We got into a discussion in my Bible class about whether Christians who commit suicide go to heaven. I always thought that God forgives everything, except the unforgivable sin of not accepting him. But others in my class hold different views. I have two questions: (1) Do Christians who commit suicide go to heaven? and (2) What is the "unforgivable sin"?
—Carly Moore via e-mail
A. Taking a human life is an extremely serious sin, and while a murderer can repent, there is no chance for repentance after death. However, it's another thing entirely if the person who committed suicide was emotionally imbalanced or mentally ill. We might even say that the person didn't kill himself but mental illness killed him—like cancer or heart disease could kill someone else.
Remember the man who brought his epileptic son to Jesus for healing? The boy's illness was caused by a demon that "has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him" (Matt. 17:14-18). It wasn't the boy's own will but an evil force that was trying to kill him. If a believer suffers confusion and despair, if he can no longer "judge with right judgment" and turns to suicide with profound regret, God will receive him far differently than he will someone who acts with haughty self-determination.
Suicide is not related to the "unforgivable sin," however. The Gospel of Mark shows that the unforgivable act is a strange kind of blasphemy: to say that the spirit of power in Jesus—the Holy Spirit—is an evil spirit.