I think this might be a good opportunity to speak to the theology surrounding suicide.
Chris Zorno took his life in the basement of his family home last week on the 27th of December. His crowded memorial service was today.
Unfortunately, those darned Catholics have confused suicide with their “unpardonable sin” gibberish. In short, their take is that suicide is the fast track to Hell.
Many Protestants, too, believe this archaic and twisted perspective. Let’s talk about where it comes from and why it is so very wrong – and even insulting to a savior who paid it all.
The “unpardonable sin” is based on the scripture in Mark 3:22-30 which states:
"And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, 'He has Beelzebub,' and, 'By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.' ...'Assuredly, I [Jesus] say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation;' because they said, 'He has an unclean spirit'"
There’s another reference in Matthew 12:31-32 where Jesus says to the Pharisees:
"Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."
Here Pharisees have denied Christ’s deity. Jesus is warning that rejecting him is rejecting their own salvation. They, literally, reject the pardon meant for them.
With Jesus’ statement that some are not forgiven, Catholics reasoned forgiveness of sins 1) is necessary for salvation and 2) must be asked for after the sin is committed.
This is the basis of their view on suicide. A suicide is unable to ask for the forgiveness of their final sin. As a result they are not forgiven, which is necessary for salvation.
This, too, brought about the sacrament called “Last Rites.” Here a priest takes confessions just before you die. Though touching in movies, the premise is just wrong.
For one, it begs the question of: “What happens if there is one little sin after the last rite?” and of course there is no good answer for this – except, most everyone is going to hell.
I explain salvation with redemption, which means “purchase” or “ransom,” and is one reason we say “Jesus paid the ultimate price.”
Salvation is the word used when God delivered the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. From the human perspective, we are “saved” from our sin that would otherwise kill us.
Redemption, however, is special. From God’s perspective, a “price” has been paid to offer us salvation. In Matthew 20:28 Jesus says:
“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Different things could have been used to pay the price, but Jesus – God himself – is the perfect ransom which would pay all of any debt.
Now we get back to suicide.
Jesus suffered and died, and his work was completed. This is important. Why? Because Catholicism embraces Jesus’ suffering as contribution to a “cache of merit” which is, in essence, the purse of the church – used to distribute salvation.
It is this awful perspective that fosters their view on suicide.
Salvation is a gift you accept – the work of forgiveness is complete for all past, present and future sins right at the time of initial salvation. But to a Catholic, salvation is a condition that is regularly renewed through confession and sacrament.
The difference is subtle, but very serious.
Salvation changes who you are. Even during later misjudgment if you reject Jesus, Salvation has already completed your pardon from sin. Jesus’ salvation is complete.
When you are saved, you are bought, purchased, redeemed and changed forever. You are no longer your own and no one, even yourself, can pluck you from the hand of God.
Catholics believe that salvation is a gift that, in many ways, is earned through different sufferings. More importantly, it is continually renewed throughout your life.
If you believe that salvation is something that comes and goes based on what you do, then you would likely come up with a view on suicide like that of Catholicism.
Chris Zorno was a born again Christian – saved, baptized, the whole works. His life showed he was a changed kid. Failing in a split-second decision doesn’t change any of that; he had already been bought and he couldn’t be “unbought” by intention or mistake.
Depression is an intoxicating drug. Judgment is destroyed and your perspective is waned down to a tiny pin-sized hole. Every follower is challenged in different ways. Some struggle with fidelity, some with mercy, and others with faith and hope. Failing in any of these is tragic, but never spiritually terminal; after all, sin is sin.
Let's wrap up.
Jesus said, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness.” He might have said, “Whoever pushes away the lifesaver will drown.” He won’t save those who won’t allow themselves to be saved, but for those who reach back to him, he has a redemptive, perfect salvation that lasts a lifetime and eternity.