Yeah, the title’s to get your attention – but this is a serious theological thought experiment. Put the horror and outrage to the side for a second, and work through the implications here with me.
For Christians, this is the day that we commemorate that Jesus was crucified as a sacrifice for our sins. (Specific dogmas vary a bit on the “original sin” thing, but the basic point is usually accepted.) And while there is variance as to “how” divine Jesus was — man, fully man AND fully God, or just fully God made flesh — there is agreement that Jesus knew it was coming.
Maybe it was just a matter of knowing that Judas had betrayed Him, but it’s not usually presented that way. Some faiths assert that Baby Jesus knew from day one the whole deal. (Hence the myrrh.) When Jesus went to Gethsemane and prayed, He knew. Knew he was going to die if He continued on the same course, and did it anyway.
Now here’s my serious question – suicide is frowned upon by nearly every Christian denomination. And Jesus effectively committed suicide by cop.
“Ah,” says my hypothetical reader, “but Jesus wasn’t seeking destruction. He was doing something necessary and for a good cause. So it’s totally different.”
Sort of. Those three points have their own problems. Necessary and for a good cause suddenly provide one heck of a big loophole in the “no suicide” argument. They take the rule of “no suicide” and make it into “no suicide unless it’s for a really good reason.” (And then we’re just negotiating the price.)
Not seeking destruction seems like it would be the important bit, but there’s two problems with that. First, it’s based on the idea that there can only be one reason or cause for something… and that all others are irrelevant. Jumping on a grenade may save your comrades — but you’re sure as hell not trying to save your own skin. And second, we’ve made actions irrelevant — only intention matters when determining if something is right or wrong. (And we know what’s paved with good ones of those!)
Every way I try to cut it, Jesus knowing that he was going to His destruction — and choosing to do so despite knowing how easy it would have been to skirt Jerusalem — creates a huge theological sticky wicket.
Your thoughtful comments are welcome — and if you know a way to resolve this ethical/theological conflict, please DO tell me!