Suicide as a religious taboo

Reply Tue 22 Apr, 2008 01:15 am
Most religions I am familiar with consider suicide a taboo- either the person goes to an unpleasant afterlife or is reincarnated with bad karma, etc. But what constitutes punishable suicide? Where is the line drawn (and who/what decides)?

Certainly we'd all agree that a person that shoots or stabs themself commits a punishable suicide. What if, suspecting their future misdeeds, Jeffrey Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy had shot themselves before they ever hurt others- would that have lessened their karmic/sin burden?

What about altruistic suicides- for example, a soldier that throws himself on a grenade to save his comrades; or someone who runs into a burning building trying to save others?

What about accidents or stupidity? Unintentionally killing oneself by handling a live electrical connection? Ignoring the flashing lights at a train crossing?

What about suicide by inaction? Not stepping out of the way of a speeding car? Not taking medicine? What if Gandhi had died during one of his protest fasts?

What about slow suicide- not giving up smoking or not following doctor's advice? Even if it takes decades? Even if it only shorten's one's life by an hour?

There seems to be a lot of gray area for Providence to be applying black and white judgment.
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Reply Tue 22 Apr, 2008 04:55 am
Suicide is considered a sin among christians because of the implication of despair, and of the failure of faith in god and god's grace. The Dahmer and Gacy examples are meaningless in such a context.
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Reply Tue 22 Apr, 2008 05:32 am
There are many reasons for suicide. In protestant religion these days, at least where I go to church, you won't find judgement cast on someone who commits suicide. Depression being as prevalent as it is would cast doubt on our ability to judge correctly the reason a person commits suicide. You would have to know the persons heart and no one can really do that. So judgement therefore is not ours. Of course I believe that no one has that ability and should refrain from casting judgement on another's existence in eternity.

Now I would think the act of sacrificial death as in throwing yourself in front of a grenade for a comrade would look favorably on that person as far as eternity is concerned. It is an outward sign of a selfless heart.

If you believe Providence capable of knowing a person's heart and applying merciful justice for intent and cause then the question of where they spend eternity is no longer cut and dried. Not that it ever was or ever will be.
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