Sadly, on January 30, 2022, around 7:00 am, Cheslie Kryst, an attorney and former Miss USA 2019, jumped to her death from the 29th floor of the Orion Building in New York City. Suicide always presents us with a disturbing mystery, Why do some take their own life? We will never know.
There are some who say anyone who takes their own life is damned, but I am reticent to agree. I think 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. But I also recognize suicide is not an act of faith and “whatever is not from faith is sin,” Romans 14:23.
The subject of suicide is not addressed directly in the Bible. The Scriptures record seven suicides, but little is said about them apart from a brief description of each.
Some scholars claim suicide is self-murder, but that has always seemed to be a strained application of the Sixth Commandment to me. To the degree one’s rationality is unimpaired and an act of the will, suicide can never be said to be an act of faith and is in that respect a sin.
To me the greater question would be, is suicide forgivable? Some argue since one cannot ask forgiveness after killing oneself it is damnable. That position seems just as strained to me as the idea of self-murder, that our forgiveness is more dependent on our request for it than on God’s mercy.
I think the grace of God extends to the one whose extreme circumstances may render him confused and irrational enough to do something in a thoughtless moment of desperation he would not normally consider. Ergo, I do not believe hell is the default destination, but neither can we say heaven is assured to the one who takes his own life, a faithless act. So where does that leave us?
After God reveals to Abraham, He is about to investigate the outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham, aware his nephew Lot and his family reside in Sodom, asks God, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Genesis 18:23. 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?” Genesis 18:25.
While this narrative is not about suicide, it does reveal the just nature of a Holy God who will in every situation do what is right by every person. Since the Scriptures do not condone suicide, neither should we, lest we encourage it, nor should we condemn what the Scriptures do not condemn lest we rob others of their hope in a merciful God.
God knows what is in the heart and mind of the one who takes his own life, and He is a benevolent God. It is the best that I can say with a clear conscience, but it is the best anyone could hope for.
Sheryl H. Boldt says
Gary, I commend you for tackling a difficult topic. Well done.
I’m glad I read your post because I mentor several people who struggle with suicidal thoughts. (As I myself did years ago.) I appreciate your perspective.
Gary B. King says
Thank you for taking the time to respond to one of my articles. Let me take a little time to share some background.
I have had friends and family members commit suicide. Two of my first cousins I was close to killed themselves. They were brothers but committed suicide at two different times under different sets of circumstances. I have written about suicide since 2010.
This article is the result of years of thought about the subject and a biblical perspective of suicide for the living, those of us who live to deal with the aftermath of suicide. I have had family members tell me this perspective has given them hope and comfort when thinking about loved ones who have died by their own hand.
I periodically write about suicide because it is a perennial human tragedy. Jesus said “you always have the poor with you,” Matthew 26:11. He could have said the same thing about suicide; sadly, it seems it will be with us always.
When it comes to those who may be contemplating suicide I remind them that because Christ died for us we are called “to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,” Romans 12:1. Christ calls us to live for Him, and from a logical perspective I see suicide as a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
I think suicide is something that many have contemplated at some time and so I write about it periodically as I believe God leads me. The isolation brought on by the pandemic has also created as some say a “pandemic of despair” and with the death of Cheslie and the current despair created by the pandemic I thought it was time to write about it again.
I enjoy your writing as well Sheryl. I think you have a winsome way of presenting biblical truth that reaches the current culture in a way that tends to escape me. I tend to be more direct like the prophets and leads some to think I am not lovingly concerned about the waywardness we witness in our country.
You are a good writer Sheryl, keep up the good work!