Six months ago, I thought of writing on what the Bible says about Christians who commit suicide. I had heard stories of Christians who committed suicide because of sexuality problems, adultery, and many other moral issues. The stories were heartbreaking but too distant to elicit an emotion in me – I was detached from the pain and the horror of losing a loved one to suicide.
I am glad I didn’t write the article.
You probably can tell I wanted to write about a faceless, nameless and unknown Christian who commits suicide. And the article was going to be an open exhibit of how much I knew about what the Bible says about suicide. It was about me. Not the men, women, and children who lost a father, a brother and a friend to suicide.
But as I am writing, there is a sharp pain in my heart. My head is spinning around like a broken Ferris wheel in an abandoned amusement park. An avalanche of questions is hammering my peanut brain, and I can’t take it. I can feel my body crumbling inside me with each thought and memory.
My question, what happens to Christians who commit suicide was naive and childish. I do not just know it; I can feel it. And the question what does the Bible say about Christians who commit suicide is self-righteous and arrogant.
No amount of rationalization, biblicism or self-righteousness can heal.
Suicide doesn’t only take away unceremoniously those we love. It leaves behind ten thousand questions that will never be answered in this lifetime. And it hurts and leaves a wound on the hearts of the bereaved – a wound no amount of rationalization, biblicism or self-righteousness can heal.
My heart is wounded.
What do you do when a friend commits suicide?
I rarely read the news these days; it’s negative, depressing, and often fake. However, recently,I saw a headline that caught my attention:Gospel musician kills self on video after fight with girlfriend. I was angry. And I was pissed.
What kind of gospel musician does this dumb thing? Was this girl really worth dying for? This guy was probably a foolish, self-centered and attention-seeking moron. And he called himself a Christian? What’s wrong with these gospel musicians?
I was angry because I believed his actions brings the kingdom of God into disrepute. I was angry because I thought God hired me to be his PR manager. And I was angry because I felt this gospel musician was an embarrassment to Christianity.
Before I could read the article, my heart melted seeing a familiar smiling face. I knew the guy who had committed suicide. And that is an understatement; we were friends in Bible school. We actually sat together most of the times in class.
Smart, soft-spoken, and humble. No, he was far from being the dumb, egotistic, self-centered, and attention-seeking label I gave him. He commanded the room when he entered, and everyone loved him. I still remember listening to his debut album with my wife and we both marveled at his talent.
But beneath the smiles, lay a tortured soul. And I did not know it. Only recently, did discover that the time he didn’t come for class for two weeks he was actually in the hospital after attempting to commit suicide. Fortunately, someone rushed him to the hospital on time.
When we asked him about where he was he didn’t say much, “I was sick.” That’s all he could say. We prayed for him and forgot about it. I could have done better; I could have offered my ears, just to listen to him pour out his heart. Maybe it could have helped him in dealing with his problems.
Today, I now know what happens when a Christian commits suicide:
- You’re angry at yourself for no apparent reason
- You blame yourself for not being there for your friend
- You’re filled with guilt because you’re convinced you could have helped if you knew
- You’re filled with shame because you think people now believe you’re a lousy friend
- You have dozens of unanswered questions that you know might remain unanswered
What does the Bible say about Christians who commit suicide?
Because suffering is within the realm of God’s comprehension and knowledge, it becomes a point of contact between us and God. – Albert Y Hsu, Grieving Suicide
Knowing that the gospel musician on the headline was my friend did not quench my anger. It made it worse. I was angry at him, myself and his church. The people around him knew he had suicidal tendencies and they could have done better. I could have given him an ear when he was in trouble. And why did he record himself drinking poison and post it on social media?
The Bible does not say much about Christians who commit suicide. Only six suicides are recorded in the Bible, five in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. Interestingly, besides Saul’s armor bearer, all the other five were notable of their wickedness; Judas, Saul, Abimelech, Ahithopel, and Zimri.
But that doesn’t mean all people who commit suicide are wicked. Even the great apostle, Paul once considered committing suicide (2 Corinthians 1:8), “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.”
Before you get judgmental on people who commit suicide, you need to remember you don’t know what they went through. I have to learn to forgive myself, forgive my friend and remember the lady blamed for the suicide – she is in far more worse pain than me.
I agree with Lewis B. Smedes:
I believe that, as Christians, we should worry less about whether Christians who have killed themselves go to heaven, and worry more about how we can help people like them find hope and joy in living. Our most urgent problem is not the morality of suicide but the spiritual and mental despair that drags people down to it.
-Lewis B. Smedes
I agree with Lewis B. Smedes, “Loved ones who have died at their own hands we can safely trust to our gracious God. Loved ones whose spirits are even now slipping so silently toward death, these are our burden.” And I will add, loved ones who are burdened by guilt and shame after losing a relative or friend to suicide need the liberating Gospel.