Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I don't want to set off any red flags here. I am not pursuing a suicidal lifestyle, nor do I have the desire to end my life. That being said:

  1. Perhaps the greatest thing a person can hope for is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
  2. We are told that if a person truly accepts God as their Saviour, they promised an eternity in heaven.

With this in mind, why not just accept Christ and then off yourself? We all want to go to heaven, don't we? Why prolong the wait and "misery" of living in a sinful world and just proceed to enter the pearly gates? Strictly speaking in a logical sense this is the best thing a person could do for themselves.

I know in other faiths suicide nullifies a person's access to their promised land, but does the Bible say anything about this?

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by Flimzy, David Stratton Jul 17 at 23:46

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1  
I flagged this for being overly broad and inciting subjectivity. Answers are likely to be along the lines of "well this is what i believe the bible says.." with no way to determine an objective answer. –  djeikyb Aug 30 '11 at 23:07
2  
Your question really is "Is suicide a sin?" and "If you don't repent of an individual sin does that mean you can go to heaven?" –  James Khoury Aug 31 '11 at 2:31
7  
@djeikyb: Your objection lies with the (potentially) poor answers, not with the question. Christianity most definitely has doctrinal teachings regarding suicide and Heaven. If someone's answer is helpful and authoritative (i.e. cites those teachings), vote it up. If an answer is simply a rant or laced with opinion, anecdotal stories, or hearsay, vote it down. As asked, this questions seems reasonably objective, or at least meets the guidelines of good subjective . –  Robert Cartaino Aug 31 '11 at 2:35
2  
@James I don't believe that at any point in my live would I be able to repent for every sin I've committed. I don't believe that failure to do this restricts someone from heaven. Suicide is sin. I have no question in my mind about that. It is a severe enough sin for instant banishment is my question. –  anon Aug 31 '11 at 3:20
1  
@Robert Cartaino There is no good answer to this question. Christianity does not have a single definitive answer. Various denominations and groups have particular, different, answers. A better question might be "What are the consequences of suicide according to the Roman Catholic church?". Or "Do Anglicans believe every sin must be repented of before death?" –  djeikyb Aug 31 '11 at 4:03

7 Answers 7

up vote 39 down vote accepted

In the Protestant traditions I am familiar with suicide is not an automatic exclusion from Heaven. However it must be said that there is a logical incompatibility between suicide and faith. A faith that aborts just when it has something to trust is no faith at all.

First of all, suicide flies in the face of everything that we learn from Christ about what is good and true. Suicide is murder. It is taking a life that does not belong to you. As Christians we believe that we are the property of another -- that we belong to Christ as a slave belongs to a master.1 We believe that the life that is in us belongs to him. We believe that those who commit suicide will only be in heaven on the same grounds that any of us will, by grace and forgiveness, even for murder.2 However faith in Christ demands action, those who love Him will obey his commands. His commands including not murdering.3

Also, belief in Christ is the very thing that gives us hope for this life4, not just the life to come. We are able to endure whatever sufferings we experience here5 knowing that they will produce in us something even better6. To take your own life is to despair of life itself. This is fundamentally at odds with Christian belief. There would be no logic in believing and then killing yourself, because the later act would show that you really did not understand the former.

  1. See the way the Apostles introduced themselves in letters as "bond-servants", Parables such as in Luke 12 were Jesus uses the servant/master analogy, and Romans (The whole book).
  2. See the David in the OT, the thief on the cross in the NT.
  3. See the commandment "You shall not murder." Exodus 20:13 (ESV)
  4. Hebrews 6:19
  5. 1 Peter 5:10
  6. James 1:1-4
share|improve this answer
7  
@NathanWheeler: ... which makes it a grave risk indeed, but personally I am very thankful that I am forgiven for sins I am unaware of as well as those I am. –  Caleb Aug 30 '11 at 22:20
5  
Whether or not you asked forgiveness is not the determining factor in salvation. It is rather, whether or not you were born of God. Though it is doubtful you could be a suicidal Christian, it is not impossible. –  The Preacher Aug 30 '11 at 23:09
15  
@Nathan Wheeler: the important point there is having an opportunity to ask forgiveness. Many Protestant denominations would reject the idea that you must specifically ask forgiveness for each individual sin after the fact in order to be forgiven. –  Travis Christian Aug 30 '11 at 23:33
4  
Suicide is the result of either (a) mental illness, or (b) extraordinary circumstances. In either case, the victim/perpetrator cannot be fully blamed. In ether case, the family and friends of the deceased will be going through agonies. An answer which does not acknowledge these realities adds to that agony for no good purpose. –  TRiG Jun 5 '12 at 23:08
2  
Just a comment, Catholics, contrary to popular belief and holywood, do not believe that someone who commits suicide is hell-bound. –  Drew Dec 27 '12 at 20:24

If suicide excluded someone from going to heaven, then Jesus words in John 3.16 would not be true:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Yes, I accept that suicide would lead one to question the individual's faith, and possibly even make a decision that the said person was not truly a Christian. We cannot know for sure what God's perspective on that individual is.

