May 16, 2012

Suicide, The Unpardonable Sin?

I received a letter from a sweet reader the other day.  She has recently given her life to the Lord and has been diligently searching the scriptures to understand the truths.  She comes from a Catholic background and is trying to untangle fact from fiction.  As a girl who grew up in the same situation, I can understand the challenge she faces.

This particular email was very disturbing to me, because she had just lost a close family member to suicide.  If you have spent any time under the Catholic teaching, you will know that this is considered an unpardonable sin, for which you are doomed to hell forever.  I lost a dear Uncle to suicide as a child so this was particularly close to my heart.  I can only imagine there are others out there struggling with this topic.

I have decided to include my reply here in hopes that it will bring some understanding to others who want to know the truth.  This is not an exhaustive study, as I was very short on time and wanted to answer the question as quickly as possible.  If you have additional questions or would like more clarification, I welcome your emails or comments.  Please remember the rules of communication here at Art's Chili Pepper.
I am so happy to hear from you and heartbroken for your news.  My Uncle committed suicide in a gruesome way when I was in the third grade and it shook my entire world.  I couldn't understand all of it then, especially because of the false teaching we were under in the Catholic church and the turmoil of my extended family who were already plagued with many problems, including rampant alcoholism. 

While all of this was very difficult as a child, in the long run I see now how it was, in part, responsible for me giving my life to the Lord and trusting Jesus as my personal savior.  In our church, the teaching was that suicide was the unpardonable sin and my Uncle would be condemned to hell with no hope for all eternity.  It was considered so serious that my grandmother was no longer permitted to take communion in the church (even though he was a grown and married man in his 40's).  This was so earth shattering for me.  

First, because of the very disturbing events surrounding my Uncle's suicide.  

Second, the blaming and arguing it caused in my family.  Everyone blamed everyone for his demise.  (Which, as a grown woman I understand was no one's fault except for my Uncle's in his choice to give his life over to alcoholism).  

Third, there was all the confusion with how this affected his eternity and how the things I was told applied to my eternity.  How was my grandmother to be held accountable for my Uncle's choice.  And, if that was the case, how does my sin affect my family or my family's sin affect me?  In the Catholic church taking Communion was essential to our salvation.  What was to become of my grandmother if she was not permitted to take Communion any longer?    What kind of God would make such a law?  

Eventually, this teaching was part of the reason I started questioning what I had been taught my whole life and began seeking the truth for myself.  Which led me to a true understanding of the scriptures and eventually to the saving knowledge of the Word.
To answer your question as to where your cousin is and what is to become of him, consider, what is it that gave YOU salvation?  

Romans 3:23 tells us all have sinned and none of us can live up to the standard God has set to spend eternal life with him in heaven.    
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 
Romans 6:23 tells us the payment for those sins is death.  In other places the Bible tells us death is eternal separation from God in Hell for all eternity.  
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In the same verse we read Jesus Himself gave the gift of eternal life. Consider what is a gift?  I have just offered you a gift.  If you sent me money to pay for that package would it be a gift?  No!  A gift must be totally free and unearned.  And a gift must be accepted.  Are you with me still?  If you said, "No" when I emailed you about the gift, would I still send it?  Absolutely not.  It makes no sense.  It would be wasted.  

In John 3:3 Jesus tells us what we must do to be saved... we must be born again.  
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
What does it mean to be born again?

Romans 5:8 tells us that Christ died for us before we ever asked and while we were still worthless sinners.  
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
That is because he loves us so much and wanted to make a way to  free us from eternal punishment and suffering.  Even more than that, He did it because He loved us and wanted to spend eternity together.  

Romans 10:13 says that he will give this gift of salvation to anyone who asks.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Romans 10:9-10 tells us we must believe in our heart and confess with our mouth in order to receive this gift and be born again.  
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Thus we must each have a point where we have chosen to make Jesus our Savior and give our life to Him, accepting Him into our hearts and receiving salvation.
Furthermore, John 1:12 tells us whoever receives Him becomes a child of God.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Therefore just as you had to come to a point where you made a decision for Jesus, your cousin (and every person who has, does and will ever live) must come to that point for themselves.

