Posted Sep 13, 2019 by Michael L. Brown

There are some Christians who believe that suicide is an unpardonable sin, the logic being this: Suicide is self-murder, no murderer-has eternal life, and you cannot repent of the sin of suicide, since it is your last and final act.

Other Christians argue that we are forgiven because of what Jesus did, not what we do. Therefore, regardless of which sins we commit or do not commit, Jesus still saves us.

Still others would say, “Who says suicide is always a sin? What if the person suffered unbearable pain or was not in his or right mind? Surely God would overlook this.”

Before we try to answer these important, theological questions, we need to pause for a moment and look at the human side of these agonizing questions.

Just this week, Pastor Jarrid Wilson, himself the founder of a suicide outreach group, took his own life, leaving behind his wife and young children.

Adding to the tragedy is the fact that, on the very day he committed suicide, he presided at the funeral of another suicide victim. Perhaps the pain of it all was just too much to bear?

Like many of you, I have never suffered from mental illness or battled depression. And aside from one crazed thought I had in 1971 in the midst of a massive overdose of hallucinogenic drugs, I have never for a split second contemplated suicide. (For those who don’t know my story, I have been drug free and alcohol free since December 17, 1971.)

So, I am in no way qualified to address the psychological or medical or emotional aspects of depression, mental illness, or suicide. And the very last thing I would dream of doing would be to judge someone who committed suicide (unless they plainly stated their reasons for their actions, thereby explaining things for themselves.)

What, then, of the biblical questions? What about the question of sin and salvation?

Speaking at Jarrid’s memorial service, Greg Laurie, the senior pastor of the church where Jarrid served, said this: “When you stand before God, you won’t be judged by the last thing that you did before you died. You’ll be judged by the last thing Jesus did before he died. He died for your sin.”

Here, Pastor Laurie makes an important point.

Many Christians think that if they fail to confess every last sin they commit each day, if they die in their sleep, they will go to hell. Or if they lose their temper on the road, yelling at a driver who cut them off, then die in a car crash, they will go to hell because they didn’t have time to repent.

That is a real misconception, one that can produce condemnation, fear, and bondage. (Bear in mind that I write these words as someone who believes in the importance of confession of sin and as one of the best-known opponents of the doctrine called hyper-grace.)

But we are not saved or lost based on a specific sin we commit (or do not commit). We are saved based on our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, who then becomes our Lord and calls us to live a new life.

What if we reject His lordship once we are saved? What if we turn away from Him and deny Him? Can we then forfeit our salvation?

I believe the Scriptures teach that this is a distinct and real possibility. Let us not play games with such a great salvation! (I’m aware, of course, that there is great debate among Christians on this subject.)

Is it possible, then, that someone committing suicide could do so as an act of defiance and rebellion against God, thereby rejecting His lordship?

This is possible too. But unless we have clear evidence that this is the case, when we hear of a believer committing suicide, especially one who suffered from severe depression, we should believe and hope for the best.

A caller to my radio show once described what happened to his brother, who returned from Afghanistan suffering from PTSD. He had been a committed believer but now was acting irrationally, drinking, and losing his temper. Then he committed suicide.

Did he thereby commit the unpardonable sin? I seriously doubt it.

Did Pastor Jarrid commit the unpardonable sin? I see zero evidence for it.

And that’s why Jarrid’s wife was quick to post that, in the midst of her own agony, her “sweet husband” was “in the presence of Jesus,” free from pain at last. May the Lord pour out His mercy on this hurting family!

At the same time, we need to do our best to urge those who are struggling to hang on, helping them somehow to see that there is a way to find freedom right here in this world. That suicide is never the best option. That with God, healing and deliverance are possible in the here and now.

We also need to help convince them that we not only love them but that we need them, and if they take their own lives, they are depriving us as well.

I know that Pastor Jarrid sought to help others in just these ways, based on what I have read about him. Now, I can only pray that, rather than his death prompting others to take their own lives too, his suicide will be a deep awakening call to the Church.

Many are hurting, right in our own midst – perhaps, right in our own families – and we simply do not recognize it. Many are in pain that we cannot imagine.

May we provide the support and love and help they need, ultimately through the Lord’s grace, that will cause them to cherish life, cling to life, and then, bring life to others.

May Jarrid’s death bring life to others, and may the darkness give way to light.

