Does Suicide Work?

The scourge of suicide

Each year, tens of thousands of people in North America, and up to a million people worldwide, take their own lives as an escape from situations that feel overwhelming and hopeless to them. Millions more make unsuccessful attempts.

There is plenty of good information available on the psychological, emotional, and social issues involved in suicide, and its effects on friends and relatives. We don’t need to repeat it all here. Instead, let’s take a look at some of the spiritual questions involved in suicide:

  • Do people who commit suicide go to hell?
  • What happens to people after death if they commit suicide?
  • Does suicide work? Do we really escape from our problems if we kill ourselves?
  • Is there a path to heaven for suicides who are good people at heart?

Does suicide send us to hell?

Let’s clear this one up right away: No one who commits suicide will be condemned to hell just because of that one act. No single act admits a person to heaven or condemns a person to hell. Rather, it is the overall pattern of motives, character, beliefs, and actions built up on earth that determines our eternal home.

Is a middle-aged man who kills himself after losing his job, his wife, and his home an evil person? Is a teenage girl who kills herself after her boyfriend breaks up with her an evil person? Depressed and desperate people will do desperate things. God is not interested only in how our lives ended. God is interested in what we have done during our life, and especially in how we have treated our fellow human beings.

In short, people who commit suicide will enter heaven or hell based on the same measure as everyone else. That measure is the quality of their character.

What is death, anyway?

To our material eyes death looks like the end of life. But from a spiritual viewpoint death is simply a transition from one life to another. In fact, death is the beginning of our real life.

Our life on earth is like our time of growth and development in the womb. When our body dies, we are born from the womb of the physical world into our fully human life in the spiritual world.

Our life on earth is also like the creation of a pot on a potter’s wheel. (See the Biblical parable of the Potter’s House in Jeremiah 18:1–11.) Like a pot being  formed on the potter’s wheel, as long as we are still living on this earth our character can be formed and re-formed. At the time of death, the “pot” of character that we have created through our life here on earth is “fired,” so to speak, and this becomes our permanent character in the afterlife.

In the example of development in the womb, our real life begins at birth. In the example of the pot being formed on the potter’s wheel, the pot’s real, useful life begins after it is fully formed and  fired in the kiln. It is exactly the same with our life here on earth as preparation for our real, eternal life in the spiritual world.

As we consider the life-and-death issue of suicide, let’s not forget that death is not the end. It is only the beginning. And just as babies born prematurely can live a full and happy life even if the circumstances of their birth may have created some health issues, those who are born into the spiritual world through a premature death by suicide can enter a full and happy eternal life in heaven—though some of the effects of their suicide will persist.

Does it make any difference when we die? Of course it does. Clearly God intended us to live out a full lifespan, or we would not have been designed for it. Besides, if life were not sacred, “Thou shalt not kill” wouldn’t be in the Ten Commandments. Still, whether or not we make good choices, God is able to bring some good out of the critical decisions we humans make, right or wrong. This includes the desperate and very damaging decision to kill ourselves.

Is suicide the ultimate escape?

If we don’t go to hell just because we commit suicide, does this mean that if we take our own life we will get off scot free while those left behind have to suffer through their grief?

Not at all. Actions have consequences. Those who commit suicide suffer its effects in the afterlife. This is not because God decrees a punishment upon them. It is because the act of taking one’s life does not change anything but where we live. We are the same person after death as before. The only thing we have left behind is our physical body. Our mind, including all of our emotions and thoughts, continues right on in our new spiritual body—which at first will look and feel exactly like our physical body. Even our surroundings will look the same at first because we carry them with us mentally.

This means that all the emotional and psychological issues that led to the suicide will be just the same after death. Those who commit suicide will still have to face the issues that led them to take their own lives. What’s worse, they will not be able to work out those issues with anyone who had been involved in their depression, addiction, or mental illness because those people will still be living on earth. And there will be no more escape through suicide because they’re already dead. Listen to this description by Emanuel Swedenborg of what it was like after death for one person who committed suicide:

Someone driven to despair by depression in his physical life was pushed by diabolical spirits to the point of killing himself by stabbing himself with a knife. He came to me complaining that he was being treated miserably by evil spirits, and was surrounded by fiends who constantly harassed him. I saw the place where he was: it was in the lower earth, a little to the left [near hell]. I also saw that he had a knife in his hand and was trying to stab it into his chest. He was struggling terribly with that knife, also trying to throw it away from himself, but he couldn’t do it.

I was told that whatever happens in the last hour of our death stays with us for a long time. March 14, 1748. (Spiritual Experiences 1336–1337)

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the suicide, it could be a long and difficult road before those who have a good heart underneath it all finally throw off the demons that led them to kill themselves, and find themselves on an upward path. And even if they do finally travel that upward path, they will have robbed themselves of the full process of spiritual growth that can take place only on earth. Remember, it is here on earth that we develop the character we will take with us into the afterlife. If we cut that process short, we can never reach the full depth and maturity of character that we might otherwise have developed if we had lived out our full lifespan.

In short, though people who commit suicide can still have a good life in heaven, the effects of their premature birth into the spiritual world will be permanent.

Wrapping it up

Will suicide send a person to hell? No. But it will cause many deep and difficult problems both for the person who committed suicide and for those who are left behind. Every effort we make to overcome the conditions under which people resort to suicide will be a positive step for our loved ones, for our society, and for God’s kingdom. If you are considering suicide, please seek out help. As hard as it may be to believe, there are people who care about you and can help you. If you don’t know anyone you trust to talk to, please call the National Suicide Hotline (in the United States) at 1-800-273-8255, or search the Internet for a similar hotline in your own country or region. And if you know of someone who is considering suicide, please take it seriously, and get them the help they need.

Can people who commit suicide make it to heaven? It may be a long, hard road for them in the afterlife, but the answer is yes. Anyone who has a good heart underneath it all, but is driven to the desperate act of suicide by forces that feel crushing and overwhelming, will in the end have an opportunity to sort out and resolve their struggles in the afterlife. The results may not be as good as if they had worked through their struggles here on earth. But through a winding and difficult path, those who commit suicide can eventually find their way to an active, contented life in heaven.

Still, it is best for everyone, including ourselves, if we let God decide when our time of death will be, rather than taking that decision into our own hands.

This article is © 2012 by Lee Woofenden

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About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in Pain and Suffering, The Afterlife
43 comments on “Does Suicide Work?
  1. Messenger At The Crossroads says:

    Reading this upon the day of Robin Williams’ suicide, and considering how souls like his struggle (20years or more) with depression, I cannot imagine that there would not be an entire corp of compassionate and mighty angelic helpers who would come to the scene to give the person who took his/her own life far, far more powerful support than they may have ever had on earth, so that they could rise into their appointed destiny in heaven.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Messenger,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughts. I think and hope you are right. The difficulty would be whether the person committing suicide would be able to accept the help of those mighty and compassionate angels. I can’t help but think of the movie What Dreams May Come, and the great struggles entailed in drawing Robin Williams’ character’s wife out of her hellish state of mind after her suicide.

