Suicide–Does it always send you to Hell?
We started discussing this in the last post and I’d like to talk about it some more. The most common spiritual objection to suicide that I’ve heard is that suicide will ALWAYS inevitably result in an eternity in Hell because it’s a sin for which you can’t ask forgiveness.
Let me state two things perfectly clearly, then ask a third.
- I don’t know how each case of suicide will be judged, that is up to God.
- Based on my understanding of the scriptures I don’t think that each case of suicide necessarily results in eternal damnation.
- Perhaps most importantly, I ask that if you read this post and disagree with me, you’d talk with me about it. I believe this common objection to suicide is a manifestation of a deeper misunderstanding among many Christians about our relationship with God and our salvation. Please hear me out, consider what I say, then be willing to honestly discuss the issue if you disagree.
Let me try to explain my belief in a few ways, we’ll start with some examples….
Think of a Christian, who standing on the side of the road, is splattered with mud from a passing car and out of frustration utters a curse word…Then is immediately struck by the next passing car and killed. Is that person condemned to Hell because during a life of faithfulness to God they sinned and died immediately thereafter?
Or a more realistic scenario-After a bad day at work you leave late and then hit traffic, heavy traffic that’s going to make you miss your kid’s ball game. You’re mad at your boss, mad at your lazy coworkers, mad at the other drivers on the road and then someone cuts you off, nearly running you off the road. And that’s it, you’ve had enough. A curse word slips your lips and you pound the steering wheel in anger. In apparent blatant disregard to Ephesians 4:29, you’ve sinned. Is your soul condemned to Hell for the rest of your drive until you pray for forgiveness? What happens if you die in a car wreck before you calm down and your heart softens enough to pray to God?
After every time you sin during a day, do you really fear that you’re teetering on the brink of Hell until you are able to voice a prayer? Because to be honest with you, after situations like the traffic example above it may take hours for my heart to soften enough for me to talk to God about my sin. In this model of salvation every new convert, every recovering drug addict, and every teenage boy-ever-might go through a cycle of salvation and damnation dozens or even hundreds of times each day. Where is the assurance or hope in that model of salvation?
And if you agree with me that a person’s salvation isn’t necessarily ruined by that one curse word, why is it that suicide (a sin that is most often committed in situations much more challenging and difficult than having mud splashed on you) any different?
Why do we take the position that one “un-prayed for”
sin is different from another?
It seems to me that in this view of salvation only Christians who live perfectly can ever be fully assured of their salvation. Only those who have no need of Christ’s blood can possibly benefit from it.
It seems to me that this view of salvation makes the sacrifice of Christ impotent.
But, you say, Christ’s blood allows you to ask for forgiveness and that prayer allows you to be saved.
This view of salvation rests on two things…. Our ability to perfectly keep God’s law and our ability to race death to a prayer when we sin.
Let me ask, if we’re able to perfectly follow God’s plan (keep His commandments and pray quickly after you sin) until we die, where is the grace of God in that view of salvation? How is this view of salvation any different from the Israelites under the old law? They were given rules and a method of offering sacrifices for their sins. Do we believe that the only difference for Christians today is that we offer prayers rather than animal sacrifices?
I think that what we need is a fundamental shift
in the way we view our salvation.
One option is that we view God’s plan for Christians as a list of rules to follow and a way for us to be forgiven when we sin….IF we’re fast enough with our prayers.
The other option, the view that I have, is best seen in the teaching given by the Apostle John in 1John 1:5-7 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
I believe that when our sins are washed away in baptism we begin a new relationship with God. And as we live life and our relationship with God develops we can categorize that relationship with either side of that coin….Are we walking in the light or the darkness?
Does that mean that every time we sin we’re walking in darkness? Does every sin we commit cause us to turn 180 degrees to suddenly follow Satan, until we pray for forgiveness? I don’t think so.
The blood of Christ cleanses us from our sins when we are walking in the light. I believe that means that as long as we’re putting our faith in God, as long as we’re striving to serve Him, as long as we have a heart that seeks him, that God’s grace may allow us to be saved even if we haven’t asked for forgiveness YET.
And that’s an important you notice that “YET”. I’m not saying that you can just never ask for forgiveness and wait on God’s grace to save you. I think that’s the whole point of Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
I believe that the person who doesn’t have a heart that seeks God, a heart that wouldn’t ask for forgiveness is a hard heart that has lost its faith in God and given up on His promises. And that’s not a person who is walking in the light.
Someone with a hard, unrepentant heart that refuses to ask God for forgiveness is not the same as a God-seeker that just hasn’t asked for forgiveness YET.
I believe that our salvation rests in God’s grace toward us as we seek to imperfectly serve Him, rather than our ability to utter a prayer before death surprises us.
And if that’s the case, I can imagine a scenario where suicide might not condemn someone to Hell.
Suicide is sometimes the result of someone giving up hope in God and His promises. Someone who isn’t seeking to serve God and isn’t walking in the light.
But it can also be the result of someone who, in the midst of a life striving to serve God, is so grief stricken or depressed that they sin. And that sin may be suicide. No differently than the person who is striving to serve God but gives in to their anger and curses at traffic.