Augustine continues (and, we can hope, finishes) tearing apart possible reasons for killing oneself. A person should not kill themselves in order to avoid pain, torture, death at another’s hands, being raped, the possibility of sinning against God or others, or for the sake of never sinning again. He ends chapter 27 with this:

“Is it not impudent … for someone to say to a man, ‘Living, as you do, under the shameless morals of a barbarian, you should kill yourself, for fear of adding to your little sins a more serious one’? How can anyone rightly say this if he cannot without the greatest wickedness say [to a recently baptized convert], ‘Kill yourself, now that you are absolved of all your sins. Kill yourself, lest you commit the same or even worse sins while you live in the world: in a world with such a power to tempt by its impure pleasures, to enrage by its horrible cruelties, and to set at odds with its errors and terrors’? If it is wicked to say this, then surely it is wicked also to slay oneself. If there could be any just reason at all for doing so, surely there could be none more just than this. But since not even this reason is just, then none is.”

The theoretical person he quotes speaks with a horrible kind of logic, but it is a kind of logic. Kill yourself in order to avoid the worst kinds of sins. He has gone through and discussed various kinds of perspectives – avoiding pain as a good, avoiding submission to unjust rulers as a good, avoiding shame, avoiding terrible sins. Here, the logic is that it is better to avoid the worst sins. This is a more Christian perspective – the sins and pains that you commit against another are worse than the sins and pains that others inflict on you. It is better to suffer sin than to sin against others. Chrysostom’s sermons have convinced me (at least in theory; now to live it) that it is not better to provide myself and my family comforts than to help them to develop their souls, even if that means pain and suffering in life. Augustine is describing one possible result of that logic. But as he quotes his hypothetical counselor, it still sounds terrible. I guess he’s right to say that avoidance of future sins would be the most just reason for killing oneself; he’s certainly right to say that this is not anything like a truly just reason for doing so. “Since not even this reason is just, then none is.”

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