that was real....do you think that those characters were going to hell??
Why tell them anything? It’s not like you really KNOW what happens, do you?
Without citing chapter and verse:
Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.
The only unforgivable sin, is sin against the Holy Spirit.
That is “despair “.
Having said that, you can not know the heart and mind of a suicide victim, at that critical moment, and you are NOT in a position to judge.
RE: What about the people who jumped from the Twin Towers to avoid burning alive?
I believe that God takes into account the situation the person is in.
For instance, Lying is a sin. However, if you lie to protect an innocent life, you are not held morally culpable.
15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live. 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, Why have you done this, and let the male children live? 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them. 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.
The bible does not adequately cover suicide. The one clear suicide that I remember being in the bible is that of Judas Iscariot. No judgement was rendered in the book on his suicide as a suicide.
Not really relative.
There are hierarchies of values when sometimes you are pressed into a situation where you have to choose between CONFLICTING absolutes. Such situations are rare, but someone mentioned the case of either jumping fromt he Twin Towers or being consumed by fire.
One ought to do whatever fulfills the highest moral rule in a situation. When this is the case, such action is right, and the person in no way does wrong. Under this view, there are no tragic moral dilemmas. The lesser of two evils is a misnomer, it is argued, because such lesser evil is actually good.
demonstrates that Rahab was “justified” when she lied about the spies. Also, see the midwives at the time of Moses, Peter and John disobeying the Sanhedrin in Acts 4 etc.
So in the Ethical Hierarchy :
1) Persons are more valuable than things
2) Infinite persons are more valuable than finite persons
3) Complete persons are more valuable than incomplete persons(!)
4) Actual persons are more valuable than potential persons
5) Potential persons are more valuable than actual things
6) Many persons are more valuable than a few persons
7) Personal acts which promote personhood are better than those which do not
Women and minorities go in first!
All that said, there ain't no easy answers, and I wish God's mercy and kindness upon those afflicted with depression. Walk into any soup kitchen and volunteer, take a John Doe, but don't put your family through a suicide.
And may God slap me hard for being so presumptuous to type such crap through biter tears.
If I was on the phone with someone contemplating suicide, Im not sure Id want to give them the warm fuzzys about what they are thinking of doing.
...and then we have Rodney Dangerfield, who called Suicide Hotline and they tried to talk him into it...
“What about suicide missions in the military, or being a martyr?”
John 15:13. No greater love. Different situation.
That article you linked, from the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood, explains it excellently. Thanks for posting.
>>Is overweight person who has a heart attack from obesity a suicide, and denied heaven? How about the smoker or drinker who dies from the chronic effects — a suicide, only slowly? What about the chronic worrier, even if he or she is sincerely concerned about his or her grown children, who strokes out from anxiety? What about the person who skipped some work-related duty to leave on time, and is hit by a car and killed on the way home? Did they commit suicide because they consciously shirked their duty, and then were in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Reductio ad absurdum like this is really silly. To compare this to the deliberate act of putting a gun in your mouth, taking an overdose of pills, or hanging yourself displays either a profound ignorance or a feeble attempt to justify suicide.
>>Why tell them anything? Its not like you really KNOW what happens, do you?
So, you don’t try to comfort them at all? Just say “No comment” and walk away?