A young woman in our community tragically took her life last week.
It’s hard to even type those words.
It’s even harder to type those words knowing that the people who knew her well feel guilty for somehow not knowing that she was close to taking her life. Everyone wishes they had seen the signs – they would have said something, anything, to step in.
Since we live in a community steeped in Catholic tradition, I know I’m going to get asked one question over and over and over again in the coming weeks.
So, I thought I would answer it here.
No, she’s not going to hell.
No, the act of taking her life did not cause her, in the words of Pope John Paul II in his Evangelium Vitae #66, to do something that was as “morally objectionable as murder.”
Pope John Paul II, like all Catholic theologians before him, looked back upon a single line from Saint Augustine to form the belief that suicide is “a mortal sin.” In Book 1, chapter 20, of his book The City of God, Augustine wrote:
“The law, rightly interpreted, even prohibits suicide, where it says, ‘You shall not kill.’”
Because of this single line from Saint Augustine, and centuries of theological reflection upon it, the Catholic Church leaves it up to the discretion of the local priest to determine whether or not they will give those who commit suicide a proper church funeral and burial.
What the Bible Teaches on Suicide
Listen to what I am about to say…
Anyone who tells you that a Christian who commits suicide is going to hell is absolutely clueless.
I could care less what a guy thought Jesus taught who lived centuries after Jesus.
There’s not one single verse in the entire Bible that teaches that Christians who commit suicide go to hell.
Not a single one.
This young woman, like every single person who has ever trusted Jesus as their leader and forgiver, has been welcomed into the arms of Jesus, and no speculation from ignorant fools can change that.
The only proper response for Christians who knew her is to wrap our arms around the family, then figure out how we can make sure that this tragedy never happens to another teenager again.