Responding to the question of whether or not Christians who commit suicide go to Heaven, ethicist Russell Moore said that because the blood of Christ covers sins past, present and future, the “last thing we do” does not determine where we will spend eternity.
Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said he’s often asked the question by worried individuals whose loved one committed suicide.
“They worry,” he said. “Does this mean because this person essentially the last act on earth was a sin, does this mean that that person is in Hell? And the answer to that is no.”
“This person is in Christ. That means that the blood of Christ covers that person's sins, past, present and future. And so we're not saved on the basis of the last thing that we do being something that is acceptable to God. We're saved by the grace and mercy of God.”
But sometimes, Moore said he’s hesitant to weigh in on whether or not Christians who commit suicide go to Heaven because he fears some will view it as permission to commit suicide.
“It’s not OK,” he underscored. “A suicide is murder. Suicide is the attacking of the image of God. And suicide is horrible. It’s not only a sin but a sin that leaves wreckage and devastation all over the place.”
“And so if you're someone who's asking that because you're contemplating suicide, I would just plead with you to talk to people in your life and get help because life is worth living."
Many individuals who commit suicide are in a place of “deep, deep anguish and distress of various sorts” or suffering from mental illness, Moore pointed out, adding we “ought to view them with compassion.”
“The response that we ought to have when someone we love commits suicide is not to blame people, not to blame that person, not to be angry at that person,” he concluded. “Nor is it to wonder, ‘Does this mean that this person is outside of the reach of God's grace?’ God's grace covers a multitude of sins, including those that are so hurtful that we hesitate to even talk to them.”
Amid a dramatic increase in suicide over the last two decades, a number of faith leaders have weighed in on whether or not those who commit suicide are condemned to Hell.
Recently, a Michigan priest came under fire for suggesting at the funeral of an 18-year-old college student that he might not go to Heaven because he took his own life.
"It was his time to tell everybody what he thought of suicide, [and] we couldn't believe what he was saying," the teen's father, Jeff Hullibarger, told the Detroit Free Press. “He was up there condemning our son, pretty much calling him a sinner. He wondered if he had repented enough to make it to Heaven. He said 'suicide' upwards of six times.”
Apologist and New Testament scholar Dr. Jeremiah Johnston has argued that suicide is not the unforgivable sin.
"The only sin that God cannot forgive is the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior," he told CP earlier. "Do people who commit suicide go to Hell? Some people teach that suicide is the 'unforgivable sin.' God forgives that sin. Is it a sin? Absolutely. But the salvation we receive from Jesus Christ is eternal, regardless of our mental state or our spiritual maturity or immaturity. Otherwise, the Gospel is void. Do you know how many Christians die unexpectedly with unconfessed sin in their life?"
Kayla Stoecklein, widow of late Inland Hills Church Lead Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, who died after attempting suicide at his California church in August, also debunked the commonly held view and wrote on a blog, "This is a common misbelief about suicide and it breaks my heart ... I believe with 100% of my soul that Andrew is in heaven. Andrew had a real, raw, authentic, and infectious relationship with Jesus. Thousands of people will be in heaven because of him."
Saddleback Church co-founder and best-selling author Kay Warren whose son, Matthew, died by suicide at age 27 in 2013, has also emphasized that suicide doesn't condemn a Christian to Hell.
"God's promised us that Matthew's salvation was safe and secure. Matthew gave his life to Jesus when he was a little boy. And so, I'm absolutely 100 percent confident based on the work of Jesus that Matthew is in Heaven," she told The Christian Post in an earlier interview.