Suicide and endurance

From a christian perspective suicide is often considered a sin.While i dont agree with this possition many others do .From the other hand suicide is an easy way to get rid off suffering .But doesnt that contradicts the very notion of the verse “Those who will endure till the end will get saved”? Clearly this solution is not enduring till the end .For some years i have known this feeling of suicide and still i endure . “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all”
2 Corinthians 4:17
.For me this “solution” is a contradiction with these verses (and others verses as well).So while i do not believe is a sin ,we have to endure whatever comes in order to get saved .Whats your opinion ?Thanks and God bless

3 Likes

I would see this as a paradoxical theological problem on par with those known as the problems of evil and suffering.

On the one hand… I find the idea that God would resurrect suicides so that he can send them to hell, to be downright obscene and leads to the conclusion that God is a sadistic devil.

On the other hand… God said, “I set before you life and death, therefore choose life.” Suicide is quite literally choosing death over life. Accordingly, it is the quintessential sin rejecting faith, God, and all that God gives.

It is a fundamental fact of logic that we cannot choose to be alive in the first place. We can only choose what to do with it. But once we have life and the ability to choose, then shouldn’t we be free to reject it? We do have that freedom. The false premise is that we can do so without consequences. Just recently someone has argued in a discussion with me that God will even erase a person from everyone’s memory in order to make it so people can make such a choice without consequences. But for me that is tantamount to replacing all of reality with a lie and our existence with deception. To me that sounds like erasing all the difference between good and evil and between God and the devil – making God into more of a deceiver than the devil just as the creationists do. To choose life over death must include choosing the truth over the lie and reality over fantasy and dream.

I certainly reject this notion of God resurrecting people for the purpose of judgment. And yes I know the Bible verses this is based upon and obviously I take these as metaphorical and poetic rather than literally. I frankly don’t believe in a literal judgement at all. This is just a dramatic metaphor for the natural logical consequences of our own choices. I certainly reject the magical understanding of resurrection as that of dragging zombies out of graves. The death from the original sin is that of a spiritual death and the resurrection promised is likewise a return of the spirit to life which is salvation. So the notion of a resurrecting people for judgement is incoherent nonsense to me.

Life is good and throwing it away is insane. It is just that simple. So for the most part, people who commit suicide are not in their right mind. They are overwhelmed with a great number of bad habits of thought, perhaps finding themselves in circumstance where in a failure of imagination they see no way out, or willfully refusing the full range of what life has to offer. In those cases, suicide is simply the wrong answer. Of course we hope for the chance to show them their error and help them to understand how valuable life really is.

On the other hand, there are extraordinary circumstances where things are not so clear cut and in those circumstances I would challenge the applicability of the word “suicide.” Was it truly suicide to speak out against tyrants such as Hitler? Something isn’t suicide just because death is an inescapable result. Life and death are often rather intertwined going hand in hand, so this is not so simply a matter of extending the length of life at all costs. Quality of life is important too. So for example, giving ones life for the sake of liberty is sacrifice not suicide – it is choosing life.

2 Likes

Perseverance is a birthday gift when we are born again. Unlike what I understand the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine to be, suicide is a forgivable sin. There can be medical issues behind depression, though, that we are not entirely responsible for.

This is easy to say, but not as easy to practice, that we make a continuous moral choice as to what we pay attention to. In a sense, Jesus committed suicide, but he did not willfully take his own life – he gave it for us…

So the admonition stands,

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus [pay attention to him :slightly_smiling_face:], the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him [the future with us!], endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Even soap bubbles in the sink and the rainbows on them, as Ann Voskamp notes in One Thousand Gifts, are things to be thankful for. She started a log to count a thousand everyday gifts that our Father gives us, noting that Jesus gave broke bread with eucharisteo, thanksgiving, for the simple blessings of the meal… the evening before he knew he would have to suffer beyond what we can imagine, the loneliness and loss of the closest friendship and communion possible, that friendship which existed within the godhead.

 
One thing that helps, and we are also told to, is to be childlike, paying attention to the delightful gifts around us and in us, the beauty of nature (and the ability to enjoy it) and cool technology (and the ability to enjoy it :slightly_smiling_face:). Think of a little child’s wonderment at seeing a train for the first time (and the next several, as well :slightly_smiling_face:), or a jet airliner… or soap bubbles.

