robin williams is in the news lately, so suicide is being talked about right now. I have a disease, not deadly, that causes much depression. is it possible to be saved and still give in to the temptation of suicide? I'm not currently suicidal, so don't worry about that, but with the news lately, it's on my mind. thank you
Post by Mike Miller on Aug 14, 2014 9:13:47 GMT -5
Thank you for asking this question. We don't realize how many hurting people we encounter every day. One good thing that I see coming from the death of Robin Williams is that awareness has been raised and perhaps someone's life will be saved as a result.
To begin with, let me say that depression is a crippling condition that can affect anyone. This means that Christians can and do suffer from depression. We know that depression can take on many forms and can have different causes. [NOTE: At this point, I need to point out that I am not a mental health professional. However, I will not go deep into this subject, and what I have to say is very general.] Some depression, though not all, is at least partially caused by chemical factors. This means that it is a physical condition similar to any other health issue. Some depression (perhaps even all to some extent?), however, can be the result of other emotional issues, such as past or current traumatic experiences, such as abuse, disease, or loss (though grief and depression are not the same thing). I know your question is about suicide, but I feel like I need to point out that depression is not a choice, and it can happen pretty much to anyone--Christian or not.
Now on to suicide. I should state that my family has experienced loss due to suicide, so this is something very real to me. After my family member killed himself, I decided to read anything I could get my hands on about suicide. Much of what I learned has helped me to intervene in the lives of others because I now know how to recognize some of the warning signs at least to some degree. One thing I have learned is that suicide is a choice a person makes. This is important for the survivors to understand. After my family member committed suicide, we all blamed ourselves. What could we have done to stop it? How did we contribute to it? The truth, however, is that our loved one--without telling anyone--without reaching out for help--decided to end his own life. This has been over 20 years ago, and I am still grieved that his pain was so great that in his mind, killing himself was his only option. The truth, however, is that it was not his only option. He could have chosen to live another day. He could have chosen to ask for help. He could have chosen to tell someone what he was thinking. But he didn't. He was obviously in a much darker place than we would have ever imagined, because he either didn't consider any of those options or he didn't think they were as good as the option he chose. My heart aches for him even now.
But is this something that a Christian can do? Of course. Let me be clear: committing suicide is the taking of a life. The dictionary definition is "the intentional taking of one's life." To commit suicide, then, is to commit murder. That means that it is a sin. Becoming a Christian does not remove the temptation to commit sins. Christians can and are tempted to lie, cheat, steal, commit adultery, do violence, and even kill. And sometimes Christians succumb to temptation. Suicide is no different. Christians can be so overwhelmed with depression that they are tempted to end their own lives. To give into that temptation is possible, but in Christ we have the power to overcome all temptation if we will flee to the arms of Jesus. So, can Christians be tempted to commit suicide? Yes. Can a Christian give in to that temptation? Yes. But make no mistake. To give into any temptation to sin is still a choice, and it is still wrong.
One more thing I should address, even though you didn't ask, is whether suicide is an unpardonable sin. In other words, does suicide always lead to hell? The answer is no. Jesus speaks of a sin that will not be forgiven, but that sin is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. And what is that? In the context of Jesus' teaching, he was speaking to those who saw Him do amazing things and attributed His power to Satan. So, to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is to identify the work of the Holy Spirit as the work of Satan. Suicide has nothing to do with that. The only factor on whether a person will spend eternity is where that person stands with Jesus. All who trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ for their salvation will be saved and spend eternity in heaven. All who do not place their faith in Jesus will spend eternity suffering in hell.
Finally, I want to say to anyone reading this who is considering suicide: Don't do it. Please. I'm begging you. Perhaps you think you can't go on and that there is no hope. I'm so sorry you feel this way, but you are wrong. You can go on, and there is infinite hope in Jesus. Please reach out. Please seek help. Perhaps you don't think your life is worth living. I'm also sorry you feel like this, but you are wrong. You are a human being created in the image and likeness of God. You are of incredible worth. Please, please do not end your life. Your life matters. You will be missed, and everyone who loves you will grieve mightily. Don't do that to them (us). But your aren't just valuable to others, you are valuable to God. He created you, and He loves you. He says you matter, and that's what matters most. Life--your life--is too precious to end intentionally.
So, please, I'm begging you. If you are having thoughts of harming yourself, get help. How? Well, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ and 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also contact me. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll help you get the help you need. You are not alone, and you are loved. Please don't choose death. Choose life instead.
The problem in the US is the fact that we are always trying to give a scientific explanation to everything. Doing that sometimes does not help us to be aware that Satan and the demons are at work with the purpose to destroy us. My question is: when can we attribute evil actions to Satan and when can we attribute them ( evil actions) to human beings? I just shared your opinion on Christians and Suicide with my friends, and one of them said that the easiest way to go to heaven is to accept Christ, then just the following hour or day commit suicide.
