By Wayne Jackson
“We recognize that suicide is wrong, but what if a child takes his own life?”
Let me approach this from two different vantage points.
First, suicide, on the part of a responsible person, is clearly a sinful act. The Scriptures teach that life is a sacred gift from God (Acts 17:25), and no person has the arbitrary right to destroy that – not even in himself. Judas, one of the Lord’s apostles, committed suicide (Mt. 27:5), and the Bible clearly indicates that he died lost (Jn. 17:12) – even though he had some “regret” for the betrayal he had perpetrated (Mt. 27:3). There is not a suicide case in the entire Bible that is viewed in a favorable light.
Some have taken the position that suicide is never a rational act; therefore, any person who takes his own life, from the very nature of the case, is not responsible for that deed. I do not believe this is a defensible proposition. We do not know what is in the mind of another. People, who are perfectly rational, sometimes do impulsive, drastic things they later regret very much.
The self-evident problem with suicide is this: once it’s done, it cannot be undone! The fact is, there are so many false views extant as to what happens after death that many people have been led to believe there is no consequence for the act, and that, in view of their dire circumstances, this “choice” can only provide them with something better.
On the other hand, it certainly is a fact that a person can become mentally ill and then, in that state, do things for which they are not morally accountable. Many of us have seen older folks, or those who have suffered brain damage due to strokes or accidents, do or say things they would never have done or said during their responsible years. And so, if a person slips into a state of mental illness, where they no longer can exercise responsible control over what they are doing, and then in that state commit suicide, surely they will not be held accountable for such irrational conduct.
But remember this – every person is accountable for his or her actions up to the point of losing rationality.
It is most unfortunate that children sometimes commit suicide. We cannot presume to know what has gone on in the mind of a tender child who resorts to this level of desperation. All we can say is this: if a person is accountable to God, he will have to answer for his deeds (2 Cor. 5:10); if he is not, then assuredly he will not. The great Judge of all the earth will do what is right (Gen. 18:25).
In the meantime, Christians must resign themselves to two issues:
1. We must teach the value and sanctity of human life in a world in which such has been woefully cheapened.
2. We must trust God to be fair, and recognize the fact that we do not have to resolve every “hard” case in our own minds.
Christian Courier: Questions
Thursday, April 13, 2000