is suicide forgiven?

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. school of ministry and missions instructor. president of fistbump media, llc.

July 12, 2009

I recently got rocked by someone who reached out to me through this website asking me this one little question…..

is suicide forgiven?

I followed up directly to this reader via email (the only means that I had to contact them), but never heard back. So I don’t know how my response may or may not have affected any decisions on their part. Personally, this question has haunted me ever since.

depressionI do know that suicide is something that is not specifically forbidden by the Scriptures. However, I also know that it is not something that aligns with what I believe about how people should respect life. Thoughts of suicide typically stem from extreme depression, and I know that God has used many people who live with depression.

I feel good about the answer that I gave this reader. But what I want to know from you is…

How would you respond to this question?

If someone reached out to you asking questions about whether someone who commits suicide will still go to Heaven or not, then how would you respond?

Let’s talk about this…

I think that this is the type of conversation that more Christians should be prepared for. And my gut tells me that many Christians don’t have solid answers for this one. So please share your answers, thoughts, and questions….

36 Comments

  1. MedKitty

    This is a heavy subject that I've had to deal with a little too much recently. I'm the only one in my family who hasn't attempted suicide (thankfully, none of them were successful) and I contribute that to my relationship with God and his amazing grace. I have lost 5 friends in the past 2 years to suicide and each of their deaths rocked my world a bit.

    For a while I didn't know what to believe about this or understand the scripture surrounding this. I had heard that if you commit suicide that you automatically go straight to hell and that really bothered me and I refused to really take an opinion or belief on it. I questioned God about this a lot and never really got an answer, I believe that God wanted me to go to his word and study scripture more.

    A few months ago, I went to Rhythm (a young adult ministry in Roanoke, Virginia, http://www.rhythmva.org) and heard the minister, Craig Tackett, discuss this subject and teach on what the bible says and what he's believes. He really taught on it well and put it in a good perspective.

    The idea that if you commit suicide and die and therefore you automatically go to hell goes back to a belief/tradition from the Roman Catholic church. The Catholic Church said that to go to Heaven after you die, your sins must be forgiven meaning a penance must be paid for your sins. This was done by going to meet with a priest and having confession where you would tell your sins to the priest and the priest would send up sacrifices/prayers to the Lord. So it goes from you to the priest, priest to the Lord. Many catholics and christians have pushed aside that belief and now go by the belief “If you have unconfessed sin when you die, you go to Hell.” (“Unconfessed sin” in this case, is not isolated to just committing suicide, it means ANY unconfessed sin.) The true answer about if you commit suicide and die, do you go to hell is only know by 2 people, God and the individual persons that commit suicide. Craig did a lot of study in the word and research on the internet of different teachings and beliefs in this subject and of what the bible says and he couldn't (I also did a lot of study on this subject to myself to make my own opinion/belief.) find anything in the scripture that says specifically where you go if you commit suicide and are successful.

    He thought that suicide is not just ONE sin alone, it's several sins committed together.
    One sin is Murder, you're taking a life that does not belong to you. Many would say (and I used to say this also) that “Well, it's my life” and are forgetting (or don't know) that's our life is God's life and we are managers of our life, suicide is taking a life that does not belong to you.

    Another sin is Disobedience (see Jeremiah 29:11), God promises us a future and to deny that future is disobedience. You are “stealing” the future and stealing means you are taking something that does not belong to you.

    Another sin is Idolatry, you are making choices for your own life, rather than God making choices then you are saying “You are lord over your own life;” putting yourself over/above god, you're an idol.

    Craig wasn't giving a definitive answer, because he admitted that he doesn't know for sure. He was trying to answer a question someone asked him. He was said that suicide is wrong on so many levels and so many ways and that he doesn't believe that the belief of “Suicide-condemned to hell” works because it doesn't work biblically. That doesn't mean it's okay and we must fight for the lives of those who struggle with depression and consider suicide, especially if they are close family and friends of ours.

    I don't know for sure what the answer is and I believe that only God knows and God reserves the right to tell us or not tell us. I believe that as much as my heart hurt and was broken after friends of mine chose suicide, God's heart broken even more because he created them and they (all of us) are his creations and his desire is for all of us to choose life and become his children.

