Q&A: What Happens to the Soul of an Aborted Baby?
Written by Arnoud Vergunst
|Reformed Ethics - Abortion|
Question: What happens with the soul of a baby whose mom committed abortion?
There are questions that the Scriptures do not answer directly. This question is one of them. It is clear from the Bible’s teaching that also unborn children and infants are ‘children of wrath’ or people who share in the curse on mankind due to Adam’s transgression. We are all counted guilty because of our covenant father Adam. This is clearly taught in Romans 5:12-14. Other passages add that besides guilty in God’s sight we are also corrupted, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps. 51:5; see also Ps. 53:3) So already at conception they are Adam’s children.
Some maintain that young children aren’t held responsible for sin and guilty before God until they have reached some arbitrary age of ‘accountability.’ But Scripture clearly states that children have a guilty standing before God and a sinful nature that not only gives them a tendency to sin but also causes God to view them as “sinners.” What we call and consider cute, in God’s holy eyes is a sinner.
Having stated these bottom line basic doctrines, let’s now consider the question of children that die before birth, either through a ‘natural’ death or abortion, as well as the children that die shortly after birth. This question also applies to those who are mentally handicapped. I hope you can agree with the statement that if any of them are saved, they would be saved on the exact same basis as anyone else: the redemptive work and merits of the Lord Jesus Christ and the regeneration work of the Holy Spirit within their heart. Jesus teaching that “without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness)” and that “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” apply to any person, whether an infant or a grandfather. Though a pre-natal child or young infant cannot properly repent from sin and believe in Christ, God is able to save any infant in an unusual way, apart from hearing, understanding and responding to the Gospel. What is impossible with men, is possible with God.
As said earlier, there are general statements made in Scripture about what happens with the soul of babies at are aborted. Yet there are a few implied statements which give some direction.
1st Jesus received the children that were brought to Him by the believing parents in Mark 10:13-16. Jesus took each of these children in His arms and blessed them. That’s wasn’t just a gesture of kindness but a communication of a blessing. Wouldn’t He still do that with the children that parents bring today, especially those whom He would take away before birth or as infants? Several of our fore-fathers would use that Scripture to speak comfortingly to believing parents who have cast their little on from the womb upon the Lord. They ought not to doubt but that such souls are in His arms. I wholeheartedly second that opinion. What about the souls of the children of unbelievers who die at early age which includes those aborted? The Bible is completely silent about this. Therefore nothing more definite can be said about this.
2nd God is holy love as well as perfectly just. In the parable of the servants Jesus made this statement, “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:47-48) That principle of justice is often repeated in Scripture, as in Rom. 2:6, “Who will render to every man according to His deeds.” What will God do with those who have never been exposed to the teachings, examples or even the testimony of the book of nature such as pre-natal children aborted or children dying in infancy? I am at peace in my heart with the truth that God will be thoroughly just and holy to those children’s souls as well as those who are mentally handicapped. He has not revealed to us whether those souls will be gathered into His presence so there is no doctrinal statement to make.
In conclusion, one can share his own opinion. I have researched the thoughts of Gill, Hodge, Henry and other theologians on this question. Their views vary mostly between ‘we don’t know’ to ‘all children dying in infancy are saved.’ Having learned to know God’s character of grace and mercy in beautiful harmony with justice and holiness, I am inclined to believe that all such souls are gathered in His arms of mercy and grace. But let’s maintain that if they are saved, it will not be because they were ‘innocent children’ for they were not, being Adam’s children. The only ground of their salvation would be God’s electing grace in Christ Jesus.
I hope this gives some direction and thought.
Vergunst is the pastor of The Reformed Congregation of Carlton, New Zealand. He answers questions on his church's website, www.rcnz.org.