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

3 Likes

I realize some suicides are because people do not want to face suffering (like in the face of a terminal illness diagnosis) or consequences for their bad choices (like when people kill themselves instead of going to prison). But suicide is often the result of mental illnesses such as depression or long term battles with personality disorders.

I heard someone say that we should maybe consider saying “succumbed to suicide” (which frames it as the end result of a mental illness) instead of “committed suicide” (framing it as a crime). It is often wrong and unhelpful to frame the tragedy of suicide as the result of a lack of character. For many people, it is no more a lack of perseverance than losing the battle for life to cancer is due to a lack of perseverance. Mental illnesses are real challenges to health and they can result in death. Christians need to stop stigmatizing them or pretending the underlying issues are mostly spiritual or character related.

10 Likes

I prefer the medical metaphor to the judicial metaphor for most of this Christian religion stuff. I just don’t find the latter very helpful all round. Thus rejecting the notion of sin as crime goes hand in hand with rejecting sin as disobedience, in favor of sin as a degenerative disease consisting of self-destructive habits. In this way, seeing suicide as a sin doesn’t equate it being a crime worthy of punishment, but very much the end result of an illness for which we seek a cure.

I do recognize that depression can have a variety of causes some of which are purely biological or chemical rather than having to do with how we think. But other times it is a matter of how we think and choose, where psychiatrist trace the problem to bad thinking habits. It is all another reason for refraining from judgment – we just don’t have the knowledge for doing so reliably. Too often we suffer from selective blindness which makes our judgement of others hypocritical.

2 Likes

Only when mental illness is involved can we say that. Exogenous depression is not an illness. And it’s never a crime.

Nick, I really think you are mis-interpreting this verse as saying " endurance is a requirement for salvation" when it is really saying that we should have hope and reassurance in the knowledge that we have salvation, so we can endure the present trials. In the cultural context, Jesus speaks of terrible prosecution at the hands of Rome, and no doubt also from the outside community for those who follow him. It was (and would be) a difficult time, and in the midst of this suffering, we have security in knowing Christ is ultimately victorious.
As regards suicide, I think that it may or may not be a sinful act depending on the circumstances and motivation, but as Christians, if sin, it has already been forgiven.

2 Likes

Yes, but. It certainly may be a failure to pay attention to the right things – fallacious internal monologue, incorrect self-talk – which can lead to crime, maybe the sin of being thankless towards a generous Father?

Several translations of Psalm 15:2 have it wrong where they substitute or omit the preposition in.

He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart – Psalm 15:2

I don’t encourage suicide. I would never tell someone maybe they should do it. But I’m not opposed to it. I definitely don’t believe it’s a sin. I have no scriptural reason to call it a sin.

Some say it’s a sin because it’s murder , self murder. Well murder does not automatically equal a sin according to theology.

God said don’t kill, but then told them to go to war and destroy entire tribes. I do believe he truly said that and it’s not just a mistake. He also said to kill the killer. How can you kill a murderer without becoming one yourself?

Theology shows that killing does not automatically equal sin.

The other thing to consider this that a handful of people in the Bible killed them selves and it’s never called out .

So if someone killed themselves, I would not have any reason to believe that in itself sentences someone to have their body and soul destroyed in hell.

The verse about enduring to the end comes from Matthew 24 and it’s context is those who refuse the anti christ until they end will be saved.

I read the title of this thread and did a double-take. Not just about suicide but about endurance and realized that I just ignored the other half. Why? Oh. It was basically the idea that endurance is the answer to suicide… just suck it up, eh?

No way!

Sounds like a formula for pushing people who are depressed right over the edge into suicide.

Endurance is NOT the answer to suicide. How can anyone think such a thing? The flawed premise here is that life sucks and we have to endure it anyway. Sounds like just the sort of bad thinking that makes a lot of people depressed. It frankly sounds like just the sort of distortion of religion crafted by those changing religion into a tool of power and enslavement.

The answer to suicide is learning that life does not suck. If your life sucks then you are doing it wrong and you need to change your life. If it is people making it so, then leave them, fight them, or finds some other answer to it (maybe your answer is even endurance – but it has to be your answer and your way of making it not suck). The thing about life is that the possibilities are endless. So forge a new path through it of your own choosing.

For a lot of people it does. And trust me mine depression got better but still my life hasnt come to its happines yet. I still dont find much hope in it becuase i await for the other.

