- Ron Smals
SUICIDE: Heaven or Hell?
Through my 37 years of church ministry I cannot count the number of times that I have been asked about suicide and whether a person who takes their own life goes to Heaven or Hell. As important as that question is, I cannot help but think why would anyone want to take their own life? I understand that life gets very complicated from time to time. Sometimes our problems seem unbearable. We can lose all sense of hope when our world comes crashing in around us. Like cornered animals that go into defense mode, we can make such a devastating decision out of a rage of emotion.
The psalmist writes in Psalm 139:13-16:
13 "For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
The psalmist makes it clear that my life itself comes from God, my Creator. To take my own life is to destroy something that was made by God, He calls it murder. One may think that all of their problems will go away with suicide, and to a point that is true in this life. However, the very act of taking one's own life is very selfish. It ignores the grief and pain that others will suffer. It forgets the very purpose of God's creation. All of creation was made to glorify and worship the Creator.
Granted, many things can lead to an improper view of life -- depression, chemical imbalance, drug abuse and the like. But, the key to all of that is to recognize our sinful selves and begin to get a God perspective on life. The only time that life is hopeless is when we look at the circumstances rather than the Creator who can accomplish the impossible.
So, is it Heaven or Hell for one who takes their life? The Catholic Church makes a blanket statement concerning suicide: "People who commit suicide go to Hell. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that suicide is a sin that a person cannot repent of, and that a person who commits suicide is guilty of not trusting God to provide for his or her circumstances" (www.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_Catholic_beliefs_about_suicide).
Such a statement reflects a works based salvation. There are many sins that a person may not repent of before breathing their last breath on earth. The doctrine of grace recognizes that when we truly know Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord, that all sins past, present and future have been forgiven, including suicide. If a person is truly born again, nothing will keep him from heaven when he dies.
Should a person take their own life? No, absolutely not. But, one wrong decision does not remove the eternal security of a true believer. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand" (John 10:27-29). No one includes even the person who may make the bad choice to end their life. If they were truly born again, their destiny is Heaven. This is not the unpardonable sin. The unpardonable sin is to reject God's offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ who died for the sins of mankind. To reject the call of the Holy Spirit to trust in Christ alone is unpardonable.
Heaven or Hell? If a person is truly born again, their destiny is Heaven when they die, no matter how that occurs. If a person does not know Jesus Christ and have a personal relationship with God, their destiny is an eternal Hell totally separated from God forever.
Nothing is so bad in life that one should take their own life. We must not leave God out of our circumstances. He is the God of the impossible. If He could send the second Person of the Godhead to take on human flesh, there is nothing else that is impossible for Him when we trust in Him with our whole heart.