My Thoughts. . .
Monday, July 22, 2019
Does an individual lose his soul if he commits suicide? Exodus 20:13 states, “You shall not murder.” Suicide is defined as self-murder. There are some who would quickly and unequivocally place all suicide under that heading. We know that all killing is not murder. Suicide could fall under that description. Sadly, scripture does not address all scenarios in enough detail to define whether that self-killing is murder or not.
Ahithophel, who aligned himself with Absalom against David, hung himself (2 Samuel 17:23). Perhaps his action was out of desperation due to the conflict he was involved in. Would he have done what he did if that conflict had not been present? No, he would not have. He decided to kill himself rather than suffer that fate at the hands of David’s men. His choice of death was his own sword as opposed to being killed by the sword of another. Under those circumstances, would death by his own hands be considered suicide or self-murder?
In Saul’s final battle with the Philistine, he commanded his armor bearer to kill him. The man refused. So, Saul “took a sword and fell on it” (1 Samuel 31:4). The armor bearer followed Saul’s example and fell on his own sword (verse 5). If the armor bearer had complied with Saul’s order and killed Saul, we would classify it as euthanasia or “mercy killing” rather than suicide. I’m not sure if Saul’s command would have made his armor bearer guilty of murder under those conditions if he had complied. Saul chose to kill himself rather than be killed by his enemy. Again, under those conditions would falling on his own sword be termed suicide or self-murder?
In 1 Kings 16:15-20 Zimri “burned the king’s house down upon himself with fire and died” (1 Kings 16:18). Scripture continues by saying, “because of the sins which he had committed in doing evil in the sight of the LORD . . . and in his sin which he had committed to make Israel sin” (1 Kings 16:19). Scripture states he died in sin. By refusing to escape a burning house, the man died. Should the taking of one’s life by refusing to flee the flames be identified as suicide or self-murder?
In World War I, pilots did not have parachutes. They were given a pistol. If, in a combat situation their plane was in flames, they had three choices. 1) they could ride the burning plane to the ground, 2) they could jump and escape burning to death, or 3) they could shoot themselves. All three today would be classified as self-murder or suicide. Yet, under those conditions and since they were in the military, were any of those choices actually self-murder?
Remember Samson? He prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines!” (Judges 16:30). Whatever you may say negatively about Samson, the Hebrew writer lists him with great men of faith like David, Samuel, and the prophets (Hebrews 11:32). Was God’s message at that time, “It is okay if you kill yourself while killing My enemies”? Scripture paints Samson as a martyr in the cause of God. He is seen as one of Israel’s judges who died in the faith. Yet, wouldn’t his last actions be classified as suicide today?
Last, but not least, is Judas Iscariot. He betrayed Jesus. Yet afterwards 1) he repented, 2) confessed his “sin,” and 3) he returned the blood money (Matthew 27:3-5). In the upper room the statement is made concerning Judas about his “wages of iniquity” and “by transgression fell” (Acts 1:16-18, 25). Luke tells us that “Satan” entered “into Judas” (Luke 22:3). Prior to hanging himself, what was Judas’ frame of mind? Only God knows. Luke tells us Matthias took his place as an apostle and Judas went to “where he belongs” (Acts 1:26). Some Commentaries give us five different meanings of that statement. Most today would select hell as its meaning. Perhaps that is so. Yet, the 1), 2), 3) things said about Judas refers to his actions that transpired after Jesus was arrested and being brought before different individuals. Is Luke saying that “where he belongs” is the grave? God is Judas Iscariot’s judge and He alone knows.
Depression is seldom understood by those who have never experienced it. Hallucinations are usually not understood nor believed by loved ones, friends, or neighbors. Yet, for the affected individual, snakes, spiders, or someone trying to kill them is all too real. Does God hold such individuals guilty? It would seem that such are far better off than those Jesus prayed for by saying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Jesus healed the demon possessed rather than condemning them. When he healed the two among the tombs, they were in their “right mind” and clothed (Mark 5:15; Luke 8:35). Before that healing, they were naked and cutting themselves with stones. Would Jesus’ attitude not be the same today for those whose minds have been captured by depression or some other mind robbing ailment?
We often judge others based upon our traditional knowledge, experience, background, understanding, and traditions. We are deceived into thinking that our error, sin, transgressions, faults, or mistakes are never as bad as those held by others. We sometimes fool ourselves into believing that our judgments are the same as God’s judgments.
Suicide has been referred to as “self-murder.” Was Samson guilty of murdering self? If a person kills himself in a few moments, we usually classify it as suicide. If he kills himself slowly, over a period of several years due to overeating, gaining too much weight, refusing to exercise, over medicating, under medicating, or engaging in activities that provoke a heart attack, we refuse to classify it as self-murder. If he throws himself on a grenade to protect his fellow soldiers, we honor and decorate him posthumously. God will judge whether a murder has been committed. His judgments will be righteous regardless of whether we agree or disagree. God knows our heart. Will God punish a person for taking his own life? That is in the hands of God.