Pastoral Suicide


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Pastoral Suicide
Comments by Phil - 20 Jul 2009

Dear Friends:

I write at the conclusion of an "up-and-down" week.

The "up" component was returning from Summerfest of the North American Vegetarian Society, where I enjoyed the company of 600 other vegetarians as we received information from capable speakers, enjoyed the beautiful surroundings of the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, and feasted on delicious food. The presence of other Christians was most encouraging.

The "down" component of the week began when I returned home and was informed that a pastor in our area had taken his own life. Even though I had met him only once, heard him preach twice, and maintained reservations about his leadership methods, I still felt shock and a sense of numbness about his act.

These circumstances prompted two thoughts:

(1) Christians would be well-advised to address the pressure being experienced by all pastors. The most general explanation for him taking his own life was that he felt trapped and with no way out. Other pastors may feel the same.

(2) The challenging task of addressing at the funeral the circumstances of the pastor's death fell to the associate pastor, a long-time family friend. He remarked, in diplomatic and measured words, that the manner of death was "unacceptable" and "allowed by God, but not approved."

His most declarative statement was the firm and declamatory: "Death was no part of God's original plan." This statement, combined with the influences from Summerfest, prompted me to ask: "If death was not part of God's original plan for humanity, should death be humanity's original plan for bringing animals into existence?" Is it appropriate to artificially inseminate a cow for the purpose of eventually killings her offspring? Is a Christian acting in accordance with God's original plan for creation by hatching a chicken for the purpose of growing it to maturity and killing it?

If the answers to any of these questions if "yes", then the criteria must be exceptional and based upon absolutely proven need. This "meat-inhaling" culture has no biblical support.

Best regards