Suicide and the Bible

SamsonSome years ago, in a community I was serving there was a rash of suicides.  Situations like that always send pastors to the word of God for appropriate words to deal with the aftermath left behind for the families of those who have lost or nearly lost, a loved one. It was during that season of ministry that I developed a simple tool to help many of the survivors of these attempts to come to grips with what they had done and to try to understand what the Scripture said and didn’t say about this impulse to self-murder.

It was also during this time that I came to the conclusion that Samson did not commit suicide and to use his example as a proof text in support of suicide was misguided and fraudulent by those who sought to do so. Samson’s death was not a suicide but the sacrifice of a life for a military objective. The following brief article is from Kairos Journal makes essentially the same point.

Did Samson Commit Suicide?—Francis Turretin (1623 – 1687)

The death of Samson has been raised as an example of self murder – and employed as an argument in the arsenal of those who wish to see suicide legal and morally praiseworthy.1 Francis Turretin, a professor of theology in Geneva in the seventeenth century, has a ready response to those who misuse the story of Samson in this way.

The example of Samson (Jdg. 16:30) does not favor suicide because in the ruins of the house which he threw down he buried himself no less than others. This was a singular deed, perpetrated by the extraordinary influence of the Holy Spirit, as appears from … [Hebrews 11:34 which] says that he did this by faith and from the prayers which he offered to God for obtaining extraordinary strength for this act and from their being heard (Jdg. 16:28). God increased his strength and bestowed the desired success that he might be an illustrious type of Christ causing the great destruction of his enemies by his own death and breaking the tyrannical yoke resting upon the neck of his people. Finally, the design was not private revenge simply, but the vindication of the glory of God, of religion and of the people, since he was a public person and raised up by God from the people as an avenger.2

Footnotes:
1.  See for example, George Minois, History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), 32.
2.  Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, vol. 2, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr. (Philipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1994), 117.

4 thoughts on “Suicide and the Bible

  1. ESTE ARTICULO SOBRE SANSÓN ES EXCELENTE FELICIDADES. LES DEJO ESTE PUNTO DE VISTA Y DIOS LOS BENDIGA.
    EL SUICIDIO ES ” TODA MUERTE QUE RESULTA MEDIATA O INMEDIATAMENTE DE UN ACTO, POSITIVO O NEGATIVO, EFECTUADO POR LA PROPIA VICTIMA, CONSCIENTE DE QUE SU ACCIÓN PRODUCIRÍA ESE RESULTADO ” .
    EL SUICIDIO POR LO REGULAR SE DIVIDE EN TRES CATEGORÍAS:
    1.- EGOÍSTA.
    2.- ALTRUISTA.
    3.- ANOMICO.

    EL SUICIDIO EGOÍSTA OCURRE CUANDO LAS PERSONAS NO SE SIENTEN UNIDAS A UN GRUPO O COMUNIDAD QUE EXIGE SU LEALTAD Y PARTICIPACIÓN, ENCUENTRAN MAS FÁCIL DEJAR EL MUNDO DE UNA VEZ POR TODAS, POR LA VÍA DEL SUICIDIO.

    EL SUICIDIO ALTRUISTA SE RELACIONA CON EXCESIVOS COMPROMISOS COMUNITARIOS.CUANDO EL GRUPO COMIENZA A SER MAS IMPORTANTE QUE EL INDIVIDUO Y QUE LA VIDA MISMA, Y ESE GRUPO CORRE PELIGRO, LA PERSONA ES LLEVADA A SACRIFICARSE EN DEFENSA DEL GRUPO. ALGUNOS CONSIDERAN QUE EN ESTE GRUPO ENTRA SANSÓN DE ISRAEL, CLEOPATRA DE EGIPTO, LOS PILOTOS KAMIKAZE DE LA 2° GUERRA MUNDIAL Y OTROS JAPONESES QUE PRACTICAN EL HARAKIRI, PERSONAS DEL MEDIO ORIENTE QUE SE DINAMITAN, O LOS ANCIANOS ESQUIMALES QUE AL SENTIRSE QUE SON UNA CARGA PARA SU FAMILIA ABANDONAN EL IGLU PARA PONER FIN A SU VIDA, O COMO EL CADETE MEXICANO QUE ENVUELTO EN LA BANDERA DE MEXICO SE ARROJO DE LO ALTO DEL CASTILLO DE CHAPULTEPEC CIUDAD DE MEXICO.

    EL SUICIDIO ANOMICO OCURRE EN ÉPOCAS DE INSEGURIDAD RESPECTO AL FUTURO. SE DERIVA DE ANOMIA, LA AUSENCIA DE LEYES, NORMAS O REGLAS DE ORGANIZACIÓN. SE AGRAVA EN TIEMPOS DE CRISIS ECONOMICAS O PROSPERIDAD MATERIAL.EL ROMPIMIENTO DEL ESTILO DE VIDA DE UN PUEBLO, TANTO PARA EMPEORAR COMO PARA MEJORAR, OCASIONA TENSIONES Y EL NUMERO DE SUICIDIOS AUMENTA.

    HAY MAS SUICIDIOS EN EL MUNDO DE LO QUE IMAGINAMOS, PERO SON SUICIDIOS PARCIALES.
    CADA AÑO MAS DE 20 MILLONES DE PERSONAS EN TODO EL MUNDO INTENTA DE ALGUNA MANERA PONER FIN A SU PROPIA EXISTENCIA.

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  2. Saying to a loved one who has lost someone to suicide or to a person who has experienced suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide that they or the person who committed suicide are bad and selfish, even though that may be true, is not helpful at all. By the way, murder is something malicious you do to another person, not to yourself. Have you personally ever had a mental illness? I mean like depression or bipolar. If not, then maybe you should not judge. Maybe the best way to talk someone out of suicide is to be there for them, and show Christ’s compassion and love, not judge them.

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  3. One of the delights of blogging is the opportunity to connect with people from the past as well as new people with the eternal truths of the word of God.

    Recently, an old friend revealed privately that they had responded to an earlier post anonymously and wanted to come “clean” with me though they were not quite ready to reveal their identity to the whole world. I ask them if I could move their private message to me via FaceBook to the comment thread here at the BLOG. They said yes as long as I kept their identity private. I agreed. Here is their second response to the post.

    I need to confess that I was ME in that commenthttps://chosenrebel.me/2014/01/30/suicide-and-the-bible/#comments……

    I am sorry that I didn’t have the courage to put my real info in there. I confess that I wrote that with an angry heart–angry at the usage of the word self murder because I too was struggling with self murderous thoughts and depression, as are some of my friends whom I won’t mention by name. But [present pastor] straightened me out. So, please forgive me. Also, I am no longer angry when I read your posts. I think the reason I reacted that way was because a lot of your posts are convicting and the feeling it brought initially was not pleasant, but I know God used them to humble and to strengthen me in the faith. So,thank you.

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