Ask Your Preacher
I have a sensitive question that has a lot of varying answers, but I came across this site and decided to ask yet another religious and spiritual person. Please try to answer as honestly as you can.
I had a cousin a little while back who committed suicide. She was young (only 16) and not outwardly depressed or upset. She left a long note for her mother, apologizing and trying to explain herself. She was scared of what her future would hold, and her decision came with a lot of conscious struggle. She left us all behind, confused and worried for her. What would happen to someone like her in the afterlife? I know that God has the final say, but is suicide a sin?
The girl in question wasn't an overly religious person (didn't attend church regularly), but she did believe in God, Jesus, and the afterlife. She prayed every morning and often claimed to have a "connection" with God when she needed Him. Thanks for your time.
Dear Sad Cousin,
Suicide is a painful topic, and we are so sorry for your loss. There are two things to consider when looking at what God says about a sixteen-year-old committing suicide.
- Is suicide a sin?
- How accountable does God hold someone of that age for their actions?
Question one is fairly straightforward – suicide is a sin. Suicide is a form of murder, and murder is wrong (1 Jn 3:15). What is so scary about suicide is that it is a form of murder that allows no opportunity for repentance (Heb 9:27). The final judgment belongs to God (Heb 12:23), but it would be a very perilous thing to face God with your own blood on your hands.
Question number two is a lot trickier. Children are not held accountable for their choices in the same way that adults are. King David’s son died at infancy, and David knew that his son was in heaven (2 Sam 12:23). Children are given as examples of godliness (Lk 18:17). Paul uses the immaturity of children as an example (1 Cor 13:11). At some point, children transition to being adults, and they become accountable for their own behavior… but that happens at different times for different kids. Everyone understands that a five-year-old is a child and that a twenty-five-year-old is an adult; it is the ages in between that get fuzzier. Sixteen is an age that sits squarely in the gray area. Only God, who knows our hearts (Lk 16:15), could properly judge where your cousin’s maturity level was. If she was still considered a child in the eyes of God, she will be in heaven – God doesn’t make mistakes; He will properly decide. May God give you comfort in your time of grief for the loss of your loved one.
Hi, I lied to my dad a few times about drinking twisted tea, having a facebook (I deleted my facebook), why I came home from school late (because I had a detention, and I told him I was checking my grades), etc. – but I don't want to admit to him that I lied because he's verbally abusive. Do I have to admit to my dad that I lied to him??? Am I lying to him by not admitting that I lied before?
Dear Troubled Kid,
You lied to your father, and you need to ask for his forgiveness. Part of repentance is asking forgiveness (Lk 17:4). It is unfortunate that your relationship with your father is so unhealthy, but regardless of how he acts, you have a responsibility to do what is right (Matt 16:24). Your conscience is obviously bothered by hiding these lies… it is time to clear that conscience (Acts 24:16). May God bless you in your courage to put truth first in your life.
What is the age of accountability?
Old Enough to Know Better
Dear Old Enough to Know Better,
The age of accountability is the age when a child becomes accountable to God for their sins and would be judged for them… exactly at what age that happens is the tricky part of your question. We can tell you what the Bible says on the subject, but it doesn’t say much.
We know any baby that dies goes to heaven. David’s son died, and David made it clear that his son was in heaven (2 Sam 12:23). Also, Paul uses the immaturity of children as an example (1 Cor 13:11). This tells us God doesn’t have the same expectation of a child’s behavior as He does of an adult’s. Children are not bound by the same rules as adults. A child doesn’t have the mental capacity or maturity to be held accountable for their mistakes like adults are.
In order to become a christian, there are several things God expects you to be capable of doing:
- Take responsibility for your sins (Acts 3:19).
- Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
- Be responsible for your own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).
If a child is not capable of doing those things, they cannot be held accountable for their eternal future.
This still doesn’t answer the question though because every child matures at a different rate. Everyone agrees that a five-year-old can’t be held accountable, and that a twenty-year-old can. It is the age spectrum in between where our judgment gets fuzzy. Only God, who knows our hearts (Lk 16:15), can accurately judge the hour in which a child makes that transition into accountability.
When kids are psychic, and they claim they do not have anything to do with the devil, are they lying? Or is the devil using them?
Dear Weirded Out,
People that claim they are psychic are lying and are meddling in the occult. Astrologists, those who claim supernatural powers, palm readers, etc. are not from God (Mic 5:12, Isa 2:6, Jer 27:9). Every lie is from the devil (Jhn 8:44), and the devil uses us when we promote false teaching (Matt 16:23). The only way to properly serve God is to throw off all pretenses of these dark arts and wholly serve Jesus in truth (Acts 19:18-20).
(This post is a follow-up to “Bullycide”.)
Sorry, I disagree on a couple of points. I've been in the line of fire, so I know from firsthand experience that some kids are sinners of the worst kind. I believe some kids ARE aware of what they're doing, and if God let evil people like that into heaven, it wouldn't be heaven anymore. Kids who drive other kids to their grave are guilty of MURDER in the sight of God. You can't let the wicked off the hook. Jesus put no age limit on repentance. He said, unless you repent, you shall ALL likewise perish (Luke 13:3-5). Paul says in I Cor.7:14: Else were your children unclean, but now are they holy. Merely being a child doesn't bring holiness. There are clean children and unholy children.
The prophet Elisha was teased (apparently, only verbally) by a gang of youths for being bald in 2 Kings 2:23-24. Elisha pronounced judgment on those kids. He didn't absolve them of blame just because they were young. NO WHERE in scripture does God say you're automatically innocent if you're below the age of 18, 13, or whatever. What's missing in modern pulpits is good, old-fashioned, fire-and-brimstone preaching. God's love is so overemphasized to unrepentant sinners that they never suspect there might be a fiery hell awaiting them on the Day of Judgment and God's righteous wrath against sin.
Done Being Bullied
Dear Done Being Bullied,
We appreciate your points and think there might be some miscommunication. There is an age where a child reaches young adulthood - often known as the "teens", and children do begin to be responsible before God for their choices. There is a point where a child ceases to be simply a product of their environment and transitions into being a culpable adult who has chosen a path of righteousness or wickedness.
However, children are not born in sin as you seem to be stating. 1 Cor. 7:14 is being used out of context. In 1 Cor. 7:14, the children are 'holy' because they are purified by their believing parent's influence. Otherwise, 1 Cor. 7 would be literally saying that a child is bound for hell or bound for heaven based off of whether or not their parents are christians. Jesus died to save the whole world (Jhn 3:16), and every human has an opportunity to obey Him.
2 Kgs 2:23-24 is dealing with teenagers (or young adults), not small children. Yes, many of today's youth exhibit the same hateful and rebellious attitudes that are shown by that gang of young adults that Elisha interacted with. Children that rebel against parents and show a lack of respect for authority are clearly condemned in the Scriptures (Col 3:20, Deu 21:18-21).
We couldn't agree more that there is a need for preaching on hell and the judgment to come (if you read the answers to many of our questions, we think you will see that we don't shirk our responsibility to that topic). Once we reach the age where we are old enough to make decisions and repent of those decisions on our own – we must prepare ourselves, so that we won't perish (Lk 13:3-5). Children eventually become adults, and as adults, we must be prepared to meet our God.