Suicide And The Church's Views And Stand
Did Jesus die for the remission and forgiveness of all sin, or was it just some sin?
Over the years as both a Christian and as a Roman Catholic, I was taught, actually it was pounded into me that suicide was against God's Laws, and that suicide was a very cowardly and selfish act.
I was also given to believe as both a Christian and a Catholic, especially as a Catholic, that a priest would refuse to officiate at a funeral, for someone who had committed suicide, as it was a sin and therefore they were not entitled to a Catholic funeral mass or even to be buried in consecrated holy land.
I have been given reason to investigate and examine this a whole lot closer, since last week my sister Brenda had the occasion to do just that, end her own life.
I had to ask myself as a Christian, What give the Catholic Church the Right to Judge the actions of another Human being? Jesus teaches us Judge not lest Ye be Judged. Who gave the church the right to decide, just who they would or would not perform a funeral service for, as well as a burial service? When did Almighty God relinquish His authority over man to a human?
For over fourteen long years, Brenda, my darling sister, has suffered physically, and emotionally, and mentally. It began fourteen years ago,when her husband simply walked away from his wife and two sons, abandoning them, because he was feeling trapped. Brenda thought it her fault, and created a thousand and one reasons, none of which dealt with the truth, yet she put the blame on herself.
Because of her wrongful guilt her body began physically attacking her, with ulcers, women's problems, stress, high blood pressure, asthma, hearing failure, diabetes, circulatory problems, not to mention depression, mood swings, and other phychological and emotional problems. In her last year her body was slowly shutting down, heart problems set in, kidneys were slowly malfunctioning, as was her liver.
Brenda was a physical mess, and realized through her doctors, that it was irreversible and life threatening. There was nothing modern medicine could do to help her, as a matter of fact modern medicine was killing her slowly. She was in and out of the hospital more times than I can count.
In my many talks with my sister, she expressed over and over again to me, how she was feeling helpless, how even her medications were causing toxic effects in her system, and attacking her, so that her doctors, had to one by one, withdraw her meds, leaving only her pain killers. She carried on like this for over half a year longer, until she simply gave up the fight.
For those Christians wondering if Brenda relied on prayer at all the answer is yes, Brenda was a Christian and a Catholic, as well, plus having me, her oldest brother to help her keep going. Maybe if she had called her big brother that last day I might have changed her mind once again but maybe that's why she didn't call me.
So for those Religious Christians who would look down their noses at my sister, saying that her suicide was a cowardly and a selfish act, let me answer that this way.
Whether in your right mind or not, it takes a lot of courage to deal with such sickness and suffering for over fourteen years without giving up trying to carry you cross as Jesus asks, but their comes a point when the body and the mind is no longer strong enough to be able to handle the pain and the pressures. The doctors couldn't help, and I'm not even certain if God knew what to do anymore. I think the answers were all exhausted. If I am wrong Father God, Please forgive me?
I've said all of this to explain my sister's circumstances, leading up to her suicide, as well as to set the table for what I learned over the past week of a religious nature.
Not knowing or being informed, of anything different from what I was taught years ago, about how Christianity and the Catholic church viewed suicide, I talked things over with my two nephews.
We agreed that once the coroner's office was ready to release Brenda, her body should be collected, by whatever funeral home they chose, that she should be quietly cremated, that I'd speak a few words over her remains and then they could do as they chose with the ashes. We agreed to this because as far as we knew the church would not permit a decent ceremony for her.
This past Sunday was when I learned that things were changed. The church had made an about turn on their stand on suicide. I had a brief but informative chat with my pastor, because it had been 50 years since I last discussed this topic with clergy so I wanted to refresh, rather ascertain that the church's stand was still the same. It was to my surprize to learn it had changed and how much.
It appears that the Church, at least the Roman Catholic Church, had exhaustively examined their position on suicide and come to the conclusion that:
"Under the Laws of Man" in other words according to the Courts of the Land, it had been determined that to Murder, ie. commit suicide:
One had to be considered to be fully in their right mind, and fully capable of determining, right from wrong, and fully aware of their actions, for such an act.
The church at least the Catholic Church declared this to be untrue for those committing suicide and further declared that it believed Jesus would pardon such an act. In Brenda's case I feel certain that Jesus pardoned her at the moment she cried for help because she couldn't cope any longer Jesus knew her torment and suffering, as he had suffered himself. His compassion would be bountiful.
I was really surprized that the Catholic church had done such an about-face on such a touchy topic as suicide, surprized and relieved. I would have to assume though, that the Church would have to look at each case individually, for I'm certain that if it was a case where some "White collar worker" simply couldn't live with the guilt of say gambling away the Company Retirement Fund, and didn't want to be caught, it would be different.
I will now at least in my sister Brenda's situation take this one step further.
Not only do I believe that Jesus has forgiven Brenda for ending her life prematurely, I further believe that since my two nephews also suffered emotionally throughout Brenda's fourteen years of suffering that Brenda in doing what she did, was fulfilling one of Jesus quotations. JOHN: 15:13; Greater love hath no man, that he lay down his life for a friend."
Brenda's sons suffered daily emotionally as the watched helplessly, the sufferings of their beloved mother. I believe that Brenda wished to end their suffering and "Laid down her life" for her sons to finally rescue them from their suffering. A true act of love.
I do not know the policy of the other Christian denominations, Baptist, Presbyterian, United Church, Orthodox, Anglican, etc.; But if their way of approaching suicide and their treatment of the dead is like what the Catholic Church used to be, then it is time for these churches to examine their church policy and get it changed.
"Judge not lest ye be judged." in matters like this only God has the ultimate right to judge whether that person committing suicide has sinned or not. Only God has the right to hold them accountable for their actions, not man.
Tags: Suicide , Church , God
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