      What I am sure of is that those who have a good heart, and commit suicide out of depression and desperation, will find their way to heaven in God’s own time. And I do believe that Robin Williams has a good heart.

  2. Doug Webber says:

    Lee, you might want to check out this: Near-Death Experience Research of Suicide. It says, quote:

    “Dr. Kenneth Ring, in his book, Life at Death, analyzed the near-death experiences of 24 people who attempted suicide. Among them, no one reported the tunnel phenomenon, or saw a brilliant but comforting light, or encountered a presence, or was temporarily reunited with loved ones who had died, or entered into a transcendent world of heavenly beauty. Instead, the suicide-related NDE tended to be truncated, aborted, and damped down. It began with a feeling of relief or peace and continued with a sense of bodily detachment to the same degree as non-suicide-related NDEs. But it tended to end, if it got this far at all, with a feeling of confused drifting in a dark or murky void – a sort of twilight zone. Dr. Ring’s research strongly suggests that the suicide-related NDE does not reach completion; instead, it tends simply to fade out before the transcendent elements characteristic of non-suicide related NDEs make their appearance.”

    Not all are that way, some have been slightly more positive. See Suicide and Near-Death Experiences. The warning here: suicide is not an escape. You can’t run away from your self.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Doug,

      Thanks for the links. It strikes me, though, that the descriptions of suicide NDEs following the paragraph you quoted are more positive than that lead-in statement about them. Though these suicide NDEs may be shorter and less brilliant than non-suicide NDEs often are, they still involve a sense of peace, hope, and love similar to other NDEs.

      With few exceptions, the actual passage of death seems to be peaceful and comforting for just about everyone who dies. According to Swedenborg, our death is attended by heavenly angels who keep us in a calm and peaceful state, and surround us with a sense of being loved.

      However, for those who do not come back, but continue on into the spiritual world, after that initial passage life soon reverts back to something similar to what it was here on earth. This would be when the state of mind of people who commit suicide would come back, and would have to be dealt with before they moved on to heaven (assuming they had a good heart).

      I wish I could be a little more warm and fuzzy about it than this article states. But the evidence does seem to point to suicide creating a difficult passage that must be traversed before the person can move upward to heaven.

      Having said that, I do believe that for some–especially for young people who have not yet gone far in life and have not had time to get depression and despair so heavily ingrained in their minds–the passage may be briefer and more merciful. Children and teens sometimes respond very quickly to wise and loving care when they are taken out of destructive home environments. Others will take longer.

  3. Richard Neer says:

    Hi Lee,

    I was wondering: If we all pass into the next realm and continue our existence regardless of circumstances that led us to our death, to what extent, in the spiritual world, are we cognizant of those we left behind and the great anguish and sorrow they may be suffering from our loss?

    Would, or does, Robin see and understand the impact of his choice on those left behind? Does anyone who passes to the spirit world ‘see’ and understand the impact of their loss upon the loved ones still here suffering from the trauma and pain of losing their dearest? And if so, how do they cope with that? Would they not be tormented the same as those still here in this world? Family members, friends, etc?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Richard,

      Great questions! I do think that one of the reasons suicides may have a tough time in the afterlife for quite some time after their death is having to confront the fact that they have hurt many people through their suicide, but have little or no ability to do anything about it because they are no longer living on earth, and no longer in contact with those whom they have hurt.

      Information about events on earth does get to the afterlife. At minimum, people who die afterwards carry news of events on earth to those who had died before.

      Also, although we usually don’t realize it, even while we are living on earth we are surrounded by spirits and angels who enter into our thoughts and feelings and are affected by them, just as we are affected by their thoughts and feelings. This usually happens unconsciously on both sides, but it does create a general communication of people’s emotional and mental states from earth to the spiritual world and the reverse.

      Once we enter into the spiritual world we become more and more aware of the inner states of the people around us and of the people we left behind back on earth. So people who commit suicide will likely sooner or later become aware of the emotional trauma that their suicide has caused for people who loved them and cared about them back on earth. They will have to deal with that as well as with their own anguished mental and emotional state that brought them to the point of committing suicide in the first place.

      On the positive side, any factors contributing to the suicide that were largely or purely physical, such as physical illness or mental illness with a physical basis (such as brain dysfunction) will fade away in the afterlife as the person progresses from the initial state of focus on external life (as in the world) toward a state of focusing more on their inner, spiritual life.

      Also, there are plenty of skilled angels available to help people through their struggles and traumas in those initial stages after death. If the person who committed suicide is willing to accept help, the healing will progress more quickly. Unfortunately, some people reach the point of committing suicide precisely because they were not willing to accept any help that was offered to them. This may or may not change on the other side.

      It’s a complex picture, and these are all generalizations. What will happen with any particular individual we really can’t say. Each person and each situation is unique.

      • Richard Neer says:

        Thanks, Lee, for the additional insight.

        You say that we, on earth, are surrounded by spirits and angels who enter our thoughts and feelings, and vice versa, though at a subconscious level. Does that mean that lost ones, whether suicides or not, have the ability to interact indirectly with us at will? If they are aware of how loved ones feel and how the trauma of their loss effects them, what compassion can they feel or exhibit? Non-suicide loss is traumatic on those left behind, often for years or even the rest of their lives. Does this not torment the spiritual being just the same, or are they detached form this if their death was not brought on by suicide or, perhaps, some some other wretched act?

        Also, based on your comment above, does that mean our thoughts and feelings are simply an ‘open book’ and not private? If so, wouldn’t the departed want interaction via thoughts and feelings with those left behind, or are they so distracted in their new realm they really don’t pay much attention or simply not have the capacity or capability to do so? Are they always aware of our thoughts? Do they know if we experience joy or sorrow, depression or anxiety? How does that impact their lives and their happiness or contentment?

        If they can know our thoughts all the time, they should be working diligently with the NSA and Homeland Security to get them straightened out!

      • k.l. rider says:

        I formerly sought (and messed up that time) to commit suicide-or as I prefer to say, just release from my physical ailments, strictly because of noncurable, progressive PHYSICAL things wrong with me that in near future will make it impossible for me to take my own life without assistance. I just wanted to take care of it before was no longer able to-don’t want to put that burden on someone else…does that mean I will have “emotional trauma” to work out too?

        • Lee says:

          Hi, k.l. rider,

          Thanks for your comment. I am sorry to hear about your physical illness.

          I can’t really answer your question because I’m not in your shoes. I don’t know your circumstances, your relationships, and so on.

          This article is about people who take their own lives in the throes of depression, hopelessness, and emotional trauma.

          Ending one’s own life in the face of terminal illness, or illness that will inevitably render one unable to function reasonably in this world, is another topic entirely. Its results in the afterlife will depend on personal and social attitudes. Some individuals and societies see suicide as acceptable under these circumstances; others do not.

