Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Apparently the results of the recent election have struck fear into the hearts of many:

-- There will be increasing terrorism in our country.
-- Our marriages will be destroyed.
-- The gay conspiracy will now be free to take over our nation.
-- Illegal aliens will overrun our country.
-- There will be increased slaughter of our babies.
-- And worst of all – we have set ourselves up for the presidency of the evil demonic Hillary.
-- America is doomed!!!

This would all be laughable if it were the tongue-in-cheek remarks of some TV comedian like Colbert or Jon Stewart. Or even if it were merely the rantings of some cynical far-right radio or TV loony like Limbaugh or Coulter.

But it’s not only from them that we hear these things. Concerned citizens write letters to the editor of my local newspaper expressing these fears. Worse than that, some of my concerned evangelical Christian friends express these same fears. And they are totally mystified that I don’t share their fears.

Get over it!

God is in control!

I see a number of serious problems here, all of which need to be addressed.

First, many of these expressed fears are based on lies and half-truths spread by politicians, demagogues and others who inhabit the fringes. These people build a following based on fear of and hatred for all those who disagree with them. All sources of information are considered false unless they emanate from “us.” It’s a sort of a cult mentality that plays on our normal human fears.

Then there is the problem that we’ve forgotten the doctrine of original sin and total depravity. We are ALL sinners: “ … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We love to divide mankind between the good guys and the bad guys, between “us” and “them.” But it’s not that way. This nation is governed by sinners of both political parties. One or many elections won’t change that.

And bad things have been happening in this country since the beginning. People have done and will continue to do evil acts, no matter who is in the majority in Washington. My fearful friends see conspiracies everywhere. Maybe there are, maybe not. But the ultimate conspirator is Satan, not the “liberals,” the Democrats or even the religious right: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

God is the One Who is ultimately in control. He put G. W. Bush in office and He gave us a Democrat majority in Congress: “ … In order that the living may know that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whom He wishes, and sets over it the lowliest of men” (Daniel 4:17). If Hillary Clinton is our next president it will be because He will put her there.

Finally, fear is not fitting for those who trust in Christ: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).

Bill Ball

Friday, November 3, 2006


Last night, I received word that one of my students had taken his own life. Though I have been close to many who have died, this is different. Both of my parents and both of Uni’s parents have passed on. As a pastor and a hospital chaplain, I’ve spent time with many dying people.

It seems so senseless. I know and have known of many wasted lives. But I’ve also seen many of these lives saved. And while they are still alive there’s always hope. But death is final. There is no further opportunity for him to be saved.

I had talked to him just a little over a week earlier, and though he said he was angry with God and hated Christians, he had trusted Christ as his Savior.

Is he “saved”? In the sense of, “Is he in heaven?”, I believe he is. “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? … For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, … nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:33-39).

He will stand before the judgment seat of Christ “saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15). I hope to see him one day.

But this life was wasted.

Some further thoughts:

The Bible never uses the word “suicide” and it says little, if anything directly regarding suicide as a moral issue. The Mosaic Law is silent regarding suicide, as is the New Testament.

But the Bible relates a number of suicides, making little comment on them. We should be very careful not to make “prescriptions” out of “descriptions.”

Samson (Judges 16:23-31), as a prisoner of the Philistines, blinded and forced to perform for their entertainment in the temple of their god, found a way to bring the whole building down on himself and his captors. The only comment made was that “the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.” He is listed as a judge of Israel and is included among the heroes of faith of Hebrews 11 (vs. 32). His final act (as most of his acts) is neither commended nor condemned.

Saul (1 Samuel 31). Wounded by the Philistines, Saul took his own life to avoid humiliation by his enemies, as did his armor bearer. Again, his act is neither commended nor condemned, although he is given a sort of hero’s burial. Later, David commends those who heroically rescued Saul’s body from the Philistines (2 Samuel 2:4-7).

Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:14, 22), David’s counselor, sided with Absalom, David’s son, in his rebellion against David. When Absalom did not follow Ahithophel’s counsel, Ahithophel committed suicide, possibly realizing that his wrong choice would catch up with him. No moral pronouncement is made.

Judas (Matthew 27:3-10; Acts 1:15-20, 25), the betrayer of Jesus, is probably the best known of all biblical suicides. It is notable that although the New Testament speaks condemningly of Judas, it is his act of betrayal, not his suicide, that is condemned.

A biblical perspective

1. The undeserved taking of a human life is a violation of the sanctity of human life (Genesis 9:6) and is to be regarded as a sin. This, it seems, would include suicide.

2. The taking of one’s own life, however, is not an “unpardonable sin.” To die with unconfessed sin would bring shame and loss of reward at the judgment seat of Christ, but the believer who commits suicide would “be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 1 John 2:28).

3. An exception would be that of giving one’s life for another (John 15:13; Romans 5:7). This is not suicide. Jesus did this for us.

4. We who know Christ need to be aware of those around us – brothers and sisters who are hurting -- and should deal compassionately with those who have these tendencies. We can’t always know what their motives are and what their actions will be. We can’t always save them. But we can show them the love of Christ.

Bill Ball