Even very damaged and broken people who have had a terrible life can come to Jesus. Faith in Christ does not immediately make an abused person who has a very poor self image suddenly "well" again, nor is it a guarantee that it they would free them from depression.

share|improve this answer
2  
Do you draw a distinction between suicide and sacrifice? –  wax eagle Aug 31 '11 at 15:35

While I don't believe committing suicide excludes you from heaven, I do believe it's a sin (and one you can't repent from):

James 3:16 (NIV)

16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

What could be more selfish than learning about (and accepting) God's gift and then killing yourself without sharing that?

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

What love are you sharing if you commit suicide, leaving behind people who love you in sorrow?

Edit

It also might be important to keep 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NIV) in mind:

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

So even though we are all forgiven (and since we're assuming the person committing suicide has accepted the Jesus as savior), there is still the judgment everyone will face for all their deeds.

share|improve this answer
1  
not to overstate the obvious, but how would you repent of a sin that ended your life prematurely? –  warren Aug 31 '11 at 0:05
1  
-1 for talking about the symptoms of severe depression without showing any understanding whatsoever of the psychology involved. –  TRiG Jun 5 '12 at 23:16

Would someone want to kill themselves if they had the hope and love of Christ in their heart? Suicide is most commonly a result of hopelessness. Suicide is only self-serving. Suicide is the act of ending one's own life because that circumstances or emotions are overwhelming to the point of despair. Such despair cannot exist in a heart filled with the love of God and the hope of eternity with Him.

The taking on of the responsibility of one's own life and choosing to end it bears no regard to the consequences that the action will have on the living. Such selfishness is rejected by God:

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth — men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. -- 2 Timothy 3:2-8 (NIV)

I believe that most of the excuses anyone would use for committing suicide are covered in that passage.

share|improve this answer
2  
Aren't you essentially saying that sin "cannot exist in a heart filled with the love of God and the hope of eternity with Him"? That's unbiblical (Romans 5-8 for example). –  dancek Oct 1 '11 at 21:26
1  
Jesus said "My peace I leave with you." (John 14:27) I'm not saying that "sin" cannot exist in the heart of a believer, since since is a condition of humanity. I'm saying that despair cannot. Is Jesus' peace just simply not enough for someone? Philippians 4:7 says that the peace we have from Christ transcends all understanding. Suicide is never the effort put forth from a peaceful soul. –  Nathan Wheeler Oct 4 '11 at 15:11
3  
From real-life experience (personal and of close people) I think a Christian can be utterly desperate and hopeless. I think this warrants another question, so I made one: Can a Christian have clinical depression? –  dancek Oct 4 '11 at 23:42
4  
-1. Bullshit. Suicide is most commonly a result of clinical depression. Hopelessness != depression. Related, but not the same. –  TRiG Jun 5 '12 at 23:14
1  
I once had a friend who was a Christian and became clinically depressed. What made it worse was that she had somehow got the idea that Christians couldn't be depressed, and so she started believing that she must have committed the unforgiveable sin, which made her more depressed; and so on in a spiral. It wasn't until she got proper medication that she started to come round. –  DJClayworth Aug 20 '12 at 18:21

There are a couple issues here.

First:

Strictly speaking in a logical sense this is the best thing a person could do for themself.

No. Suicide is never a logical solution to any situation. If anyone is in a position where they think it is, they would be best served by taking a time out and then seeking professional help.

But this question is not really about suicide.

The Premise

  1. Perhaps the greatest thing a person can hope for is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
  2. We are told that if a person truly accepts God as their Saviour, they promised an eternity in heaven.

With this in mind, why not just accept Christ and then off ourself? We all want to go to heaven don't we?

The biggest problem with this logic is its premise, the characterization of Christianity as nothing more than accept Christ as your savior so you can go to heaven.

