Do Christians Who Commit Suicide Lose Their Salvation?

image

In a somewhat superficial way, in one of their blogs, the Christian Post is asking this question in the wake of Matthew Warren’s suicide by a self-inflicted gun shot wound.

The following questions are put forth to show that a Christian cannot lose his or her salvation:

So since suicide is a result of mental illness, then the question is whether or not God holds illness against a person when deciding whether or not to allow them into heaven?

Does He hold it against cancer patients that die of cancer?

Or heart disease patients who die of heart attacks? Is that reasonable?

The blogger who wrote this for the Christian Post is taking a dangerous position with the assurance of salvation.

First of all he groups all mental illness with other illnesses such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Then he classifies suicide in the same way as death from a heart attack as a result of cardiovascular disease, and death from complications of cancer. He cites Romans 8 where it states that nothing can separate us from the love of God, and he implies that even taking our own life is subject to this declaration made by apostle Paul.

The big difference is that unlike suicide victims, cancer patients and heart attack victims for the most part do not premeditate their death, and they do not carry it out by volition.

There will be cases where believers have completely lost their mind as a result of some medical or psychiatric illness, and they are effectively unaware of the consequences of the suicidal act. They do not have the reasoning capacity to discern the gravity of what they are doing. In those cases, their actions cannot be held against them. But those cases may be more rare than we imagine.

Most suicides take place after prolonged suicidal ideation, and some of these victims have an elaborate plan on how to accomplish the act. Euthanasia is an example of this type of premeditated assisted suicide.

In those cases of suicide where the person is aware of their actions and understands the consequences, and more so is a professing believer, and THEN proceeds to destroy the temple of the Holy Spirit by self-murder, there is no excuse.

Such an action actually may be evidence they are not believers. One who has the Holy Spirit living inside him will not destroy the temple of the Holy Spirit willingly.

There is one other possibility. Gabe Bogdan brought this up in a previous comment. Depression and suicide may not be a sin in themselves, but they may be the consequence of unrepented sin. One’s refusal to be convicted by the Holy Spirit may lead to depression and then suicide, and in that case the spiritual devastation is evident.

Now… It is not appropriate for us to say in which group suicide victims belong. Whether they have lost their mind and are victims of lack of understanding, or whether they have premeditated and meticulously carried out the act.

We cannot speculate whether they go to heaven or hell, because that is the domain of the Omniscient.

Image credit: istockphoto.com

Depression: Physical and Spiritual Perspectives

Major Depression is a state of sadness and apathy which lasts at least two weeks, and typically longer, and is severe enough to interfere with daily life.  In order to have the diagnosis of major depression, five of the following must be present:

(1) depressed mood

(2) markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day

(3) significant weight loss weight gain

(4) insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day

(5) psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day

(6) fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day

(7) feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt

(8) diminished ability to think or concentrate

(9) recurrent thoughts of death  and suicide

A medical doctor can make the diagnosis after a careful physical and mental status exam.

These are the physical and emotional aspects of depression and a way for us to diagnose it.

What about the spiritual aspects?

I ask this question because to this day we only have THEORIES with respect to the pathophysiology of depression.  There is no concrete lab test, neurodiagnostic test, imaging test, or any other type of medical test accepted into standard practice TODAY which can diagnose depression.

There is not any palpable, measurable physical test accepted as standard to help with this problem…

Could it be that this particular psychiatric disturbance has a spiritual cause?

I do not endorse the idea that every illness is caused by an evil spirit.  Most of the diseases we are facing whether genetic, infectious, or others, are based in our broken bodies, a brokeness we have carried with us since our fall in the garden of Eden.

But in the case of depression (and other psychiatric disorders) something dark is at work.  In medicine we theorize about neurotransmitter imbalances and impaired synaptic transmission; and we have developed drugs to flood brain synapses with these deficient neurotransmitters with some success in treatment.

But the emotional and spiritual darkness associated with depression raises the possibility of demonic influence over the victims of depression.

This explanation will not be found in the DSM-V, the diagnostic manual for psych disorders.

But the Bible gives us some clues.

The absence of the fruit of the Spirit from one’s life may lead to a state of depression.  Galatians 5 gives us the list of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace…

Without the fruit of the Spirit in one’s life, it could be that the person may not have the Holy Spirit and His power of regeneration.  We can make this judgement based on the evidence at hand since we cannot know for sure what is in that person’s heart.

The absence of joy and peace are mainstay characteristics of depression.  The absence of the fruit of the Spirit could indicate the absence of the Holy Spirit.

This is key to the demonic influence over the persistent emotional state in the setting of major depression.

Christians are not immune to doubts, trials, illness, even feeling down.  But losing hope and losing the fruit of the Spirit in a persistent depression brings into question the presence of the work of the Holy Spirit in their life.

The Holy Spirit is our Intercessor, the One who stands in the gap for us, based on Romans 8, and as His subjects we must appeal to Him when we are down.

Depression must be fought against “by the Spirit.”

Christians have an eternal hope they cannot lose.  They should not persist in a state of depression.

Psalms 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

image credit

Everything Else Matters Not in the Matthew Warren Tragedy

Losing a family member, especially a young son or daughter is the most painful event one can go through.  Our condolences go to pastor Rick Warren and his family who lost their son to suicide after a long struggle with depression and suicidal ideation.

Delight in Truth is a critic of Rick Warren and some of the positions he has taken over the years with respect to controversial social issues, but this tragedy makes everything pale in comparison.

Doctrinal points, accuracy of biblical teaching, styles of sharing the Gospel and their controversies matter not at this time.

The only thing that matters is the comfort that God can provide to Rick Warren and his family via the Holy Spirit, our Comforter.

There will be time to talk about mental illness, suicide, antidepressant treatment, and salvation issues in the setting of suicide.

Now we grieve with the Warren family for their loss.

Psalm 18:2  “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

image credit