Suicide & The Cross

* The BEL GM: Our general manager, Will read emails from the BEL Mailbag that we received over the weekend including encouraging notes from Michigan and Oklahoma, and then, from somewhere in cyberspace, a listener Hugo who questioned whether or not Christ's death on the cross amounted to the sin of suicide. Here is our email reply we sent to him:

Hugo, regarding your comment: "I have the idea that we should not ever forfeit our life in exchange for the life of other as that is basically suicide," I know that you're referring to the crucifixion of the Lord, but let's divide your question into two parts: Suicide, and the Crucifixion.

Crucifixion: Of a thousand ways someone can kill himself, crucifixion is not one of them. No one has ever crucified himself and so no one has ever committed suicide by crucifixion. And yes, it's conceivable that a man could arrange to have others kill him. But regarding Jesus, consider...

Suicide: is the intentional killing of oneself, where the goal is to die, and for example, if you failed in a first attempt, you would try to kill yourself again, that's suicide, and it's almost always for cowardly, and selfish, reasons. On the other hand, if a German soldier threw a grenade into a foxhole, the American GI who jumped on the grenade to save his buddies would be a hero, and not a coward nor selfish, because he was saving lives the only way possible. But if the grenade failed to detonate, he wouldn't then go ahead and kill himself, because killing himself was not his goal. His goal was to save others. And sometimes, there is no other possible way to save others than to die in the process. It's not wrong to throw a bomb at others to kill them, if you are in a just war, and on the right side of that war, and the targets are justified. But a suicide bomber doesn't want to just throw the bomb, he wants to get killed in the process, which shows the fundamental immorality of the Japanese Kamikaze (divine wind, bringing honor to family) and Islamic Jihadist (holy warrior, bringing himself to paradise). So there's quite a moral distinction between suicide, and an emergency effort to save the lives of others.

Regarding the Crucifixion: The cross was an emergency. Without it, all would be doomed. God wants to be able to save those who would humble themselves, and there was no other way. This is what Jesus struggled with in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before He died, as He "fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will'" (Matthew 26:39). Jesus did NOT want to die, He did not want to be separated from His Father, but there was no other way to save our lives. Now, if we trust in Christ's death on the cross, our sins will be forgiven, and because we believe in His resurrection, we will be raised to eternal life. It's that easy, and that hard, because our pride makes humbling ourselves one of the most difficult things we can ever do.
Thanks for writing Hugo! -Pastor Bob Enyart, Denver Bible Church

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