I think that a person who commits suicide can be saved. Do you think that 1 Corinthians 10:13 presents a problem to this view? The verse says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
To begin, we can say two things about suicide. First, since the biblical definition of murder is the deliberate termination of a human life without God’s preceptive approval, this must mean that suicide is equivalent to murder. Second, for the one who commits this act, it is even more final than if he were to murder someone else. Since the murderer is also the one who is murdered, not only is the life terminated, but there is no opportunity for repentance and restoration. Therefore, we must conclude that suicide entails much spiritual danger.
Now, I have no personal aversion to the idea that all those who commit suicide are in fact non-Christians, regardless of what they claim to believe. If all those who commit suicide are sent to hell, then so be it. My emotions do not make me prefer one position or the other. That said, at this time I am unconvinced that this is indeed the case. In other words, it seems that it is possible for a genuine believer to kill himself.
The reason for suicide might be a factor. Is the person insane? Does the person suffer from extreme depression, or constant and prolonged sexual or physical abuse with no apparent way of escape? Is he facing a kind of pressure or danger so extreme that he thinks suicide is the only option? Or, is he a soldier or government agent who is captured by the enemy, and who thinks he must resort to suicide rather than to risk revealing secret information that might jeopardize his country?
I am not asserting that these factors grant moral permission for suicide, but only that these are relevant questions on the way to the answer, and that even if most cases of suicide are sinful, it is possible that some cases are not. Perhaps an insane man is just as guilty as anyone. This is something that we need to discuss. It is sometimes difficult for outsiders to judge. However, it seems that the situation with the soldier or agent comes under a different category of reasons, and much more likely to be acceptable, if it is indeed acceptable. It could be considered an act of willing sacrifice in a warfare situation, and as such, it is very different from a person who kills himself just because he is depressed, or because he is a confused teenager, or because he owes people too much money.
As for 1 Corinthians 10:13, it does not contradict the view that a believer could commit suicide and be saved. This is because any sin is a sin against 1 Corinthians 10:13. It just means that there is never an excuse for sin, including suicide. But we still often sin, and we receive forgiveness for it through faith in Jesus Christ. Likewise, insofar as it is sinful, it might mean that suicide is never necessary, and it is wrong for a person to think that it is his only option. But again, no sin is ever necessary, or a person’s only option. And if there is a distinction between sinful and non-sinful suicide, then the verse means that sinful suicide is never necessary.
Some attempted biblical arguments are far from conclusive.
For example, the suicide of Judas is insufficient to establish its sinfulness. He sinned in betraying Christ, sinned again in failing to repent, and then sinned once more in murdering himself. But there is nothing here to tell us that suicide itself is sinful — we know that it is sinful from other parts of Scripture. There is nothing here to tell us whether a person who commits suicide is necessarily exposed as an unbeliever and condemned to hell because he commits suicide. Or, related to this, although we know that Judas is reprobate, there is nothing here to tell us that only a reprobate person, destined for hell, will commit suicide.
On the other hand, neither can we say that Samson’s example justifies suicide, for the reason that it might not be suicide at all. By his final demonstration of strength, “he killed many more when he died than while he lived” (Judges 16:30). In other words, he did more to fulfill his mission in this one act, which he knew would kill him as well, than in his previous exploits. Would he have killed himself if he knew that no Philistines would have died because of it? And if he had really wanted to commit suicide as such, why did he not do it much sooner? He was in captivity long enough for his hair to grow long again. He could have killed himself at any moment during this period just by biting his tongue and bleeding to death. Yes, he knew he was going to die (v. 30), but he stated his intention two verses earlier when he said, “O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” His main purpose was to kill the Philistines. He died in combat, fulfilling his mission better than anything that he did before. Thus it is difficult to call this suicide as such.
We should continue to examine biblical arguments on the topic. In any case, even if we say it is possible that a genuine believer might commit suicide, we must insist that it remains a spiritually dangerous act, and we must do our utmost to warn people against it and turn them from it. Of course, the best long-term solution is not for a person to wait until he reaches the point of suicide, but for him to daily exercise in faith and godliness, and to obtain the assistance, counsel, and encouragement of a Christian community.
When counseling those who consider suicide, we must have compassion regarding the problems they are facing; however, we must also deal with them firmly about their attitude.
To illustrate, abortionists ask, “Should women not have the right to decide what to do with their own bodies?” Rather than saying, “Yes, but…,” we must answer, “Of course not!” God is the one who dictates what they must do with their bodies, and how they must treat their children’s bodies in their wombs. The truth is that we do not have absolute authority over our own bodies even relative to other people, since God has also defined the principles that govern various human relationships. For example, parents have the right to physically punish their disobedient children, and those who are married possess conjugal rights over their spouses, whether men or women.
Accordingly, those contemplating suicide must learn that they have no final rights over their own bodies, since they are God’s property. This is true for believers in a special sense, since Scripture calls them God’s treasured possession. But whether they are Christians or non-Christians, unless they have God’s preceptive permission — that is, unless Scripture approves — they have no moral right to kill themselves.
Moreover, we must affirm that if a certain person who commits suicide is nevertheless saved, it is solely due to the sovereign grace of God, who chose him for salvation, and the atoning blood of Christ, who paid for all his sins, including what seems to be a final act of rebellion and unbelief.
Whatever we do, we must not minimize the danger associated with suicide, for even if there are exceptional cases in which “suicide” is permitted, these are indeed exceptions (war, sacrifice, maybe extreme insanity, and so on). We can say with confidence that even if suicide is not sinful in all cases, it is sinful in most cases. And even if suicide is sometimes committed by some genuine believers, most of those who commit suicide are unbelievers. Therefore, most people who commit suicide are sent to hell, and there they will suffer everlasting conscious extreme torture. This time there will be no escape.