          People who believe they are doing something evil and wrong will suffer for it because they are violating their own conscience, which brings about inner turmoil. However, those who see something as a normal and acceptable part of life will not experience that inner turmoil if they do it.

          My own belief is that those who would die in the normal course of events, and who do not wish to continue living or are so far gone that they cannot express their will on the subject, should be allowed to die rather than being artificially kept alive through medical means. In these cases, treatment should be limited to pain control and tending to the person’s comfort. Death is a natural part of life, not something to be staved off as long as possible when one’s effective life is over. (See the article, “When Death is a Celebration.”)

          Some people facing terminal or incapacitating illness choose to stop eating–which, contrary to popular belief, is not usually a horrible and painful way to die. Animals in the wild commonly stop eating when they are seriously ill. Force feeding people who choose to stop eating when facing terminal illness is, in my opinion, a violation not only of human freedom but of the laws of nature. If artificially ending a person’s life is considered wrong, why is artificially extending a person’s life considered right?

          As for actively taking one’s own life, that is and always been a personal decision. Those who are at peace with that decision will take the same peace about it with them into the afterlife. Those who commit suicide in a depressed or emotionally traumatized state will take their depression and trauma with them.

          The mind, with all its thoughts and feelings, continues onward. The body, with its physical frailties and ailments, is left behind.

          If you are still thinking of taking your own life while you have the chance, the only other thing I would suggest is that you consider those who care about you, and how it would affect them. You might be bringing peace to yourself at the expense of bringing emotional pain and trauma to those around you. That also might follow you into the afterlife, since you will still have an emotional connection to them. Their emotional state can affect your emotional state even when you are separated from them by death. And the knowledge that you had hurt them might weigh heavily on you.

          However, as I say, I’m not in your shoes. Only you can assess your own situation and your own relationships–and also any laws where you live that might have a financial effect on your loved ones and heirs–and make that decision for yourself, taking all the various factors into account as best you can.

          In short, consider all factors carefully first. If you succeed in taking your own life, you will not be able to undo it if you have regrets afterwards.

          Okay, I’ll suggest one more thing: If there is someone you trust enough to talk this over with, that might be helpful to you also. Sometimes getting another perspective can throw new light on situations that seem to have no solution.

          I do hope that one way or another, you are able to find relief from your suffering.

  4. Richard Neer says:

    PS – you need to get a spell-checker in here! Sometimes those goofy errors just smile right back and distract us from the real truth!!

    • Lee says:

      My browser seems to have a built in spell-checker. I don’t know if WordPress-hosted sites have that capability. If there’s a typo that bothers you, let me know and I’ll fix it. And please do let me know if you see a typo in any of the articles. Thanks.

      • Richard Neer says:

        Hi Lee,

        If you can edit “subconcious” to “subconscious”, “some some wretched act” to “some other wretched act”, and “immpact” to “impact”, that would be great. Thanks! It does seem to make a difference which browser is used to post with.

        I’m curious about your interpretation of how the spiritual realms ‘sees’ us and their ability to cognitively direct their attention our way, specially in light of the fact that nearly every passing, suicide or not, leaves behind those who may suffer greatly, and for long periods of time, from the loss.

        Realizing that those long periods of time are mere instances in all eternity does not detract from the level of impact they have upon us here in the mortal realm, nor the absolute suffering that may be experienced during those times.

        I would think that, even if we cannot consciously be aware of their presence or feel their love directly, they would want to be close to continue to share in the love they had while they were here, as well as share the grief of their loss, no? If they cannot (or choose not to) interact with us subconsciously as you describe above, then who are the spirits who do? Is this by choice or simply happenstance? What allows them to do so?

        • Lee says:

          Hi Richard,

          I made those fixes. I’ll gather together your last two substantive comments and respond to them both here.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Richard,

          Another great batch of questions!

          First, the spirits who are closest to us are usually not angels in heaven or devils in hell, but rather are more recently departed (from earth) spirits still in the intermediate state between heaven and hell that Swedenborg calls “the world of spirits.” This is where everyone first goes after death, before finding his or her permanent home in either heaven or hell. Under certain circumstances angels and devils can interact with people on earth directly–mostly when the person on earth is either already fully angelic or hellish in nature while still living on earth. But for ordinary people, interaction with the spiritual world happens primarily through spirits in the world of spirits.

          The reason for that is that the spirits surrounding us are there due to a similarity of their mental and emotional states (meaning their spiritual states) to ours. And since we are living in the material world, the spirits with us are most likely to be ones still in the world of spirits, whose mental and emotional state is still fairly similar to what it was here on earth.

          So to answer your question about whether those who have passed on have the ability to interact indirectly with us at will, the general answer is no. They will be close to and interacting with those who are in a state of mind similar to their own.

          Of course, if lost loved ones are in a similar state of mind to those they left behind, then they may very well be associated with one another. This is common with married couples who were truly in love with one another, and were one in spirit. I have spoken with people who felt the presence of their spouse who had died.

          However, it would likely be much less common for suicides, who were (and probably still are for a time) in a dark, depressed state of mind of the sort that prompts a person to self-harm. At least at first, they would more likely be associated with people in similar states of mind here on earth, rather than with people who are grieving them–who would be in a very different state of mind.

          Under certain circumstances it is possible for spirits to have conscious communication with people still living on earth. But these days that is rare because of the materialistic focus of most people’s minds.

          The spirits contacted through spirit mediums are just as likely to be impostors as they are to be the actual person who has passed on. Contacting spirits through spirit mediums is not a reliable way to get good information about people who have died and moved on to the spiritual world.

          However, sometimes God does allow direct contact, usually of a fairly fleeting nature, but sometimes more substantive, when God sees that this will be spiritually beneficial to the people involved. Usually this is something that comes unbidden rather than being sought out by the people on either side.

        • Lee says:

          About lost loved ones feeling the trauma effects of those they have left behind, though I do think that some of this happens, it is also moderated under God’s guidance to avoid overwhelming the people who have died.

          If we were to feel even for an instant the vast effects of everything we do, positive or negative, it would be too much for us to bear. So God mercifully limits what we sense and feel to keep it within the bounds of what we can handle without having all of our mental and emotional fuses blown.

          This doesn’t mean we won’t sometimes feel overwhelmed with positive or negative emotions due to the presence of the spirits around us. But it will not go beyond what we have the capability of dealing with in some form or fashion, unless we bring it upon ourselves. We can open ourselves up to things we shouldn’t really have access to through willful use of drugs, spiritism, certain focused meditation techniques, and so on, when we are not in a genuinely spiritual state of mind, but are wrapped up in ourselves and our own experience. If we do that, God cannot fully protect us from the effects because doing so would violate our freedom. So none of this should be taken to mean that we can’t be harmed by the influence of spirits around us.

