Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Martin Luther on Suicide


"I don't share the opinion that suicides are certainly to be

damned. My reason is that they do not wish to kill themselves

but are overcome by the power of the devil. They are

like a man who is murdered in the woods by a robber.

However, this ought not be taught to the common people,

lest Satan be given an opportunity to cause slaughter, and I

recommend that the popular custom be strictly adhered to

according to which it [the suicide's corpse] is not carried

over the threshold, etc. Such persons do not die by free

choice or by law, but our Lord God will dispatch them as

He executes a person through a robber. Magistrates should

treat them quite strictly, although it is not plain that their

souls are damned. However, they are examples by which

our Lord God wishes to show that the devil is powerful and

also that we should be diligent in prayer. But for these

examples we would not fear God. Hence He must teach us

in this way."


Martin Luther, "Suicides Are Not Necessarily Damned"

(April 7, 1532, No. 222), Luther's Works: American

Edition, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan and Helmut T. Lehmann, 55

vols. (S 1, Louis: Concordia Publishing House; Minneapolis:

Fortress Press, 1955-1986)' 54, ed. and trans. by Theodore

G. Tappert (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967), p. 29.
Got it? God randomly executes people by suicide in order to 1) teach us to fear Him; 2) give us an appreciation of the power of Satan; and, 3) keep us diligent in prayer. The victims of suicide are blameless, but we should act as if they are sinners in order to keep people on the right path.
Let's hope that Pastor Rick Warren and his family find solace in something other than Luther's writings.

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