A Biblical Perspective on Suicide





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by Ron Rhodes

I am sometimes asked what the Bible says about the issue of suicide. Because suicide is a problem in our society, I want to briefly address what the Scriptures say about it.

We begin with the recognition that, from a biblical perspective, issues of life and death lie in the sovereign hands of God alone. Job said to God, “Man’s days are determined; you [O God] have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed” (Job 14:5). David said to God, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16).

Moreover, suicide goes against the commandments of God. In fact, the sixth commandment tells us, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). This command is based on the sanctity of human life. We must remember that man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26).

It is important to understand that the command, “You shall not murder,” has no direct object. That is, it doesn’t say, “You shall not murder someone else,” or “You shall not murder your fellow man.” It simply says, “You shall not murder.” The prohibition thus includes not just the murder of one’s fellow man but even the murder of oneself. While suicide is certainly not the “unforgivable sin,” we must never forget that God prohibits murder of any kind.

Christian pastors and counselors often point out that a believer who ends his life also forever ends his opportunities to witness and serve the Lord on earth. Furthermore, suicide is one of the greatest acts of selfishness, for in it the individual caters to his own desires and his own will, ignoring the catastrophic effects it has on others.

The lives of certain biblical saints are instructive on the issue of suicide. There were times when certain servants of God in biblical times were so severely tested and distressed that they wished for their own death (see 1 Kings 19:4; John 4:8). But these individuals did not take matters into their own hands and kill themselves. Instead, in these cases, God always rescued them. We can learn a lesson here. When we despair, we must turn to God and not commit suicide. God will see us through.

The apostle Paul certainly went through tough times. Indeed, in 2 Corinthians 1:8 Paul reflected on his past: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.”

Nevertheless, Paul did not succumb to breaking God’s commandment against murder and commit suicide. He depended on God, and God came through and gave him all the sustenance he needed to make it through his ordeal.

Following Paul’s example, we must depend on God when life throws us a punch. And just as God sustained Paul through his difficulties, so He will sustain us.

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