We sometimes wonder how God will judge people who commit suicide. The theologian Augustine (AD 354-430) harshly condemned it. He argued that suicide was worse than murder because the perpetrator died in an unrepentant state. Is this argument biblical?
The Bible records five cases of suicide. Four of these are in the Old Testament: Abimelech, Saul and his armor-bearer, Ahithophel, and Zimri. The only New Testament suicide is Judas, the apostle who betrays Jesus and then hangs himself. In each of these cases, the suicide ends a life gone badly wrong.
The apostle Paul comes short of explicitly condemning suicide, but his teaching about healthy marriage implies condemnation of the practice. He tells husbands that “no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it” (Eph. 5:29). Paul understands that some people do hate and destroy themselves. What he means is that no sensible, rational person would ever intentionally inflict self-harm.
But what if the person is irrational? Since Paul doesn’t address this question, any answer is a matter of opinion. For what it’s worth, here’s mine: God will judge the severely depressed person who commits suicide on the basis of his spiritual condition before becoming irrational. If an unbeliever becomes psychologically imbalanced and kills himself, he
stands in peril of eternal judgment – not because he has committed suicide but because he has died in his sins (John 8:24). But if a depressed Christian becomes irrational and kills himself, he is blessed with eternal life – not because suicide is of no consequence but because he has died in Christ (Rom. 8:1). My opinion on this question is guided by confidence in God’s perfect justice. How could it be right to condemn a person for an irrational act?