          However, the general rule is that God, sometimes working directly, sometimes working through angels, moderates what we become consciously aware of so that we can continue to have a sense of identity, and remain intact in that identity. This is why in general, people who have committed suicide will not feel or experience the full trauma that they have caused for others. Only enough will get through to make them aware of the effects of their actions so that they can see with some clarity themselves, their state of mind, and its effects–and if they are willing, move forward on a path toward healing based on that understanding and insight.

        • Lee says:

          About our thoughts and feelings being an open book, they are and they aren’t.

          No, none of our thoughts and feelings are truly private. They are shared with the spirits around us. However, under ordinary circumstances, when spirits are engaged in our thoughts and feelings, they are not engaged in their own. So there is no direct communication into their own conscious awareness of the things we are thinking and feeling.

          This is tricky to understand, I realize. That’s because we here on earth are only in the infancy of understanding how the human mind and spirit work, how we interact with one another spiritually, and what the spiritual world is like.

          The spiritual world is fundamentally different from the material world in that there is no fixed, objective reality outside of the human mind. There is a reality out there, but that reality is continually created and molded according to the state of mind of the angels, spirits, and devils in the vicinity. (This is not technically “creating our own reality,” since it is created in response to our thoughts and feelings, not by our thoughts and feelings. But it’s enough like “creating our own reality” that we can loosely refer to it as such.)

          This means that angels, spirits, and devils live in an environment that reflects their spiritual state, which is the same thing as their mental and emotional state. In a very real sense, they live in a world of thoughts and feelings, and see images of their thoughts and feelings all around them.

          This means that when spirits inhabit our thoughts and feelings, it’s not some objective, observational type of thing, like a scientist observing a mouse in a maze from outside the maze. Rather, spirits actually enter into the world of our thoughts and feelings, and inhabit it while they are with us, unaware that it is our thoughts and feelings, not their own, that they are inhabiting. While they are doing this, their own conscious thoughts and feelings go quiescent.

          However, even that is a bit of a paradox, because the reason they are inhabiting our particular thoughts and feelings is that we are in a state of mind and heart similar to theirs. Spirits are drawn to people on earth who are in a spiritual state similar to their own. So in another sense, they don’t have to go outside of their own thoughts and feelings since they are associated with and inhabiting the minds of particular people on earth precisely because those minds match their own mental state.

          Once again, I realize that this is a bit mind-blowing, and beyond the way we normally think of our thoughts: as something personal to ourselves, and not connected with the thoughts of others. But the reality is that if we were cut off from contact with the spirits around us, we would not be able to think and feel at all. Our thoughts and feelings are spiritual things, and they flow from the spiritual world. Take away contact with the spiritual world, and our mind ceases to function, while our bodies become inanimate lumps of organic matter.

          So back to your question, yes, our mind is an open book, but that doesn’t mean there are spirits inspecting us like specimens. Rather, they are fully engaged in the inner, spiritual elements of our minds, and live within those elements as if it were their own native environment while they are with us. They do not realize that they are associated with people on earth any more than we realize that we are associated with spirits in the spiritual world.

        • Lee says:

          Having said all that, there are circumstances under which angels, spirits, and devils do become consciously aware that they are in communication with people on earth, and vice versa. If these communications are initiated by God for good and spiritual reasons, they result in a wonderful sense of revelation and spiritual opening on the part of the person on earth.

          However, if they are sought out based on any form of ego or of self-absorbed motives on our part, they can be very destructive. This is why God generally doesn’t allow this sort of conscious contact. Even many people who think of themselves as being very enlightened and spiritual are actually engaged more in pride and a sense of their own enlightenment and elevation above others. Any spirit contact they manage to bring about only increases their sense of ego and self-absorption. This can cause people who aspire to spiritual leadership while retaining their own ego and pride to spiral into a destructive form of megalomania, and do tremendous damage to their followers. Years ago when I was living on the west coast the small community I lived in received an influx of people who were fleeing from just such a spiritual community gone awry through the spiraling ego of its spiritual leader, which resulted in many serious abuses of his followers. We read about other such cases periodically in the news.

          These are object lessons in why God does not ordinarily allow us to have conscious communication with spirits. If we were truly spiritual–meaning truly motivated by love for God and love for our fellow human beings–it would be different. Sadly, that is simply not the case for many of us here on earth. Or if it is, it’s incomplete and partial, and mixed with self-centered and materialistic motives.

          For those who have had a spiritual experience unbidden, if it has brought about peace and comfort, and a sense of spiritual hope and aspiration that sustains them, then it is a gift from God, and something to be thankful for.

        • Richard Neer says:

          Thanks Lee.

          I think I need more coffee after that discourse!

        • Lee says:

          If you ask big questions, you’ll get big answers! 😛

        • Lee says:

          I think this responds to most of your questions. If I’ve missed something important, or you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  5. Unwell says:

    What if you’re suffering too much to go on and there’s no end in site? You have no quality of life left. I think God is SELFISH for not letting us go.

    • Unwell says:

      Or for judging us negatively for ending relentless suffering with none of the good parts of life left.

      • Lee says:

        Hi Unwell,

        Thanks for your comments. I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling and suffering.

        I probably should have clarified in the article that this piece is not intended to deal with suicide among terminally ill people. That is a whole topic of its own. Western society has generally frowned on ending one’s own life early when terminally ill. In some other cultures, it is perfectly acceptable, and may even be considered the right thing to do.

        This is a very personal decision–and I don’t believe God will condemn anyone who exits a little early when death is staring them in the face.

        Also, I think it is generally wrong and mistaken to keep people alive through artificial means when they would normally die of natural causes, and there is no reasonable hope that they will have any quality of life. Just because we can keep many people alive, it does not necessarily mean we should keep them alive.

        However, I don’t know what your particular situation is, so I can’t really comment on it. I do hope you find the help you need to deal with your suffering and struggle.

  6. James says:

    We can have an ‘idea’ about what we ‘think’ happens after death or whether there’s a heaven and a hell, angels and demons, spirit guides etc. But it does not make it so. NDE’s are NDE’s and not DE’s. NDE’s cannot be validated precisely because they are what they are…. NDE’s.So, at most they offer a glimpse of what may happen on your way to death but not when you ultimately die and accounts vary widely. How can anybody really know? Please explain this without using a biblical reference or by way of theology? Where do you learn your ‘truths’ from? Directly from experience? Isn’t Part of life is not knowing?

    Are you aware that the adaptation of Christian Cult by the Roman Emperor Constantine became Christianity as we know it today?It was adopted precisely as a means to subjugate the masses.It was about power and control.The aspiration to be godly or god like had little or nothing to do with it.He saw how he could utilize it to gain favour and control of large masses of people hence expand the empire.The bible has been edited and reedited throughout history to become the perfectly ‘evolved’ story. Is has been subject to evolution just as we have as mammals. Have you ever really questioned its origins and its teachings? I mean REALLY thought it through about where that belief system is coming from? Why are such concepts necessary? Concepts by there very nature evolve and change.Where as principals remain fixed.

