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WHEN A CHRISTIAN COMMITS SUICIDE

The Bible tells of six people who committed suicide: Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4), Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:5), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:5).


Theologians largely agree that God prohibits murder, and it logically follows that He does not condone self-murder (Exodus 20:13). The Christian community is not immune to the tragedy of suicide. In its wake, families are devastated, questions about eternal destiny are raised, and individuals are left to grapple with a sense of devastating loss.


“The Bible presents a life- affirming alternative to suicide.”

The Bible presents a life-affirming alternative to suicide. Job is an example. Together with his wife, Job endured the tragic deaths of his seven sons and three daughters, his employees, and his business. After which, his body was afflicted with a severe illness. “Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head” (Job 2:7).

Despite the unspeakable loss, Job held to his integrity, affirming his ultimate confidence in God, saying, “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:25,26). God’s sustaining grace and mercy proved to be sufficient.


The Bible also provides the ultimate example of abandonment and suffering—Jesus Christ. Isaiah described his condition for us:

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:3-4 NIV).

Excerpt from “The Crucified God” by Jürgen Moltmann (1973): “In the crucified Christ, God is not only 'for us'. He is 'with us'. In the forsaken by God, God himself is forsaken. In the crucified Christ, God is 'with us,' sharing in the torment...and going through hell for us. This means that God takes the suffering that comes to a person from others upon himself. He also takes the suffering upon himself...He suffers in suffering humanity, and he suffers with suffering humanity.”

These and other biblical narratives inform us that God is acquainted with our sufferings and provides sustaining grace for every crisis.

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16 NIV).


Some individuals grapple with unbearable pain, and sadly, a few turn to suicide to cope. Those left behind are often weighed down by a burden of guilt and haunted by unanswerable questions. This deep sense of remorse and the quest for understanding can cast a long shadow over their souls.

How can we find comfort in the face of a tragedy like suicide while considering the biblical teachings on the sanctity of life?

Thankfully, we can once again turn to the Bible. It teaches the only unforgivable sin is rejecting Jesus Christ as our Savior because He is the only way to be reconciled to God. The Bible also emphasizes the concrete nature of a believer's standing in Christ.


My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give my sheep eternal life. They will never die, and no one can take them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28 ERV).

You heard the true message, the Good News about the way God saves you. When you heard that Good News, you believed in Christ. And in Christ, God put his special mark on you by giving you the Holy Spirit that he promised. The Spirit is the first payment that guarantees we will get all that God has for us. (Ephesians 1:13-14a ERV).


In 1 Corinthians 3:15, Paul added a further argument concerning the security of the believer's salvation. He acknowledged some would fail to live a high-performance Christian life (in terms of deeds, character, and teachings). But he assured them they would be saved, “He himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”


“God is characterized by boundless love and mercy. He knows the complex interplay of mental, emotional, and physical factors that can lead someone to contemplate and even commit suicide.”

This confirms that the cornerstone of our faith is steadfast and immutable. The Day of Judgment is described as a fire that tests the quality of each person's life. Fire refines and reveals the nature of what is put into it. Imperishable materials will survive and even be purified, while perishable materials will be consumed.

God is characterized by boundless love and mercy. He knows the complex interplay of mental, emotional, and physical factors that can lead someone to contemplate and even commit suicide. The Bible plainly says that God’s grace and mercy are beyond our understanding — and His judgments are unsearchable and beyond knowing (Romans 11:33 ESV).

The Bible also assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord — “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation” (Romans 8:38-39 ESV).

Ponder this: You, a sincere follower of Christ, intentionally sinned and didn’t have an opportunity to confess that sin to God before you dropped dead or were accidentally killed; do you think God would commit you to hell? Absolutely not. That would be the actions of a sadistic Deity.

The blood of Jesus is an ever-atoning agency. It is not limited to a particular time or place but continually provides atonement for sins. It’s an ongoing, perpetual process of reconciliation and forgiveness for those who come to Jesus Christ for salvation.

For by a single offering, he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14 ESV).


The New Testament often refers to Jesus's blood as the foundation of a new covenant between God and humanity that is ever active —those who are being sanctified. This covenant is characterized by grace, mercy, and forgiveness extended to all who accept Christ as their savior.

I am confident that the assurance of salvation cannot be undermined by a single act, even if it is tragic and complex, like suicide. Scripture acknowledges that God's ways and judgments are beyond human comprehension (Isaiah 55:8-9). Christians are called to hope and trust in the boundless mercy and love of God, even in situations that are difficult to understand.



Final Notes:

  1. An article of this nature can only partially survey such a complex subject. My desire is to provide hope rooted in truth.

  2. For individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts or struggling through the pain of losing a loved one to suicide, please contact a mental health professional or a suicide prevention hotline in your region. These services can offer valuable support and resources.

  3. Our Counselling Centre is staffed with professional counselors ready to assist you. Please visit our website legacycounsellingcentre.org

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propersleevene
Oct 02, 2023

Thank you Pastor Rideout for encouraging those who are struggling to reach out to a mental health professional. Often those in leadership within churches have expertise in theology but lack knowledge in matters related to complex mental health disorders. God is a healer and he also provides people to guide us on the path of healing. Great job on the article. My only point to ponder would be that the language of “committing suicide” implies that the individual has a choice. In most circumstances where an individual is suicidal, they are often beyond rational thought. Suicide is not necessarily a choice. Blessings…and I commend you for writing on such a taboo topic within Christianity.

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