JW Suicide teaching - a legacy of no compassion

by Noumenon 2 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Noumenon

    w54 5/1 pp. 285-286 Questions from Readers

    Inasmuch as suicide is self-murder, the same view may be taken of it as of murder. So if anyone who has dedicated his life to Jehovah God sanely takes his life in suicide, or deliberately murders another person, it is doubtful that Jehovah would remember such a person in the resurrection.—Num. 35:31; 1 John 3:15, NW.

    However, in the case of a person that did not know Jehovah's law and was not a dedicated servant of God it would be different. If he died a suicide or as a murderer he would certainly die guilty of grievous sin; but there are many other grievous sins, and for them repentance is possible.

    w75 7/15 p. 447 Questions from Readers

    Jehovah as the source of life has decreed that human life is precious, sacred. (Gen. 9:5; Ps. 36:9) Hence, suicide, which means the taking of one's own life, or killing oneself, is condemned by the Bible. Such intentional act is self-murder. (Ex. 20:13; 1 John 3:15) The few suicides mentioned in the Bible are of those who were unfaithful to Jehovah and who failed to consider that their lives really belonged to God.—1 Sam. 31:4; 2 Sam. 17:5-14, 23; 1 Ki. 16:18; Matt. 27:5.

    One who intentionally takes his own life does so in utter disregard for the sacredness of life; he becomes bloodguilty. When one commits suicide while in possession of one's mental faculties, this shows one to be void of morality, lacking faith, having no fear of God. It is a cowardly act, where one refuses to face up to the problems and responsibilities of life. If the person claimed to be a true Christian, the act would violently break his relationship with Jehovah. Suicide may be the giving in to pressures from demons who encourage self-destruction. (Matt. 17:14-18) This extremely self-centered act of murder manifests no love for one's surviving family members, no love for one's congregation and friends, and no love even for the surrounding community, as it brings shame and distress of mind upon all associates.—Mark 12:31.

    ...As lovers of righteousness we leave the matter in the hands of a merciful, all-wise God as to any possible future for some of those driven to suicide.

    g90 9/8 p. 23 Suicides—A Resurrection?

    A Merciful Opportunity

    Stunned friends of a suicide victim may thus take comfort in knowing that "Jehovah has shown mercy to those fearing him. For he himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust." (Psalm 103:10-14) Only God can fully understand the role of mental sickness, extreme stress, even genetic defects, in a "suicidal crisis," which, the National Observer noted, "is not a lifetime characteristic [but] often a matter only of minutes or of hours."—See Ecclesiastes 7:7.

    Granted, one who takes his own life deprives himself of the opportunity to repent of his self-murder. But who can say whether one driven to suicide might have had a change of heart had his fatal attempt failed? Some notorious murderers have, in fact, changed and earned God's forgiveness during their lifetime.—2 Kings 21:16; 2 Chronicles 33:12, 13.

    Thus, Jehovah, having paid "a ransom in exchange for many," is within his right to extend mercy, even to some self-murderers, by resurrecting them and giving them the precious opportunity to "repent and turn to God by doing works that befit repentance."—Matthew 20:28; Acts 26:20.

    The Responsible, Scriptural View of Life

    Life is a gift from God, not something to be abused or to end at one's own hand. (James 1:17) Hence, the Scriptures encourage us to see ourselves, not as immortal souls, but as valuable creations of the God who loves us, who treasures our being alive, and who looks forward with joy to the time of the resurrection.—Job 14:14, 15.

    Love strengthens our recognition that suicide—though evading one's own burdens—only heaps more problems on loved ones left behind. As far as the one who rashly took his own life is concerned, we humans cannot judge as to whether he will get a resurrection or not. How reprehensible was he? God alone searches 'all hearts and every inclination of the thoughts.' (1 Chronicles 28:9) But we may be confident that 'the Judge of all the earth is going to do what is loving, just, and right!'—Genesis 18:25.


    I can see lots of faulty reasoning in the Society's position on this over the years.

