Is Suicide Sinful? Reviewed by Momizat on . Written by and Media by Momoka Murata. Is suicide a sin? [caption id="attachment_50002" align="alignleft" width="300"] Illustration by Momoka Murata[/caption] I Written by and Media by Momoka Murata. Is suicide a sin? [caption id="attachment_50002" align="alignleft" width="300"] Illustration by Momoka Murata[/caption] I Rating: 0
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Is Suicide Sinful?

Written by and Media by Momoka Murata.


Is suicide a sin?

Illustration by Momoka Murata

It is not rare that people choose suicide to end their lives, leaving others with questions. One of the difficult controversies in Christianity is whether or not this is a sin. From a Muslim perspective, the definition of suicide is clear; however, in Christianity, it seems very complicated, and people have different opinions. 

First of all, Islam clarifies suicide as a sin. The Quran, in verses 4-29, states, “Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.” In Islam, this is because they believe every human being is owned by God; thus it is not acceptable to kill oneself.

In contrast, in the Christian community, even though there are no verses that explicitly ban suicide, it is also a common belief that humans are God’s creation; therefore, we should do everything we can to sustain human life. In the Ten Commandments, it says killing is unforgivable, and suicide is technically the killing of oneself. However, in John 11:14-16 we read, “So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake, I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” This could be seen as a suggestion of suicide. 

Image of Augustine
Original image from Wikiart.org

In the book, “On Punishment: The Confrontation of Suicide in Old Europe,” you may see when Christians started to regard suicide as sinful. Before Augustine regarded suicide as a sin, it was admired in early Christianity. Because martyrdom was beautified, the church had to take measures to sustain their believers. In “Definition of Suicide,” there are more historical details, in which Augustine advocated for decimation, which was the custom of choosing one out of ten men to die at the hands of the other nine. In 693 CE, a declaration was made to excommunicate believers who committed suicide. Later, St. Thomas Aquinas claimed it was a crime to commit suicide because it goes against God’s authority and attempts to control life and death. This notion became wildly common.

Image of Schopenhauer
Image from Philosopher.eu

Because there is no description of banning suicide in the Bible, a famous philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, mentioned in his book, “Studies in Pessimism,” that we should restore the honor of unjustly despised Christians who committed suicide.

In the article, “Is Suicide Unforgivable?” in Christianity Today, author Lewis B. Smedes stated his opinion from a different perspective: “Some say that suicide cannot be forgiven because the person who did it could not have repented of doing it. But all of us commit sins that we are too spiritually cloddish to recognize for the sins they are. And we all die with sins not named and repented of.”

Several Greenville students shared their thoughts on the topic of religion and suicide in the podcast below.

As someone who has grown up in a non-religious environment, I agree with the Buddhist perspective that states that there is no good and evil in death. On the contrary, determining the good and bad is seen as inherently selfish.

What about you? What are your thoughts on the relationship between religion and suicide?

 

 

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Comments (1)

  • Lisa Stephens

    I appreciate this article bringing attention to suicide. Sadly, I have thought about this issue too often since I have personally known 6 people who have committed suicide (which is a startling statistic to me). Let this sink in…each of them considered themselves Christians. I feel, as a society, we must address mental health issues in a “less-judgemental” way, create more avenues that allow people who need mental health services to get them, and increase awareness by educating the public on mental health issues, in hopes the stigma of having a mental illness will soften or eliminate that stigma and more people will be supportive of mental health treatments and why mental health issues may occur. As Christians, I believe we should be compassionate to everyone, supportive, and use our talents to help others–especially those in need, those who are ill, the weak, the elderly, widowed, and children.

    As a Christian, I believe there is only one sin that is “unforgivable” and that sin is: Rejecting our Lord. I honestly believe when a person has been driven to the point of suicide, that person is dealing with more than one mental health issue. Bless their hearts, they need help as soon as they can get it. However, as a society-especially as Christians-instead of shunning people who may have a mental health issue, we must embrace them with Christ’s love, and actually attempt to help them and love them as Christ loves us. We must be willing to openly talk about these issues without judging people and stereotyping them. We must earnestly reach out and help them recognize that we, Christians, want to help them in their time of need, and allow them to see Christ in us.

    I do not condone suicide–and I definitely do not feel suicide should ever be glamorized because it only takes a life then leaves family and friends to suffer through grief. However, we must address what precipitates the thought of someone feeling so hopeless, empty, and sad to the point of taking their life. Suicide is purely heartbreaking. As Christians, I feel we must lead the way in helping change our environments, family lives, and insurance regulations so that mental health services are readily available and not restricted to just 10 or so visits per year (if you’re lucky to even have any). Just as importantly, as a society, we must discontinue the idea of “discussing mental health issues” as taboo — it is an illness that no one chooses to have. Instead, we need to be kinder, gentler, and more compassionate as a group of humans and no longer turn our backs on people who may have complex issues. Without a doubt, our Lord must be pained to see his people hurt and struggle so much. The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit embody forgiveness, grace, love, and compassion.God has given us a body that is simply an instrument to use to help others–are we using it appropriately?

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