Suicide: A Biblical Perspective

The recent death of Robin Williams has brought the subject of suicide to center stage. Depressed and feeling alone, Williams apparently hung himself.

Few of us are untouched by such tragedy. I have had family and friends who have ended their own lives, and there are those we hear about or read about. What was once a rare event seems to be happening more, and it makes one wonder. The subject itself stirs the emotions, especially when it affects someone we are close to, making it difficult to think about it clearly.

People take their own lives for different reasons. Some suffer from chronic, debilitating pain from injury or disease for which there is no remedy and they seek relief. Others feel they have failed those they love, or think they cannot face a sudden reversal of fortune. Some experience deep depression from failed relationships, chemical imbalances, and some depression is rooted in spiritual conflict.

There are some who say anyone who takes his or her own life is damned, but I am reticent to agree. Typically suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but I can see where someone in the grip of profound pain, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual, may be deceived and driven into thinking death is the only option.

The Scriptures record only a handful of instances of those who die by their own hand, and the subject is not addressed directly anywhere in the Bible. But that does not mean we are left completely in the dark.

While suicide is not an act of faith, and is a product of sin, it is not necessarily damnable, because we have a merciful and understanding God. Hell is not the default destination, but neither can we say heaven is assured to the one who takes his own life. So where does that leave us?

After God reveals to Abraham He is about to investigate the outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham, possibly aware his nephew Lot and his family reside in Sodom, asks God, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Abraham employing a rhetorical question assures God he knows He will do what is right, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”

The Judge of all the earth is the God who knows the hearts of all men. Those who take their own lives have crossed into eternity, and there is nothing we can say or do to help or hurt them. Their fate will not be determined by what you or I think, or believe, or do. They are now in the hands of the Holy One who fully understands all the factors involved in each decision and will do what is right for each. I am comforted and confident in knowing He is the final Judge who will always do what is just.

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