There are countless “motivational” stuff with the same motto on the internet. The thing is it doesnt work that way. Ive tried it. Many have

It wasnt my point . My point was that since our life wont be suffer free ,chosing a way out shows our fruits . Imagine the early christians chosing a quick way out over the torture they went trough

All the answers are in Genesis I know.

There are many scriptures that say our days are numbered by God, implicitly saying that their span is not to be cut short by our taking over control. One that comes immediately to mind and has gotten me through some rough times when I didn’t see the road ahead is Psalm 31:15 –

My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.

Sometimes my enemy is myself, sometimes it has been a noxious and dysfunctional boss, and sometimes, since Christians believe in a personal adversary, it is him, per the last petition in the Lord’s Prayer:

 
Another verse:

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me [not by me] were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

Read Psalm 91. It is a good one to memorize.
 

Another thing that suicide does is say to God, “You are not sufficient for my needs and I don’t want you as the Lord of my life anymore. I’ll take over now, thanks anyway.”

Paul tells us to be content, no matter what our circumstances. (Look at some of these verses about being content: “be content” NT search.) That does not mean we should not strive to make them better if we can, but it means that if things don’t turn out like we imagine they should or want them to, we should not despair because God knows us and knows our needs.

I had some pretty serious depression in the 1980s, and a Psalm I used a lot then was Psalm 143 (I think I may have memorized the whole thing):

O LORD, hear my prayer.
    In Your faithfulness, give ear to my plea;
    in Your righteousness, answer me.
Do not bring Your servant into judgment,
    for no one alive is righteous before You.

For the enemy has pursued my soul,
    crushing my life to the ground,
making me dwell in darkness
    like those long since dead.
My spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart is dismayed inside me.
I remember the days of old;
    I meditate on all Your works;
    I consider the work of Your hands.
I stretch out my hands to You;
    my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.

Answer me quickly, O LORD;
    my spirit fails.
Do not hide Your face from me,
    or I will be like those who descend to the Pit.
Let me hear Your loving devotion in the morning,
    for I have put my trust in You.
Teach me the way I should walk,
    for to You I lift up my soul.
Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD;
    I flee to You for refuge.
Teach me to do Your will,
    for You are my God.
May Your good Spirit lead me
    on level ground.
For the sake of Your name, O LORD,
    revive me.
In Your righteousness,
    bring my soul out of trouble.
And in Your loving devotion,
    cut off my enemies.
Destroy all who afflict me,
    for I am Your servant.

1 Like

We all do. In order to ‘get’ saved, all you have to do is be, assuming the transcendent is. So what do we do in the meantime?

I have little empathy for suicide. That doesn’t mean I condemn it. I just don’t feel the attraction. Maybe I’m too shallow.

But I’ve been reading The Righteous Mind in which Jonathon Haidt compares the relationship of moral feeling to reason as that of an elephant to its rider. Reason is the new kid on the block. The elephant has been around a long, long time. So as a tentative probe into what the compulsion to suicide might be like, I imagine someone who totally identifies with reason who doesn’t know he rides upon an elephant whose willfulness has been earned over eons. So I wonder if suicide is really the desire to shoot ones obstinate elephant? If so then it is really time to broaden ones concept of what a person is, share the credit and the blame. Perhaps work on the relationship and become more realistic about ones power and authority.

I like the probe. But suicide is about pain. We need to hear, see why others do it to empathize. Some tears (Freudian slip or what!) ago on peerless BBC Radio 4 a father described how he provided a haven for his troubled daughter. It was so good she killed herself in it rather than experience less. Someone very close to me attempted suicide a month ago. It wasn’t a cry for help. The noose wasn’t tight enough. We’re gingerly negotiating the cracked frozen lake of that. Credit, blame, power, authority? What do they have to do with it? Apart from as elements of a story that needs working out. If the words can be found in time.

I just got to Ch. 5 of Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, and reached this, which may be of interest to this thread.

