As a teacher, I have to be trained in everything imaginable. One of the most disappointing bits of training was the one I had to do with the Jason Foundation, which is dedicated to preventing teen suicide. There is a teen suicide problem in the United States and I can only imagine that it will not decrease any time soon, given our tendency to think wealth and education are the answers to all our problems.
The disappointment in the training came when they were discussing how to handle those left behind after a teen commits suicide. Their solution? Tell the other teens who are grieving that the perpetrator of suicide “made a bad choice.” Such a vapid response should not surprise us given that the secular world has done everything it can to distance itself from any kind of moral standing, thought, or reflection. All they can do is reduce the decision to commit suicide to one more bad choice in a world full of choices.
Another question: who are you to say whether or not suicide is a bad or a good choice? By what basis, given the world’s view on morality, can you say that suicide is bad? Given culture’s condemnation on anything that remotely smells of righteousness at all, how can you pass any kind of judgment on teen suicide? And since you cannot pass any kind of judgment on teen suicide in America, then do we really have a teen suicide problem at all? If suicide is just another choice in a line of choices that we make in our consequence-free world, then why call it bad?
This line of thinking is simply the end result of a world that refuses to accept the fact that we are moral beings made by a moral, just, and gracious God. We are not free to make the choices we want to, especially in regards to suicide. Suicide is the sinner’s last act of defiance against a holy and just God because the one committing suicide has decided that whatever troubles he may be going through, he is not going to wait until God calls him to account and therefore takes matters into his own hands, shakes his fist at God, and pulls the trigger. This is nothing but selfish rebellion.
What the secular world fails to offer is any real perspective on suicide. First, we must realize that we are all made in the image of God. Therefore we have meaning in life, but we also have a duty to serve the One who created us. We are not free to do with our lives as we please. To do so is sinful and an affront to a holy and just God. He will not be mocked and does not take sin lightly.
Secondly, suicide always is sinful. Why? Because we are made in the image of God. When we kill ourselves, we have sinned against God because we have destroyed His image that He has placed upon us. It is as if we have said, “God, I don’t care that you made me with Your image, stick it!” It is this destruction of the image of God that is the reason for the death penalty given in Scripture. It is the reason that homosexuality is so heinous. It is the reason that abortion is always sinful. In all those cases, the image of God is being destroyed or warped before a righteous God.
Third, we must realize that the eternal location of those whom we love that have committed suicide is absolutely none of our business. Their eternal location is between them and God. We can say lots of things, and look to see if there was any true belief by the person who committed suicide. Hopefully, we do see those things in our lost loved ones, but even then, we must hold their eternal destiny loosely. It really isn’t any of our business.
Finally, allow me to say that only those who are in Christ who commit suicide have any hope at all of eternal peace. The blood of Christ can atone for even that sin. But that is atonement that only comes through Christ; most teens who commit suicide have only heard of Christ in response to smashed fingers in doors, or from upset parents. So let’s not get our hopes up and think this epidemic is somehow God reaping a new crop of believers. He is probably not doing anything of the sort. More than likely, the increase in suicide is a judgment by God on our nation. Remember, we are a people who want nothing to do with God and the truth, so don’t complain that somehow that isn’t fair.
The answer to the increase in teen suicide is not empty phrases such as calling the sin a “bad choice.” We have tried that with a host of other sins and our culture has not fared well. Let’s call suicide what it is: a sin before a holy and just God. Let’s tell our teens that we will all face judgment, and there we will all have to give an account of how we have sinned against God. Then, let’s tell them of the real hope we have in Jesus Christ. After all, He has conquered death and the grave. He paid the debt of our sins, even the sin of suicide for those who believe in Him. He is the best choice for our teens, and everyone else.