Apologist Ravi Zacharias is accustomed to answering college students’ questions about faith, religion, morality, life, etc. In the face of deep questions, Zacharias is almost unflappable. The case is no different in this video.
The question Zacharias addresses is something that is on the hearts and minds of many people. Church tradition teaches that “those who commit suicide go directly to hell.” One student asked Zacharias, “What can you tell me about that?”
Zacharias starts his answer by acknowledging the breadth of the issue. Thanks to the advance of modern medicine, decisions concerning physician-assisted suicide or taking someone off life support is only becoming more and more complex.
“I wish I had an absolute answer to give to you,” Zacharias says. “I’ll just say this: I wouldn’t want to meet the Lord after I’ve taken my life.”
In Genesis 9:6, murder is called the ultimate attack upon the image of God. We can violate the image of God in someone else or in ourselves. Furthermore, murder is the ultimate act of lack of faith, and “without faith, it is impossible to please God,” Zacharias reminds us.
God is the Judge of the One Who Commits Suicide
At the same time, though, Zacharias says he wouldn’t be able to stand as a judge before a parent whose child committed suicide and declare their child is “hell-bound.” Zacharias says he’s much more comfortable leaving God as the judge and leaving him to work for the peace of the family who has lost a member to suicide.
Zacharias then gets personal and admits he attempted suicide once as a teenager. He says it took him years to talk about the incident. “The fact that I tried to take my life is a devastating thought to me. The only consolation I have is that I did not know Christ at that time. Now that I know him I would never ever try to violate the image of God that he’s given to me.”
In Romans 14, Zacharias explains, we are instructed not to do anything (whether it be eating or drinking, or observing certain days as sacred) without faith. The final verse in this chapter tells us “everything that does not come from faith is sin.” Zacharias says what this really means is “if you violate a conviction God has placed in your heart, clearly, it’s a sinful thing to do.”
Zacharias says if he were counseling someone considering taking their life, he would admonish them to think about the “most sacred gift” God has given (freedom). “Don’t use your freedom to violate your freedom,” he would say.
Eternal Destinies Are Up to God; The Moment Is For Us to Choose
“The eternal destinies are in the hands of God, but the moment is for us to choose and select. Let us not violate what God has given to us as a sacred gift.”
George VI of the United Kingdom was dying of cancer when he had a message for the world, Zacharias says and then quotes:
“I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may walk safely into the unknown.’ He said to me, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God, which shall be to you better than the light and safer than the known.’”
Zacharias implies there is a lesson here for those struggling with the will to live: Sometimes we cannot walk by sight (with a light) but rather must go out into the dark unknown and feel the hand of God guiding us. So it is with crippling depression: There is no hope that we can see. No reason to live, but we must keep going even when we can’t see it.
“Life is too precious. Don’t squander it…The greatest triumphs are those who have suffered the greatest darkness,” Zacharias concludes.