Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Christian and Suicide

Quoting from Pastor Todd Pepperkorn's book I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression:
    Could this happen to you? Believe it. Anyone is susceptible to events like mine. Satan revels in them. As with Saul, Judas, and so many others, Satan can use any external force to drive us to despair. Martin Luther once wrote:
Since the devil is not only a liar, but also a murderer [John 8:44], he constantly seeks our life. He wreaks his vengeance whenever he can afflict our bodies with misfortune and harm. Therefore, it happens that he often breaks men’s necks or drives them to insanity, drowns some, and moves many to commit suicide and to many other terrible disasters [e.g., Mark 9:17-22].
     This is so true, and a disease of the mind is the perfect ground for Satan to plant his sick weeks of unbelief.
    Is it a sin to consider such thoughts as suicide? This is one of the many questions of guilt that trouble the clinically depressed. Self-death is a sin, but it is only a sin. Jesus died for all our sins, even suicide or worse. We are often placed in impossible situations, where we sin if we do, and sin if we don’t. Even if external forces (extended illness, loss of work, etc.) put us in such a situation, sin is still sin. But more importantly, Jesus’ forgiveness is still forgiveness.
    Christ came to take our death. We really died in the font, not when our body is laid to rest. This means that no matter what terrible thoughts you harbor in your soul, in the midst of your despair, Christ is there. You may not be able to see him, feel Him, our touch Him, but He is there. You are washed in Baptism; you are cleansed in His name. You are His holy child, beloved in His sight. Yes, you suffer. It is painful. But suffer as the redeemed. For you will come out whole and undefiled in the end.

You can download a free copy of I Trust When Dark My Road here.  You can read online about the book and Pastor Pepperkorn's thoughts here.

Todd A. Pepperkorn, I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression, (St. Louis: LCMS World Relief and Human Care, 2009) 82-83.


roger said...

You should pick up a copy of Peter Preus's book "And She Was A Christian" about his wife's suicide.

Timothy C. Schenks said...

A few years ago I was upset to hear that our former pastor showed up here after taking a call elsewhere to a member's funeral visition -- a teen suicide. Rather than giving any words of comfort he told the teen's mother that her daughter was in hell. This man is now a Circuit Counselor.

I'll note that when a pastor in the same district committed suicide a few years later, nobody said he was in hell. Instead, the pastors quoted Luther's comments about suicide...not his fault, the devil caused it, etc.