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Suicide

This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.


Why does the Assemblies of God stand so strongly against suicide? Why does the church believe it is so wrong to take your own life? Doesn't heaven await all Christians?

The Assemblies of God has never approved or sanctioned suicide. Scripture teaches that mankind is a special creation made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26; 2:7). Thus all human life is sacred, a gift from God to be treated with dignity and respect. Murder is condemned by Scripture (Exodus 20:13), not only as the willful taking of human life, but as a sin against the divine image inborn in God's highest creation (Genesis 9:6).

The Judeo-Christian tradition holds that God alone has the right to give and take human life. God is sovereign, appointing both the beginning and the end of our days (Job 14:5; Psalm 139:6).

Suicide is the deliberate act of ending one's own life. Suicide is self-murder. The reason for violating God's command against murder (Exodus 20:13), as well as the mental health of the suicide victim, both raise serious questions of responsibility and accountability. A Christian, with the help of the Holy Spirit, should be able to cope with the stresses that sometimes lead to suicide. But we do not fully understand the causes of major mental illness and must therefore exercise caution in declaring that all persons who commit suicide are eternally lost. The specific instances of suicide recorded in Scripture—Saul and his armor bearer (1 Samuel 31:4,5), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:5)—all seem to have sad spiritual as well as physical ends. Some have called Samson's death a heroic suicide, but it seems more likely that his death was the unavoidable result of his heroic action against the pagan Philistines (Judges 16:28-31).

Some may object to calling suicide a violation of the sixth commandment on the grounds that some suicides are not motivated by the hate that Jesus condemned as being as bad as the act of murder. Nevertheless, the act of suicide rejects God's inherent sovereignty over life and is therefore sin if committed with full awareness of what one is doing.

CONCERNS

A suicide has an enormous impact on the immediate family and on society. The bereaved suffer catastrophic feelings of guilt for supposed neglect which allowed the suicide to happen. This pain is compounded by normal concerns about the eternal destiny of the suicide victim.

Family members should be counseled to leave the matter of eternal destiny in the hands of the Lord. He alone knows the thoughts and intent of the heart as well as the mental condition of the victim at the time of the suicide.

Please read, "Sanctity of Human Life: Suicide, Physician-Assisted Suicide, and Euthanasia" (PDF) for a discussion of physician-assisted suicide, and the slippery moral decline that this so-called merciful action can lead to.


The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.

All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.