No Greater Love Exists....?

Jesus states that there is no greater love than laying down your life for your friends.

If a group of people were captured, and the captures said that one person from the group had to die, and I decided to take the fall for the team, would I have the greatest love or would I be committing suicide in a sense? Would I have to actively fight against my captures until death to not be guilty of suicide?

Another example - A group of five people are stuck in the middle of the ocean on a small raft. The raft will sink because there is too much weight; about one person too much. I offer to jump off. Must I attempt to swim to shore, even though I know there is no way I will make it, to not be guilty of suicide. Or, could I simply jump off and drown?

Please don’t critique the examples (i.e. don’t change my assumptions), simply speak to the principles behind them.

I think it fairly clear from the examples you give the distinction between self-sacrifice for the life/safety of others and the self-indulgent escapism and destruction of the self that can be suicide. It is frequently described as the permanent answer to a temporary problem, and those who contemplate and succeed at suicide are almost universally recognized to be mentally compromised~as it runs against every instinct for self preservation and every moral code that defines the value of human life.

However, to affirmatively chose to sacrifice one’s well-being for the benefit of another is heroic. We see this in the daily examples of soldiers, police, firefighters and other emergency workers. These people are not suicidal. They recognize and serve a purpose beyond their own self-interest and their willingness to subordinate their own needs, comfort and even safety to serve and protect others is honorable and admirable.

I think in this situation it would be considered sacrifice rather than a suicide. Christ and the apostles who were martyred did not actively fight against captures. Fighting back could also lead to another person being sentenced to death. So if you are sacrificing your life out of love like Christ and the apostles it is a moral act. Now if you are volunteering to die because you hate your life and you don’t want to suffer, that would be an immoral act as well as suicide in a sense.

Another example - A group of five people are stuck in the middle of the ocean on a small raft. The raft will sink because there is too much weight; about one person too much. I offer to jump off. Must I attempt to swim to shore, even though I know there is no way I will make it, to not be guilty of suicide. Or, could I simply jump off and drown?

I would say one in this situation would need to make an attempt to stay afloat as long as possible. You may not be able to reach land but there is still a possibility that you could be rescued. To just jump off and drown because you don’t want to try or continue living in that situation I think would be considered suicidal.

God Bless,
Matt

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