    If you want to check out and listen to what Craig taught on, check out his podcast at:
    http://www.rhythmva.org
    Go to pod cast dated November 17, 2008, Fall Q & A, Craig answered a few different questions and it was a great teaching, suicide is the 3 question answered.

    Reply
  2. JIMCARTER

    WELL ITS LIKE THIS. NOT SURE IF I AM RIGHT BUT THIS IS WHAT I THINK. WHEN YOU TAKE THE LORD INTO YOUR LIFE AND ASK HIM TO FORGIVE YOUR SINS, HE DOES. NOT JUST PASSED SINS. BECAUSE GOD IS ALL KNOWING SO AT THAT TIME HE FORGIVES YOU FOR THE SINS YOU WILL ALSO COMMIT IN THE FUTURE. SAYING GOD DOESNT KNOW THAT YOU ARE GOING TO SIN IS DOUBTING HIS INFINITE WISDOM. JESUS SAYS ALL SINS ARE FORGIVEN BUT ONE, WHICH IS BLASPHEMY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AND SUICIDE IS A SIN. SO YOU WOULD BE FORGIVEN OF IT. NO SIN OUTWEIGHS ANOHTER. IF YOU CAN BE FORGIVEN FOR TELLING A LIE TO SOMONE, YOU CAN BE FORGIVEN FOR KILLING YOURSELF.

    JIM CARTER

    Reply
  3. Amy in Texas

    Dan, this one is so hard! I feel inclined to have two different answers: one for greiving family members of someone who commited suicide and another for someone who is contemplating it.

    God knows each individual's heart and only He can judge rightly. I just don't know any standard, generic answer to that very valid question. I do know that suicide is not the answer.

    Reply
  4. Barry Wallace

    There's not one biblical reason to think that suicide is unforgivable. Why should suicide be any different from any other unconfessed sin that a Christian might have in his life when he dies?

    Now, if the question was asked by a person who I thought was actually suicidal, I would probably not answer it. Instead I would try to find out why they were asking it.

    Reply
  5. douggoodrich

    Wow, that's a fastball right down the gut. I've always seen “church people” shake their head and duck out of answering this one.

    My personal thought on the subject: “If God can forgive anything, then, He can forgive suicide.

    What do I have to back up my theory? The one I would go to would be: Acts 10:42 “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.” and 43 “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

    To me the judge of the “living and the dead” means that if someone made a horrible mistake in a fit of anything, they would still be judged in death.

    But please don't take my first gut reaction and quick verse look up as the answer – this is a HUGE question and one that should be discussed by a lot of people.

    Personally I don't want to find out if He forgives it or not. I've always thought of it as an incredibly selfish act, without much regard to the survivors left behind. Just when you think you have no one to live for, look around and God will present someone for you.

    I think that's what we should focus on in life, besides thinking about suicide: whose life can I make better and in turn receive Love back.

    Reply
  6. BibleDude

    This is an interesting position… I'm not sure what I think about God having already forgiven future sins… but I do recognize that suicide is a sin like any others, and therefore CAN be forgiven by God.

    I had an interesting conversation tonight where we talked about salvation and judgement. Because a 'saved' Christian sins, it doesn't mean that they loose their salvation. But they will likely still be judged for it (and yes, Christians still face judgement). So if a 'Christian' were to commit suicide, then they may still go to heaven, but it may affect their standing or position there…

    I'm still evaluating the theology of this whole thing, but that was the sum result of the conversation that we had.

    Reply
  7. BibleDude

    This is a tough question, and it is interesting that there tends to be different answers depending on who you are talking to. I know that would be my natural tendency as well, but the truth is that there is probably one answer, and we just end up telling people what we think will make them feel better.

    I also agree that suicide is not the answer, and I also know that it is almost a meaningless question if the person considering it has not recieved 'salvation' from Jesus to begin with.

    Reply
  8. Wickle

    I'm inclined to agree with Jim on this.

    God doesn't need to forgive our individual acts of sin one at a time … rather, He's forgiving us for being sinners. Jesus' blood is sufficient for those sins that we don't have time to repent of committing.

    For example … let's say someone defies his parents by climbing out of the bedroom window. This defiance is a sin … but since he fell off the roof and died, he never repents. He was still a Christian covered by the grace of Jesus, and he's still forgiven.

