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.:MY JEHOVAH’S WITNESS BROTHER COMMITTED SUICIDE. CAN YOU HELP ME?
We are truly sorry to hear of your pain. We can only imagine how much you miss your brother. Your love for him and Jehovah is truly amazing! You asked that if we, imperfect humans, are able to forgive suicide, why can’t Jehovah God who is love forgive? You are right, “God is love.” He loved your brother regardless of the imperfections he had. 1 John 4:7-10 explains:
Because God loved us so much, He sent His Son to die in our place so that we can be forgiven of our sins (John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:21). When we receive Christ’s forgiveness, God fills our hearts with His love and pours His love out through us into the lives of those around us. We cannot know the depths of the pain your brother experienced that made him feel so hopeless that he felt he must end his life, but one thing we do know. Your brother loved you and everyone around him. By what you tell us of his life, he had a huge heart to please Jehovah. He LOVED Jehovah! He didn’t die because he hated God. Rather, he died because he misunderstood the God of love due to the false teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If your brother had personally placed his trust in the ransom sacrifice that Christ made on his behalf and made Jesus Christ “Lord” of his life (Romans 10:9), the Bible says that all of his sins (including suicide) are covered under the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:9; 1 Peter 2:24). It was the Watchtower organization that demanded perfection from him, not Jehovah God Himself!
Our loving God knows your brother’s pain and the love he showed for His Name. David spoke of Jehovah storing up his teardrops that were shed in pain (Psalm 56:8), the nation of Israel and Job contemplated death in their pain (Exodus 16:3; Numbers 14:2; Job 3:11-13), and Jesus is spoken of as our High Priest Who can sympathize with our weaknesses because He was “tempted in all things as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). If Christ was “tempted in all things,” He must have felt the temptation of suicide as well.CAN SUICIDE BE FORGIVEN?
You asked if suicide is the unpardonable sin. The only unpardonable sin we read of in the Bible is “blasphemy” against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31) which in context is rejecting the conviction of the Holy Spirit about the person and work of Jesus Christ. So, if your brother did not commit that sin, then he did not commit the unpardonable sin when he committed suicide.
Although there are no Scriptures that deal with the subject of suicide in a black and white context, when we consider the commandment “thou shall not kill,” we do recognize that even murderers can be forgiven by God through the blood of Christ, just as the Apostle Paul was forgiven (1 Corinthians 15:9; Acts 7:54-8:3). Consider the example of David who lost his newborn son to death as a penalty for his adultery. He said that his son could not come to him, but that he would go to him (2 Samuel 12:22-23). This seems to imply that David’s son would be resurrected to the same place that David hoped to go. The reason this story is relevant to the topic of suicide and murder is because David essentially caused the death of his son because of his sin, and yet God forgave him because of his “faith” (Romans 4:5-7). So, neither David nor his son had to suffer eternally for this sin. They only had to suffer the consequences of sin here on earth and then look forward to the future resurrection by “faith” in the ransom sacrifice of Christ.
Due to the fact that your brother was involved in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is no way for us to know, this side of eternity, if he prayed to receive Christ. We do not know what transpired between him and Christ in the last remaining moments of his life as he was slipping away into eternity, but one thing we do know; your brother died loving God and your family, and he died asking for forgiveness.
The Watchtower Society confused him about God’s love when it emphasized a man-made standard of righteousness for approval. Your brother was so discouraged he probably thought he was doing Jehovah a favor by taking his life, because he thought that by living, he would contaminate others with his “weak spirituality.” Yet, such thinking is the direct opposite of God’s truth. If the Jehovah’s Witnesses had been acting like true Christians, they would have understood that their treatment of your brother was in direct conflict with Scripture’s command to receive the “weak” brother and encourage him (Romans 14:1; Galatians 6:1-2).
God is all about love and grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet this word, “grace” is completely missing in the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation Bible. Your brother didn’t even have a chance to be exposed to the loving God of the Bible who rejoices when we give Him the broken pieces of our lives (Romans 5:8, 10; Ezekiel 36:26-27), so that He can transform us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Just as the potter does when he breaks the clay into pieces in order to form it into the image of His own design (Jeremiah 18:4-6; Isaiah 64:8), so God desires to do His work with the broken pieces of each one of our lives (Colossians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17).HOW DO YOU BEGIN TO BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?
You brought up a great question when you asked: “How do I begin to build a relationship with God on a personal level?” This is the first step one must take before thinking about “trusting religion” again. So, how do you build a relationship with God? You do so, step-by-step. The relationship begins when you approach God by coming to Jesus Christ with the broken pieces of your life (Matthew 9:11-13). It is not about you polishing your own image first before you come to God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Starting a relationship with God is simple and you’ve probably heard it already, but here are the ABC’s of salvation:
Confessing your sins and believing in Christ for salvation involves praying a prayer of salvation in which you ask Jesus to forgive you for your sins and to be the Lord of your life. Jesus said that we must “come” to him for eternal life (John 5:39-40). So, we must go directly to Him in prayer when we ask for His forgiveness and the gift eternal life. Note the following examples in Scripture on how Jesus is the One we are to go to when we request forgiveness:
For more information on how to begin a relationship with God and a sample prayer of salvation, see the following article on our website:
Next, you grow in your relationship with God by praying and reading the Bible daily. As you study, you will find that many of the assumptions you were taught as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses were wrong and you will have to start all over with just your love for Jehovah and His Word, the Bible. Ask God to send His Holy Spirit to teach you His truth as you read His Scripture (John 14:25-27). Then, read the Bible verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter, and take notes. You will begin to see and learn things you have never known before about God and His love for you. It will be a daily adventure for you, and it will give you new hope!
For advice as you begin to read God’s Word and reevaluate what you were taught as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, read the following article:
HOW DO I LEARN TO TRUST RELIGION AGAIN?
