Reactions to Pastor’s Son’s Suicide Not a Surprise


Over the weekend, the son of Pastor Rick Warren committed suicide after a long battle with depression. The elder Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, wrote of his son’s struggles in an email to his California church family, calling it a “torture” that never subsided.

Christian leaders are said to be shocked by the negative comments coming from people claiming to be Christians.


I’m not sure why anyone would be so surprised; a quote attributed to Warren himself covers online behavior quite well:

“I just think the Internet has made us ruder.”

So I’m sure Warren himself wasn’t all that shocked by rude things said (though I am sure it didn’t make things any easier for his family). And I’m not all that certain what would make other Christian leaders be so shocked, either.

I read a book written by a pastor — I wish I could remember what book it was — mentioned preaching a funeral of a young man who’d committed suicide. He tried to preach an uplifting message, hoping something good would come from the tragedy and trying his best to ease the parents’ burden, only to be confronted by an angry couple after the service who demanded to know why he hadn’t made mention of the fact that the young man was now surely in Hell because he’d taken his own life. The pastor’s response was perfect, essentially asking them how they’d feel if it was their child and that on top of the death itself, and the knowledge that the death was at his own hand, a pastor would be so cruel as to talk about their child being in Hell on top of it. He then pointed out the obvious: that “fact” isn’t something any of us could know, anyway.

I hesitate to even mention that particular church in Kansas that likes to protest funerals. They call themselves Christians, but they should and display messages of hate, not love.

Just the other day, I mentioned people — some of them Christian — who are so focused on the Second Amendment that they seem to worship guns more than they worship Christ’s message of loving their neighbors as themselves: rather than offering “prayers” for the victims of a knife attack in Texas, they used the occasion to make snarky political comments about gun control.

Unfortunately, some Christians seem to believe that they have all the answers. Anyone who doesn’t immediately agree with everything they say must be the enemy. These folks belong to a group that is so focused on “calling a sin a sin” they they forget an important fact: if you line up 100 people who’ve made the same transgression, you might not find any two who got to that point for the same reason. It reminds me of that whole, “Walk a mile in my shoes” saying. Some are more interested in pointing a finger than spending any time considering the “why.” I don’t suggest that it’s proper to look for excuses, but rather that it makes a difference when you can see how things could happen. In Warren’s son’s case, it was mental illness: suicide is a willful act, but in cases of mental illness, the person is operating from a skewed perspective to begin with, one that someone not in the grips of mental illness might never experience.

It’s easy to be rude when you aren’t willing to consider that behind every problem, there’s a real human being who, one way or another, is walking in pain.

It’s a shame many of us are so quick to lose sight of that.

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.


  • A.W. Tozer once wrote an article asking the question, “Can a Christian in their right mind commit suicide.” In a nutshell, the answer is. “No.” However even Christians can suffer from mental illness and depression. Some of the worlds greatest theologians and historical figures have suffered with depression. C.H. Spurgeon and Winston Churchill come to mind.
    As a pastor, I too was surprised, and disappointed that people who claim to follow Christ could be so mean and hard hearted. I’ve seen that kind of behavior before, first hand, but it still surprises me and I hope it always does. Why? Because we must never accept that kind of behavior as “the norm”. its not Christ-like and concerns me for those who act that way. Will they be among those scripture talks about when it says, “Many will say ‘Lord, Lord’ but He will say, ‘Depart from me, I never knew you.”
    I pray that we who follow Christ would be full of grace and love and let God determine who is in hell, and who isn’t. I’m not smart enough, or impartial enough, to make that declaration. No human is. 
    We need to bring that old hymn back and make it our theme, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

    • Pastor Andy I agree that we shouldn’t ACCEPT it as normal; unfortunately, it’s common enough that I’m surprised by people who’d be surprised it’d even happen. Hopefully, it’ll stop happening to the point that the “surprise” would be legitimate some day.

      • Some Synonyms of the word “surprise” are to astonish or dumbfound. I think that is the catagory of “surpise” we’re talking about, not caught off guard or unaware. Most of the pastors I’ve talked to are dumbfounded by the heartless words and actions of a few and how they could remotely think they are representing the Christ of the Bible. Dumbfounded and saddened.

  • “It’s easy to be rude when you aren’t willing to consider that behind
    every problem, there’s a real human being who, one way or another, is
    walking in pain.”


    • @grirlgrizzly and that, obviously, was not directed at you personally. a general statement. 😉

    • Anytime and no problem! “patricksplace: MCTheWriter Thanks! I appreciate it! :)”

  • patricksplace I’m glad he stood up for that family during such a darkened time…

  • patricksplace to say– but at the same time, a preacher needs to believe that it is no one business to judge, on who’s going to hell or not

  • patricksplace I’ve been to a couple suicidal funerals. It is sad and I’ve experienced the preachers, trying to find the right words (cont)

  • Not everyone claiming to be a “Christian” is in fact a Christian.
    Justin Knight-
    Writing Pad Dad
    <a href=””>Writing
    Pad Dad Blog </a>

  • I get to see many Christians behaving badly, but I also get
    to see a lot more behaving with kindness. But it is the squeaky wheel that gets
    all the attention.

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