The Cost

Nowhere in the New Testament does it say it is enough to "just accept Christ". Rather, when Jesus called his disciples, he told them to follow him. In the case of four fishermen (see Matthew 4:18-22) this meant leaving behind their boats and nets, their entire way of life, and even their families. Following Jesus meant abandoning everything that came before and starting a whole new way of life.

Jesus alludes to this in Luke 14:27-28.

Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?

There is a cost to following Christ, and the cost is abandoning our own willfulness and sinfulness. We must give up everything that stands in the way of following him.

For a wealthy tax collector named Zacchaeus, it meant paying back those whom he had cheated. For another rich man, the cost was too high. For the apostle Paul, it meant giving up his claims to righteousness, and indeed, everything that had been his identity.

The point is, once we make the decision to, as they say, "accept Christ", our life is no longer our own. It's all about what God wants for us, and not about what we want.

The Reward

Jesus expresses this as a paradox in Matthew 10:39.

Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

He's not talking (here) about literally losing our lives. He's not asking us to "off ourselves". He's talking about changing our very identity. This is known as sanctification.

Our human nature is sinful, bent to our own desires, but when God sanctifies us we live for his desires and not our own. And God does not want us to escape this world (John 17:15-17), but rather to let God complete the transformation (2 Corinthians 3:18), and possibly help others in their transformation as well.

The apostle Paul wrestled with this while he was in prison awaiting trial, not knowing whether he would be put to death or released (Philippians 1:21-24). (Thanks to Jon Ericson for this reference.)

For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.

And that's why we can't "just accept Christ and then off ourself [sic]". Even if we may want to skip the hardship and go to heaven right away, becoming a Christian means giving up what we want and giving in to what God wants.

share|improve this answer
1  
Oh well done! There's also Paul's "To be or not to be" speech in Philippians. –  Jon Ericson Jun 7 '12 at 22:47
1  
Upvoted for Paul's speech "my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you" -- this also shows the tremendous faith Paul had in his assurance of salvation, no doubt whatsoever. –  user1694 Aug 2 '12 at 7:44
    
Great & Inspiring answer –  Martin.kv Aug 28 '13 at 9:55
    
Great answer. Christianity is not just a collection of intellectual beliefs (as many seem to think), but a heart-felt trust in Another that changes the life. –  Steve May 24 at 15:28

There are some great answers and comments on this question, and I'd like to try and add in on it: No, suicide does not automatically damn you to hell. If you are born again in Christ, all your sins are washed clean, even ones you have not yet committed. If they weren't, then somehow Christ's death on the cross was incomplete. His sacrifice is eternal, the living sacrifice, thus your salvation and redemption is eternal.

I see some people have said that suicide is the result of mental illness, depression, etc. When I was young in my faith, I contemplated suicide a couple times for the exact reason mentioned by OP. I wasn't mentally ill; I just wanted to be in heaven! Some people have also said suicide for this reason might reveal a lack of faith, but how could you have what it takes to off yourself (to simply go to heaven early) if you have no faith in heaven/Christ? Anyway, that's not important. I think what's important is the response to

Strictly speaking in a logical sense this is the best thing a person could do for themselves.

We must see that is extremely selfish. Do you not know that Jesus came to this earth to live, suffer and die for you? Then should you not live and, if needed, suffer and die for Him too? We are meant to be vessels of God, fit for his work (2 Tim 2:21, Rom 9:23-24, 2 Cor 4:7). If you take your life then you are taking away any possible plan that God has prepared for you. Would you expect to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant!" after that? I sure wouldn't. I would have an eternity of shame ahead of me.

Look forward to the life God has in store for you, or if he takes you home early, then know it was of divine purpose and not your own selfish will. If you have a mind set on heaven so much that you just want to be there right now, then use that mindset to be as close to God as you can and fulfill His purposes in your life (1 John 2:17), in this lifetime now.

share|improve this answer

A couple additional points that I did not see here are that in committing suicide:

  • This would prevent us from gaining many of the rewards we could earn in Heaven through the good works we could do on earth.

Matthew 16:27 (NKJV) “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

  • This would possibly prevent other people from coming to know Jesus as their Savior (e.g. you would loose the opportunity to witness to others).

Those of us who are saved will be rewarded for the good things we have done here. If we kill ourselves, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to gain more reward in Heaven because we take away the time we have to do good works. We would also remove ourselves from the opportunity of bringing others to know Him. I want to stay here until He takes me to Heaven so I can earn more rewards in Heaven and witness to other people, and even enjoy the good things God has given in this life.

share|improve this answer

protected by Community May 15 '13 at 14:02

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?