At 3:03 am on Wednesday, former New England Patriots super star Aaron J. Hernandez was found hanging in his cell by one of the correction officers at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, where he was serving a life sentence for murder. On his head, a law enforcement officer mentioned, was scrawled the words “John 3: 16” a very well known passage which reads:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Now the question everyone must wonder is “Why did Hernandez choose specifically this passage as his last will and testament?” Well, it’s quite clear that in doing so he’s making a statement that he believed his actions (or sin), wouldn’t have merited him to receive God’s wrath.
But what does Christianity say about this?
According to Robert L. Deffinbaugh, a pastor at Bible Chapel in Richardson Texas, Hernandez’s actions were not enough to make him fall from God’s grace. He says:
“Suicide is sin. God forbids murder (Exodus 20:13) and taking one’s own life is murder.”
He then goes on to say:
“While suicide is [a] sin, it is not the unpardonable sin. The only unpardonable sin is attributing the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus to Satan (Mark 3:20-30).”
Now I’ve listened to a number of debates where Christian Apologists try to argue that not having Guaranteed Salvation is what leads many Muslims to negative things like Terrorism and Murder, yet interestingly enough, here we see almost the exact same concept being played out in the opposite direction. Here, we observe an individual committing one of the most grievous sins (i.e. suicide) and in the process leaves for us clear indication as to why he wasn’t’ prevented from this action.
John 3: 16 (i.e. that he believes he’ll be saved no matter what.)
So this takes me now to the title of this article, “Aaron Hernandez’s suicide is no different than a Suicide Bomber.” Why do I say this? Well, the first reason is because as stated by Pastor Robert above, “Suicide is Murder.” So whether Christians want to admit it or not, in their god’s eyes, Hernandez killing himself was no different than if he had killed someone else.
That’s the first problem. The second problem here is the clear consequence of having a Theology where the concept of salvation is guaranteed. If our Christian friends stopped and thought about it I’m sure they’d realize all the horrible consequences that could arise when someone doesn’t fear God’s wrath. Christians, Muslims and Jews alike all argue these concepts when addressing Atheists and their lack of any concrete moral laws. So if we were to go down the Theological Rabbit hole of guaranteed salvation, in theory, if Hernandez or any other Christian were to go on a murderous rampage ending with a Suicide Bombing, then according to Christian Theology they would all still be saved and guaranteed paradise.
Now I know that using such a tragedy to make this point might seem a little insensitive, but bare in mind that in the field of Apologitics we Muslims have seen Christian Islamophobes almost foam a the mouth every time an Islamic Terrorist attack took place, with many jumping for joy at the occasion to be able to throw a few more cheap shots at the Muslim community.
So it might seem like I’m being hypocritical here, but trust me I’m not. Instead of exploiting tragedies to gain a fake sense of Moral Superiority like many Islamophobes do with Terrorism, what I’m doing is using an incident to wake Christians up to the reality of their own position in the discussion. (i.e. instead of propping me up, I’m bringing them down into the real world. Which is needed if we’re ever going to be able to have a real fruitful discussion about our faiths.)
So to conclude, the reality is that both religions can be misused and misinterpreted. And from the Theological perspective both beliefs, be it Guaranteed Salvation or Salvation based upon works, can have positives and negative consequences. And in the field of Apologetics, anyone could spin the other person’s Theology to prove that it possibly had some influence in the crimes committed by their adherents.
For example we could argue that had Hernandez been a Muslim, he would have never committed suicide in first place. This is because Islam teaches that killing oneself out of distress will merit God’s wrath, and such a person would have to enter hell for some time as a punishment. Later though, if he believed in Tawheed (i.e. Monotheism), then he would eventually be removed from hell and be able to enter Paradise.
The point I’m trying to make is that a religion which has rewards and consequences based upon acts can create a lot of positives and prevent a lot of negatives things within a society. And clearly there is a reason why God warns us in the Old Testament and the Quran that if we do sinful actions, then we’ll be punished, and if we do good actions, then we’ll be rewarded in this life and in the next. Allah says in the Quran:
“And he who comes before Him as a believer having done righteous deeds, exalted ranks are for such people, evergreen gardens beneath which streams flow. They shall abide therein forever and this shall be the reward of those that keep themselves pure.” (20:75-76)
Written by Abu Ayoub