On Suicide and the Church

In Memory of Jarrid Wilson

    The suicide of Jarrid Wilson and the reaction among the church has been both good and bad.  However, some things have been said that I do not agree with. It disturbs me when certain Christians think the suicide of Jarrid Wilson is a good backdrop to their incorrect theological conclusions.  So I write this to defend the spiritual health of those who are being spiritually abused by these false teachers. My headings reflect their false statements.

Misunderstanding What "Sober Minded" Means

     Some have claimed that JW must not have been qualified to be a pastor because (1 Timothy 3:2) he wasnít ďsober minded.Ē  I believe this is a mis-translation of that Greek word νηφάλιον, which means sober, temperate, vigilant (https://biblehub.com/greek/3524.htm).  Depression isnít intoxication or being immoderate.  Itís not a failure to be vigilant.  Depression is a feeling of despondency or rejection, to put it in only a few words.  The DSM-5 definition of depression doesnít include anything that makes Jarrid Wilson not temperate, etc.  So this is a false statement, and quite frankly, spiritually abusive.

Misunderstanding Eternal Security

     The problem with this part is when people reference 1 Corinthians 6 and other passages like it, saying, ďSee?  Murderers wonít inherit the kingdom of God.Ē  The problem here is that it also lists liars, which includes everyone who misuses this passage.  In context, itís saying ďyou used to be like this [see list of sins] but Jesusí blood has cleaned you.Ē    Itís not saying that committing murder or suicide results in loss of salvation.  Itís talking more about how we should glorify God in our behavior and in how we treat our bodies.
     In fact, if anything, note 1 Samuel 28:19 (HCSB) ďTomorrow you and your sons will be with me.Ē  And then notice 1 Samuel 31:4 (HCSB) ďThen Saul took his sword and fell on it.Ē  King Saul committed suicide, yet what Samuel had predicted (while conjured) came to pass, that he was with him where Abraham was (Luke 16:22 mentions this).  It could be said the Bible teaches that those who commit suicide donít affect their eternal destination.  But I donít say this to make it easier for someone to commit suicide, just to clear up what I believe is a false teaching.

When You Can't Say Anything....

     So if you read this and you see now that thereís really nothing much you can say about suicide, except that itís a bad choice, what should you say to grieving families?  What should you tell your congregation?
     Here's my advice: How about nothing at all?  I would say the first step is that if you canít think of something to say to grieving family members, donít say anything.   Just sit with them and be with them.  Pray for them.  Fighting over the personís destination and other theological suicide elements isnít very helpful at times.  If they ask, sure, but know how to articulate your beliefs in such a way that youíre not condemning the victim, nor harming their surviving families.
     Second, your message to your congregation should probably be filled with truth and love, and if you have to err on either side, err on the love side.  One of the things they need to hear is that all kinds of people struggle with suicide, even saints like Elijah (1 Kings 19:4) and Jonah (Jonah 4:3).  Job (ch. 3) cursed the day of his birth.  Tell them that Jesus loves them and doesnít want them to harm themselves.  But tell them that Jesus isnít going to send them to hell if they commit suicide, which is, I believe, the truth of the Bible on this matter.
     Third, if you catch church members spreading lies about suicide, like some of the lies I have just refuted, please confront them in love.  We donít need their words harming surviving families.


    The reality of the situation is that we are all sinners, and we are all slowly moving towards our death.  We are mortal.  Pastors aren't superhuman: they're flesh and blood just like the rest of us.
    If you want to help people who are suicidal, stop treating them like they're somehow bad.  Share with them the stories of other saints who have struggled with this.
    And stop rushing to find fault in the suicide victim.  Think of the families.  Don't say something that hurts them: they're already hurting.