What is the OPC position on suicide? A parishioner had asked what happens when a Christian commits suicide, in relation to the 6th commandment?
In answering your question in a straightforward way I do not want to convey any lack of sympathy for those who have been touched by suicide. It is tragic, particularly to those who have been left behind with so many questions, particularly about their loved one who believed there was no other way out of this life of pain and suffering. With that said, the OPC holds that suicide is a violation of the sixth commandment. Our Larger Catechism answers the question "What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?" in this way: "The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in the case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever tends to the destruction of the life of any" (Q. 136, emphasis added). The "taking away the life of ourselves," as the Catechism states, is a violation of the sixth commandment because it is unlawful killing. The same standard applied to the murder of our neighbor must also be applied to ourselves. If it is unlawful to kill our neighbor because he is created in the image of God, it is unlawful for us to take our own lives because we, likewise, are created in the image of God. In other words, we may not destroy the image of God that we ourselves are.
What happens, then, when a Christian violates the six commandment by committing suicide? Though the suicide of a professing Christian leaves us with many troubling questions regarding the hopelessness this person felt, the Bible is clear that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Eph. 2:8) and that if one is truly saved, nothing (not even suicide) can separate them from the love of God in Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:38-39). Praise God that all our sins, even those committed in death, are covered by the blood of the Lamb of God.
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