I thank thee, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the
THE QUESTION (#70)
If a person commits suicide, would he or she lose eternal life or does the Lord show mercy in some cases?
Suicide is a tough question, but one with relatively clear answers. You have made it easy for me to respond by suggesting that the Lord considers each case separately.
He surely does judge each case separately.
I have given this question much much attention, and am not necessarily an unbiased source. I saw my beloved mother dying of suicide when I was age 10. It is a tragic picture burned into my memory forever.
You should also know that almost exactly 40 years ago, at age 41, I came under the same obsession and wrestled with the demon for months before breaking free by the power of the Lord. All of this, combined with the teaching and example of the Lord, produced the following conclusions:
1. In many cases there is a genetic propensity for suicide, such as I inherited from my mother. One of her brothers, from whom I am named, also committed suicide.When Satan tempted our Lord to cast himself down from the Temple, it was a temptation to commit suicide, veiled as an attempt to perform a miracle and therefore testing God. Had he succumbed to the temptation, it would have seemed to be suicide that, for him at that time, was wholly contrary to the will of the Father. It would have been a sin, perhaps an unpardonable one. He had yet to do the work for which the Father had sent him into the world.
When he had almost finished his work on earth, having delivered the Light to a dark world, his hour had come to exemplify his doctrine. Knowing this, he proceeded to commit a special kind of suicide, manifesting his love for the Father and his hatred of life in this world by an exemplary death and therefore completing his mission. He cried out at the moment of his death, It is finished! He had explained:
Jn.10:17 Because of this the father agape-loves me, because I lay-down my psyche-life, in order that I again receive it. 18 No one takes it from me, but I dedicate it myself. I have authority to dedicate it, and I have authority to again receive it; this commandment I received from my father.In this case, suicide is the supreme act of righteousness!
The Lord told the disciples that they would follow him afterwards. Simon wanted to know why he could not follow him immediately, and the Lord explained:
Jn.13:36 Simon Peter says to him: Lord, where do you go? Jesus answered: Where I go you are not now able to follow, but you follow later. 37 Peter says to him: Lord, why am I not able to follow you now? I will give my psyche-life in your behalf. 38 Jesus answered: You will give your psyche-life in my behalf? Truly truly I say to you, the rooster will not crow until you deny me thrice.Simon wasn't ready!
Our Lord wrestled with Satan all night in Gethsemane, with Satan tempting him not to commit suicide (to lay down his life of himself). I can only conclude that when it comes to suicide, everything depends wholly on the motive that lies in the heart of the individual -- whether to go to the Father through love for Him or to escape the torment of a painful life or to put God to the test, or whatever else may motivate one to lay down his life of himself.
Bottom line: I believe suicide can be either sin or righteousness, depending on the motive. Suicide is justified when the sole motivation is the love of God -- when anyone, like Jesus, lays down ones own life, of oneself, to go to the Father. However, one cannot commit a righteous suicide except as did Jesus, by accepting death at the hands of ones enemies while praying to the Father for their forgiveness. An exception occurs when one understands that one has finished ones testimony to the world, as did Jesus when he knew his hour had come, and then refuse any further medical measures to extend life. The Lord's word holds true in every case:
Lk.9:24 For whoever wishes to save his psyche-life will lose it, but whoever loses his psyche-life because of me, this [one] will save it.
The Lord does show mercy. One does not necessarily lose eternal life by committing suicide. Judas Iscariot may have lost eternal life due to his suicide; his master, Jesus, won eternal life for himself and all that follow him by means of suicide!
Some in the Southern Baptist congregation attended by my family at the time of my mother's death took the position that suicide, and therefore my mothers death, was the unpardonable sin. My male progenitor whom I knew as "Dad" left the church and never returned. It was a good decision.