Part XLIV Matthew: Judas Iscariot - Myth or Reality? Part I

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 19 March 2015 0 Comments
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Can you explain to me how the Bible (God) sees Suicide? What is your point of view on suicide? I am 20 years old. I am an existential, anxious person who is standing at the gate of Suicide. I experience anxiety, stress, and depression in many ways in my life (especially in regard to my family). There is no love or peace in my family. I try to live according to the heart and will of God revealed by Jesus Christ (love, care, forgiveness, justice etc.) but nothing ever gets better. There is still a problem in my family and in my life. Now, I think about suicide. I so often think that if I die, my family would be in a better situation. Can you help me?



Dear Ronald,

I am not using your real name in accordance with your request. Neither you nor the nature of your letter will be served by public identification. I do, however, thank you for writing. I view your letter as a cry for help.

Let me say first, that the threat which you make about committing suicide needs to be addressed immediately, but not through a letter. The threat of suicide should not be ignored, but you should seek professional help at once. I urge you to contact your doctor, your pastor or any trusted advisor and not only to talk to them face to face, sharing your inner pain, but also to ask them to put you in touch with the mental health resources you need.

The drive for survival is so deep in human life that when pain counters that drive at a level that makes self-destruction possible, or even to seem desirable, it is indeed a serious matter. Red lights ought to go off everywhere.

I cannot address the issues about which you speak in regard to your family, but there are better ways to address those issues than by taking your life. I have never known a suicide to solve any family problem for anyone at any time. If you get help and change your life, your family will have to change because they will not be relating to the same person. We are all deeply interrelated. You, however, need to deal with your life at this moment, not theirs. You need to change what you can change and stop worrying about what you cannot change.

I don’t think what the Bible says about suicide is particularly relevant to your life. If you search deeply enough in the Bible you can find almost any opinion you wish to find. Basically I would say that the understanding of God in the Scriptures is always on the side of life. I will, however, honor your specific question by answering it.

There are at least three suicide stories in the Bible that I can identify offhand.

There was Ahithophel in II Samuel, who betrayed King David and when his treachery did not work out, he put his affairs in order and went and hanged himself.

There was King Saul, grievously wounded in the battle at Mount Gilboa, who fell on his sword to put an end to his pain.

There was Judas Iscariot who, according to Matthew alone, tried to return the money he received for the act of betrayal and when it was refused went and hanged himself.

Death is a part of life. It is inescapable but it comes in its own time. Usually it does not need help. The God who is the Source of Life seems to me always to be on the side of life.

I wish you well,

John Shelby Spong




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