I’d like to continue my reminiscing (introspective musings) on suicide that I started yesterday (On Suicide #1). A close friend contacted me soon after the post and we had a brief chat about what I had said. After the chat I realized that perhaps my literary skills were found wanting in expressing exactly what I had in mind… hence the follow-up.
The catalyst for my musings was the recent suicide of a friend, and it was further fueled by watching the movie Me Before You. Then added into the mix is my own continued spiritual journey and relationship with God. Somehow, in my mind, I saw a weird analogy and an unintended similarity.
Firstly, and from a purely physical point of view, I do not agree with suicide. So, the ‘romantic’ notion in the movie Me Before You I have to reject out of hand – there is nothing romantic, or even faintly agreeable in my personal moral code, in an assisted suicide. Having said that, I have to carefully consider my reaction to suicide, and especially when it it so close to home. As I said yesterday, I cannot find it in my heart to condemn those who commit suicide outright, and to think that an unescapable separation from God would automatically result. I believe that there are situations where not being of a sound mind at the time of death may be considered extenuating circumstances worthy of pardon.
Having said that, let me expand just a little more on the peculiar analogy I was referring to; I call it ‘peculiar’ since it is a similarity found between the physical and spiritual realms. To make the similarity and difference clearer, I would like to borrow the word for suicide from the Afrikaans language, and then make a direct translation. In essence, a direct translation from Afrikaans to English would make the word self-murder, indicating that suicide is the murder of one self. It is here that the moral dilemma, and the basic understanding of the act, is highlighted. “Thou shall not commit murder,” is so well-known from the Bible that worldwide it is integrated into all legal systems. Once committed, there are ways of restitution. In the case of a suicide no such opportunity exists, therefore, the assumption that it is ‘unpardonable’.
While self-murder in a physical sense can be debated on moral grounds, there is another ‘murder’ that is required from us on a spiritual level, and this act is essential. I am, of course, referring to the killing off of the SELF. In a Biblical sense SELF refers to personal desires (call them lusts if you want) that at their core makes for a separation from God. In fact, the writers in the Bible refer to this as FLESH, to confirm undeniably the difference between the physical and spiritual realms. We often tend to be focussed more on the physical than the spiritual and this is the source of our inner conflict. The conflict exists because we are firstly spirit!
When Adam rebelled against God, as the representative of all mankind, all people became part of the consequence of this rebellion – separation from God. However, we were not created to exist and live apart from God, and therefore God requires us to return to Him by being reborn. We are born of the flesh (natural birth), but we are also required to be born spiritually (which is made possible through Jesus Christ). In order to restore our creative purpose and relationship with God will require our spirit to be regenerated. Our construct does not allow for automation! In other words, God did not make us robots that function independent of choice, and out spirit (from the Spirit of God) does not allow for an unchangeable life by instinct alone. No! God gave us a free will – the gift of choice. He wants us to choose a relationship with Him intentionally, for without that choice the relationship itself would be meaningless.
So we are born of the flesh, yet we have to make the choice to be born of the spirit. The process is simple – believe in Jesus wholeheartedly and the rebirth happens. It is the journey thereafter that will now require daily choices in favor of our spirit and opposed to our flesh. Remember, after rebirth we are still spirit in a body! We are not magically transported out of our bodies to live a purely spiritual existence… it will come when our bodies die, but not before! So the process includes daily choices for the spirit in order to enjoy a relationship with God. This process includes the call to “kill off” those things of the flesh that would separate us from God. This is required. To kill intentionally is by definition murder. To kill things that are of the flesh is by analogy the murder of SELF.
I trust if you have read this far I have made some sense, and that you also understand that spiritually, suicide is required. Never would I suggest that suicide (in the understanding of taking one’s own life) is required, or right, or should even be a vague consideration. No! When people get so desperate that the only way out for them is death, we should be there to uplift, encourage, hold-hands, seek alternatives, love, show grace, have mercy, and ultimately help them to change their minds by giving them the alternative of a relationship with God.
Have I considered suicide? Yes. Have I been so desperately discouraged that death seemed the only alternative? Yes. But here I am today. Why? Because God loved and continues to love me. Because the alternative to taking my own life is to accept a new life from Him. And so, spiritually I have to die daily to my own discouragement and disillusionments, to experience a new life in the love of God. Each day requires a murder of self, where self is opposed to God, love, mercy and grace.
If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory. So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God).
Paul – Colossians 3:1-5 (AMP)