    Reply
  9. BibleDude

    It sounds like there is some great wisdom in that teaching! But even understanding the sin-nature of an act like this doesn't mean this is how we talk to other people about it. I agree that these points are proabably pretty right, and it is important to understand these things!

    However, I still wonder how one would address these points with someone considering suicide. How do we turn good knowledge like this into a conversation with someone having a tough time…

    Good stuff dude!

    Reply
  10. BibleDude

    This is a GREAT point! If someone is asking, then it is probably MORE important to get to the root of the issues that they may be dealing with…

    And this means that we need to be able to answer LOTS of other questions with intelligence and grace in addition to still needing to know how to deal with this one. I certainly think that Christians should be able to be the 'rocks' of society that people dealing with difficult things can lean on!

    Reply
  11. BibleDude

    It is interesting that at a moment that people think that they are doing others 'a favor', they are in fact being the most selfish that they possibly can be! I agree that it is an extremely selfish act, and that focusing on the needs of others is exactly what people should be focusing on…

    I appreciate that you identify the severity of this question though, and that you agree that it is something that we should be discussing. I am a firm believer in the idea that Christians should be able to deal with the tough stuff, and do it with great finesse. That doesn't mean that we should be overly pompous or self-righteous, but that answering questions like this should come SO natural for us as opposed the how we 'duck out' like you point out…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Doug!

    Reply
  12. thomasnzau

    Suicide can not be forgiven.My argument is based on simple fact Jeremiah 29;11 God has a good plan for all of us.If you have a lesson plan it will be your wish for the students to go through perfectly.When they dont go to class you automatically think about a purnishment.Now that is our God.I hate to imagine that God having taken six days to organise the world would allow us to just take 2minutes to take our lives and dissorganise His divine plan.Now am not ignorant of the many reasons a person would give for the suicide including economic crunch but dont you think God is aware of all these confusion in a world He helped form?Do not take your life pall you dont own it.Let the owner take it at His own time .Thanks.Thomas nzau kenya East Africa.

    Reply
  13. Nathan Householder

    I am a Soldier serving in the United States Army. I just found out today that one of the soldiers in my company committed suicide this weekend. The Army has invested a great deal in suicide prevention, but to no avail. The suicide rates continue to hold steady if not climb. My question is, considering all the work the Army has invested in suicide prevention, why do we continue to see suicides in our ranks?

    Reply
  14. Nathan Householder

    In order to be forgiven of a sin, you must confess it to God. How can you confess a sin if you are dead? If you kill yourself, does cancel your salvation?

    Reply
  15. amyintexas

    What I meant by two different answers is more like two different angles: either way, I don't feel like I can truthfully make a blanket statement of, “Yes, suicide is forgiven” or “No, it isn't.” If there truly IS one simple answer for everyone, I do not have that answer. I do have one consistent answer: but it's not “yes” or “no.”

    If I was talking to a grieving family, I would say that only God knows what was in their loved ones heart, and I would be careful not to take their hope away. On the other hand, with someone contemplating suicide, I would STILL say that only God knows the heart, but I would heavily question how that could possibly be a risk worth taking. With eternity on the line, I would definately err on the side of caution. Like someone else said, that would be the time to try to help with the root of their problem.

    Suicide could sometimes be an outward sign of a heart issue. It could also be a response to extreme grief and/or a chemical imbalance. It could have a myriad of other root causes. I do not believe that suicide alone is an unforgiveable sin, but it might shed light for the rest of us on the condition of a person's heart at the time they pass into eternity. Still, only God truly knows the heart and only He is in a position to judge.

    Reply
  16. BibleDude

    That is some serious wisdom there! I've been studying 'man and sin' lately, and typically society seems to 'judge' sins based on their result… meaning that murder is worse than lying because it causes more physical harm to another person. but that doesn't seem to be a correct Biblical view on sin.

    The Bible tends to show that the severity of sin relies more on knowledge and intent. In fact there were different Old Testament Laws regarding the punishment for when someone killed someone out of deliberate choice and anger as opposed to 'accidentally' killing someone. Both were still responsible for the death, but one recieved a greater punishment.

    So when your response points to it being a matter of the heart (and that only God knows it's true motive) then I think that you are spot on!

    Thanks for jumping into this conversation!

    Reply
  17. BibleDude

    That is some serious wisdom there! I've been studying 'man and sin' lately, and typically society seems to 'judge' sins based on their result… meaning that murder is worse than lying because it causes more physical harm to another person. but that doesn't seem to be a correct Biblical view on sin.

