Is suicide an unforgivable sin?

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I recently preached a funeral for someone who committed suicide, and I think it is absolutely imperative that we convey the gospel to the next of kin, as well as the truth that suicide is not the unforgivable sin. In this case, the funeral was for a man who loved the Lord Jesus.

Some people die of cancer, some people die of a heart attack, and some people die of a broken mind. Something snaps, and it’s terrible. It’s horrible, especially when it happens to a child. I’ve probably conducted twenty to thirty funerals in my life of sons who have committed suicide, and they are tragic. That family needs all the reassurance of the gospel to carry them through the rest of their lives.

It is a peculiarity of Catholicism and the issue of last rites that consigns suicide to the category of the unforgivable sin. That is not a Protestant understanding of the gospel, so it is surprising how deep-seated that view of suicide is among Christians. But it is entirely wrong, and I think the most important thing to do when somebody who has professed faith commits suicide is to reassure the family that the gospel forgives all sin, including that one.

This is a transcript of Derek Thomas’ answer given during our 2018 National Conference and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email or message us on Facebook or Twitter.