Home Christian News Greg Laurie Underscores Belief Jarrid Wilson Is in Heaven

Greg Laurie Underscores Belief Jarrid Wilson Is in Heaven

suicide and hell

In a recent op ed for The Washington Post, Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship reflected on the passing of fellow pastor Jarrid Wilson, who died by suicide on September 9th, 2019. Laurie emphasized that he believes Jarrid’s decision to commit suicide was not “spiritually fatal” and said failing to recognize this truth about suicide and hell can lead people to make extremely painful statements.

“One dark moment in a Christian’s life cannot undo what Christ did for us on the cross,” wrote Laurie. “When you stand before God, you won’t be judged by the last thing you did before you died, but by the last thing Jesus did before he died.”

Greg Laurie on Suicide and Hell

Laurie spoke at Jarrid’s memorial service, which took place several days after the young pastor’s death, and made his views on suicide and hell clear at that time. But some people have taken issue with Laurie’s position. He wrote, “Misunderstanding can lead people to say seriously hurtful things. I have received angry messages from ‘well-meaning’ Christians who are upset because I’ve said Jarrid went to heaven after he died.” Even more shocking, “One individual even commented to Jarrid’s wife, ‘We’re praying for you, but Jarrid is in hell!’”

Laurie was clear he did not think that suicide was a good or right choice. But, he said, the whole point of the gospel is that Jesus died to save us from the penalty of our wrong choices. It is not our right choices that save us, but our acceptance of the free gift Jesus has given us. Said Laurie, “I know that while living, Jarrid made the right choice: He chose Jesus Christ as his savior…Because of that, I believe Jarrid is in heaven right now.”

What Jarrid Said About Suicide and Hell

During his lifetime, Jarrid Wilson was very open about his mental health struggles and was a dedicated mental health advocate. He addressed the question of whether suicide leads to hell when people were reacting to the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. His position in a nutshell was: “Suicide doesn’t lead people to hell. Not knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior does.”

Teaching people that suicide leads to hell, said Jarrid, is “bad theology and proof one doesn’t understand the basic psychology surrounding mental health issues…we must understand God hates suicide just as much as the next person. Why? Because it defies God’s yearning for the sanctity of life. But while suicide is not something God approves of, no mess is too messy for the grace of Jesus. This includes suicide.”

In 2016 Jarrid and his wife, Juli Wilson, co-founded the organization, Anthem of Hope, to help people battling mental health challenges. They used to travel and speak together on behalf of the ministry, and Juli recently spoke at her first Anthem of Hope event since Jarrid’s passing. In an Instagram post before the event took place, she stressed the importance of empathy and really listening to those who are suffering: “I’m learning now to pause and listen, too, because as much as people need a counselor, they need a friend—they need a brother and sister in Christ, and they need someone to listen without the intent of giving advice.”

Laurie concluded his op ed by observing that Jarrid’s death, while heartbreaking, has opened the door for people in his church to share their own mental health struggles. He said, “A lot of conversations about depression and suicidal thoughts have opened up, especially among our younger people—and we are listening. We want our church to be a loving place for lonely people and a safe place for sad people.”

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Jessica Mouser is a writer for churchleaders.com. She has always had a passion for the written word and has been writing professionally for the past two years. She especially enjoys evaluating how various beliefs play out within culture. When Jessica isn't writing, she enjoys playing the piano, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.