    In the 1954 they start off with the assumed premise that suicide is equivocal to murder. This is itself is a highly contentious moral assertion. Murder by nearly any definition is 'the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another". So how is suicide murder if you are killing yourself? There is a distinction. It would be analogous to, say, masturbation being treated as serious a sin as fornication. As there is no other person harmed or involved, it is obviously a lesser sin.

    Further, in the 1954 article they capriciously reason that because a JW 'knows God's law' that this means they would not get a resurrection, as opposed to someone who 'didn't know God's law' getting judged less harshly. So what they are saying here in effect is that God has less mercy on his own servants who formerly worshipped him, but because they took their own life (keeping in mind that nearly all times suicide is the result of chronic depression, hopelessness, and mental sickness. It is usually to escape the torment of ones own unhealthy mind. It is not done as the result of a desire to maliciously hurt or harm others emotionally, although there may be an element of such thinking in, say, a very depressed teenager who's reasoning abilities have become warped due to severe emotional stress, psychotic thinking patterns, and thus reasons that suicide is the ultimate payback for hurts inflicted by others. Nevertheless suicide can always generally be called the manifestation of a diseased mind, a type of insanity), all that former service to God and Jesus counts for nothing, and in fact it is working against such a one (compare Hebrews 6: 10). The Society here are insinuating that Christ's sacrifice would apply even less to such ones than it does for others who cared nothing for God or never bothered to find out what his will might be?? How illogical and twisted? What they are doing is saying that because a person had mere knowledge of God's laws and then breaks that law, in this case by suicide, that this therefore negates the power of Christ's ransom sacrifice (John 5: 28 & 29; Acts 24: 15), and also nullifies and contradicts the categorical truth of Romans 6: 7 "For he who has died has been acquitted from his sin." Suicide is undoubtedly a 'gross sin', but the Society do not suggest that persons who might committ gross sins such as murder, adultery, theft, fornication, and then who die do not have their sins acquitted upon their death. So why is suicide being treated separately? Just because all instances in the bible of suicide were done by 'unfaithful' persons, it does not mean we need to single out suicide for special exemption from Romans 6: 7? The difference with Judas was that he committed the 'unforgiveable sin' of directly betraying Christ himself and sinning against the spirit. This is the reason why will not be resurrected, and the mere fact that he also committed suicide is not to be taken as somehow there is a linking of the two together. This would be a clear case of fallacious reasoning, of cause=correlation confusion.

    In the 1975 article, the position is clearly softened but whether it is more compassionate is very doubtful. Note the very harsh words and tone used, saying such things as 'utter disregard' and "void of morality, having no faith, not fearing God" and "This is a cowardly act", that they "violently break their relationship with Jehovah" (here the implication is that the mere violent nature of suicide is akin to some sort of violent act directed against Jehovah himself. But is wilful and unrepentant adultery, or apostasy, or fornication any less of a 'violently' shattering of one's relationship with Jehovah? So the Society are using the word 'violently' here for dramatic/rhetorical effect, as a type of scare-mongering to suggest that Jehovah is even more offended at sucide than any other gross sin a person might commit), and "this extremely self-centred act of murder". What heartless and cruel things to say about someone who had become so mentally sick that they would kill themselves. Imagine the feelings of grieving loved ones who when craving for comfort then read this article, from the very own Organisation they look to for comfort and stength in this harsh world, after their loved one had been discovered hanged, gassed in their car, dead after an overdose of some medication, or whatever. Do they really need to hear the Society spell it all out just what a rotten evil sick and selfish person their loved one was to do this to them. One gets the impression the Society seem to be imagining that they are offering some warped kind of comfort by making it clear just how selfish it was of their loved one to do that to them. Or perhaps they just think by making it all sound so evil and scary, and creating the impression that a resurrection may not even be possible if you top yourself, then that will put off any JW from ever daring to contemplate suicide.

