(2 Sam. 12:23) If infants go to heaven, does this justify infanticide?

CLAIM: What happens to infants if they die before they meet Christ? Does God send them to hell? If they do go to heaven, does this warrant infanticide (i.e. immediately sending these babies to heaven)?

RESPONSE: The Bible no doubt teaches that infants are saved. Isaiah writes that there is an age before a child is able to “know to refuse the evil and choose the good” (Is. 7:16). The children of Israel were not held responsible for the sins of their parents during the Wandering, because they had “no knowledge of good or evil” (Deut. 1:39). They inherited the land—the blessing of God—because they were ignorant to the sins of their parents.[1] Therefore, God didn’t punish them for what they could not have known. In this passage, David said he would go to be with his infant baby, who had died (2 Sam. 12:23). David believed in an afterlife, and he thought that he was going to be with God after death (Ps. 16:10-11), and the NT authors claim that he is in heaven, too (Rom. 4:6-8). This demonstrates that his infant must also be in heaven. In addition, Jesus implies that little children will be in heaven (Mk. 10:14; Mt. 18:3; 19:14), and he claimed that there were those who were “blind” to sin (Jn. 9:41).

Secular ethicists have countered this biblical teaching by asking: Does this justify acts like abortion and infanticide—given the fact that these babies will go directly into the presence of God? While God is merciful to infants and the unborn, this does not justify immoral actions like infanticide. For instance, consider if a cruel tyrant committed genocide on his own people. As a result, the United States opened its borders for refugees, and many poor refugees were given improvements in their quality of life. Would this generosity of the U.S. government justify the cruelty of the tyrant? Of course not! Similarly, our immoral acts (of killing an infant) are not warranted by banking on God’s mercy, when he accepts them into heaven). Moreover, no biblical warrant would support such a sadistic perspective. For instance, while Paul believed that he would go directly to heaven if he died and viewed this as “very much better” (Phil. 1:23), this knowledge of heaven didn’t justify suicide. Instead, it encouraged him to live on for the sake of others (Phil. 1:24).

[1] How old does someone need to be before God begins to judge them? In Numbers 14:29, the people under the age of 20 were not judged because of their youth. However, this does not at all imply that this is the fixed age for all people. God was working in this nation in a specific way, and it should not be used to justify a universal age of accountability. The Bible doesn’t give us an age, because different people mature in different stages. It’s likely that the age of accountability is different for each person, dependent upon mental development and maturity.