The world cannot understand why people—young, affluent people, at that—do not want to live. We have so much wealth, freedom, entertainment, and pleasure—it seems. But these are not what we need, or were created for. What we were built for is meaning, purpose, and divine hope. But society has tried to get rid of the last category (eternal blessings) to make the first category of blessings (temporary things) more complete.
In the article “The Curious Case of America’s Suicide Crisis” (Charles Fain Lehman, freebeacon.com, Feb. 15) the topic is introduced thus:
Every year since the turn of the millennium, the number of Americans dying by suicide has risen, with nearly 50,000 deaths in 2018 alone.
That steady increase began after almost a decade and a half of decline and has proceeded at such a pace that 2018’s per capita suicide rate is the highest since the start of World War II. Suicide is now among the 10 leading causes of death in the United States, the second-most common cause for Americans between the ages of 10 and 24, and the third-most for those between 25 and 44.
These figures are a tragedy. But they are also a mystery. Experts have been unable to pick apart a statistical story that grows stranger the closer you look. What, they have been asking for years, is behind this unrelenting increase?
Christians should not be surprised that children do not thrive and have no solid purpose when they are told that there is no god over their lives, that they are meaningless evolutionary accidents, that affluence is a replacement for godliness, and that their life is their own to do with as they please.
To murder oneself, in the world’s selfish thinking, is the ultimate assertion of authority over one’s body and destiny. It fits right in with the mantra of: “Be who you are” or “Be whatever you want to be.” Sin begets death, it cannot choose life or obedience or right-eousness. The more we are free outwardly, the more license there is for sin to rule.
Children might not like discipline, order, and strict rules, but they need and crave it. They were created for it in God’s order. The 4th commandment (Honor your father and your mother), the first one dealing with human relations, is the basis for human life on earth. We are born into a hierarchy—a divine order. Without it, kids are free to be rebels, but ultimately they will aimless and left with nothing but their own guilt and sin—which can only lead to death temporal and eternal.
Millennials and Gen. Xers are not often so shallow that they think the promise of a grand retirement or a big house or radical political change will fulfill them. The boomers who brought in this change, were actually taught to work as children and to have some respect for authorities and life, even if it was not fully ingrained in or passed on to their kids. But the newer generations have been inculcated in hopelessness and disorder. They search for deeper meaning and do not find it in this world’s goods.
We have a religious crisis—a problem of unbelief, not a scientific, physical one. Studies and psychologists cannot give meaning. Freudian approaches to mental health cannot find wholeness solely within sinners, who are doomed under God’s wrath. All the psycho-babble, mental health talk, and increased awareness of materialistic explanations for despair have not helped—the problem of self-murder and a loss of meaning has gotten exponential worse since the rise of these so-called sciences. The war on depression seems to have been lost—to the world without hope in Christ.
Older generations that still have a shred of moral values cannot understand why youth who have been spoon-fed this garbage—that the world is only material—are not healthy spiritually or mentally. Young, healthly people cut and harm themselves. They see addiction as a way to deal with boredom, and also murder themselves. They live as animals, because that’s what evolutionary pseudo-science taught them they are.
The truth is that the more we submit others, in Christ’s love, the freer we are. Not physically, but mentally—in the conscience. But we cannot submit to a God who is not loving or present. The young want to feel bad (think of the success of recent horror movies, the rise in risk-taking behaviors, and the therapeutic tattoo and body modification movement), because they are numb from the world’s self-esteem worship—being constantly told they are good, while death is inescapable and life is said to have no meaning. No wonder death looks so appealing to those catechized so well in hopelessness!
The meaning of life for the Christian is not grandiose or earth-shattering. Forgiven and declared righteous before God, we are called to serve Him, not ourselves. We work diligently for someone else—Christ, our master. We are put into our earthly place—the very place we were made for and called to by Jesus—first by our physical biology.
Marriage, in faith, becomes a holy place of safety from sexual temptation that gives us a divine duty and person to serve. Children are not just slavish work and wealth vacuums, but offer a lasting legacy which bank accounts do not. Families and churches provide community, to keep us from being alone. And most of all, eternal life in heaven offers hope beyond all earthly suffering.
This crisis of suicide is incredibly tragic, even more than the worst plague, because it is unbelief and a rejection of God’s goodness. It is worse than the murder of babies and the elderly. It cuts one off from the only cause of hope: hearing the Gospel of Christ. It is a heinous sin and makes a satanic confession. While many have tried to Christianize it, death is never something the Christian seeks and wills for himself. Of course, even in the seconds before death repentance is possible, and not every suicide is in their right mind, but the trend of those hopeless, actively seeking death is undeniable. We cannot excuse this godless act or make it Christian. Sinners are forgiven in Christ—sins themselves are not to be excused or made ok.
Christians preach to the living, not the dead. It does no good to sugarcoat the horrific self-murder of people we know. No allowance, permission, or excuse for self-murder can ever be Christian. After honoring parents, God makes His will clear: “You shall not murder.” No asterisk is there for self-murder. God’s will is clear.
The experts are befuddled: “Anyone who tells you that they know exactly why the [suicide] rates are going up or going down is lying to you … we truly don’t understand this really well.” This is not a crisis of cell phones or TV’s, but of God’s will. So the people who have told us that there is no god, no eternal meaning, and no absolute morality cannot admit they have failed and should repent—so it must be a mystery to them. —ed.