After Pastor Rick Warren’s son committed suicide recently, Rick Tweeted: “Someone on the internet sold Matthew an unregistered gun. I pray he seeks God’s forgiveness. I forgive him. Matthew 6:15” I am certain Rick has had many other responses to his son’s death which were biblically sound and appropriately Christian. I only wish this immediate social media wording hadn’t been so much like the focus of the news media and political pundits. He implied the guilt of the gun seller and focused the attention on illegal gun sales instead of providing an answer to a question on the minds of every person who has ever lost a loved one to suicide. “Is your son now condemned for eternity?”
Rick Warren may have answered that question by now, but the opportunity is missed to show what is most on the minds of Christians at the moment of tragedy. Was he saved? Does the act of suicide send you to hell?
The psalmist contemplated suicide, “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’” Psalm 13:2-4. Job also had thoughts of ending life, “If I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, my couch will ease my complaint,’ then You frighten me with dreams and terrify me by visions; so that my soul would choose suffocation, death rather than my pains,” Job 7:13-14. There does not seem to be any reprimand in scripture for wrestling with the idea of taking one’s own life.
Samson committed suicide and was not treated after that with any contempt. “Then his brothers and all his father’s household came down, took him, brought him up and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. Thus he had judged Israel twenty years,” Judges 16:31. Saul also committed suicide. “Then Saul said to his armor bearer, ‘Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, otherwise these uncircumcised will come and pierce me through and make sport of me.’ But his armor bearer would not, for he was greatly afraid. So Saul took his sword and fell on it,” 1 Samuel 31:4. In this and in every instance of suicide in the Bible there is no ill treatment or rejection of the individual for his taking his own life. There is no indication that suicide resulted in disgrace or dishonor.
We can say that we should not take our own life. That would be a failure to trust God with every day of life and being thankful to Him for it. We can even say that any act that does not glorify God is sin. However, the Bible assures us that the only unforgiveable sin is rejecting Jesus and the salvation offered by the shedding of His blood. We also believe that “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin,” 1 John 1:7. That assurance should relieve us of any fear that a loved one who has committed suicide might never see heaven. If they believed in Jesus for their salvation, they are now in the presence of the Lord.
I don’t know how I would immediately react to a tragedy like the one in Rick Warren’s life. I only hope that my first tweet, facebook post, or blog will be about giving God thanks for the assurance of our salvation and my certainty of the eternal destination of my loved one.