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Archive for October 9th, 2013

If you have found this post because you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, PLEASE get help immediately!!

In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:   1-800-273-8255

There is a live online chat here:    http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

I am happy to answer questions and offer support as best as I can,  but I’m an anonymous blogger;  something this serious needs direct human contact.  Family, friends, doctors, psychologists and pastors all have help to offer, even if you’re sure there’s nothing they can do;  PLEASE let someone know you need help.

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A friend committed suicide a couple of weeks ago;  she had had brain surgery that had left her with brain damage and constant agony that meds could do more than put a dent in, and, after years of struggling with nothing getting better, when she started to deteriorate further she could not bear it any longer.  Her husband (also my friend) has been too distraught to talk, but at 2AM he called me, not only to say and hear the things you’d normally expect, but in the hopes that I could rebut what one of his so-called loved ones had said to him…  that his beloved wife, the light and love of his life, was burning in Hell because she had committed suicide.  Let’s ignore for the moment the cruelty of telling a man who doesn’t even want to live without his wife that she has gone on to even worse suffering.  And we’ll also ignore the obscene idea of a loving God condemning a woman crushed by unending agony to Hell because she sought release.  Here’s what I sent to the devastated widower after our hours-long conversation led me to check out what the Bible had to say:

“I did some scriptural research about suicide, and I wanted to reassure you again on this point:  there is literally NOTHING in the Bible about suicide even being a sin, much less preventing anyone from going to Heaven.  There are 7 suicides in the Bible (Abimelech, Samson, Saul and his armor bearer, Ahithopel, Zimri and Judas), and no condemnation is expressed about any of them.  Neither God, not Jesus, nor any of the great men of the Bible said a word on the subject.  Some of the heroes of the Bible suffered terribly (David, Jeremiah, Job), even expressing the wish that they had never been born, but not one of them ever said that they must not end their own life because it was sinful or would prevent them from going to heaven.  God never showed up to tell them that, either.  When Jonah was sulking in the desert, he said, directly to God, THREE TIMES, that he wanted to be dead, and God did not rebuke him, accuse him of contemplating sin, or threaten him with Hell if he acted out his deathwish;  instead, God questioned him about the plant that He had provided to shade him.  Human beings have created an issue about suicide, although very few churches teach that now…  but God does NOT make an issue of it, and suicide does NOT prevent union with God in Heaven.”

I didn’t want to bog my friend down with a bunch of scripture, but for the sake of completeness here it is:

Jonah 4 (NIV)

Jonah’s Anger at the Lord’s Compassion

4 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant[a] and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

 

I don’t know what church the person who claimed that my friend had gone to Hell belongs to;  even my intensely Catholic uncle assured me that the idea that suicide was “self-murder” and thus as sinful as regular murder stopped being taught decades ago…  and he shared my astonishment and outrage that someone actually claimed it to be valid, and to a grieving widower no less.  I will pray that the people in that church will have their eyes opened and see that God would never do such a thing;  I hate the thought of people going through life seeing our infinitely caring Lord as a …  child pulling the wings off of flies for the sheer joy of cruelty!!

With that said:  I can’t presume to say what God thinks and feels about suicide, other than the obvious observation that our suffering saddens Him.  I don’t have any answers as to what God wants people to do when they have a medical situation that is so horrible that life is unbearable.  I hope that this is one of the things I’ll eventually learn in seminary.

And I want to say again:  If you or someone you know feels suicidal, PLEASE get help!!

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