    In my humble opinion most peoples concept of God is completely flawed. Mostly,it has been handed down and spoon fed via religious ideology from their families and peer groups. I mean if you had been born in another country where the dominant faith were Muslim, you would most likely be a Muslim and likewise hold that belief system? But aside of that the ‘ truth’ remains the ‘truth’. Most people never have never had the chance to think or feel for themselves or come to there own awareness about the reality of life and death unfolding before them. Religion can be considered a medium in which people try to make sense of their existence,purpose and meaning and try to relate to God from a human perspective. It has been said that we are made in the image of God. But I think we made God to reflect our own imagine so we could relate to ‘him’.

    Could you ever conceive casting aside all you preconceptions of what you think God,under the guise of religion is, in order to free yourself from the ‘man-made’ concepts proliferated by religious text? In other words ‘kill’ your idea of God the one you’ve held as long as you remember? The majority of religious people find that idea extremely threatening. Why wouldn’t they?! By maintaining the Christian belief system and identity you are going to be ‘saved’ and someone up there after all does ‘care’. We can take a lot of comfort in that.We can still hang onto the identity of ‘I’ of ‘me’ being ‘me’ spending forever in eternity with our loved ones.

    For example; Let us say I was born in 2015.So, I just appeared out of ‘nothing’ inspite of the fact that the universe was born according to the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago and then I die in 2100. According to the bible and the Christian belief system I go to heaven if I lived a good life and hell if I lived a bad life for ETERNITY….That’s right…ETERNITY..that logic is entirely questionable. Time is in fact circular, not linear. Linear time is a man-made concept. And why would a merciful God create beings that he/she sentences to eternal damnation?Why? And why are we born sinners under the Christian ideology? And why would I chose to spend such a short period as a ‘spiritual being’ in a human body throughout all of time, when time is in fact endless.

    I do believe in a form of higher intelligence and It’s only human nature to try to build a story around God.What happens at death is a mystery and we will never know and that is the mystery of life.I don’t assume I know what happens after we die.But if there is a God, we are surely an expression of that ‘God’,that ‘God’ is living life through each and everyone of us right now. God surely doesnt care weather you are religious or not, only that in fact you carry out good deeds.

    God and you and I and every creature on this earth are not separate or separated,we are all one of the same. This ‘truth’ of life is all around and evident everywhere, unfolding before our eyes. It’s simply the coming and the going and ‘consciousness’ experiencing that change…. that is it! Why does it have to be anything else…why?…because its too scary for most people, almost incomprehensible that the very concept of the ego identity is lost along with the body at death.Painful to accept as it may be. Why do we need to go somewhere? Why do we have to cling to that idea? We come into physical being when the time is right,we cease to exist in physical plane when the time is right.we are all subject to the laws of nature just like every other living organism on this planet. But of course suicide or an untimely death cuts that short.

    We are all marching towards death, but we all live and die again and again in some shape or form.
    As part of the collective conscious experiencing itself. How do I know this? Because I am that and I can see it with my own eyes happening every day all around me. That is the truth and the only truth I can confirm. Life is a circle and I don’t require a book to know that or someone to tell me otherwise to know that I can see it for myself.

    It’s not possible to know what happens when we commit suicide. But given the law of cause and effect also known as ‘karma’ there must be some form of consequence and repercussion. Most likely experienced within the faith and outcome of the perceivers the next incarnation.

    Could you ever conceive exploring the concept of existence by putting aside all your preconceptions about God…death and the afterlife..Angels, demons, heaven n hell? If you look around you and observe reality of the world you must clearly understand that life is but a continuous circle of karma death and rebirth?

    • Lee says:

      Hi James,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with some parts, and not with others, as might be expected.

      I think it is possible to know what happens after death. There is plenty of information about it in NDEs, and in many different ancient and modern texts. Though there is much variety, there are also common threads from which we can gain a reasonably accurate picture of what the afterlife is like. And of course, there are the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, who spent almost thirty years exploring the spiritual world, and reported his discoveries in many volumes of his spiritual writings, especially in his most popular book, Heaven and Hell. For a basic summary of what we experience after death, see my article, What Happens To Us When We Die? And for some of the common threads in NDEs, see the video series I reviewed here.

      I do agree with you that the Nicene Council held in 325 AD under the Emperor Constantine was the beginning of the end for Christianity as a genuine reflection of what Christ taught. Not only did Constantine turn “Christianity” into a state religion, thus corrupting it, but the doctrine of the Trinity codified by the Nicene Council is utterly false and non-Biblical, and led to the complete falsification of Christian doctrine. For more on this, see these articles:
      Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
      What is the Biblical basis for disbelief in the doctrine of the Trinity?
      Christianity is Dead. Long Live Christianity!

      And for a better and more Biblical view of God, see:
      Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?

      You’ll find if you read through these and some of the other articles here that I do radically question, and reject, many traditional “Christian” teachings that are, in my view, entirely false, even if some of them are held by hundreds of millions or even billions of Christians. See: “Christian Beliefs” that the Bible Doesn’t Teach.

      As for your particular beliefs, I have no need or desire to challenge them. If they help you to keep your life on track and moving forward toward better things, that is a good thing, and there’s no need to debate about who’s “right.” See:
      If there’s One God, Why All the Different Religions?

      Thanks again for your thoughts, James.

  7. Mummy's girl says:

    That was an encouraging read on suicide. I’ve been depressed and contemplating it but what you’ve written here has enlightened me. I pray for strength and courage to wait for my time. Thank you Lee for the encouraging words.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mummy’s girl,

      I’m very glad it is helpful to you. Suicide is by nature a difficult and painful thing to face. Our thoughts and prayers are with you to make it through, to live out your life, and to find some good in this life that will give you reason to live.

      One more thing I would add here to my other responses to you on other articles is this: I encourage you to find ways that you can do good things for other people, and help them along life’s path.

      Depression and suicidal tendencies usually involve an inward emotional spiral in which our whole heart and mind gets focused on our own suffering and pain. And that suffering and pain is very real! But if we keep focusing on it all the time, it will suck us in, and lead us to despair and death.

      Forcing ourselves to focus at least some of our mental and emotional energy on others, and on their struggles, their needs, and what will give them comfort and joy, helps us to break that inward emotional spiral within ourselves, and focus more on our relationship with others and less on our own pain.

      This can be very hard to do, especially at first. But it is, I believe, one of the best antidotes to the feelings of darkness, emptiness, and futility that lead people to take their own lives.

      Once again, like everything else, thinking about others and helping others is not a magic pill. You will still have to face and deal with your own pain. But focusing our minds and actions on other people’s needs provides a great counterbalance that helps us make it through.

      Ultimately, if as you grow toward adulthood you focus your life on some good work that is beneficial to others, it will be a constant healing force in your life, while also giving your life meaning.

      So in addition to seeking out others who can help you through your pain, my other counsel is to think about what you can do with your life here on earth to bring comfort and joy to others. It may be something grand or it may be a simple life of doing some ordinary job that is helpful to others. But it will be one of your greatest healers. It will give your life meaning, so that your thoughts of suicide will become less and less over time as you build relationships and find a purpose for yourself in this life.