    Naturally suicide should always be utterly discouraged and held as absolutely no solution at all to life's problems, but why does the Society have to go to such an extreme length to make this a point, as if it is like murdering your own family, or committing the unforgiveable sin?

    Then to reinforce this uncompassionate stance they highlight all the 'shame' brought on the family, the congregation, and the community even. Well thanks, as if the family are not feeling enough 'shame' as it is. And isn't any gross sin where a person is disfellowshipped going to bring a degree of shame on oneself and ones family and the congregation? So why single out suicide to state the obvious.

    The 1990 article is more balanced and adopts a more moderate and clearly resonably compassionate view (one wouldn't doubt that a factor in this is because of a possible flood of caustic responses from those who were upset by the previously harsh and dogmatic 1954 and 1975 articles, and rightly so). The reasoning in this article is somewhat more sensible: that we cannot judge on the mental state of a person to do such a thing, and thus we cannot say how Jehovah views them and what they did, and therefore what their future life prospects will be.

    But do you notice that the Society are suggesting that God judges deceased 'unrighteous persons' based on the degree of reprehensibility of their sin/s (read again the second paragraph under the sub-heading "the responsible, scriptural view of life"). This mealy-mouthed position reveals a lack of understanding on the Society's part of exactly what the unforgiveable sin is and what it isn't. Neither is their position scriptural at all. The truth from the bible is that only those who wilfully sin against the holy spirit commit the unforgiveable sin and have no prospect of a resurrection . Matthew 12: 31 & Hebrews 6: 6 describe those spirit adopted ones who then 'impale the son of God afresh' thus sinning against their spiritual adoption by virtue of Christ's death, and thus having no resurrection prospects. These are the only ones that according to scripture have no chance of a resurrection. So how is it that the Society are insinuating that perhaps those not of the heavenly calling who committ suicide born out of mental illness similarly may not be judged by Jehovah worthy of being resurrected? Romans 6: 7 unequivocably says that when a person dies they are acquitted from their sins, thus on this basis and more importantly on the basis of Christ's ransom sacrifice, Acts 24:15 promises that the 'unrighteous' will be resurrected (with the exception of the aforesaid category). A suicider is certainly unrighteous, but in what way is their unrighteousness enough to exempt them from the promise of Acts 24: 15. Since when did God reveal to us that he has since added ad hoc clauses to this promise, other than the exclusion of those who Jesus said have no forgiveness by sinning against the holy spirit. To take this a step further consider this: the Society's position is that a murderer in modern day times (or a fornicator, or adulterer..all gross sins that that in God's eyes are ultimately punishable by death if unrepentant) who never repents during his lifetime and then Armageddon arrives will obviously not survive Armageddon. However if that murderer should die before Armageddon, they will get a resurrection by virtue of Acts 24:15 and Rom 6:7. Is that not the bibles correct position and what the Society correctly teaches. So where is the consistency here in suggesting that those who commit suicide MAY NOT be resurrected? It seems they are saying, to caricature their position: 'well, yes, the bible says there will be a resurrection of the unrighteous, and though a JW who commits suicide has not sinned against the holy spirit and committed the unforgiveable sin, suicide is still a pretty awful, selfish thing to do, just like muder, thus we think there is a chance that this person is just too unrighteous to fall into the category of unrighteous ones at Acts 24: 15 that the bible says will definitely be resurrected. Thus neither are we convinced that the bible means what it says that when a person dies he has been acquitted from his sins. We feel there may be instances where this has not happened, outside of those who commit the unforgiveable sin".

    They at least acknowledge what are knock-down counter-examples to their unreasonable 1954 position, ie, that murderers have indeed repented and benefited from the ransom sacrifice, and that persons who have failed in a suicide attempt have had a 'change of heart' and desisted from further attempts at suicide.

  • Tinkerbell4125

    They obviously have never watched a loved one *my father* die of a self inflicted gun shot wound to the head. I always heard growing up as a j.w. that God *Jehovah* would not put on you more than you could bare. That's a load of crap.

  • frenchbabyface

    Tinky :

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