Heartbreak for another pastor’s son lost to suicide

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides smart suggestions on how to address suicidal comments on social media, and the organization is available 24/7 at 800-273-8255.


Isaac Hunter, son of Orlando mega-church pastor Joel Hunter, has committed suicide, reported Christianity Today‘s Gleanings blog two days ago.

Isaac Hunter’s suicide happened about 8 months after Matthew Warren, son of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, committed suicide.

A pastor at Joel Hunter’s church noted, in a blog post, “… Isaac loved Jesus. And we are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ now in heaven (Romans 8:38-39).”

In other suicides that have touched ministries, believers have not been so charitable.

The Gleanings post also referenced a Christian Post article about a pastor’s suicide. Pastor Teddy Parker Jr. killed himself in November.

The article quotes one of the late pastor’s friends, E. Dewey Smith Jr. (also a pastor), who said:

“My friend was sick. He was the most kind, loving, humble, most genuine, loyal person I’ve ever met in my life and he was sick. He had a sickness and that’s it. He had a sickness just like somebody who had cancer and it was a sickness that was beyond his control.”

Smith told Christian Post his friend Parker had manic depression and emotional issues.

Smith also said, “It’s terrible how we blame people. Is it fair to blame a victim for being sick? Is it fair? Is it fair to expect sick people to always be rational? It’s terribly painful for me to watch pundits and people who don’t even know the story to assail and assassinate my friend’s character. I know him. I know his heart. He struggled. He was loving, he was kind” (emphasis added).

However, Christian Post reporter Leonardo Blair wrote, “While many readers have been sharing their condolences for the pastor and his family on CP’s Facebook page, others have damned pastor Parker to hell for taking his life (emphasis added).”

When I looked at the article’s webpage, I noticed a headline in the list of “top stories” on the website: “Many Christians ‘Utterly Unprepared’ to Defend Their Faith, Says Leading Christian Apologist.”

And many Christians are utterly unprepared to make the distinction between a failure of will and an illness of the brain.

I wrote elsewhere about the loss of Matthew Warren, and I’m going to repeat some of what I said before, but this time, with Isaac Hunter in mind.

I’ve had my own battles with clinical depression, and something in Matthew Warren’s story feels non-negotiable and irrevocable. When someone like Matthew Warren has for a father an internationally known pastor with access (as the pastor said in a statement after the suicide) to the best psychological and medical help in the world, I imagine him having God and all of human wisdom on his side. It wasn’t enough….

Today… I’m at a much healthier place, but I’m not going to tell you how I got there. The worst thing I could do would be to talk about how things got better.

That’s because I’m not Matthew Warren. I have no idea what he was feeling, how bad it was, what might have brought it on, what object he might have been looking at when he realized for himself he couldn’t carry on. I just can’t know.

One size fits no one. The worst thing about our culture right now is its plethora of singular answers. So many people claim to have found The Answer or The Secret or The Steps…..

At very least, we should ask, “Jesus is the answer to what?” I’m sure Jesus was an answer for Matthew Warren, an answer for some aspect of him, for some aspect of his life, but Jesus was not the answer he needed when he made his final decision.

I’m inclined to leave you with lyrics from several songs that come to mind. They are all inappropriate. The loss is real and final. There is no remedy. The best we can do is further question the road to suicide.


One response to “Heartbreak for another pastor’s son lost to suicide

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