Sunday, April 07, 2013

Coping with suicide

As most of you have heard by now, Rick Warren’s youngest son committed suicide. I’ll just make one observation.

I assume there are parents of kids who committed suicide who torment themselves with the question, “If only we could have gotten him (her) the help he needed.”

Due to his personal wealth and megachurch position, Warren had resources for treating his son that most Christian parents can only dream of. I’m sure his son had the best professional treatment that money could buy. But it wasn’t enough.

In a fallen world, the things we care the most about are the things we have the least control over. God is our only hope, in this life and the life to come.


  1. Why couldn't God have bothered to lift a finger to help Rick's son and prevent his suicide? Do you believe God could have prevented Rick's son from killing himself but chose not to?

    1. The short answer to your second sentence is “yes”.

      Most human lives generate a chain reaction of branching consequences. Both good and bad consequences down the line. Consequences which intersect and interact with the consequences of other lives, in vastly complex historical sequences.

      A short-term evil can be a long-term good. A short-term good can be a long-term evil.

  2. "A short-term evil can be a long-term good. A short-term good can be a long-term evil."

    O that someone would write a book on this! This aphorism can be applied to so many spheres besides (and including) theology.

    Possible titles...
    "Faithful Over Little"
    "Myopia: A Case Study in Humanity"
    "From Nearsighted to Shortsighted"
    "I Want It Now"
    "Passion vs. Patience" [Anyone know the reference?] =)

  3. Steve, how does suicide fit into your understanding of perseverance of the saints?

  4. From The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly Explained and Proved from Scripture by Thomas Vincent

    Q. 3. Is it lawful upon any account to kill ourselves, as when thereby we shall prevent others from putting us to death with torture and disgrace; as Cato and other heathens, who slew themselves, and Saul, who fell upon his own sword, that he might not be slain and abused by the uncircumcised Philistines?
    A. 1. It is unlawful in any case to kill ourselves. "And the keeper of the prison drew out his sword, and would have killed himself; but Paul cried with a loud voice, Do thyself no harm." — Acts 16:27, 28. 2. Although the heathens counted it a virtue, and the part of a brave heroic spirit, in some cases to kill themselves, yet the law of God alloweth no such thing, but accounteth such persons self-murderers. 3. It was Saul's sin to die in that act of self-murder; and we ought rather to submit ourselves to any abuses and tortures of others, which is their sin, than to lay violent hands on ourselves, and so die in a sin which there is no time nor place for repenting of afterwards.

    Q. 4. Is it possible for them that kill themselves to be saved, when there can be no repenting afterwards for this sin?
    A. 1. It is possible for some to give themselves their death wound, and yet repent before they die, and be saved, although this be very rare. 2. It is possible that some, who are children of God, may in a frenzy (Satan taking advantage to inject temptations hereunto) kill themselves, and yet, through habitual faith and repentance, attain to salvation.

    More commentaries for the Westminster Shorter Catechism HERE

    1. Q. 5. Is there any instance in scripture of a good man being suffered to lay violent hands on himself?

      A. No; any instances the scripture gives of self-murder, are in men of the most infamous character; such as Saul, Ahithophel, Judas, and others of the like stamp.

      Q. 6. Was not Samson (who was a good man, Heb. 11:32,) guilty of this heinous crime? Judges 16:30

      A. When Samson pulled down the house upon himself and upon all the lords of the Philistines with about three thousand men and women that were in it, he did not intend his own death any farther than as an inevitable consequence of destroying so many of the church's enemies, to which he was called and strengthened in an extraordinary manner by God, as the Lord of life and death, who he also supplicated for this extraordinary strength, Judges 16:28:and herein he was an eminent type of Christ, who, "through death, destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil," Heb. 2:14.

      Q. 7. What are the aggravations of the crime of self-murder?

      A. It is directly opposed to the natural principle of self-preservation implanted in us, Job 2:4; it argues the highest impatience, and rooted discontent with our lot in the present world, ver. 10:it is an impious invasion of the prerogative of God, as the sole author and disposer of life, 1 Sam. 2:6; and a most daring and presumptuous rushing upon death, and an awful eternity, chap. 31:4, 5.

      James Fisher's Catechism on the Catechism

    2. {2] One may be guilty of self-murder, directly and absolutely.

      (1) By envy. Envy is tristitia de bonis alienis, 'a secret repining at the welfare of another.' Invidus alterius rebus macrescit opimis. 'An envious man is more sorry at another's prosperity, than at his own adversity.' He never laughs but when another weeps. Envy is a self-murder, a fretting canker. Cyprian calls it vulnus occultum, 'a secret wound;' it hurts a man's self most. Envy corrodes the heart, dries up the blood, rots the bones. Envy is 'the rottenness of the bones.' Prov 14:30. It is to the body what the moth is to the cloth, that eats it and makes its beauty consume. Envy drinks its own venom. The viper, which leaped on Paul's hand, thought to have hurt Paul, but fell into the fire itself. Acts 28:3. So, while the envious man thinks to hurt another, he destroys himself.

      (2) By laying violent hands on himself, and thus he commits felo de se; as Saul fell upon his own sword and killed himself. It is the most unnatural and barbarous kind of murder for a man to butcher himself and imbrue his hands in his own blood. A man's self is most near to him, therefore this sin of self-murder breaks both the law of God, and the bonds of nature. The Lord has placed the soul in the body, as in a prison; and it is a sin to break open this prison till God opens the door. Self-murderers are worse than the brute-creatures, which will tear and gore open one another, but not destroy themselves. Self-murder is occasioned usually by discontent, and a sullen melancholy. The bird that beats itself in the cage, and is ready to kill itself, is a true emblem of a discontented spirit.

      -Body of Divinity Contained in Sermons upon the Assembly's Catechism by the Rev. Thomas Watson