Ask Your Preacher
What age is it when you know right from wrong and if you sin you go to hell?
Counting The Years
Dear Counting The Years,
The age of accountability is the age when a child becomes accountable to God for their sins and would be judged for them… exactly at what age that happens is the tricky part of your question. We can tell you what the Bible says on the subject, but it doesn’t say much.
We know any baby that dies goes to heaven. David’s son died, and David made it clear that his son was in heaven (2 Sam 12:23). Also, Paul uses the immaturity of children as an example (1 Cor 13:11). This tells us God doesn’t have the same expectation of a child’s behavior as He does of an adult’s. Children are not bound by the same rules as adults. A child doesn’t have the mental capacity or maturity to be held accountable for their mistakes like adults are.
In order to become a christian, there are several things God expects you to be capable of doing:
- Take responsibility for your sins (Acts 3:19).
- Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
- Be responsible for your own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).
If a child is not capable of doing those things, they cannot be held accountable for their eternal future.
This still doesn’t answer the question though because every child matures at a different rate. Everyone agrees that a five-year-old can’t be held accountable, and that a twenty-year-old can. It is the age spectrum in between where our judgment gets fuzzy. Only God, who knows our hearts (Lk 16:15), can accurately judge the hour in which a child makes that transition into accountability.
If my children were born out of wedlock, are they automatically damned to hell?
Absolutely not. Ezek 18:2-4 says that God holds each person accountable for their own individual sins. It is a sin to have children out of wedlock, but that is a sin the parents need forgiveness for, not the children. Your children are not damned because of your choices.
However, your choices do greatly influence your children’s future. Our kids look to us as role-models and guides. God says that how we train up a child will affect where they go (Pr 22:6).
It is a sign of a healthy parental instinct that you are already worried about your children’s spiritual future. The best thing you can do for them is to make your own life right with God. We would be happy to get you in touch with a faithful church (not all churches are faithful) that can help you get on the right track for you and your children. Just e-mail us at email@example.com, and we will happily assist you in whatever way we can.
I don’t get it. So much of the Bible makes no sense to me. For example, the Flood… the Bible said God flooded the world but saved Noah and Noah's family only. The Bible says the reason this was done was because God saw too much wickedness in the world. But I just can’t imagine every child or baby living then in the world being wicked, but the Bible says God killed them all. But in another verse, I remember hearing it said children and babies are not accountable until, like, a certain age… maybe puberty? So all those kids and babies that were drowned in the flood were innocent, yet killed anyway. It makes no sense at all to me.
Too Tragic For Thought
Dear Too Tragic For Thought,
The Flood was a blessing to Noah and his family because they were saved from the sinful influences of that ever-violent generation (1 Pet 3:20)… but it was also a blessing to those innocent children. You are right; all children are born sinless, and they aren’t accountable for sin until they are old enough to be responsible for their own behavior. All children go to heaven. Read “What About The Children?” for further details on the fate of the young.
It is important to realize that when God ends a life, it is not the same as when another human snuffs a life out. God knows that when a child dies, it isn’t the end of their life but the beginning of a new one. When God ends a life, He also has a new life to offer them. All the innocent children that died in the Flood had no chance to grow up faithfully and turn to God because the generation was so wicked that there was no hope for their future. God redeemed those children from such a horrific fate, and He started the world anew with righteous Noah and his family.
What does the Bible say about abortion? Is it a forgivable sin? What if the doctor said, "It was not growing anyway." I was told that but don't know if it was true or if I was told that because I was extremely upset.
All sins are equal, but some sins have worse consequences than others. In this life, a “little white lie” may not cause you much trouble, but committing adultery will devastate your life. However, in the eyes of God, all sin is deserving of death (Rom 6:23). That “little white lie” will send you to hell just as much as the adultery would. Abortion is such a heinous sin because of how deeply it affects the life and emotional state of the mother and the family and because it destroys a child’s life… but abortion can be forgiven through the blood of Christ. The apostle Paul murdered christians (Acts 26:10), but Christ saved him (1 Tim 1:15). In Christ, you are a new person, and the old deeds have passed away (2 Cor 5:17).
Read “Five Steps To Salvation” to see what it takes to become a christian. You can be forgiven, and you can move forward in life with the peace of mind from knowing you will be reunited with your child in heaven. If you would like help finding a faithful congregation (not all churches are faithful) that can help you move forward, please feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(This question is a follow-up to “Providing For Your Own”)
If a christian adopts a child, and many years later the biological parents of the child come to believe (based upon 1 Tim. 5:8) that they have a responsibility to be raising the child – what should the christian do?
Does God no longer hold them to be responsible for parenting the child?
Do I have the right to keep the child and keep them from doing what they believe is their responsibility to the child and to God? This is a serious matter. Please advise.
Dear Family Ties,
Once someone makes a vow, they are bound by it even if they later regret making it. When a child is adopted, the adoptive family has promised to take that child and make them part of their family – that is exactly why those parents are required to fulfill all biblical responsibilities of parenting. In like manner, when someone terminates their parental rights, they also become bound by their word, even if they later regret their decision.
People often make promises and decisions that they later regret and cannot change. When Esau gave up his birthright for a bowl of stew, he later regretted the decision but couldn’t change it (Heb 12:16-17). Esau gave it up, and that was that. He had to live with the consequences.
The nation of Israel did the same thing when they made a truce with the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites tricked Israel into making a pact with them even though God had warned Israel that this would cause them trouble. Israel murmured about the vow, but they were bound by it (Josh 9:18-20). We are bound by our word even if later we realize we should have done differently.
An adoptive family has total rights to keep the child, and the birthparents have zero rights to take them back. Both have made a vow and are bound by them.
If you have further questions on this issue, feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com, and please remember to include an e-mail address.