In retrospect, it's not too surprising. This friend -- let's call him Nate -- grew up in what we would today call a thoroughly dysfunctional family. The worst blow: When he was just setting out on his own, his father committed suicide after a long struggle with depression and a devastating business failure.
Nate didn’t handle it well. Crushed by both his loss and the stigma associated with suicide in that “less enlightened” era, he plunged into drinking and drugs and partying so wild that even I, ever the party girl, gladly let our friendship evaporate.
So I was happy to learn last night that he had apparently pulled himself out of that lifestyle. He’s now a psychologist, sporting a neat goatee and expensive suits and pursuing an avid spiritual life amongst those who worship Mother Earth or Mankind or Self or All of the Above.
Which is very sad. Apparently in his quest for peace and purpose, Nate failed to make truth a prerequisite. And that failure may well haunt him for all eternity, because by embracing the New Age he is rejecting Jesus Christ, “the way, the truth and the life”; as He said, “no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Nate and his family attended church back in the day, but in the wake of his father’s suicide, he turned his back on its teaching. I’m sure there were a lot of reasons that he did so. But I’ll bet that a major one was the gossip he and his siblings had to endure. Not that anyone ever said anything to their faces; but they couldn’t help but overhear. “Suicides can’t go to heaven,” a slew of professing Christians whispered when they thought the grieving kids were out of earshot. “Thou shalt not murder, you know. He’s surely in hell now!”
I don’t personally know where Nate’s dad is spending eternity. But neither do these self-appointed judges. Murder is not the unforgivable sin, nor is suicide; the unforgivable sin is, quite simply, unbelief. And no one has a right to judge what another human being holds in his heart at the moment of death.
Yet some uninformed people insist that, according to Christianity, suicide invariably leads to hell. It’s a common and evil myth – one that can understandably ambush suicide's uniquely grief-stricken survivors, driving them out of the arms of Christ and into false religions that promise happily-ever-afters for everyone. Never mind that such promises are nothing more than flimsy wishes built on the lies of these false religions; for someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, such lies are preferable to the hellfire prescribed by those who have never bothered to investigate what the Bible says about much of anything.
I will try to reach Nate, of course. After decades of building up resistance to the truth of biblical Christianity, he may be too hard-hearted to even give me a hearing. But “with God, all things are possible” (Mark 10:27); it’s certainly worth a try.