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

1 comment:

Jared said...

Bill - I agree a life taken by suicide is so distructive. Specifically from what I have observed (mainly in those friends that have attempted it and via my crisis/grief classes in communication) it generally leaves so much chaos for the family and loved ones. It's a true shame, a waste of a life. It seems nearly difficult that with our hope firmly placed in Christ and being in a relationship with Him - that much could cause us to end up in such a crisis that would by all means exceed our coping skills (more than seemingly momentarily in this lifetime). However it happens all too often.