Dear Theophilus: On Suicide and Heaven

Posted on June 27, 2017  in  [ Theology & Ministry ]

Can those who commit suicide go to heaven?

Sincerely,

Theophilus     

Dear Theophilus,

This question comes up quite a bit among those who have grown up in a religious home or environment. Religious folk often point to the Fifth Commandment forbidding the taking of a life, even if it is your own. They see the perpetrator of suicide as also wronging others; those who remain who will experience loss, bewilderment and grief. But you won’t find anything in that teaching about going to hell. While there can be no doubt that taking one’s life is wrong, suicide is often a complex matter.

It is not an automatic that someone who commits suicide is not saved or loses salvation.  Suicide is the product of emotional and mental anguish and not necessarily a spiritual deficiency. This is an old medieval belief that has no roots in biblical Christianity. The truth is, we do not know, so we must keep an open mind and trust that God knew what the person’s condition was prior to committing this act.

People do not go to hell simply because they are justified, due to the death of Christ for them, which pays for all their sins. The moment they believe in Christ they move from death to life. Even this faith is a gift of God and not a result of good works. No particular sin they commit after conversion can damn them to hell (Romans 5:1-11).

Individuals who commit suicide often have been struggling with serious problems, such as depression, alcoholism or other forms of drug abuse. Taking one’s life isn’t the right way to deal with any trial, but the people who do are more than likely not thinking clearly. Therefore, suicide does not automatically damn them to hell, but could be a sign of a person not thinking clearly. The Bible teaches that what determines whether a person goes to heaven or hell is whether they trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Faith in Christ changes us and gives us a new perspective in life. This is not perfect but substantial (Eph.2:4-9). So the only question is if a person’s suicide was because they did not really know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. That is what matters when talking about heaven or hell.

The issue then is always the same. Does a person have faith in Christ and therefore their sins are paid by the sacrifice of Christ, or do they not have faith in Christ and therefore must pay for all their own sins including suicide? Perhaps some are quick to judge and condemn people who take their own lives. But we should avoid the inclination to oversimplify this tragic type of death.

Come back in two weeks to read the next post in this series. Do you want your question answered? Email cotblog@gcu.edu with the subject line “Dear Theophilus.” For more information about GCU’s College of Theology, use Request More Information button or visit our website.

Numa Gomez, MDiv

Numa Gomez holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration (1992) and an MDiv in theology (2006) from Golden Gate Baptist Seminary (Scottsdale, AZ). He is a licensed ordained minister (Southern Baptist Convention) and served as pastor of a Hispanic church from 1997 – 2013. He is married to Pamela and they have two children, Luke (26) and Elisa (24).

Learn more about Numa Gomez, MDiv

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