How to Think About Suicide
by Jon Buck
There have been a few high-profile suicides recently in the news, and particularly Jarrid Wilson, who was the pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside. Wilson took his own life on Monday after a long battle with depression.
While many unbelievers have committed suicide, how should we think about those who profess Christ who commit suicide?
Below are a few things to keep in mind.
Suicide is sin - While the Bible offers several stories about suicide (Saul, Ahithophel as examples), it does not ever speak specifically to the issue itself, unlike other sins like adultery, drunkenness, etc. Nevertheless, the Bible does speak about murder explicitly (Ex. 20:13, Rom. 13:9, etc.), and condemns it as sinful. The issue is the taking of life. This condemnation of murder can be understood to apply to the murder of another, or the murder of self. In this sense, suicide is sin.
Can a true believer commit suicide? - The question is a good one - suicide is the final act of a person who is so in despair that life no longer has meaning or purpose. This point of despair is profound enough to drive that person to a deeply sinful act. However, despair can drive believers into other deeply sinful acts as well! To isolate suicide as an apparently unforgivable sin, or a sin that believers could never perpetrate, is to misunderstand the very nature of the power of remaining sin in a true saint. Paul saw that sin in his flesh and despaired even of life itself. (Rom. 7:25)
Sins can be forgiven - Though suicide is, by its very definition, the last act of the victim, this sin can be forgiven. Just as a believer who dies with anger in his heart is not instantly condemned, so also someone who sins in this way as a true believer will not face condemnation (Rom. 8:1). For one who has truly trusted in the finished work of Christ on their behalf, neither past sins nor future sins hold out fear of condemnation.