“Suicide Is a Ticket to Hell” (and Other Bad Theology)

Anonymous asked a question

Will I go to hell if I commit suicide?

First, my friend: If you are hurting right now, please reach out to safe people and tell them what’s happening. I hope you will find therapy, community, or medicine to get you through. I’ve been in a really bad place before, and it will feel impossible—but help is not far away. You are loved, my friend.

Also, my answer to your question is no way. I don’t believe that, not for a second.

I understand why this idea is passed around in churches. The hope is that by saying “suicide will send you to hell,” then this would actually prevent you from taking your life.

At first glance, it sounds logical. In some psych evaluations, I’ve seen the counselor ask, “Do you believe you’ll go to hell if you take your life?” This is asked as a positive question. In other words, if the patient says, “Yes,” that means the patient has one more safeguard which will prevent suicide. It’s seen as a good thing.

But in the long run, the idea that someone will suffer eternal anguish after they take their own life is 1) not anywhere in Scripture, 2) an ugly theology to throw around at a funeral, and 3) not sustainable for mental health.

If the only thing keeping a person “safe” is the idea that they will receive eternal punishment, that’s a low-key anxiety which will accumulate into all kinds of trauma. A sustaining faith cannot be about a punishing God. Rather it’s to believe in a God who can continue to help you start over, begin again, and make it through the darkest valley. To know a God whose love is greater than our grief. That at rock bottom, He is still the rock, and when we cry out, so does He.

Here’s the other thing. A few years back, after my friend’s grandmother passed away (who was a Buddhist), a pastor went up to my friend and said, “Sorry but she’s in hell.” Like this was a bold stance or something. And it was said with a smug, self-satisfied relish. Nobody, and I mean nobody, gets to say something like that. “The Lord knows who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19). The grace of God is bigger and better than we can fathom.

— J.S.

Photo from Unsplash

The original post is here. To ask me questions, click here.

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