Suicide: To Heaven or To Hell?

It seems like I have been bombarded with phone calls and emails from people asking the same question --- “Does a person who commits suicide go to heaven or to hell?” This is a legitimate question, but for far too long, it has been answered with the WRONG answer. Sadly, many well-meaning Christians have suggested that suicide is an unforgiveable sin, punishable by an eternity in hell.

This teaching comes from the Roman Catholic belief that forgiveness is contingent on confession. Since suicide cannot be followed by confession, many people believed that the sin is unforgiveable. Please hear me say, THERE ARE NO SCRIPTURES TO SUPPORT THIS TEACHING!

The Bible tells us that the punishment for sin is death. It also tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all guilty before God. Our sin separates us from God and keeps us from going to heaven.

The Good News is that God loves us so much that He made a way to restore our relationship with Him. He knew that no matter how hard we tried, we would never be holy and perfect. So God sent His only Son, Jesus, down to earth to live a perfect life. Jesus is the only perfect who ever lived who was without sin. Jesus died on the cross for our sin – He took the penalty for our sin.

Jesus is the only way to be forgiven of sin. The only way anyone goes to heaven is through faith in Jesus. No where does the scripture imply that this applies to all sin, except for suicide. The Bible teaches that where a person goes after death depends on their relationship with Christ, not on the way that they die.

Before I get lots of angry hate mail, I do want to clarify that suicide is a sin. The Ten Commandments give the command, “Do not kill.” Suicide is a breach of this commandment. It is wrong. When a person dies, he will give an account for his sins on earth. We will be held accountable for our actions and suicide is not pleasing to God. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

So, how do we answer the question, “When a person dies by suicide, do they go to heaven or to hell?” It depends. If during life the person placed his faith in Christ, then he is in heaven. If he did not, he is in hell.

This should give great comfort to those who are left behind. I have no doubt that Michael is in heaven today, because he trusted in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The Bible teaches that nothing can snatch us out of God’s hand once we have received eternal life. “Nothing” means exactly that – if we belong to Christ, not even suicide can separate us from His love and grace.

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Tears to Joy: Suicide: To Heaven or To Hell?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Suicide: To Heaven or To Hell?

It seems like I have been bombarded with phone calls and emails from people asking the same question --- “Does a person who commits suicide go to heaven or to hell?” This is a legitimate question, but for far too long, it has been answered with the WRONG answer. Sadly, many well-meaning Christians have suggested that suicide is an unforgiveable sin, punishable by an eternity in hell.

This teaching comes from the Roman Catholic belief that forgiveness is contingent on confession. Since suicide cannot be followed by confession, many people believed that the sin is unforgiveable. Please hear me say, THERE ARE NO SCRIPTURES TO SUPPORT THIS TEACHING!

The Bible tells us that the punishment for sin is death. It also tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all guilty before God. Our sin separates us from God and keeps us from going to heaven.

The Good News is that God loves us so much that He made a way to restore our relationship with Him. He knew that no matter how hard we tried, we would never be holy and perfect. So God sent His only Son, Jesus, down to earth to live a perfect life. Jesus is the only perfect who ever lived who was without sin. Jesus died on the cross for our sin – He took the penalty for our sin.

Jesus is the only way to be forgiven of sin. The only way anyone goes to heaven is through faith in Jesus. No where does the scripture imply that this applies to all sin, except for suicide. The Bible teaches that where a person goes after death depends on their relationship with Christ, not on the way that they die.

Before I get lots of angry hate mail, I do want to clarify that suicide is a sin. The Ten Commandments give the command, “Do not kill.” Suicide is a breach of this commandment. It is wrong. When a person dies, he will give an account for his sins on earth. We will be held accountable for our actions and suicide is not pleasing to God. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

So, how do we answer the question, “When a person dies by suicide, do they go to heaven or to hell?” It depends. If during life the person placed his faith in Christ, then he is in heaven. If he did not, he is in hell.

This should give great comfort to those who are left behind. I have no doubt that Michael is in heaven today, because he trusted in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The Bible teaches that nothing can snatch us out of God’s hand once we have received eternal life. “Nothing” means exactly that – if we belong to Christ, not even suicide can separate us from His love and grace.

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6 Comments:

At January 31, 2011 at 4:24 PM , Blogger Michele said...

Natalie,
(this is Michele Bruce, BTW)
I know you want your posts to be as accurate as possible, so I wanted to let you know that is not a teaching of the Catholic Church. By that reasoning, anyone who died suddenly would go to Hell which is certainly not a Catholic teaching. Perhaps the confusion arose because it was believed that suicide was giving in to despair, and there was not time to repent, which is quite different from confession.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (official teaching)also states in 2282 that "grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide."
and in 2283 "We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance."

 
At January 31, 2011 at 4:41 PM , Blogger Brandi said...

Very well put. I have been thinking about and praying for you this past week, by the way.

 
At January 31, 2011 at 5:43 PM , Blogger Janet Speer said...

Thank you, Natalie, for your clear explanation...and for the courage to speak openly and honestly about suicide. Your Michael loved Jesus boldly and deeply, and I love imagining his joy and laughter in heaven.

 
At January 31, 2011 at 6:59 PM , Blogger Natalie said...

Michelle,

I should have clarified that these were ancient teachings. The book, Finding Your Way After the Suicide of Someone You Love by David Biebel and Suzanne Foster is where I found this information.

I know many Catholics who do not agree with this ancient teaching and I'm glad to hear that the current Catechism does not teach this.

I know from my own experience, after Michael died, many told me that my husband was in hell and that they would pray and beg God to let him out.

There is no doubt in my mind that Michael is in heaven and I just want to counter this belief. I mean no disrespect to the Catholic Church.

 
At January 31, 2011 at 8:39 PM , Anonymous Susie Cantrell ~ Mountain Ministry said...

Natalie,
Thanks for sharing on this topic that needs clarification, understanding & talked about openly-in the light. :) I also appreciate your research.

I appreciate the other comments too. Michele addressed a question I had, not belonging to a Catholic Church. If more Wisdom can be shared on this topic of Suicide & Heaven-vs-Hell amongst our Christian Family more Light will be shed on too many who 'FEEL' alone in the dark.

Also- a bit off topic but Natalie, when you spoke of people telling you "..." after Michael' death to comfort you - this statement hit home for me. After an accident & brain injury, my family & I were told 'comforting things' based on misunderstanding of a different Biblical teaching which was actually ended up being very hurtful. There are very loving & well-meaning people who speak from misunderstanding &/or lack of knowledge trying to simply & very sincerely comfort another Brother or Sister. Bless them yet, sharing about our tesimonies & expertise is a great way for us to learn how to speak The Truth in Love, Accuratly. Thanks again.

Be Encouraged & Have a JOY-Full Day!
Love Ya! :)

 
At February 3, 2011 at 8:32 PM , Blogger covnitkepr1 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 

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