Suicide is not a ticket to Hell

Growing up, I was provided two extreme ends of the Christian spectrum. I was raised Roman Catholic and then after Confirmation, my mother dragged me to every serpent head-stomping tambourine-shaking Charismatic church she could find. Both perspectives make it absolutely clear that suicide is a one-way ticket to Hell without chance of redemption.

I accepted that information on face value and had pity for those who commit suicide and the everlasting Hell they must surely endure because they did what all these churches said they shouldn’t do. Until today, when I realized it made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

What did Jesus say?

In Matt 12:31-32, Jesus says the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

That’s it.

God never leaves us. He is always with us. We separate ourselves from him with our sin only in the perspective that we ignore him and his blessings for us. Even in sin, God can bless us and be there for us. With free will, it is our choice to call out to him and allow him to fully embrace us. We should never think that in a moment when a child of God is so broken and devastated that they are contemplating suicide, that God would not be there wanting to help, waiting for that cry for help, waiting for the opportunity to take the pain away from someone who offers it up. God waits patiently. Because God gave us free will, he does not take over and do things for us. He just waits until we ask for help.

When someone is so shattered that they cannot reason, do not remember that God is there, or have gotten so cloudy that they think God would never accept them, and they do commit suicide, thereby surrendering their free will into the afterlife, God is right there to take them immediately. Just as we do not hold people accountable for wrongdoing who are too mentally anguished to think properly, God can see into our souls to know the absolute truth of what is in our hearts. He knows what is going through the heart and mind of someone who takes their own life. He knows why it is happening, even if someone’s closest friends are left confused and without answers.

Not a single one of us, except for the very few who actually receive Last Rites before dying, die without sin. So we believe Purgatory is where we will go to clean up before Judgment. Purgatory sounds like a perfect place for suicide victims to stay, too. For those who don’t bother with a Purgatory belief, the idea that a suicide victim goes to Hell while all others who die with sin get a pass to Heaven is unbalanced.

I read on some Charismatic Christian website that there’s no direct statement made about suicide so, because Judas killed himself, it’s really best to avoid taking the risk that God won’t forgive you for suicide. While lip-bitingly flawed, the article was written as a piece to encourage people to avoid committing suicide. Unfortunately, I believe the entire structure of belief concerning the afterlife after suicide is based on serving as a big Public Service Announcement. People need to be discouraged from suicide; but, this does little for explaining the nature of the forgiving and loving God that we know and does absolutely nothing to comfort family and friends of suicide victims.

Ron Rolheiser, OMI makes very distinct points concerning Roman Catholic doctrine and suicide once a year in his articles. He receives criticism for his articles because he does not discard doctrine and compassion in favor of the standard Public Service Announcement à la Fear. In his article written on August 8, 2010, Ron Rolheiser, OMI explains:

In the end it boils down to a question of God: If God is perfect love, compassion, and understanding, if God is infinite mercy and can, as our Christian faith teaches us, descend into hell itself, then it is an affront to God’s nature and an affront to our own faith to believe that such a God would, for all eternity, cut someone off from life because that person was so fragile, so wounded, so bruised, so hypersensitive, or perhaps simply so biochemically imbalanced that in a moment of depression or panic that person took his or her own life. Deep down, all of us know that. We need to say it out loud.

We are in safe hands, hands far gentler than our own. God can be trusted, and nowhere is this truer or more poignant than in the question of suicide.

I don’t believe people who commit suicide go to Hell for committing suicide. I give God far more credit than that. If he can take care of my children and me through times when I ignored him completely, he can certainly love and care for someone who’s been so beaten that they believed suicide was a resolution. I’m not a fan of traditional sharing-the-Good-News evangelism, but I do believe evangelism has its place to give people the tools to cry out for God’s help before they think suicide is the only answer. I do believe that it can be done without trying to scare people. I haven’t got the first clue how to evangelize to someone but I know there’s a good message that’s worth sharing.

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