Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thinking about suicide

I read Calum's post about suicide and was going to comment there but my thoughts got a little garbled so I decided to do a post here instead.

But even when I was pondering this while walking George, I was still finding it hard to get any shape to my thoughts. I considered analysing reasons for suicide and the whys and why nots - or maybe that should be who nots - but it's such an enormous topic, and one I think that has some basic principles that nearly everybody would go along with i.e. there must be controls and protection for the vulnerable and unstable.

But when I try to imagine how it would if I were terminally ill and in dreadful pain, if I weren't living as such but being kept alive, if I were a burden to those around me - however much they might protest otherwise - then i really don't know how I would feel.

And this is where if I start to explain I'll ramble so I won't. I'll just concentrate on one aspect, the religious angle.

I'm a Christian. I don't think I've ever received any teaching about suicide but I get the impression the general idea is that it is a sin against God - and in some people's eyes means the person wouldn't go to heaven but to hell. But I think it's very presumptuous of us to say who will and won't get to heaven. Or, more particularly, who won't.

I suppose the sin is doing one's own will rather than God's but I can cite examples of me doing my own will rather than God's most every day. I am human; I fail. One sin is no worse than another; suicide isn't an unforgivable sin.

But God asks that if we sin, we repent. So I suppose if we commit suicide, we don't have opportunity to confess and say sorry, so we go to hell?

I'm sorry but I cannot believe that my God, who loves me and gave his son for me, would give up on me at that point. He will have known my situation, the struggle, the battle, the guilt, the pain, the anguish. No, I refuse to believe that the loving God that I know would condemn me.


Shades said...

I thought that if you topped yourself you went to Purgatory or Limbo until your time was due. I've no idea which strands of Christianity follow this doctrine though.

Suburbia said...

I'm glad you came to that conclusion Liz. Mine too

Dragonstar said...

Liz, I totally agree. If there's any continuation at all - call it by whatever name you care to pick - then forgiveness also must continue.

Sorry Shades, I believe the Pope banned Purgatory some time ago!

Jay said...

I struggle with that myself. I can't believe He'd desert suicides, either.

What I can't wrap my head around is that if we can do this as an act of love for our beloved companion animals, why must we make our beloved friends and relatives suffer without release?

CalumCarr said...

Thanks, Liz

If I believed in a god, which I don't, I could never contemplate him (presumptuous) consigning me to the bin for committing suicide. That wouldn't be a compassionate god.

MaryB said...

I guess I've always wondered, who's to say that suicide is not God's will sometimes? It's a dreadful thing, unbearable for those left behind, but maybe suicide is in God's big plan once in a while. Or not. But I agree with you, Liz, that I don't think it's a ticket straight to hell.

Anonymous said...

Liz I tried to comment here last night but someone woke up!

If there is a god then I don't think he would say 'you can't come in!' surely the whole belief system is based on a higher, better being than oursleves.
When I was 19 I sat with my Grandad for 10 days he was in a coma and on a lot of morphine. I remember thinking why did'nt someone do something to make it quicker. So I believe jsut as we have a right to life we also have a right to death.

DeeJay said...

I am sure you are right Liz, a caring God would not operate with a bureaucratic rulebook.

As to doing your own will instead of God's, I am not sure that can be so as I am sure that God gave us free will and therefore what is yours is also his - no?

Furtheron said...

That's deep stuff.

However I have to come to the position that if someone has taken their own life due to being in a space that they could no longer face life surely a merciful God would not be overly judgemental.

It's a good job I don't have a belief in heaven and hell or any afterlife - so as long as God accepts my beliefs it'll never bother me... :-)

leslie said...

Good thoughts, Liz. I've been there, having to work through this very thing. And I'm glad to read here that everyone agrees with you. Those who take their own lives are not in their right minds and God is compassionate towards those who are sick. I know my husband was welcomed into the loving arms of Jesus when he passed out of this world and is now at peace.

CherryPie said...

Very nicely explained :-)

jmb said...

Well as I said at Calum's this is a very close to home post for me as it is for Leslie. For those like my father, who was so clinically depressed that he did not want to live then there is no doubt in my mind that God would not judge him or others like him. I have to think that those who cannot face unbearable pain and choose to end it will also receive His forgiveness.

Liz said...

I think it was Roman Catholicism, shades.

Thanks, suburbia, dragonstar, jay, calum, cherrypie.

That will idea is an interesting one, maryb.

amanda, I'm not entirely sure that we have a right to death, any more than we have a right to life.

deejay, no, I don't think that follows. We have free will but we can choose to do wrong (sin). Do things that hurt us or others.

Our own personal god, who agrees with us, then furtheron?

Leslie and jmb, thank you for speaking from your experiences. Experiences that must have been almost unbearably hard. I agree that God could not condemn in those instances. I wouldn't want to trust him if I thought he would.

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