7 April 2013

I'm going to step into a debate that no one has asked me to join, concerning the implications of a belief system that I reject.

In Matthew 12:31, Jesus declares that there is exactly and only one unforgiveable sin, and that is to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. (It would here be tangential to discuss why he declared such a thing; the relevant point is that he said it.) Every other sin is declared to be forgiveable.

So let's apply that proposition to an issue about which the 'Net has been stupidly buzzing — suicide. A clergyman's son has killed himself, and some are insisting that this son is necessarily going to Hell, or at least that Christianity must hold as much. But how, exactly, can the act of suicide, if indeed a sin, be both forgiveable and at the same time ensure that one goes to Hell?

If, between every suicidal act and actual death, there were opportunity to regret and to repent, then perhaps this would be the way to forgiveness; which would of course imply that suicide weren't unforgiveable. But it seems that, in some cases, there just isn't enough time. Yet, somehow, if the act is a sin, it has to be forgiveable, even without the possibility of post factum repentance in this life. We must therefore conclude that, within Christian doctrine, either suicide is not a sin at all (which appears doubtful, in that the prohibition against homicide doesn't seem to make an exception for killing oneself), or that it is a forgiveable sin — that a person who'd otherwise been saved would not be lost for having deliberately killed him- or herself — which sin doesn't even require specific repentance in this life.

(I'm acutely aware that there are those who will claim that to commit suicide is, really, to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. In other contexts, I've heard some people go so far as to claim that any sin is, really, every sin. But, if this sort of logic holds, then the claim of Jesus that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit were an exception wouldn't. There would be nothing operational to the rule but that exception, and everyone would be going to Hell, regardless of works and of faith. The notion that people somehow more greatly insult the Holy Spirit by killing themselves than by other homicides or by other sins more generally is in sore need of more than hand-waving accompanied by beatific smiles or by stern looks.)

The mainstream Christian doctrine that suicide is a sure route to Hell just isn't supported by their Holy Scriptures. It arose because the existence of the Church here on Earth was threatened by the possibility of believers attempting a short-cut to Paradise. The Earthy flock would be reduced in number, and questions would be asked about the sincerity of those who lingered.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.