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4God posted a comment · Sep 23, 2019
I appreciate Dr. Brown taking the time to discuss this in a sincere and thoughtful way, admitting he is not experienced in this area. This is a harrowing and stymying topic and event and we, as the church, must face it and admit there are no simple solutions. This topic is especially important to me given I am a psychologist who was pulled from severe mental illness supernaturally by God. We have to address these questions thoroughly and truthfully, for we have the prescience to know that supernatural forces love to see chaos, doubt, fear and destruction, which happens in situations such as this. Psychologists know that when suicides happen, there are steps needed to be taken to ensure there are not “copycat” situations. Not only do people in similar circumstances engage in the same behavior, but much tumult and fear occur for those tied to that milieu. Already, I saw someone comment about wondering whether God is even powerful or caring. If someone here is thinking it, you know others are. We must speak up for these people as well, for love is not simply what we view it as, but it is what God has defined it as. Let’s face it, God’s standard of love and human beings are not always the same, this is why anytime you speak truth and it goes against someone else’s views, you are deemed judgmental and hateful, even if you are speaking truth. Like I said, I don’t want to hurt those who have been through a situation similar to this, this is meant to be a thorough analysis that provides all sides of the story and provides a story of God that is healing and supernatural as well (read this in its entirety to hear my story). God deserves glory from his people, but we have to share our stories of his action in our lives, even when it may cause others to be upset. I do believe that brother Mike, in his attempt to be sympathetic, has clouded his reasoning on this topic. If the pastor of this megachurch mentioned in the article is right about behavior, then this person has answered the question frequently discussed by Christians: can you be gay and Christian? Well, you can be everything as long as you believe. If this is the case, just preach the gospel and stay out of culture wars and instructing behavior for none of that matters! If we are going to make exceptions for suicide, then let us not judge homosexuality, transgender or abortion or any other topics we talk about, for these people are also struggling, hurting and lost. Are we going to be as truthful and objective as we can in all situations, or are we going to be like the earthly people who use different standards and objectives when we like them or affiliate with the group to which they belong? This is not the way of God. Did we ever stop to think that salvation is not just a momentary situation, where a behavior can define or disprove someone’s faith, but that it is a belief in God that then starts a process of walking with God and that this path is to be continued for it shows our belief? Remember we are told to “run the race” not stop halfway and say we had enough. The crown of life is received for those who stay in God’s love and trust. Imagine someone married. You would not say, well, he was good to me for a decade, but then he cheated on me and got a divorce, but yep, for a time he was faithful so we must still be together. NO! You look at the entirety of the marriage, the sacrifice, the giving and the continuing to persevere and walk as that person’s partner to see that they indeed were faithful and loved that person. What about if a spouse leaves the other? If they go back to them then they are married, if they leave them and get a divorce they are not. There is a continuance of behavior that is required to be married, if we make the decision to end, or continue the marriage we face the consequences. Greater than this is God’s love and requirement that we love him above all things and seek his path and continue to walk with him until he decides it is time to come home for the race is over. Is there a difference between telling God you no longer want to walk his path in life and between saying you are going to end your own life because you no longer believe that he will ameliorate your situation currently and you don’t believe he is going to ever bring any relief to the situation to make you want to continue to fight? Is this really faith and belief in a loving, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being who teaches repeatedly to be faithful and that he will comfort us? From Paul, to Jesus to stories of the Old Testament, the pattern is the same. Again, if a person divorce’s his wife, is he still married? Not unless they get remarried, the marriage is over. It is not just one behavior that determines the behavior, it is a heart that has gone astray over time that matters—behaviors are a culmination of beliefs, thoughts, emotions and neurochemical interactions over time, not at an instance. The topic of the article is in and of itself is a bit misleading in that it misses the point—this isn’t about the unforgiveable sin per se. We are talking about a behavior that may require repentance (depending on which denomination we ask), or indicate that a person has walked away from the faith or never was saved to begin with. Just as the articles states we have no evidence he committed the unforgiveable sin, we have clear evidence of a sinful behavior that is grave, not a simple unkind remark here—remember that Paul discusses the severity of mistreating the body for it is the temple of God. I know this is a tough topic; if we say he is forgiven then we appear empathic and loving, but we minimize the power of God to intervene in our lives and we ignore the warnings he gives us about avoiding sin and we overstep our boundaries of knowledge and our roles as believers. On the other hand if we say he this person will not be saved, then we appear hateful and we again overstep boundaries as