Longing for a Better Place

I just sat through another one of those sermons.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t really a bad sermon. In fact I’m visiting my parents for the holidays and I rather enjoy their pastor’s style. He is upbeat, enthusiastic and just generally….well, not stuffy. I love the pastor of my home church but sometimes he can be rather too somber. If joy is in the Lord, would it hurt to smile?

This message focused on Heaven, and having been going to church all my life I have heard many similiar ones. The Pastor wanted the congregation to know that all these trials and tribulations down on earth were temporary. God is in control, he will bring you through all the hard times and one day you will be in a perfect body in Heaven. It is only natural that we would look forward to a day when we obtain perfection. When our joints do not creak, when our eyesight is 20/20 and our stomachs don’t protrude over our pants. (Hmm…I wonder what God’s ideal weight is?)

Jesus is our hope for the future, the pastor kept stressing. His “catch phrase” of the day, if you will, was that Jesus will change your bad circumstances but he may wait until after you are dead, and then he will really change your circumstances. So we should not cry or mourn when a loved one who believes on Christ dies, he is in heaven. He is in a better place. There is a song commonly played at funerals that says “If you could see me now, I’m walking streets of gold. If you could see me now, I’m standing tall and bold”. A common comforting phrase is “He is no longer in any pain”.

My question then is: Then why are we so astonished and critical of suicide?

I’m not a supporter of suicide in the least. Whatever happens to a person, there is always something that is worth living for. Yet having been in the depths of depression myself, I have pondered taking my own life and one of the biggest arguements for suicide that occured to me, is that Heaven is a better place.

Once again, I am not advocating a cult group where we all drink cyanide. Yet if you really think about it (as I was the whole sermon) the arguement really backfires. Telling someone not to despair in their current troubles because when they are dead they won’t have them anymore. What kind of logic is that? Everyone wants perfect peace. So why not bringing it quicker? Especially when you are in a position that you don’t think you can handle. The most literal way you could run into the arms of Jesus is to die.

And then there is the draw of seeing your departed loved ones. Many times I’ve imagined what my child would be like had he/she lived. When some have told me that they believe that my child is in Heaven, it really only made me want to die more, in order to see him/her. I reasoned that there was nothing left for me on earth so why not be with the child the who would not stay with me? If God would be so cruel as to send the unborn child to Hell then I figured I was alright with that too because that must mean that me, as a suicide case, would be sent there too. For if God would not except an innocent baby, He certainly would not except me.

The Catholic belief that suicide results in damnation is certainly a strong deterent. This is Hamlet’s dilemna in his famous “To Be or Not T0 Be” speech. If he ceases to be, where will he be? He does not fear the pain of death itself but the prospect of what might await him. Not being Catholic myself, I’m not sure the exact theology behind this but I imagine its something only the lines of life being a gift and suicide is the act of rejecting that which God has given. If our sole purpose in life is to give praise to God, then rejecting that occupation through suicide could I guess give God cause enough to reject you.

The main bone I have to pick with this, and with most Christian doctrine, is not so much the doctrine and beliefs themselves but the fact that many Christians follow these beliefs without ever examining them. They do not know why they believe what they profess to believe and they never give anyone with the slightest deviation the chance to speak. They would have shunned Martin Luther. Like it or not, Christianity, like everything else, changes and evolves.  Yes the core concepts and beliefs stay the same but it has to adapt.

We do not follow the same principes in this Age of Grace that our ancestors followed under the Kings or Judges. Why must we be so closed minded today? I’m not suggesting we through out the 10 commandments and the beautitudes as rubbish, they are not rubbish, but examine what we are doing and make sure it applies.

Per example, the Christians that so frown upon a suicide, or someone who is known to feel suicidal. They do not need to be shunned. Perhaps they have no intention of acting selfishly (as seems to be one of the favorite arguements) but are simply longing  so much for the better place that they can’t stand this world any longer. Like the lovers that jumped into the volcano hand in hand. Why must we abide by preconceived notions? Why not actually determine what help the person could use on an individual basis?

I’m peering through a glass darkly.

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Published in: on December 27, 2009 at 10:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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