  8. Tony says:

    hi lee
    I am not sure what is meant by permanent character but if our charactor is permenant then why does the so call spiritual world all about getting better cos if you were say a bad person when you died you can’t change that even if you do get into heaven ultimately.Also is it possible to set aside all that you were before you died and just start with a clean slate, say if you were a good person with some bad character flaws for instance?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Tony,

      Good questions!

      The Biblical image I was referring to in the article was about a pot being formed on the potter’s wheel and then fired into its permanent form. That is simply a metaphor, though, and doesn’t correspond perfectly to the human situation. Yes, some parts of our character are “fired” and become permanent at death. But we are still living beings, not inanimate objects, so we still do grow and change in some ways, unlike a pot that’s been fired.

      The permanent part of us is the basic, underlying character we have developed here, which is determined primarily by what we love most, and what we therefore focus our life on. That underlying character does not change after death. We do still learn and grow in heaven, but we learn and grow in the direction set by our basic character. For more on this idea, see the section on “The Hierarchy of Loves,” and the sections right around it, in the article, The Spiritual Anatomy of Physically Abusive Men. (I plan to write up the hierarchy of loves as a separate article at some point, but have not gotten to that yet.)

      As an earthly example, think of a person trained as a surgeon. He or she will likely remain a surgeon throughout his or her career, but can continually become more and more skillful as a surgeon, thus growing in the practice of that art and profession. In the same way, our life here on earth determines our heavenly “career,” but we continue to grow in love, knowledge, and skill in that “career” to eternity in heaven.

      According to Swedenborg, our basic character does not change after death. So we cannot simply set aside all that we were before we died and start with a clean slate. The life that we live here on earth, and the person we become here on earth, will have an eternally determining effect on our life in the spiritual world. That’s why it’s important to do the best we can here on earth, and not throw up our hands and wait until our life here is over in the mistaken notion that we can just fix everything up after we die. Those who operate in that way will be sorely disappointed when they reach the other world after death.

      However, any more outward parts of ourselves that don’t accord with our true inner character will be pushed to the side and marginalized in the spiritual world, so that most of the time we are not even aware that they have ever existed as part of our human experience. This means that “if you were a good person with some bad character flaws,” those flaws will be set aside, or at least greatly diminished, in the spiritual world, and the good person that you are underneath will determine what your life is like there.

      For more on exactly how this happens, please see the article, What Happens To Us When We Die?

  9. N says:

    If God is what you write he is,
    then God is a selfish and ignorant idiot.

    However I do believe in a God that understands suffering, discrimination, abuse, sexual abuse, trauma, social stigma, addiction AND MENTAL ILLNESS, that comes from heredity or/ and is caused by those things.

    I believe in a GOD that stands up for everyone, regandless of their situation on earth.

    I BELIEVE IN A GOD WHO CARES and sees people for what they really are and have gone through in life.

    You should see past your own privilege and ignorance before writing these black/white thinking ignorant stuff.

    And the title to your blog-post: “Does suicide work?” is deeply offending.
    Do you think people who take their own lives in desperation tortured by their demons and by their circumstances in life are thinking if it woud work??

    I don’t believe that you have been living in hell on earth.
    No one deserves the pain that suicidal people experience.

    I hope you understand what I am saying, and that you’re contemplating to learn about mental illness, rape traumas, abuse, social stigma discrimination and addiction.

    • Lee says:

      Hi N,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      Believe me, I do understand the situation of those who struggle with various forms of abuse, trauma, mental illness, social stigma, and so on, from people I have known personally over the years, from people I have served over the years, and yes, on some of these issues from my own personal experience as well. Please don’t jump to conclusions about what I have and have not experienced.

      We can rail at God if we want to, and it can be cathartic to do so. The prophets in the Bible commonly rail at God. But once we’ve gotten it out of our system, it’s time to sit down and face reality.

      And the reality is that for those who have suffered discrimination, trauma, sexual abuse, mental illness, and so on, the effects on the psyche are deep and systemic. Many people never do overcome these things here on earth, and many do kill themselves because it gets to be too much. For those who do experience some recovery here on earth, it is a years- and even decades-long process of intense personal work, counseling, and therapy. The wounds are deep, they take many years to heal, and even then there are still scars.

      This is the reality for those who suffer these things.

      For those who don’t make it to such healing here on earth, suicide is an escape valve that is, tragically, all too common.

      And yet, we still have to be realistic about what happens next. Moving from the physical world to the spiritual world doesn’t suddenly and magically change us into a whole different person. We bring with us all the emotional trauma we have suffered, still stamped on our psyche.

      It is true that our physical and mental handicaps are taken away in the spiritual world. However, we humans need a time of transition in order to avoid shock to our system. So even when it comes to our physical and mental handicaps, removing them in the spiritual world is a process rather than a sudden event. That way we can get used to our new life free from our old handicaps and illnesses.

      There is a good reason healing takes time. We humans need that time to heal and come to wholeness.

      The psychological effects of our traumas do not just suddenly go away with a snap of the fingers. The trauma and abuse we have suffered here is still with us, and we still need to heal from it. And unfortunately, as loving as the angels who meet us may be, for those who are suicidal the demons who drove them there do not just go away either, because they have become a part of the victim’s mind and experience.

      As I say in the article, committing suicide does not damn us to hell. And we will have better, more loving, and more skilled help there to face and overcome the issues and experiences that dragged us so low in life that we took our own life. And yet, we still do have to face and overcome our personal demons, even in the spiritual world, because unfortunately, they have become a part of our experience.

      That’s the basic message of the article. And as much as you or I may not like it, human experience tells us that this is the reality of the after-effects of all the shocks, traumas, and physical and mental illnesses that we humans suffer, even if it is through no fault of our own.

      God is indeed loving and merciful. And God will lift us up from the things that have laid us low. And God will do this through a process of healing. Ideally it will take place here on earth. But if it doesn’t, it will take place in the spiritual world. Still, there is no getting around the process of healing—and that process usually involves much pain and struggle along the way. That’s simply the nature of the human situation.

  10. Anon says:

    My comment was written out of despair. Thank you for understanding and replying.
    In another article you wrote that every child and teenager who commits suicide goes to heaven, regardless of what they have done in life because of that they have not chosen for themselves their growing up circumstances in life and they haven’t reached an age in which they have seen every option, or perhaps even met or could have the strength to accept love from other people (for example because they are afraid or don’t think they are worthy of it).
    I would think many teenage suicides stems from that thought, that they are not worthy of love, that they feel they would never succeed in getting the unconditional love, and that thought can come for many reasons (for example the wounds that we stated earlier?).
    Anyway it made me calm to read that every teenage suicide or other death are being taken care of by Gods love… Teenagers are so confused…
    But it’s still a mystery to me why older adults with these struggles aren’t given the same mercy which God?
    Would God let self-hating adults go if they thought they didn’t deserve love, if they hated themselves, and if their life had indeed been about material things and gaining power, because of the lack of love in their upbringing and additional trauma and mental illness?
    I came upon one website that said that Swedenborg was indeed forgiving when it came to mental illness, because he meant that the person could not think rationally, and therefore had to be brought to think rationally to go forward. I read somewhere it was the same with people who were influenced by drugs or alcohol.