believers. Yet we cannot ignore clear tutelage from God on these matters. We are called to follow God’s word and he calls us into a metamorphosis of life—a new life in him in this life, and a new path and journey to begin with him, where he guides us and is with us. We also must not forget that he can intervene to help us through the struggles: God is El Shaddai and Hashem after all as he is our great comforter as Paul writes and as many believers can attest to. We are also told by Paul that there is no unique temptation to individuals, meaning someone is not going to be tempted far beyond their ability while others receive no such temptation—from a clinical perspective, we see that in 2 Corinthians Paul was on the verge of either suicide or a massive breakdown psychologically, yet he tells us that God came to him and freed him. So the question is this, do you believe Paul was a believer with true faith? He is one of the few people who we can say with all certainty he showed actual persevering true belief in God. Sometimes I believe one of the reasons he was put through all these trials was so that we could know he was sincere. The next aspect of this is topic is this: Was his depression so severe that he was not guilty because his pain was so pervasive that it completely overwhelmed his sanity? I think most people would agree God would not judge someone who was not in control of their own faculties-unless of course, that person used substances that caused the behavior. Again, do we believe that God could or would intervene? Let’s look at this troubling story to see if this person had no self-control. On this we can go to the evidence—No, he was not psychotic or in an extremely delusional state. How do we know this then? We are told that he had just performed at a funeral. The best thing to say is that we simply don’t know his fate, we are not the judges. Let us not whitewash the matter either and say we know this man is with God. We don’t. For all we know people who engage in such behavior remain earthbound spiritually until judgement day. We are told that all who die meet God, but we are not told exactly when that happens. What we do know is that the preponderance of evidence does suggest there are very real and permanent dangers in turning to suicide as the way of escaping pain. I wanted to comment on this because I am a psychologist, but more importantly, I battled with severe mental-illness for 27 years of my life before God pulled me from the darkness. As a child, I battled with obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. It all began at the age of 4. This continued throughout my teens when I was placed in therapy and eventually medications. For about a year I was doing well, but then the antidepressants threw me into a state of mania. New treatment was now stronger psychotropic medication. My problems were so severe, I once had a psychiatrist tell me he no longer knew how to help me and was referring me to someone else. I watched as my mom cried and said to me, “why would God put you through so much”? I responded, I don’t know, but Mary witnessed Jesus suffer. Her response was “ yes, but she didn’t watch him suffer his whole life”! These were absolutely some of the most despair producing, hopeless moments I can remember that still bring tears to my eyes to this day. Eventually, I was married, but the mental illness destroyed my marriage and resulted in us losing our home and family. I was placed into mental institutions on 3 separate occasions, battling suicidal ideations and depression, anger and anxiety. The fear, emptiness, loneliness and helplessness are simply beyond what words can capture, so I appreciate people who say they can’t understand it because they can’t. I had two major attempts at suicide. The first time I went to attempt it and God performed a supernatural sign to stop me from my impulse. The second time happened when I was coming off a class of medications known as benzodiazapenes. I went through terrible withdrawal: these drugs are thought by most clinicians to be harder to discontinue than any drug, even opiates. I was waking every night with withdrawal for two months at 3 a.m., with tachychardia (200 beats per minute), hallucinations and absolute and overwhelming fear that made me feel as though I were going to leave my body. At one point, I was hallucinating from chronic sleep deprivation which resulted in a voice saying in my head, you have to kill yourself. I agreed with the thought that emerged, yet something happened in that moment, a bag began rustling. It startled me back to reality. I thought it had to be a mouse. I heard it a second time, then a third. I stopped, stared at the bag on that third moment and saw it being jostled as if someone were literally shaking it. Immediately, I knew in my very being, this was an Angel. I was placed in mental institutions on 3 different occasions, over a period of 8 years. At the institution I asked a chaplain to give me the contact information of a rabbi so that I could convert to Judaism. I am Jewish, on both my mom and dad’s side, but neither side practiced Judaism. Christianity was what I was raised around. I had given up on it, seeing that Jesus was just letting me suffer and as a result, he could not possibly be the way to God. After asking the chaplain for a contact, he said he didn’t know any rabbis in the area. I asked if he knew of any useful bible passages that dealt with suffering and he had me read James. Upon opening it, and starting to read, I felt a supernatural energy that was the most powerful thing I had ever felt in my life. It literally felt like I was flying with a mixture of electricity running through my body and a pure powerful energy of light entering into me at that very moment. It was unbelievable as I was so depressed and empty that I was not feeling anything good at the time, nor had I for weeks. It was amazing that God gave me the Holy Spirit, yet I didn’t know what was happening at the time as I hadn’t been edified