My cousins husband tweeted a link to this article this morning.
The most saddening part for me about what occurred here, is that many people cannot accept the possibility that their loved ones were responsible for their own death because suicide is considered by them a grave sin, which means their loved one will go to hell.
For me, this brings up some issues which perhaps need to be discussed. Particularly by Christians. It’s the erroneousness of our position on issues such as suicide that cause untold intolerable and unnecessary pain and confusion for those who must deal with the fallout. Stigma. Fear. Shame. Just to name a few.
Think about it.
What if someone told you that according to their religion, your loved one was going to die in an eternal lake of fire because they refused to die at the hands of terrorists, instead opting for a demise of their own choosing? Imagine yourself at the top of a burning skyscraper, looking out at what you believe for all intents and purposes looks like the end of the world – what would you do? What do you think God would have you do?
I am a mental health support worker. Yesterday, I could hear one of my clients in her home next door to my office as she battled her “voices”. The “mother” voice was berating her with savage verbal abuses, against which my client was defending herself in a most vehement fashion. There was swearing. There were threats. There was volume. It was very, very disturbing. After about an hour, the client came to the office door to ask for a cigarette from her supply. Once she was settled outside with her smoke, I approached her quietly to ask if she was okay, and if there was anything I could do for her. “Please, just back off and go away. I can’t deal with talking to you right now.” She wasn’t being theatrical – this was no reverse-attention seeking. She had the cement-hard look in her eyes of someone who had just emerged from the middle of a huge trauma. My voice was one more in the mix she simply could not tolerate. I left her to her repose. As I locked myself back into the office, I wondered what it would be like to have your mind be your own adversity, and how she manages to survive this daily trauma. I can imagine that if it were me fighting against those voices, I would consider any hell I might be in danger of fairly meaningless in light of the very likely relief suicide might provide me.
It’s probably much easier to believe that someone who kills themselves will go to to hell if the person doing the killing and dying isn’t you. But what if being extinct is actually more tolerable than the hell you’re in right now?
The whole argument rests on one premise – suicide is a sin. There appears to be no real Biblical support for this, although some will argue that the commandment not to murder covers killing oneself. Odds on, the folks who adhere to this erroneous belief haven’t had to face anything that would make them question it. I believe the fallacy that suicide in a sin probably was borne in medieval times, when people in positions of power wanted to stop the plebeian masses taking their own lives before they had a chance to subject them to an inquisition.
It is, after all, a matter of power. Who has the power of life, and of death? We say God does, but we do too. People have the power to abduct and strangle, rape and subjugate, hijack and terrorise. We can fly a plane into a building and God either made us do it, or is powerless to prevent us, depending which side you’re on. For those people at the top of the WTC that day, I believe they probably thought the world was coming to an end, or at the very least, they were acutely cognizant of their own imminent and unavoidable demise. Is it a sin to take the power to kill you away from your enemy? Is it a sin to not want to die a victim of someone else’s stupidity, evil or madness? Is it a sin to choose the manner of your death?
We act as if death were avoidable. We act as if the only good death one can have is the unplanned, tragic, victim death, or the prolonged, painful, protracted kind. There is such a thing as a good death. Way before we came to worship the vain and gratuitous sustenance of human life, regardless of how awful that life has become, people died every day and it was perfectly all right, perfectly sad, perfectly awful and perfectly tragic – but it was perfectly natural.
Death is a sanctity. Let’s not pretend that God wrings His hands as we do because we die – He does not – in fact, we who claim to believe God exists must die before we ever realise that elusive Kingdom we prattle on so much about. I like to believe He is saddened by the perpetration of evil and angered by men’s attempts to extinguish each other. But I simply cannot believe that God would reject outright the soul who chooses to impose a semblance of dignity upon their own death, when often the fact they even consider this an option means that dignity was probably utterly unattainable in life.