A leading cause of death globally, suicidal behavior is a prevalent issue. People seek help from the Bible when they struggle with hardships, suicidal thoughts, or the loss of the loved one, and seek answers from clergy about religion, faith, and belief.
Is suicide an unforgivable sin? What happens to Christians who commit suicide? These are common questions often asked by people seeking comfort and relief.
What Happens to Christians Who Commit Suicide?
Christian view suicide as a destructive force that not only affects the person committing the act; but impacts the whole community. Both the Old and New Testaments have presented views on suicide. The traditional beliefs condemn suicide as an act of sin, while the contemporary beliefs are more tolerant of the act.
Suicide and Salvation
The theological debate of committing suicide and whether there is salvation for a person engaged in such an act is divided into two predominant groups in Christianity: Roman Catholic and Protestant.
Roman Catholic positions suicide as an unforgivable mortal sin. On the contrary, Protestant or Evangelical Christians believe all sins are equal in the eyes of God, and hence all are capable of being forgiven.
Roman Catholic Approach
The Roman Catholic Church maintains distinctions between two types of sins: Venial and mortal. The latter disassociate the sinner from God’s grace, love, and trust.
The Catholics consider them to be a serious offense. If not repented before death, it guarantees eternal damnation to the sinner. Venial sins are minor violations of moral law.
They degrade one’s soul and morality, but they are not deadly and are condemnable. Catholics evaluate suicide as a grave mortal sin. Instead of adhering to God’s will to preserve the sanctity of life, the person commits such a horrific act with full consent and knowledge.
Committing this mortal sin means forfeiting heaven and opting for hell by your own free will. The Catholic perspective acknowledges that a person who commits this sinful act might be suffering from mental health issues and not making rational decisions.
This establishes a distinct line between voluntary suicide and suicide due to psychological factors. Catholics believe that God will provide the opportunity for repentance for all sins—whether venial or mortal—if you confess to them before your death. This way, you can regain the grace of God.
In the case of suicide, Catholics state that in the process of the act, it is the possibility that the dying one might regret their actions and ask for God’s mercy. His omnipresence that can transcend time can extend his grace and repentance to the dying person just before death.
The Protestant’s camp does not believe that a person loses their chance of salvation by suicide. Unlike the Catholics, who evaluate the sins according to their gravity, protestants consider suicide a sin among many sins.
It is not any special category that separates a person from the grace of God. Moreover, Protestants reject the view that suicide leads to forfeiting of heaven. The person’s life’s work, hardships, and good deeds were undone just by the act of suicide.
Protestant proclaims that the act of sacrificing Jesus at the altar atones the Christians from all the sins committed in their life. Protestant also points out that Christians are the children of God, and eternal fulfillment is bestowed upon them from the time they are born.
Meritorious or wrongful deeds make a person more or less of a believer. However, the wrongful acts cannot take away the salvation from the person that Christ has offered Himself.
Why Christianity Condemns Suicide
Humanity Reflects the Image of God
Roman Catholics are strongly against suicide and disregard any salvation for the sinner. Once God creates human beings and sends them to the realm of the earth, they become his representative, and their focal point should be to uphold the laws inscribed in the Bible.
They reflect God in their actions and attitudes and are worthy of love, honor, and respect. Although God has given you free will, a unique aspect that distinguishes you from other creations, you have to carry a part of the Creator in your free will as a Christian. You do not have the right to elevate your will over His.
Catholics emphasize that Christian conforms to God’s image and His Grace. Once distorted from the fall, the image cannot be restored or made right through Jesus Christ.
An Act of Self Murder
Secondly, suicide is a direct violation of the commandment against murder. The teachings take on even more depth with this interpretation.
Christians see suicide as a murderous act against one own self. According to them, it is s subsect of this commandment. God is not just reminding the sanctity of other humans but yourself as well.
The Bible scriptures identify murder as an immoral and unjustifiable act against human beings. It is a deliberate act with the intent to take someone’s life.
The Bible states that if you are not allowed to take someone else’s life, you are not justified in shedding your blood. You are called to love yourself as you love your neighbor.
This intentional and voluntary taking of life defies your love for yourself and God.
Our Final Thoughts
Before you commit suicide, it is essential to remember that God is the giver of life. You represent God’s image and attributes with your body and soul. The contemporary debate about suicide stems from the traditional arguments that believe suicide is a mortal sin. This debate has led to two factions with different views on what happens to Christians who commit suicide. However, this debate has led to the stigma surrounding the talks of mental health, which pushes people away from their communities and ultimately God.
Nonetheless, suicide has devastating effects on the community as a whole. Comprehending the sheer magnitude of this epidemic is essential to lowering the stigma around this issue and persuading communities to engage the people who are crying for help.