Do Babies and the Mentally ill Sin thus go to Hell?
justbekindtooall from YouTube asks; “Tell me how babies and people with mental disabilities, sin? What about animals, do they sin?
Answer: First, let’s define what “sin” is. From the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary, the following are definitions of the word, sin:
1a : an offense against religious or moral law
b : an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible
c : an often serious shortcoming : fault
2a : transgression of the law of God
b : a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God
You and I sin when we are not following God’s commandments for us to follow. God gave us the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17) to follow and adhere to so that we know what God considers good and what He considers evil. In God’s telling us to follow the Ten Commandments we know what God considers right for us and what He considers wrong for us. In Mark 12:28-34, Jesus actually breaks it down into the two greatest commandments that we should follow; love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor (everyone around you) as yourself. Just two commandments for us to follow and we (you and I) can’t even do that.
It is in your, my, everyone’s nature (including babies’) to “sin” because Adam and Eve partook from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil against God’s command for them to not eat from it. From that point on, because Adam and Eve are our oldest set of ancestors (btw; the Human Genome Project confirms that we are all from a set of common ancestors which the Bible has always said was so), we (everyone, you, and me, including babies) have sin in our nature. Animals do not sin because they were not created in the image of God as you and I were and were not given as we were the ability to reason with knowledge of right and wrong.
When Adam was told by God to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam knew at that point, right and wrong. Adam knew wrong was eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because God told him to not eat from it. Adam knew it was right to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because God told him to not eat from it. Once Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam knew the difference between good (God) and evil (Satan). In other words after Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam knew it was good to follow God’s commandments and that it was evil to follow Satan’s temptations. You and I know what is right and what is wrong. We don’t just always do what is right because what is wrong is just too tempting for us to do because we think we will get some pleasure out of it.
Babies do not per se “sin” yet they are capable of sinning. Have you ever heard of having to teach a child to be selfish? Think about it, most children at the age of two (some sooner others later) have to be taught to “share” their toys with other children… and it’s not always an easy task to teach and some children never learn it. These children who don’t learn sharing grow up to be very selfish adults. At some point in a child’s life ‘adolescence’ (as it happened with you and me), the child acknowledges right from wrong. Not that we always do (or even at times admit) what is right when we should do what is right, yet, we know what is right and what is wrong. At after that point, the child not doing what is right when he/she should have done it or is doing something that is wrong when he/she knows it is wrong, and knowing the consequences of the offence, the child is sinning. You know, our conscience; that little voice God put inside each of your and my head that we don’t always listen to which tells us what is right and what is wrong, what we should have done when we didn’t and what we should do but don’t always do.
In Luke 18:16-17 Jesus tells us that Heaven belongs to children (including babies). “But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” (Luke 18:16-17) From this, we know that children are considered innocent by Jesus and when children die they go to Heaven. This would be inclusive of the Amalekites’ children as it includes ALL children because God loves everyone equally and did not make any exceptions.
Because of our “sin” we have diseases and disabilities of varying degrees within the body and mind. Throughout the years, people like you, me, and everyone before us who have not heeded God’s commandments have brought many ailments and disorders and incapacities into our families, friends, and into our own bodies. God made Adam and Eve to not ever die. God told Adam that eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would cause him to surely die. After Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God told Adam that because he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that he’d have to work hard and then at some point in time, turn back to the dust from which God created him; in other words, Adam would die. (See Genesis 3:1-24 for more details.)
Mental illness is a result of sin. People with mental disabilities have sin in their nature however God knows of their mental shortcomings and He knows if their mental shortcoming has interfered with their ability to know right and wrong, good and evil; God knows their heart, their true internal nature. God loves everyone including those with mental illness. In Psalms 41:13, we are told just how God loves those who are ill. “The LORD will help them when they are sick and will restore them to health.” (Psalms 41:13). This does not mean that God will always restore everyone with mental illness to health here on earth, but assuredly, God does restore those with real mental health issues to perfect health when He brings them home to Heaven to be with Him.
So babies, children, and the real mentally ill don’t per se “sin” even though everyone’s nature (yours and mine) is to sin against God’s two greatest commandments; love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor (everyone around you) as yourself.
Thank you justbekindtooall for your questions. May God bless you!
“Life Application Study Bible” New International Version (NIV), Zondervan