I quote it, expressing here neither approval nor disagreement - but just as it is. I’ll only say this - that I fully agree with what’s been noted above - that suicides can be due to lots of causes including chemical depression and other things. The call dissociate that act from the universal culpability it has traditionally had - I echo and agree with that same call myself. Chesterton whether deliberately or not, or because of the lesser medical knowledge of his own time period does not make any allowances for any such nuances here. His view probably represents the solidly classical Catholic one - though I should be surprised if even among Catholics a century of time and increased knowledge hasn’t softened this some. Still - his passion for this very issue may be revealing and illuminating. The extended excerpt follows below …

… Under the lengthening shadow of Ibsen, an argument arose whether it was not a very nice thing to murder one’s self. Grave moderns told us that we must not even say “poor fellow,” of a man who had blown his brains out, since he was an enviable person, and had only blown them out because of their exceptional excellence. Mr. William Archer even suggested that in the golden age there would be penny-in-the-slot machines, by which a man could kill himself for a penny. In all this I found myself utterly hostile to many who called themselves liberal and humane. Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world. His act is worse (symbolically considered) than any rape or dynamite outrage. For it destroys all buildings: it insults all women. The thief is satisfied with diamonds; but the suicide is not: that is his crime. He cannot be bribed, even by the blazing stones of the Celestial City. The thief compliments the things he steals, if not the owner of them. But the suicide insults everything on earth by not stealing it. He defiles every flower by refusing to live for its sake. There is not a tiny creature in the cosmos at whom his death is not a sneer. When a man hangs himself on a tree, the leaves might fall off in anger and the birds fly away in fury: for each has received a personal affront. Of course there may be pathetic emotional excuses for the act. There often are for rape, and there almost always are for dynamite. But if it comes to clear ideas and the intelligent meaning of things, then there is much more rational and philosophic truth in the burial at the cross-roads and the stake driven through the body, than in Mr. Archer’s suicidal automatic machines. There is a meaning in burying the suicide apart. The man’s crime is different from other crimes— for it makes even crimes impossible.

About the same time I read a solemn flippancy by some free thinker: he said that a suicide was only the same as a martyr. The open fallacy of this helped to clear the question. Obviously a suicide is the opposite of a martyr. A martyr is a man who cares so much for something outside him, that he forgets his own personal life. A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything outside him, that he wants to see the last of everything. One wants something to begin: the other wants everything to end. In other words, the martyr is noble, exactly because (however he renounces the world or execrates all humanity) he confesses this ultimate link with life; he sets his heart outside himself: he dies that something may live. The suicide is ignoble because he has not this link with being: he is a mere destroyer; spiritually, he destroys the universe. And then I remembered the stake and the cross-roads, and the queer fact that Christianity had shown this weird harshness to the suicide. For Christianity had shown a wild encouragement of the martyr. Historic Christianity was accused, not entirely without reason, of carrying martyrdom and asceticism to a point, desolate and pessimistic. The early Christian martyrs talked of death with a horrible happiness. They blasphemed the beautiful duties of the body: they smelt the grave afar off like a field of flowers. All this has seemed to many the very poetry of pessimism. Yet there is the stake at the crossroads to show what Christianity thought of the pessimist.

This was the first of the long train of enigmas with which Christianity entered the discussion. And there went with it a peculiarity of which I shall have to speak more markedly, as a note of all Christian notions, but which distinctly began in this one. The Christian attitude to the martyr and the suicide was not what is so often affirmed in modern morals. It was not a matter of degree. It was not that a line must be drawn somewhere, and that the self-slayer in exaltation fell within the line, the self-slayer in sadness just beyond it. The Christian feeling evidently was not merely that the suicide was carrying martyrdom too far. The Christian feeling was furiously for one and furiously against the other: these two things that looked so much alike were at opposite ends of heaven and hell. One man flung away his life; he was so good that his dry bones could heal cities in pestilence. Another man flung away life; he was so bad that his bones would pollute his brethren’s. I am not saying this fierceness was right; but why was it so fierce?

Here it was that I first found that my wandering feet were in some beaten track. Christianity had also felt this opposition of the martyr to the suicide: had it perhaps felt it for the same reason? Had Christianity felt what I felt, but could not (and cannot) express— this need for a first loyalty to things, and then for a ruinous reform of things? Then I remembered that it was actually the charge against Christianity that it combined these two things which I was wildly trying to combine. Christianity was accused, at one and the same time, of being too optimistic about the universe and of being too pessimistic about the world. The coincidence made me suddenly stand still.

Chesterton, G. K… The G. K. Chesterton Collection [50 Books] (Kindle Locations 3875-3880). Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Edition.

3 Likes

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.