Our Lord is an all-powerful God.  There is nothing He can not do.  There is no sin too great for Him.  There is nothing He will not forgive.  Just look at 1 John 1:9
 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Yes, that means even someone like Hitler had the possibility to be saved, if he chose to accept the gift of Jesus.


The teaching that suicide is the unpardonable sin is NOT found anywhere in the Bible.  It is heresy from the depths of hell.  To study what the unpardonable sin is would be another very complicated study for another time.

My friend, God looks on the heart and knows your spiritual standing, just as He knows mine and just as he knows your cousin's. 
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
My heart broke for you when I heard your news.  Throughout the day I prayed for you and asked the Lord to help me with the right words to help you find peace in this trial.  I spoke with my husband about it, too, because weekends are limited electronics time.  But I didn't want to let time pass before I replied to your email.  He suggested I use our date time to write back.  I hope you can find some understanding and comfort in seeking these scriptures. 
I know you have young children and it is not my place to say one way or the other.  But, I feel compelled to give you just a bit of advice.  As I said, I was in third grade when my Uncle Eddie died.  My brother was 18 months older and my sister 18 months younger.  We also had a younger brother who was a preschooler at the time.  We were the only young ones in our family.  All the other children/cousins were teenagers or older.  Our family, my parents and the large extended family, initially felt we should not know the circumstances of the situation.  Which, in an ideal world, would probably have been the wise decision.  This is a very difficult and upsetting thing for anyone, especially the very young who don't understand the wickedness of the world and the enemy who strives to destroy us all.  

But we do not live in an ideal world nor in a vacuum.  Everyone talked among themselves and we heard this and that and bits and pieces.  Since we weren't supposed to know, we were not able to talk to anyone else to get understanding or go to our family for comfort.  Us three older children were left on our own to make sense of the talk and deal with our own sorrow over the loss of our only and beloved Uncle.  As adults we all talked about this time in our life together and one thing rang loud and it clear.  This event shook our entire world from our belief in God to our trust of our parents and our ability to go to others in difficult times.  

From a child who has been there, I strongly urge you to open a dialog with your children and keep it going.  They will sense your pain and confusion and they will seek answers from someone, eventually.   Perhaps even years down the road.  You want that someone to be you, not a drug dealer, lost person or ill informed friend.  I am not suggesting you sit them down and tell them all the vivid details, but rather be extremely sensitive to their play and talk and watch for signs that they are in need of answers or that they want to talk.  Particularly your teenage daughter.  It is at these times that most young people fall into poor decisions that change their lives in negative ways forever.  

Your very young children may not even know that they are hurting or confused.  They may just sense all the upset in their world right now and start acting out or having nightmares or fighting with siblings etc... 

Use this time as a way to share the scriptures and show the love of our Lord with them.  Let them know your hurt and from where your comfort comes.  Perhaps this will be the very moment that is needed for some of your children to commit their lives to Jesus.  I hope I have not stepped out of line by saying this to you.   
I do wish I was writing under happier circumstances.  But I know our God and He has seen me through many great trials since I gave my life to Him.  I know He will comfort and guide you if you keep your eyes on Him.  


Isaiah 9:6 tells us he is the Prince of Peace.  
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
I love Isaiah 26:3 and lean on it in the little and the huge trials.  
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
And also Philippians 4:6-7
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 
Praying for you, my friend and for all of you out there who are suffering with this kind of loss. 


Love,
Kat

3 comments :

  1. I hope this helps someone else, as much as it helped me.

    Your friend from Ohio.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blessings, my friend. Praying for you!!!

      Hugs,

      Kat

      Delete
  2. I hope this helps someone else, as much as it helped me.

    Your friend from Ohio.

    ReplyDelete