In recent pleas, Archbishop Desmond Tutu reached out to lawmakers, religious leaders and the people at large to grant the terminally ill the right to choose their time of death. This was said on his 85th birthday following countless visits to the hospital having been terminally ill after being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The archbishop has been known over the years for his rather unorthodox opinions and activism. Archbishop Tutu is well-known for supporting same-sex marriages and even ministered his lesbian daughter’s wedding to her partner. This, however, came as a surprise because in recent years Tutu was against suicide.
He stated that assisted death should be an option for those who are terminally ill and for those suffering from illnesses without cures. According to him, the Bible urges humans to show compassion and love and this includes granting them a dignified death.
This has been met with great resistance in many countries and states. Assisted death is legal in very few countries around the globe which include Switzerland, Albania, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Colombia.
For many, this has raised questions regarding suicide and how it is seen in the Bible.
The Bible records in total seven suicides.
- Judas Iscariot Matthew 27:3-10
- Saul 1 Samuel 31:4-6
- Saul’s armor-bearer 1 Samuel 31:5
- Samson Judges 16:25-30
- Ahithophel 2 Samuel 17:23
- Abimelech Judges 9:52-54
- Zimri 1 Kings 16:15-20
The general notion is that suicide is one of the worst sins because you have gone against the sixth commandment (Exodus 20:13) Do not murder. And there is no way to repent from it. In short, it is an easy way to earn yourself a seat next to the devil himself.
We can agree that suicide may not the best way to handle one’s problems, but it is wrong to make such a judgement about one’s eternal existence because we do not hold that power.
Even though the Bible does not refer specifically to suicide being a sin; there are a couple of verses that tell you something about taking your own life.1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us that our bodies belong not to us, but are temples of the Lord. Thus we are supposed to care for them and love them because we honour God with our all; body, mind and spirit. Or lives do not belong to us and therefore are not ours to take.
Not only does Jesus love us and wish for us to have life (John 10:10), but we have the love of those that surround us. We need to remember that there is someone out there who cares for our well-being.There’s a reason we were put on this earth, and it is greater than we could ever imagine. The lord says (Jeremiah 29:11) “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” It is up to us to trust His word and endure knowing that we are not fighting these battles alone.
In the end even though the Bible does not talk about suicide directly, it has never been the best solution to handle whatever we may be going through.