Learning to trust religion or a Christian church is a whole other issue. You phrased your question just right by asking about building a RELATIONSHIP with God on a PERSONAL level first. Yes, God wants a personal relationship with us, not a religion with us. It begins with the relationship of knowing and trusting Him. Later, He may call you to fellowship and serve within the “Body of Christ” in a formal church setting. But in the early stages, like where you are in right now, your relationship with God is much like a baby compared to a parent.
We don’t send our infants off to school right away after they are first born, do we? Of course not! We give them time to grow and then at the right age as children (not babies), we send them to school where they are stable enough to handle more complex relationships with some discernment, guidance, and advice from us as they learn deeper things than what they could from us. The same is true with our relationship with God. He doesn’t expect you to run immediately into service until you have taken the time to learn the basics of your new faith in Christ.
Spend time studying God’s Word and when you are ready to move into a formal Church setting, look for a church where the Bible is taught verse-by-verse and people love one another without a bunch of rules. Then proceed cautiously, using the guidelines given in the following article on how to find a healthy Christian church and avoid Satan’s deceptions:
Always remember that your relationship with God is to be based completely on the guidance of His Holy Spirit through the reading of His Word. Be careful not to allow any man, religion, pastor or teacher to usurp the role of Christ in your life. Because of your past experience, it may be easy for you to find yourself giving a religious church to much say in your life with the same kind of control that the Watchtower had on you. Be careful not to allow that to happen. Remember that we should never look to men alone to teach us God’s truth or to usurp the role of Christ as our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and the Holy Spirit as our Teacher (John 14:16-17, 26).
For more information on how to evaluate the emotional health of a religious group, see the following article:
We hope that what we shared here has been helpful for you. A lot of people feel a tremendous amount of guilt after going through something like this. We recommend that you find a grief recovery support group or workshop in your area to attend. Also, a Christian pastor or trained counselor can be helpful for providing on-going support therapy. Many pastors in the Calvary Chapel Church affiliation offer Bible-based, one-on-one counseling sessions free of charge. While most pastors are not licensed professionals, they do minister from a Biblical Christian perspective and often have the added advantage of being able to offer a support system through though the local fellowship of Christian believers. While we recommend the Calvary Chapel (www.calvarychapel.com) affiliation, there are other churches that can provide help and support. For a guide on how to find a healthy church in your area, see the following link:
** All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.
They are all there for me!
“I had Jehovah’s Witnesses visiting for six years. … The sad thing is now I have their beliefs in my head. So I put myself into God’s hands and asked for direction. …Well, the feeling of freedom is amazing. I am like a child, learning again for the first time. The reason I had to write to you was the Karen and Cindy conversations. Instead of me asking for help, one question at a time, they are all there for me!! It seems as if ‘Karen’ could read my mind.It’s so lovely for things to fall into place, mainly that ‘What happens when we die?’ This was a very big issue for me. I was scared while I did not understand even the tiny bit I do now. It’s such a joy. Instead of feeling unworthy(were all sinners I know) and feeling I would never be saved or go to Heaven. So, please thank God and Jesus with me for such help.”
I have to tell you how your website saved my life.
“I have been a baptized Witness since 1995, and I have to tell you how you have saved my life. Every couple of years I get this gnawing sense that this is not quite right, that I am not 100% vested in what the Watchtower Society says. …Lately, I have stopped attending meetings and my daughter, 13, has begged me not to make her go back. So I have been praying and chatting with friends outside the organization……I can’t tell you my sense of relief when I stumbled upon your site and started to read the articles. I want to cry, but I’m at work. I can’t wait to get home because I am so excited I can barely stand it! Please, please, how can I meet others who feel this way? I sure could use the fellowship. Again, thanks for the work you do.”
God bless you for the difference you are making.
“My brother and I were raised by a Jehovah's Witness mother. I am 52 years old now and still haven't been able to shake the stigma of the experience. My brother wasn't as lucky as me and ended up taking his own life at 17. I have been through everything ... I can't express how much I appreciate what you are doing... God bless for the difference you are making.”
I do not feel so alone!
“Thank you for creating this website. After reading stories of former Jehovah's Witnesses, I do not feel so alone. My resolve to stay out of that religion has also strengthened. I have also come to realize that my depression, anxiety, and many other emotional scars inflicted by the organization and those in the ‘truth’ will take time to heal. But your website has also come to help me ... Thank you.”
Just as I was about to enter the Jehovah’s Witnesses again, God led me to your website.
“Hi…I am an Ex-Jehovah’s Witness from South Africa. ...I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses not because I did not agree with their beliefs, but because my wife could not handle it with me being a Jehovah’s Witness and she not. I became an anti-religious person. Then, just as I was about to enter the Jehovah’s Witnesses again, God led me to your website… Today, I prayed to Jesus for salvation after I read your article on your website…”
I’m so glad that I have run across this site.
“After reading the article that David Reed wrote on your site, I’ve looked at things in ‘a new light’ so-to-speak. ...I’m so glad that I have run across this site. I’m sure that it was the Holy Spirit that directed me to all of you!”
Your website is a great source for truth
“Your website is a great source for those seriously seeking the truth.… The Jehovah’s Witness elders shun me. I’ve known these guys for 30 years... Well, when I walk into the Hall they turn their backs to me. I have not seen my Jehovah’s Witness ex-wife, or daughter for two years. ...They hide my family from me. When I go to their homes, they smile with arms folded and say nothing.
The stories I read at your website were loud and clear - conditional love by the ‘brothers’! I have learned more in the Christian Church about unconditional love than 30 years as a Witness. When I accepted Christ, who He really is, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see both sides clearly. ...Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to know the real TRUTH! Keep up your good work.”