    The Bible tends to show that the severity of sin relies more on knowledge and intent. In fact there were different Old Testament Laws regarding the punishment for when someone killed someone out of deliberate choice and anger as opposed to 'accidentally' killing someone. Both were still responsible for the death, but one recieved a greater punishment.

    So when your response points to it being a matter of the heart (and that only God knows it's true motive) then I think that you are spot on!

    Thanks for jumping into this conversation!

    Reply
  18. Ruth Weaver

    Sin is definitely sin, but the Bible does specify between different types of sins. Somewhere in the NT (wish I could remember the reference) I think it's Paul states that some sins lead to death and some do not lead to death. Therefore, I think that just as there are varying degrees of evil, so there are varying degrees of sin. Yes, all sin is sin and should be repented of or avoided, but I also believe that some sins are worse than others; as for which are what, that could lead to endless discussion so I think it's best left in God's hands to judge.

    Reply
  19. BibleDude

    Yes… sin is sin… I also agree that God should be the one to judge, not us. But then this whole discussion stemmed from the fact that someone (possibly someone actually considering it) was asking. So even if we are not 'judging' then we should still be prepated to be Spiritual leaders for others who are asking questions.

    This gets us back into what I think is one of the most important discussions related to this whole thing… How does one respond to this question?

    Thanks for jumping into the conversation Ruth! It's great to hear from you!

    Reply
  20. BibleDude

    Hmmm… I'm not sure if I agree with this completely. Just because it is against God's will doesn't mean that God cannot or will not forgive it. I agree that it is a selfish act that and that we should honor God's plan for our lives… but not living up to that only makes it a sin, not an unforgivable sin…

    Great verse though, and a VERY important one for someone who might be considering suicide to understand! Thanks for sharing Thomas! It is great to hear a perspective all the way from Kenya!

    Reply
  21. BibleDude

    Having served in the US Marine Corps myself, I can totally relate this question. I remember in boot camp, we had a guy who tried to commit suicide in the bathroom in the middle of the night.

    I'm not sure why suicide is such an issue in the military… maybe it is the pressure. But I can imagine that the suicide prevention programs probably are not as effective as they can be because they likely miss a very crucial element… faith. If it is a secular program, then it is difficult to relate an eternal relevance to a program that has not eternal aspect to it. But, that's just a guess….

    Reply
  22. Mikes Sumondong

    Let me try to answer this to the best of my ability. It is a SIN to kill a life (period!). You can only be forgiven when you confess your sins to Him who is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Now if you commit suicide, you die: how then will you be able to confess your sin and be forgiven?

    About going to heaven, it's a different story. God said if you believe in Me, you will have everlasting life. Having faith in HIM gives you eternal life. It cannot be translated/assumed/specualted that because a person commited suicide, he didn't believe. Because if that's the case we who are still alive should not doubt or commit any sin or whatsoever. Suicide is as “SINFUL” as simple sin we know. My answer is I do not know. I can only speak for myself because we all know that this relationship is personal. Nobody can judge or say for sure that somebody is going to heaven or not. It is between him and GOD only.

    Reply
  23. Mikes Sumondong

    Hi Thomas,

    When you said “When they dont go to class you automatically think about a purnishment.Now that is our God.”. This is only one side of our GOD. As we all know this is the time of grace already. Grace where each one can just go to God and ask for forgiveness.

    Reply
  24. Mikes Sumondong

    @Doug i agree that let's just be an encouragement to other people. we really don't know that our friends or even family would just suddenly do it. Let's share to them what God's plans are and as what you've said: “I think that's what we should focus on in life, besides thinking about suicide: whose life can I make better and in turn receive Love back.”

    Reply
  25. BibleDude

    Amen! This is a great reply…

    Reply
  26. Mikes Sumondong

    Thanks a lot. May the Lord be glorified forever!

    Reply
  27. gargull

    If you were a human judge,what would you do to a person who tried to commit suicide?How much fairer judge is God?
    Blessings,
    Lance
    http://www.lancessoulsearching.com

    Reply
  28. BibleDude

    As a human judge, I would be inclined to get them into counselling. But for God as Judge, I imagine that His heart would break for the person… I also imagine that He would have compassion on them and want to see them restored.

