It is written:
“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” (Hebrews 11:32-40)
For many years, I have heard it said that anyone who commits suicide is going to Hell-no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
However, is the subject of suicide really that ‘cut and dry?”
When we look at the Bible, we see that there is much more to the story.
Consider the example of Samson.
“We acknowledge here that suicide has never been looked upon with approval by either the Jewish or Christian faith communities. That said, there is clear evidence that historical, social and religious attitudes in response to suicide have always been fluid—shaped by the circumstances surrounding the act. For example, in Scripture there is no specific condemnation for acts of self-destruction. Of the seven recorded biblical suicides, the accounts indicate that several of the deceased were granted the high honor of being buried “in the tombs of their fathers.” This Old Testament “good deed” (Heb: mitzvah) stands as a reproach to the New Testament Church that, at times, judgmentally refused burial of suicides in its Christian cemeteries. It should be remembered here that, according to the biblical account, Samson’s death was a suicide. Having been weakened, blinded, and imprisoned, he determined to pull down the Temple of Dagon1. upon his own head, taking as many Philistines with him in death as possible (Judg 16: 23-31). The biblical account seems to indicate that Samson could not have done this without God’s help. Because of his weakened condition, he prayed, “O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes… let me die with the Philistines!” At this point, one might be tempted to raise the following questions: (1) Was Samson’s death a case of “assisted suicide?” and (2) If God helped Samson commit suicide by strengthening him for the act, how, then, could it have been a sin? Who knows? Maybe Samson won’t be judged too harshly when he finally meets his Maker–that One who “keeps no record of wrongs” (I Cor 13: 5). After all, Samson is listed posthumously among some of the Bible’s greatest “heroes of faith.” (Heb 11: 32).” (Ivan Rogers, Judas Iscariot: Revisited And Restored-Discovering Grace In An Unlikely Place,1341-1359 (Kindle Edition); http://www.Xulon press.com)
Clearly, in Samson, we have at least one example of a person in the Bible who committed suicide and was saved. He was even used as an example of a hero of faith!
Now, that is not an approval of suicide. I encourage anyone that I work with who considers suicide to get professional (and spiritual) help and counseling.
But this should be a wake-up call about the widespread belief that every person who commits suicide goes to Hell.
Simply stated, judging the eternal destiny of those who have died is God’s business, not ours.
I have been heartbroken and saddened over the years by some Christians’ response to the family and friends of victims of suicide. I still remember once many years ago when a discussion came up in a Bible study.
A friend asked, “Brother Mark, don’t you believe that anyone who commits suicide is going to straight to Hell?”
I answered, “No, I believe there is much more to suicide then that.”
He was curious, so I gave him an illustration of something to consider.
“Suppose a child goes into a store and takes a candy bar. Will he be arrested?”
“Absolutely!” My friend declared.
“What if the child is very young, or mentally handicapped. Did he still do wrong?”
“Absolutely!” My friend answered.
“If he appears before a judge, what will happen?”
My friend was quiet for a moment.
Finally, he answered, “Well, the judge would probably not send him to jail or fine him.”
“Why would that be the case?”
“Well, because he is a child and/or mentally handicapped, so he doesn’t know better.”
“That’s my point.”
My friend said, “Are you saying that everyone who commits suicide isn’t in their right mind?”
I said, “I don’t know. Only God does.”
And THAT is the point.
We need to remember: there is ONE Lawgiver, and ONE Judge (James 4:12).
Interestingly enough, after that Bible study, a man approached me who was visiting from a church in another state. He told me how amazed he was at the conversation we had in Bible class. He wanted to speak to me because two weeks earlier, a beloved member of his family had taken his own life. When speaking with the doctor after the autopsy, it was declared that the young man had been suffering from a physical disease which was known to cause bouts of manic depression. He was definitely NOT in his right mind. The gentleman explained to me that our Bible class that morning had helped him tremendously, because he had heard words of “grace and love that had spoken to his burdened soul.”
My friends, I have often been guilty of inserting my foot into my mouth when I speak. There have been times my words have been ungodly and worldly. For those times, I am sorry. I blush even now as I remember them. But I want to do better.
Let’s try and make it our aim to be gracious in our speech, redeeming the time (Colossians 4:5-6).
When we know people who have had loved ones die from suicide, let us be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath (James 1:19).
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.