If we are truly saved, what is then the benefit of our salvation. Is it only spiritual? Can a Christian be set free from the work of the devil? A christian who commits suicide, is he really saved? if yes, how is it that this person seems to have no hope in Christ.
I appreciate that you've addressed this topic with more empathy than most Christians who think that God is the cure for depression. However, I think you've neglected a critical factor: a suicidal person is not capable of making rational decisions. In my understanding, the definition of sin is choosing evil instead of good. Although people technically have the choice of whether or not to kill themselves, suicidal people do not feel that they have a choice. Let me use an analogy: is it sinful for a person to jump from a burning building? A person does this not because he or she wants to die, but because of being unable to endure the agony any longer. While a suicidal person does not face the physical danger of a fire, he or she is nevertheless suffering from a similar mental agony.
Post by Mike Miller on Aug 14, 2014 14:32:01 GMT -5
To begin with, your friend who said that the easiest way to heaven is to accept Christ then commit suicide does not understand what it means to be a Christian. For one thing, "accepting Christ" isn't about just saying a prayer. It is about turning from our sin (repentance) and embracing Jesus with our whole hearts. When we come to Jesus, we are giving Him everything and committing to follow Him. Therefore, if a person says, "I'm going to accept Jesus so I can immediately rebel against Jesus (by committing suicide)," that would not be real repentance and real conversion.
Also, becoming a Christian means becoming a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we come to Jesus, we become new. Things change. A person experiencing true conversion is not likely to think the same way about suicide as he did before conversion.
Then how can a Christian still sin? If we are new, why do we still wrestle with sin? We do because we are still living in the flesh. Our salvation is indeed spiritual, but in Christ, we have the power to overcome sin. Of course, this power is most effective when we are walking closely with Jesus. The Christian life is a relationship with Jesus. Just as with any relationship, we are only as close to the other person as we work at being. We don't work to become Christians, but we do work at the relationship. When we are spending significant time with Jesus daily--when we are praying, reading Scripture, fasting, etc.--we are less likely to give in to any temptation. Conversely, when we stop spending time with Him, we start drifting. And then we are more and more likely to sin against Him. We are also less likely to have the joy and peace He gives.
Finally, to be sure, Satan is out to get us. 1 Peter 5:8-9 tells us to look out for him and to resist him, standing firm in the faith. However, the devil doesn't "make" us do anything. Eve tried to blame the serpent for her disobedience, but God wasn't having anything to do with it. She was responsible for our own sin. Ephesians 2 says that non-Christians are following Satan because he is at work in them. However, we who are in Christ have been set free from his grasp. We are now able to resist him and to be holy. To sin, then, is a willful choice we make.
Christians still struggle with temptation and sin. Sometimes we lose the struggle. But when we do, we are responsible. Satan is not. But if we will cling to Jesus . . . if we will walk closely with Him daily . . . we will find victory and freedom.
Post by Mike Miller on Aug 14, 2014 14:47:07 GMT -5
Thanks for the excellent and thoughtful reply. Remember, I said I was only speaking in generalities. I did not say (nor intend to say) everything that can be said about suicide. You are certainly right that suicidal people do not "feel that they have a choice." Like I said about my family member, "His pain was so great that in his mind, killing himself was his only option." The point I was making, however, is that he was wrong. That was not his only option. His depression had so blinded him that he apparently could see no other way. But he was wrong. You compared this to a person jumping from a burning building. Those people, too, have a choice. Their choice is to die by burning or die by jumping. In their case, the choice might not matter in the end. But in the case of suicide, the choice does matter. It matters significantly. The choice is to live in terrible pain or to die--to stay with your family members or to leave them grieving and confused and blaming themselves. To be sure, the options are not good, but I still believe that to choose life is better.
Also, as you said, a suicidal person is not capable of making rational decisions. I agree. Completely. In no way did I mean to imply that the decision to choose life would be an easy one for anyone in such a dark place. If I did, then I apologize. Nevertheless, just as we would not justify a severely depressed person killing another person, I don't think we should attempt to justify suicide as a viable option even in the darkest of mental anguish. I want to see people live.
Again, this is serious business. And my goal is to try to save lives. If anyone reading this is thinking of harming yourself, please reach out. Please. Here is the contact information I gave above:
If you are having thoughts of harming yourself, get help. How? Well, you can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ and 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also contact me. Send me an email at email@example.com, and I'll help you get the help you need. You are not alone, and you are loved. Please don't choose death. Choose life instead.