People ask me all the time about whether Christians who commit suicide can go to heaven. This question is particularly difficult because it both emotional and theological. If this question is personal for you, because you have experienced the loss of a family member or friend, please know I hurt for you deeply and hope this blog provides some comfort.
One more thing to keep in mind as we begin: While God has unmistakable grace for people struggling with suicidal thoughts, taking innocent life is a big deal. As scripture clearly says: every life is valuable because it is made in the image of God. That includes your life and that includes my life.
While we can understand that people who are hurting might entertain the idea of ending their lives, we must do everything we can to stop them from doing so. Suicide is sometimes downplayed today, but for Christians, it is an absolute tragedy. The person struggling with suicidal ideas is both hurting and the victim of the idea that taking their life will end their pain. We have to be ready with a hopeful and helpful response.
Suicide and Heaven
So, can a Christian who commits suicide go to heaven? A helpful way to address this question is through a fictional dialogue, which comes from my book A Rebel’s Manifesto. Here’s how a conversation on this subject might go:
Questioner: Can a Christian who commits suicide go to heaven?
Me: Based on what we see in Scripture, I think so.
Questioner: Isn’t suicide an unforgivable sin?
Me: There’s no biblical warrant for thinking the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” is suicide.
Questioner: But suicide is murder.
Me: True, but God forgave King David for murder, right? (See 2 Samuel 12:9, 13) Then he can forgive someone who unjustly takes their own life.
Questioner: But David repented. Those who commit suicide can’t repent.
Me: Yes, but when people believe in Jesus, he pays for all of their sins—past, present, and future. If a Christian lies to her parents and then dies in a car crash driving to school, she is still forgiven, right?
Questioner: But how can a genuine Christian lose hope?
Me: We live in a world that has been deeply rocked by sin. The apostle Paul warns Christians not to be “conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2) because even Christians are susceptible to the manipulation of Satan, the father of lies.
Saved by grace
Conversations are not always this straightforward, of course. And the debate could go on. But here’s the bottom line: The recipe for eternal life is experiencing God’s grace by faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9).
Salvation comes not through our works but because of what Christ has done for us. I believe claiming that Christians who commit suicide cannot be saved threatens to place salvation in our efforts rather than God’s grace. Only God knows someone’s final destination, but I see no reason to conclude that a Christian who commits suicide is necessarily excluded from going to Heaven.
If you want a resource to help young people think about the toughest ethical and theological questions today, check out my latest book: A Rebel’s Manifesto: Choosing Truth & Real Justice amid the Noise of Today’s World.