Many Christians strongly believe that suicide is an unforgivable sin, but Kay Warren, the wife of Saddleback Church pastor and bestselling author of "The Purpose Driven Life" Rick Warren, would beg to disagree.
Their son Matthew, who suffered from a mental illness, shot himself to death when he was only 27 years old. That tragedy tore up the Warren family to pieces. The one thing that comforts Kay and her family even today is the thought that Matthew is now safe in God's loving arms.
"God promised us that Matthew's salvation was safe and secure. Matthew gave his life to Jesus when he was a little boy. And so, I'm absolutely 100 percent confident based on the work of Jesus that Matthew is in Heaven," Warren said in an interview with The Christian Post. "And that's a certain hope."
Kay even said she is even more certain of Matthew's condition now than when he was still alive because of his illness. She said she is filled with hope that one day she would join her son in heaven.
"Those are things that are absolutely certain. I don't have any doubt over them. And so my hope is stronger than it ever has been," she said.
Kay knows the widespread perception that suicide is a sin. However, she said no Bible verse supports the belief that those who claim their lives go straight to hell.
"The Church has historically for thousands of years been conflicted about suicide — all the way from publicly shaming the people who did take their own lives, doing terrible things to their bodies in the public square, not allowing them to be buried in the cemetery of the church, being ex-communicated from the fellowship of the church, ostracised, stigmatised, rejected, I mean terrible, terrible things have been done to people who have taken their lives," she said. "And yet, when I look at Scripture, I just can't see any valid reason for that."
She shared John 10, when Jesus talks about His sheep, saying that His sheep knows His voice and nothing can ever take His sheep away from Him. "When you are a believer in me, when your faith is in me as your Saviour you can't even take yourself out of my hands,'" Jesus said.
Because of her son's belief in God, Kay said not even suicide can separate him from God.
Kay did acknowledge that suicide is a sin, and it definitely interrupts whatever plans God has in store for one's life. But she would like to assure everyone who's dealt with a family member or loved one taking his or her own life that suicide is not an unforgivable sin.
"I am completely confident Matthew's salvation was sure. Is suicide a sin? Yes, suicide is a sin because it short-circuits the plan and the will that God has for us. But Jesus died for all of my sins," she said.
"Is it unforgivable? No, not from what I can understand," she added. "I think about Romans 8 where Paul says there is nothing, life nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor demons, nor things above. Nothing can separate us from the love of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. So I have complete confidence in those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation. That's how they should remain strong and sure and steady."