    If you take away the mental illness, and drugs, that have influenced the brain, wouldn’t you see that it wasn’t their rational mind and they were on despair or not understanding what they where doing, or delusional (which is the case with manodepressivs for example when they’re in a manic phase, or with psychotic or schitsofrenic people in a psychosis).

    Or with people with other diagnosis such as in the autism spectra or borderline personalities who seem to get tangled up in their thoughts and have a hard time understanding people and their motifs, and misunderstand things and feel alone and misunderstood, and also are prone to more trauma because of that evil people see that they can take adnantage of them, and they often get bullied as well,

    I feel like I’m rambling a little…

    I am in despair and grief and I want proof of an all loving and understanding God.
    And I thank you for answering my questions in my search for love.

    There are other things I wanted to ask you as well…

    I have read other articles in your blog and I see that you are not black/white, and that you very kindly try to help people regardless of their religion, and that you are humble.

    I am very fast to judge people if I think they are oppressing someone or some group, and that makes me not see the people behind their oppressing (I judge them as evil before really knowing their circumstances), which I think can be a good thing, but also bad and ignorant. Which maybe is a bit of a paradox?

    I have a hard time wrapping my mind around “evil people” in general.
    It’s interesting that the one who have been oppressed in childhood often turns out to be oppressing people in the same way when they grow up…
    Or that people can become the very thing the hate.

    Another thing…

    I do want to believe in Swedenborg, but how can I believe when I read that he was in the spirit world and saw that the Jews are inherently evil and greedy?
    Like Hitler.
    But the difference is that Swedenborg claimed in New Christianity that he saw how the Jews lived in the spirit world, and that the Jews highest love was love of self and the world, love of money before business.
    And how they live: “The streets of these cities are ankle-deep in filth. The houses have so much foul-smelling garbage everywhere that it is difficult to get near them.”
    I would understand if Swedenborg was antisemitic because most people where in those times, but Swedenborg claims that he visits the spirit world and sees these things and learn from angels.
    I’m a Jew and I do want to believe in the teachings as you have described them but how do I go beyond this? And also his views on women and promiscouity that are shameing the women instead of the man-domination and oppressing of women, and blames women (girls???) for prostitution instead of blaming the men, who obviously have the power and violence over women in this exposed and voulnerable labor in which men exercise their power over women though violence and sex… which was everywhere in those times.

    How can I move beyond these things which he claims he have learned spiritually.

    I do want to believe in God as an unprejudiced loving being who understands and is with the victims perspective at all times.

    And I ask you if you could delete my first post to be as anonymous as possible because of the self-revealing content in this one…
    Or maybe not post this one on the blog but answer it?

    Or if you feel you don’t want to or can’t or don’t have the time to answer, I understand, it’s a lot to ask for.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Anon,

      Good to hear from you again. I’m glad that answer was helpful to you. I do believe that God is pure love and mercy. I also believe that God will not interfere with our freely made choices in life, because that would be disrespectful to us, and would strip us of our humanity.

      The question—and it is not an easy one to answer—is exactly which of our choices are freely made? That is something even we ourselves may not be able to sort out. It’s hard to distinguish between what we are influenced to do by our genetics and environment on the one hand, and what we actually choose of our own free will on the other.

      The general principle is that we will not be held responsible for anything we did not freely choose, when we had the ability to make a different choice. If our “choice” is actually determined by our genetics or our environment, or by other factors beyond our control, we will not be held responsible for it or penalized for it when we reach the spiritual world. That’s so even if, as I said in the article and in my earlier comment in response to you, we may still have to go through some hard and painful experiences to move beyond influences and traumas that have become a part of our life experience, even if not of our core character.

      Children and teens are not held spiritually responsible for bad choices because they are not yet fully responsible for themselves—as our civil law generally recognizes when it makes parents responsible for the actions of their children. Of course, there’s a fuzzy line as to exactly where adulthood starts. When does a person become fully responsible for his or her own decisions? Once again, this is a very complex question.

      With regard to mentally ill people, though there are cases in which people drive themselves insane through persistent bad and evil choices, that, I believe, is not true of most mentally ill people. And if, as in the huge majority of cases, people are not responsible for bringing about their own mental illness, they will also not be held spiritually responsible for actions done under the influence of that mental illness.

      People whose mental illness involves never reaching the ability to make adult judgments will be in the same situation as children who die: they will all be freed of their mental illness, and after death will “grow up” from their current mental age to become adult angels in heaven. For people whose mental illnesses do allow them to make at least some adult decisions, once again the general rule is that they will be held responsible only for decisions that they are actually capable of making in freedom.

      I am not willing to say that all mentally ill adults will automatically go to heaven because that, to me, dehumanizes those who do have adult capabilities, and treats them as if they were children and not adults. I believe that God gives us the level of adult responsibility that we are capable of handling, even if it may be diminished, and gives us the ability to make at least some real choices within that diminished zone of spiritual freedom.

      All of this adds up to a tremendously complex human reality. And I think we humans have to have some humility in thinking that we can figure it all out and say whether this or that person is headed to heaven or to hell. But my belief is that God does fully and deeply understand each one of us, and looks at each one of us with love, kindness, compassion, and mercy. And God will not allow any of us to end out in hell if we don’t truly choose and prefer hell based on our own freely made adult decisions within the zone of spiritual freedom that we do have.

      Short version: No one who does not want to go to hell will go there permanently. Only those who die with adult decision-making capabilities who truly want to be in hell, and prefer hell over heaven, will end out living permanently in hell. All others will go to heaven. God does not send anyone to hell. If we go to hell, it’s because we ourselves insist upon it, contrary to God’s love and will for us.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Anon,

      Some of Swedenborg’s statements about Jews are indeed unsettling. Swedenborg was a human being, not God, and he did have his human limitations. In his day and culture, Jews were heavily discriminated against and looked down upon. Western society had not yet developed the level of appreciation for different religions and cultures that is much more common today. So I generally chalk up Swedenborg’s negative assessment of Jews as a somewhat milder version of the virulent anti-semitism that was common in his age and culture.

      The other side of the coin is that unlike his Christian contemporaries, Swedenborg did not consign all Jews to hell, but rather said that Jews and people of all other (non-Christian) religions would find their place in heaven or in hell based on whether they were faithful to God as their religion taught them about God, and lived good lives of love and service to their fellow human beings—which is an integral part of every legitimate religion around the world.

