Thursday, April 11, 2013

After Suicide, Redemption?

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (Jn 9:1-7)

Suicide is hard to deal with. Losing a family member to suicide is hard to process. With the recent death of a famous pastor's son, much has been said in social media about suicide. Questions like, "If a Christian kills himself, does he go to heaven?" are being posted on various boards. Or "What does the Bible say about suicide?" are being debated and discussed. All of this leads, depending on one's sophistication, into issues of atonement, salvation and other doctrines that various denominations may hold. Clarity is being sought as well as disclosures of one's own battles with mental health including my own. After all, we want to know where God is in suicide.

In my tradition, we have the doctrine of original sin. It states that after the Fall man became corrupted  which means "our own nature is inclined to evil". (Gn. 6:5, Ps. 58:3) And so we deserve "God's wrath and damnation." Why do people do bad things? The answer is original sin. In other words, we are bad people. Jesus, Himself, says so! (Mk.10:18) This is hard to swallow if you believe otherwise. Adam and Eve were promised death if they disobeyed God. (Gn. 2:17) That promise holds true today.We die! Now most of us expect to die from an illness like cancer or heart disease. It's not that we want to but we see these diseases as natural causes. When a person dies in a car accident or from self-infliction, we are shocked and horrified because it was not expected. We ask ourselves how can this happen? It can happen because we no longer have the safety of the Garden of Eden. Unfortunately, one disease that often does not garner society's sympathy is mental illness.

Mental disease is an illness. One does not choose to be mentally ill no more than does one choose to have cancer. Depression kills. I know from personal experience and have written about it here. So where is God when a person commits suicide? 

As stated earlier, we die because our hearts are inclined to evil and we deserve death. This is a  biblical truth that needs to be recognized. But Jesus came to save us from our sins that lead to death and eternal punishment. The promise from The Prophets is that The Law will be written on our hearts. (Jer. 31:33, Ex. 20:1-17) Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets by taking the curse of eternal punishment upon Himself so that we may have eternal life with Him instead. (Mt. 5:13-20) Jesus was not saying that the blind man was not a sinner but that he was blind as part of his nature. And it this very nature that Jesus came to address. What is important is that the works of God may be displayed in us. I survived my depression by God's grace alone. But more importantly people are asking questions. The disciples asked a question. The answer they got was not the one they expected but they got it! They even saw it. While we should mourn with a family's loss, let us ask the questions God wants us to ask. And this has been happening. We cannot bring back the dead but we can seek the Light for ourselves. And people are seeking the Light. This, I say, is redemption. Asking questions and getting answers. But let's be careful. If we think we already know the asnwer, we may be wrong! After all, there are false doctrines and correct doctrines. We cannot believe anything we want!

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. (Jn 9:35-41)