Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Good Question: Is Suicide Unforgivable? | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Good Question: Is Suicide Unforgivable? | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

Click on title for full article, see below for a another helpful commentary by Thomas D. Kennedy.

The Church's task...portion of an article by Thomas D. Kennedy
When I comes to dealing with suicide, the church must do more than teach about it, for the church's primary task is to be the people of God.

First of all, the church must commit itself to being a community of truth, a community in which believers tell the truth about their own lives. A church must hear the stories of pain, suffering, and failure in the lives of its members; and those who tell the stories must receive from the church both lamentation and the healing balm of Christ. When the church is open and honest about pain and suffering, it can then confront in love even the most difficult of human crises and failures--suicide.

Second, the church must commit itself to being a community of love, not quick to judge. Since suicide often brings with it the stigma of "unpardonable sin" and feelings of shame and guilt for the surviving family members, those currently free of pain must welcome those who suffer in the name of Christ; and with the aid of the Holy Spirit, they must place themselves at one another's disposal. A church might well have a team ministry to contact and inquire daily about those who are troubled. A church might also designate certain gifted individuals to whom one might turn in distress. A community of love bears patiently with those who contemplate suicide and those who grieve and feel guilty as a result of suicide.

Third, the church must commit itself to being a community of joy, a community in which the new life of Christ is celebrated, a community that calls others to celebrate in the new life of Christ. By living as a community of joy, by regularly celebrating God's goodness to us in Jesus Christ, the church ministers to those who are saddened, joyfully acquainting them with the One who has known their sorrows.

This article originally appeared in the March 20, 1987, issue of Christianity Today.

The article linked, as well as the commentary posted, help us as we think about this difficult subject. We are challenged to be such a community bringing healing for those who are in pain, those affected by the death of a loved one, or contemplating suicide. It is also important to note that depression, often linked to suicidal thoughts and attempts, must never be discounted nor mistaken for a purely spiritual malady. Christians suffering from depression should be refered to medical and mental health professionals for evaluation and treatment. Depression, a factor in suicide is a treatable condition.




Rhoto said...

Interesting article, Father.
To see depression as a "purely spiritual malady" would show a thinking no more advanced than the Witch Hunts of yore... What we don't understand, we not only fear but also can't address in a helpful way.
Warm greetings,
Rhonda Joyce Morrill

seraph said...

Sadly Rhonda, in some Christian circles it is seen that way. As a physician one of the difficult tasks I have in treating Christians suffering from depression is convincing them that there is effective treatment for them. Some feel that healing should only be "spiritual" or that the "joy of the Lord" is their strength" and they should be able to "snap out of it". It is not that way most of the time!
That does not mean there is no role for prayer and spirituality in recovery from depression, but that there is also medication which can be very helpful.

Many Blessings to you!