The Bible does not speak explicitly about the status of a child who dies without accepting Christ. However, it is the position of most Christians that a fetus, infant, baby or small child will certainly enter heaven. The belief that a child will enter heaven has many Biblical justifications; the most popular of may be 2 Samuel 12:13-23:
“David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate. His attendants asked him, “Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!” He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
The implication is that David, who is assumed to going to heaven, will meet up with the child. I will go to him. Similar Biblical ideas, such as the age of accountability, Jesus’s profession of love for little children, the guiltlessness of children, and others are used to justify this belief. Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae #99 wrote:
“I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion . The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord.“
The theological validity of these beliefs can be examined at a later date. The premise, infants who die go to heaven, is the topic. Starting with a Christian moral imperative – that we want as many people to be saved as possible – let’s examine the logical conclusions of a belief in infant salvation:
Christian Moral Imperatives:
- (MI1): If heaven is the greatest good, one should desire this.
- (MI2): If hell is the greatest suffering, one should avoid this.
These are standard Christian beliefs. They are essentially moral axioms. And they manifest as forms of evangelism, spreading the Word, mission trips and all invitations to church. Scripture indicates that this is the will of God; “God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
Axioms on Sin:
- (AS1): A fetus, infant, baby or small child is innocent and sinless.
- (AS1.a): (Alternately, God makes a way for a fetus, baby or small child to enter heaven despite sin or original sin.)
- (AS2): No adults are innocent nor without sin.
These axioms reflect the previously stated beliefs: in short, infants are sinless and/or God makes a way for them to enter into heaven. This appears to be the most common belief in Christianity, be it Roman Catholicism, mainstream US Evangelism or the version you most likely adhere to.
Conclusions on Salvation:
- (S1): A fetus, infant, baby or small child who dies, being without sin, has a certainty of entering into heaven. (Necessary if AS1 and/or AS1.a are true)
- (S2): An adult who dies, being with sin, has a potential to enter heaven or a potential to go to hell. (Necessary if AS2 is true)
These conclusions reflect standard beliefs as well: Heaven and Hell exist. All infants go to Heaven. Yet, not all adults go to Heaven. To enter Heaven, one must be saved.
Conclusions on Heaven:
- (H1) All fetuses, infants, babies and small children who die go to heaven. (Necessary if S1 is true)
- (H2) Not all adults who die go to heaven. (Necessary if S2 is true)
- (H3) More babies (proportionally) will go to heaven than will adults. (Necessary if S1 and S2 are true)
To sum up: If all infants enter heaven, 100% of all infants are saved. What percentage of adults are saved? Less than 100%. Unless you believe in universal salvation.
The Proof: Given Moral Imperatives (MI1 and MI2) are true and that Conclusions (S1, S2 & H3) are true it follows:
- To ensure salvation one must ensure death as a fetus, infant, baby or small child.
The logical implication is that no one should be allowed to live to adulthood. It puts them at risk of hellfire. It is the only foolproof way to make sure another soul goes to heaven. How do we do that in a legal, safe and the most humane way possible? Abortion. Abortion is no longer an evil, but a supreme good. It ensures the salvation of every aborted fetus, many of whom might experience an eternal separation from God – or worse, eternal torture in hell – if they are not aborted. Would you risk hellfire for your own children, assuming you love them?
Evangelical apologists rarely confront this issue head on. Instead, they will sidestep it. Here is a response by Matt Slick at the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM):
“The reason abortion is wrong is because it is taking the life of the unborn child who has committed no wrong. In other words, the child is not being put to death for a sin that it has committed. It is simply being put to death to make someone else’s life more convenient. It is God who gives life and takes it away. There is an exception though where God makes allowance for capital punishment. “For it [governing authorities] is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil,” (Rom. 13:4). This latter condition is, of course, carried out under due process of law and is reserved for those who “practice evil,” i.e., murderers, rapists, kidnappers, etc.
The unborn do not fall under this category deserving capital punishment. They are simply unborn, human lives. When people have abortions they are taking into their own hands the taking life that is not permitted by God.
Whether or not aborted babies go to heaven is not the issue because the ends does not justify the means. God is the taker of life, not man.”
You may see how this was a blatant sidestep of the issue at hand (“whether or not aborted babies go to heaven is not” is, in fact, the very issue). The act of abortion may be wrong, yet this does not get anyone off the logical hook. The morality of the hypothetical abortion doctor has no effect upon the result. Even by sinning, even if one were to go to hell, one could save every single soul that is born from this point forward simply by aborting.
The abortion doctor might, in effect, be taking a huge degree of sin upon himself to save all of the fetuses souls. Yet, do you remember who also took the world’s sin upon himself to save the souls of others? Jesus Christ. An abortion doctor acting in this capacity would simply be making a sacrifice of himself to ensure the salvation of those souls. You could even compare it to other Biblical acts of infanticide. And Evangelicals have. As William Lane Craig said at Reasonable Faith, in an attempt to justify Joshua committing a genocide in Canaan:
“Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.”
So, Christians, what are you so upset about? Should not those fetuses be happy to be aborted, as Craig said, so that they can quit the earth for heaven’s incomparable joy? Are abortion doctors not, in fact, acting very similar to Jesus and Joshua?