Do Babies Go To Heaven?
This question has become a sticking point between me and my wife. It is a given that we will have children at some future point. I’ve been asked this question by counselees. Many of our friends have infants and small children. We both know people who have lost babies through miscarriage, SIDS, accidents, etc. When I worked as a chaplain at Kosair Children’s Hospital, I personally witnessed several dozen infant and child deaths. My wife adamantly affirms that babies who die go to heaven. At this point in my development, I have to say “I don’t know.” Honesty demands such a response from me.
On the surface, it would seem to be an easy answer. We are judged at death on the basis of our works, and babies quite obviously do not have the capacity for willful sin. Babies also cannot yet distinguish between right and wrong. Based on their works, babies would get into heaven.
There is a singular problem here. Nowhere in Scripture do we see salvation outside of Christ. Even in the Old Testament, salvation rests on the promise of God’s redemption of us and nothing else. Only those who place their faith in Christ can go to the Father. Babies, quite frankly cannot do this. They, like all other unbelieving sinners, lack the ability to believe in Christ.
Furthermore, babies are sinners. David wrote that we were conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5), and as such from the moment we were conceived by our parents we became sinners deserving nothing but eternal condemnation.
In addition, through personal experience I have been convinced of the capacity of an infant to sin. I observed one of my friend’s daughters, when she was a little over year old, repeatedly headbutt another infant. She was told repeatedly to stop, and even swatted a couple of times by her mother. Her response? Laughter. Then she would wait until she thought no one was looking, and repeat the headbutting. It was apparent to me that the little one knew what she did was wrong, and that she enjoyed it. I said to myself at that moment, “without Christ she is going to hell.”
Many of you will say, “oh, that’s just an innocent child playing a game,” but no it wasn’t. The other infant was wailing and crying, and my friend’s daughter was intent on inflicting harm. This was quite simply an instance of willful sin.
I could list many other pros and cons for this belief. Instead, I would like to examine each position, pro and con, over the next few days and attempt to reach some sort of conclusion, even if I end up right back where I started, at “I don’t know.” This brief series has relation to the previously mentioned disturbance in the Force, which I believe will finally be revealed next Tuesday evening.
So, join me as we look in to the doctrine of infant salvation over the next few days!