Do Children Go to Heaven?

 by Chuck Snyder
 co-chaplain for the Seattle Mariners


Dear Chuck,
I have long believed the teaching I have received that if a child dies before he is old enough to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, he will go to Heaven. But recently someone pointed out to me that this is not actually found in the Bible and that there could be a chance that this is popular Christian teaching and not actually biblical. I believe God's character shows me that in His mercy He would bring children to heaven who were too young to understand, but I would like to know exactly what the Bible says as I am yet to have any luck finding an appropriate scripture.

Chuck's Response
Thanks for the note about children going to heaven. I think this is more a matter of common sense than a strict biblical principle. When David's baby died in 2 Samuel 12:23 he said that he would go to be with the baby, which implies that the baby went to heaven to be with the Lord. I think it just makes sense that God would not hold children accountable for concepts they can't understand completely ... like heaven and hell ... and eternal life ... and accepting Christ. There is no set age when this happens, but usually by the time the child is 18 or so ... they have decided which way they will go on this matter. People mature differently, so we pretty much have to leave this entire situation to God and know that He is fair and just, and that He will do the right thing by the children. I can't find anything in the New Testament that would shed light on this, so I believe God, knowing that some people are mature at 12 and some are mature at 24, probably didn't want to lock us into a certain time period. I'm not sure this answers your question, but it's the way I look at it. Let me know if you want to talk further.

Chuck Snyder



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Updated 05/24/2005