I visited a suicide site recently to see what resources they provide so as to help steer people who are struggling in the right direction. And I came upon a statement that I’d never read in print before:
A Christian perspective on suicide begins with an affirmation of faith that nothing, including suicide, separates us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39).
I’ve heard people explain it in similar wording, but I’d never read the interpretation stated as succinctly as it is above. According to the website’s interpretation of Romans 8:38-39, the “nothing” that separates us from God includes suicide. Is suicide stated in the verses? No. And yet, the website gives its own interpretation of what Romans 8:38-39 means, adding a controversial word about a controversial subject there.
I understand the desire to want to add this here, but it reduces suicide to a mere circumstance. Famine is a circumstance. Most individuals work hard to provide for their families. In this coronavirus pandemic, a number of individuals fear famine because they’re unable to work. And even in their financial hardship, God has not abandoned them. They are still His, they’re still saved, and they still have their faith in Jesus. And because they’re joined to Christ and have His Holy Spirit living inside of them, the Holy Spirit sheds abroad the love of Christ in their hearts (Romans 5:5).
Famine is a circumstance, and so is unemployment. Most individuals work hard to keep their jobs and don’t like being jobless. Few choose to be unemployed. Unemployment isn’t a choice but something someone falls into. “The sword,” what many know as death, is also something that many fall into. Missionaries in other countries, for example, could find themselves in danger of losing their lives. Paul found himself near death in a number of situations (1 Corinthians 15:30).
Famine, nakedness, peril, the sword, etc., are circumstances, things we “happen” to find ourselves in without deliberate planning. And this is what makes suicide such a tricky subject to discuss: because some see it as a circumstance. And it isn’t a circumstance, but rather, a response to circumstances.
Suicide is not a circumstance
No one in the world just “finds” themselves in suicide. It isn’t a circumstance. Unemployment, famine, nakedness, peril, and the sword are circumstances, but suicide is a choice, a personal response to circumstances. Someone may choose to commit suicide because his or her job is gone after 30 years of labor. I am reminded in writing this post that a classmate of mine from high school discovered he had a cancer diagnosis and took his own life because of it.
And we use the phrase “committed suicide” when someone completes the act and kills himself or herself because to commit something shows intent, deliberate decision. There are those who “commit suicide” but no one “commits unemployment” or “commits famine,” for example. This is why suicide is not a circumstance, but a choice. And every choice has consequences.
So, despite what some secularists may think, suicide isn’t a circumstance, but a choice. Depression can lead to suicide, but it, like suicide, is a choice. A person can be depressed and discouraged or find the joy in living. I’m not trying to sound insensitive, just trying to label things appropriately. If we understand suicide is a choice, then we can understand that everyone who is mentally aware of their choices can choose life instead of death.
We don’t have to die. There’s a better way to live.
I’ll cover what we can do with the choice to live in another post.