Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Response to a Public Suicide

Posted by Michael

I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Rick and Kay Warren’s son. Their 27 year old son took his own life, after what appears to have been a prolonged battle with depression.  Rick Warren has pastored a sizable and influential church as well as written several books (The Purpose Driven Church, The Purpose Driven Life etc…), so I was not totally surprised to see people use the tragedy as a forum to voice their opinions on suicide, parenting, and the Christian faith.  The overwhelming majority of posts were positive and respectful, and many people committed to pray for the family in their time of loss. There were unfortunately, other posts that were not as positive. One that stuck out to me said (forgive me for paraphrasing), “If you spend time with your kids, home school if possible, and train them up in the way they should go, they will NOT commit suicide”. I became very angry at the insensitivity of the post, and of what I perceived to be complete ignorance. After I calmed down, I realized that the writer of the post was simply doing what so many of us do every day. The writer was trying to find a way to guarantee that something bad would not happen to their children. His or her recipe included quality time, home schooling, and training the child the way they “ought” to be trained. Surely, if they could do this, then it would be impossible for the tragedy that visited the Warren home to ever visit theirs. The stark truth however, is that none of those things will prevent their child from committing suicide, or getting hit by a bus, or developing terminal cancer. We all have our recipes that we hope will allow us to avoid disaster: attend the right schools, read the right books, eat the right foods, avoid the wrong places, people, and Happy Meals. None of these things are bad ideas in and of themselves. There are wonderful benefits to eating well, exercising, being well read, and avoiding dangerous places. It’s just that none of those things will guarantee happiness or prevent evil from eventually dragging us to the grave. We are fragile creatures. Our hope can not be that we will never be attacked by evil or that we can somehow forestall death, but that the God of the universe is bigger than the worse evil, and stronger even than death, and that one day, in His timing, He will set everything right. God forgive us for what we do to each other with our fear and judgmental attitudes.

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