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Question and Answer

What is the OPC position on suicide?


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.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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