    This brings up a great point…. Since God's heart would be for reconciliation and restoration, then so should ours. Our hearts should break for people who consider and/or attempt suicide, and we should be driven to help. And since we can almost never know who might actually be considering it, then as Christians we should be working towards restoration in ALL people…

    Nice… thanks for making us think Lance!

    Reply
  29. lora

    I was always told that if you took your own life that you could not be forgiven because for a person to be forgiven of a sin thy must ask for forgivenes for the sin that thy have commited and if you take your own life then how can you ask to be forgiven for a sin you have not yet commited. if you have killed your self then how can you ask god to forgive you if you are dead.

    Reply
  30. BibleDude

    I think that we all agree that suicide is a sin… so then the core of the question about whether it is forgiven seems to be related to whether or not someone can then get into heaven. With that said, everyone will likely die with some unforgiven sin in their lives. So I cannot say that a Christian will be denied entrance into Heaven because of this sin in how they died.

    But, with that said… the issue is a mute point as it relates to someone who has not accepted the gift of salvation. Without that, it doesn't matter what sin someone has in their lives when they die.

    But all Christians will be judged for ALL of their actions eventually, and suicide will be one of those things that will determine one's place for eternity.

    Reply
  31. lora1960

    I was always told that if you took your own life that you could not be forgiven because for a person to be forgiven of a sin thy must ask for forgivenes for the sin that thy have commited and if you take your own life then how can you ask to be forgiven for a sin you have not yet commited. if you have killed your self then how can you ask god to forgive you if you are dead.

    Reply
  32. BibleDude

    I think that we all agree that suicide is a sin… so then the core of the question about whether it is forgiven seems to be related to whether or not someone can then get into heaven. With that said, everyone will likely die with some unforgiven sin in their lives. So I cannot say that a Christian will be denied entrance into Heaven because of this sin in how they died.

    But, with that said… the issue is a mute point as it relates to someone who has not accepted the gift of salvation. Without that, it doesn't matter what sin someone has in their lives when they die.

    But all Christians will be judged for ALL of their actions eventually, and suicide will be one of those things that will determine one's place for eternity.

    Reply
  33. Nathan

    This was brought up on another forum and the following was my reply. Sorry for copying but it was easily accessible… (I did edit it slightly if that's any consolation!)

    My dad committed suicide before he ever saw his 40th birthday. Hmm, funny thing the anniversary was this week and my 40th is next week. I'll have outlived my dad this year…

    Anyway, I believe suicide is not an act done out of selfishness; I believe it's just the opposite; it's an act done out of seeing no other way and believing your death would be the best thing for the ones you love; however the act is itself selfish; because of the emotions and battles it leaves behind for others to deal with and pick up the pieces.
    Unfortunately when you're in that frame of mind where nothing else matters you are viewing your situation from a very distorted point of view.

    To give my 2 cents on the question at hand, I don't believe it is a sin in Gods eyes. If you're a Christian He sent His Son to die for our Sins (both past and future); the rules of the Old Testament changed. Therefore I believe God mourns with you and feels the pain you do as well. Sin is a personal struggle only to be worked out between a person and his/her God; not for us to decide.

    Reply
  34. Nathan

    Whoah, I just realized how old this thread was!! HMMM…

    Reply
  35. @bibledude

    No matter how you look at it, suicide is a tragic situation for everyone involved. And regarding whether God forgives it, I really like what you said about that being an Old Testament mindset. Since this post, we've done a study here on this site that I think has affected my views on forgiveness of sins. And in the end… when God says our sins are forgiven, that does mean all past, present, and future sins. That's not a license to go continue to sin, but that on Judgement Day… it IS under the Blood.

    Thanks for sharing even though it is a little late to the conversation!

    Reply
  36. demetrice

    how can you repent of the act of suicide? there are no scriptures that im going to give to support this, but… you can ask forgiveness for any thoughts and receive it. if you kill yourself, when do you get a chance to ask? now with that being said, use your own analytical thinking skills and leave this internet out of the works of christ. any and all answers that you need to make it into heaven is in the bible. these answers are indeed and without a shadow of doubt located between the books of genesis and revelations. there are no lost books chapters nor verses. “look its in there”

    Reply

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is suicide forgiven?

by Dan King time to read: 1 min
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