      In Swedenborg’s day, all of the major Christian denominations taught that every Jew who did not become a Christian would go to hell. But Swedenborg sharply disagreed, saying that Jews who lived good and honorable lives according to their own religion would go to heaven, not to hell.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that Swedenborg saw all of humanity as being at a low ebb spiritually during his times. He thought that not only Jews, but Christians as well, both Catholic and Protestant (he had little contact with Orthodox Christians) were in a low, fallen, and unspiritual state. So his negative description of Jews in the other world should be balanced with his negative description of Protestants and Catholics in the spiritual world as well. In Swedenborg’s view, all of humanity had become corrupt, and every church and religion that he was familiar with had fallen to become a dark shadow of what God had meant it to be.

      That was why he believed a Last Judgment was necessary, and actually took place in the spiritual world during his lifetime: to clear the spiritual falsity and filth that had accumulated for so many centuries, and to give humanity a new spiritual start.

      And we have been slowly and painstakingly climbing out of that spiritual mire and filth ever since.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Anon,

      Swedenborg’s views of women were also influenced by the culture of his day. However, I don’t think they are as negative and sexist as you’re saying.

      In particular, he blames prostitution, not on women, but on men. He says that brothels are tolerated in large cities due to the sexual drives of men, not because women are evil. To be sure, he does take a dim view of prostitution, and considers it to be an evil. And he does think of prostitutes as being engaged in an evil business. But to say that he blames it on women and exonerates men is not really accurate.

      Obviously, Swedenborg was writing in the context of the 18th century, and for an 18th century audience. We have progressed greatly since then, including in the area of gender equality. We can’t really expect Swedenborg to write from, or for, today’s cultural views of women and men.

      Having said that, even if Swedenborg saw women as having different gender roles than men, some of which we would not agree with today, he did view men and women as ultimately and ideally being equal partners to one another. He said that a desire for domination by one partner over the other destroys marriage. And in some of his stories of experiences in the spiritual world, he presents women as being wiser and seeing more deeply into the human mind than men do.

      Of course everything he wrote about men and women was expressed in 18th century cultural terminology. How could it not be? But if we look beyond that cultural matrix, Swedenborg offers a surprising (for his day) picture of men and women as equally valuable in God’s sight, and as ultimately equal partners to one another.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Anon,

      A few more thoughts:

      As I said, Swedenborg was a human being, not God. He did receive a tremendous gift from God in being able to experience the spiritual world for nearly thirty years while still living in this one. However, he still could see it only though the eyes of his own mind as it had developed up to that time, and as it developed during those years. So it is inevitable that the things he was seeing and experiencing would be expressed in the form of words and culture appropriate to an enlightened person of the 18th century. It’s unrealistic to expect that he would have at his disposal all of the scientific, moral, and ethical knowledge and developments that have taken place since his time.

      When we read Swedenborg, then, it is still good to do so with our thinking minds turned on, and with a willingness to distinguish between what was revealed to him from God and from the spiritual world and how that revelation was expressed through the mind of a well-educated 18th century nobleman. For more on how I view Swedenborg’s writings, please see this article: Do the Teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg take Precedence over the Bible?

      About deleting your posts, I could do that if you really want me to, but they don’t see to me to be overly self-revealing such that it would be obvious to anyone who was actually writing these things. I’d rather leave them here so that my responses will make sense. But if you really want me to delete them, please let me know.

      Back to your questions and aspirations, I do believe that God is infinitely loving, wise, powerful, compassionate, and good. Unfortunately, we humans are none of those things, and God’s message often gets garbled when it reaches limited and faulty human minds and hearts. See my article: How God Speaks in the Bible to Us Boneheads

      Our search for a loving, unprejudiced, compassionate God is a journey, and it is one that takes a lifetime here on earth, and goes on to eternity in the spiritual world. If we fall short—as we always do—of God’s perfect love and wisdom, we have forever to walk the path toward God’s perfect love and wisdom. We will never stop learning and growing, in the here or in the hereafter.

      So keep searching and keep journeying, and you will gradually find the answers you seek. I hope this blog will help you along on that journey of understanding, toward peace of mind and heart.

  11. Anon says:

    Thank you for answering my questions, and for helping me in my grief of a loved one, and for showing me the way out of my hell.
    I will do my best to get out of it.

    Thank you sincerely & I wish you the best.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Anon,

      You are very welcome. I’m sorry to hear about your loved one. Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you face your grief. If you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  12. Snclark says:

    If Your Soul Feels Dead Does That Make You A Cold /Bad Character In The Afterlife ? How Should I Make Sure My Character Is Good If I Decide To Commit Suicide ?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Snclark,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I am sorry that life is such a struggle for you right now. But keep in mind that you have a lot of life ahead of you, and you will not always feel this way. If you commit suicide, you’ll cut off your opportunity to have that life and move beyond your current sense of deadness in your soul. If you feel tempted to commit suicide, I would urge you to call a suicide hotline or seek out a local counselor or pastor who can help you. In the United States, you can call 1-800-273-8255.

      Whatever your struggles, there is a way out. It may be a lot of hard work, but if you seek out the help and support you need, you can do it. Here are two more articles on this site that might be helpful to you:

      On your specific question, a feeling of deadness in your soul does not necessarily mean you are a bad person. It may mean that you are stuck in a difficult place in your life, and that you need to move forward toward a better place. All of us at times go through dark stretches when we feel dead inside. The important thing is to keep moving, keep doing your daily tasks, keep focusing on doing what you can for the people around you, and keep in mind that God does love you and has good things in store for you even if you don’t see them right now.

  13. Mary says:

    Dear Lee,

    I found your blog through your series of articles on marriage and the afterlife. I was widowed by suicide 9 months ago and your posts are a great comfort to me! I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about marriage and the afterlife and I did not find your articles through my truly obsessive googling but from a support group of fellow suicide widows.

    As I read them however, that awful feeling in my stomach began. “Yes this is all very nice, but if I type the word ‘suicide’ into that search box it will all be destroyed because this comfort isn’t for me or my husband who I am sure this author thinks is wicked and evil and going straight to hell.” That was my thought process. I’m sorry for pre-judging you, but that attitude about suicide is a rampant infection in modern Christianity and it is always surprising to find someone who doesn’t have it. I am so glad I searched, and found this.

    I believe my husband regretted his decision immediately, and I have no doubt he is doing the work required to further himself along. He was a gentle person who never hurt anyone but himself and had a near superhuman empathy for every person on earth. I hope more than anything I get to see him again, as I miss him so much.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mary,

      I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s death. It is especially difficult when it is by suicide. I’m glad you have found some support, and that the articles here are helpful to you as well. Suicide is hard enough as it is. It’s not the church’s job to make things even worse by saying that people who commit suicide will go to hell. The Bible doesn’t say that, so I’m not sure where they even get that idea from.

      I do believe that you will be reunited with your husband when it comes your time to leave this world for the next. By that time I hope he will have been able to work through whatever issues drove him to take his own life.

      Meanwhile, godspeed on your spiritual journey.

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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