Church of England lifts ban on Christian funerals for suicides

The Church of England General Synod has lifted a ban on conducting full Christian funerals for those who commit suicide after hearing that there were more people breaking the rule than adhering to it.

(REUTERS /Bobby Yip)A paper butterfly is displayed on a coffin during Asia Funeral Expo (AFE) in Hong Kong May 19, 2011.

Speaking to The Times in an interview, Rt. Rev. Dr. Alan Gregory Clayton Smith, the Bishop of St. Albans, acknowledged that the public's view on suicide had changed as people gained a deeper understanding of mental health. The Church of England previously prohibited clergy from holding standard Christian burials for people who had committed suicide and so they instead had to hold an alternate service, Premier noted.

"The traditional attitude towards the burial of suicides reflected the belief that all suicide was grave sin," Bishop Smith told The Times. "But public attitudes had changed markedly by the second half of the last century as understandings of mental health had developed."

However, the Church of England's stance against assisted suicide remains the same. A senior bishop said clergy will be allowed to object to holding a full Christian burial for someone who died in this manner.

In a write-up published by Thought Co on Feb. 4, it was noted that the Bible contained seven accounts of people who committed suicide, including Abimelech, Samson, King Saul and his armor bearer, Ahithophel, Zimri and Judas Iscariot. With the exception of Samson whose death was hailed as a form of martyrdom, all of those men took their lives out of disgrace or desperation.

The write-up admits that suicide is a sin and even equates it to murder, as Exodus 20:13 emphasized the sanctity of human life. However, it was contended that a person's sins are forgiven the moment he or she accepts Jesus as Savior, as is stipulated in John 3:16.

The writer of the article recalled how a churchmate killed himself out of desperation and because of his inability to end his drug addiction. Although he ended his own life, people at his wake testified how that man had led countless lives to Christ.

In conclusion, it was noted that the only sin that can block one's access to God and send a person to hell is the refusal to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Quoting the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:38-39, nothing - not even death - can keep Christians away from God's love.