in God’s word. I simply knew that something happened to me and that this energy of pure joy was revealing to me that Christ was the way to God. A few weeks after this event, I felt a real change. Yet I was changed to another medication again, and it caused horrible side-effects and I was once again placed in a mental institution. Shortly after this, my wife left me and filed for a divorce. Three days after I received the paperwork that my wife was filing for divorce, something amazing occurred. I received a message in a dream from God, where he showed me in a dream that my ex-wife and I would be reunited. There we were, standing in pure light ( we were actually white like lightening) looking at each other, we didn’t kiss, we didn’t hug, but as we stood there looking at each other, a spiritual breeze blew and she said to me, “let’s take things slowly.” I began telling people that God had given me a prophecy that we would be remarried and that we would be back together. Of course, no one believed me; they thought I was nuts or just overly hopeful, perhaps to the point of being blissfully ignorant, others saw it as me being in denial for my wife wasn’t even speaking to me. Three years later, after the divorce was finalized, we accidentally ended up at the same church together, completely unplanned, and the week before I was moving out of the state we both were living in. She texted me 3 days later, and we met. In the car we prayed before getting into what she had called me about. Then she said to me “I want to get back together, Let’s take things slowly.” After 14 years of being on medication, I prayed to God to let me get off of them. I had tried in the past before coming to God (before God came to me!) and failed miserably to get off of them. Yet as of this writing, several years later, I am still med free, and yes, I am still with my wife and I have not been in an institution since. God changed my heart instantly in that mental institution, but the training I underwent with him took years to change. I still have to keep tabs on my mood, once and a while I use melatonin to help with sleep, but I am a new person, and I know it is all because of God intervening in my life guiding me and me choosing to continue to walk with him daily. I have created a program that I run in churches to help them see that those who are drowning can be pulled out the waters of despair by God if you stay faithful. Because many are embarrassed to enter a group, I also created a book which I will be publishing. God is good, and he is faithful to those who believe.
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Jeff Bowen posted a comment · Sep 18, 2019
This brings up so many questions on all sides of the issue. Assuming suicide is a sin (which may not be the case, especially because of mental illness). Are there any examples in scripture of someone ending up in the presence of God who's last act was sinful? Are there examples of such being separated from God? Who may ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place? What does it take to be ushered right into the very presence of God? If suicide can accomplish that, then it might be a very attractive alternative for many. There are many promises to those who overcome, but are there any scriptural promises to those who give up and are overcome by sin/the enemy? This young man is being talked about as a victim, which may be the case, but are not his wife and children victims who have been abandoned by their father? What about those who looked to him as a spiritual mentor? It seems like there are many victims out there. There must be freedom in Christ (apart from death) for all who suffer from sin and sickness. I'm saddened for all involve here and that we have another example of a struggling, then failing Christian. Whatever happened to the power of God? I long for more stories of freedom and deliverance.
czarpaul posted a comment · Sep 17, 2019
while not a scholar or pastor the only unpardonable sin I see listed is blaspheming the Holy Spirit. I don't know the situation here but people need to share the burden with others especially when working with suicidal or other people whose problems can weigh you down. If you don't you can end up with such a weight on you that you become overwhelmed with their problems and become the patient not the therapist. Sometimes your cross gets so heavy you need help carrying it otherwise you will fall under its weight. Also those working with suicidal and others with major burdens are targets of satan big time. If he can get them to commit suicide he might get some to figure 'if even those who help us end up committing suicide what is the point of trying?'
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neptune posted a comment · Sep 17, 2019
If suicide were unpardonable, I think the Bible would make that pretty clear. But the Bible says very little about suicide. In fact, if we think that we're saved based on our works, then we've "fallen from grace." Apparently around 90% of people who die from suicide are suffering from some form of mental illness. In other words, they have a darkened mind, and may no longer know what's true and what isn't true. In fact, they may be convinced that they are doing the right thing. The Bible says to do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. If you were suffering from a confused mind and, as a result, did something that you'd normally never do, would you want someone judging you? I think Satan loves to tempt Christians to judge/condemn folks who've died from suicide, with an inevitable holier-than-thou "I'd never do such a thing myself" attitude. No, suicide isn't the unpardonable sin. We go to heaven based on what Jesus did for us on the Cross. Suicide is a certainly a tragedy, but it doesn't change our salvation any more than dying from cancer would.
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Keith Heimann posted a comment · Sep 16, 2019
The discussion alone is the ultimate “Blame the Victim” game.