Updated: Mar 26, 2022
Video from Desiring God
Rodrigo from Brazil writes in to ask this: “Hello Pastor John! I’ve seen your effort to combat the terrible abortion policy that has literally ripped apart thousands of precious lives. Jesus says, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’ (Matthew 19:14).
My question is: Do aborted babies go to heaven, even not having the chance to be born? And to piggyback on this question, in recent online debates, critics of the pro-life movement say if aborted babies do go to heaven, then why is abortion really a big deal in the end for Christians?”
I have argued numerous times that infants who die do go to heaven. I do believe they are in a sinful condition when they die. I don’t believe that they are saved because there is no original sin. That is not what I am arguing.
“It is a big deal to kill babies in the womb because murder is a big deal.”
My view is not based on how cute or innocent they are. It is based largely on God’s apparent commitment to a kind of public justice in which he makes the rejection of observable evidences of truth the basis for his final condemnation (Romans 1:20). But that is not what I am arguing for now in this answer. I am just going to assume that Rodrigo can go to the website and get more on that.
I am going to tackle: Why would you oppose abortion if you thought you were sending babies wonderfully to heaven? Or, as he put it: In recent online debates, critics of the pro-life position say, “If aborted babies go to heaven, then why is abortion really a big deal in the end for Christians?”
My answer is, it is a big deal for six reasons at least.
1. Murder is Murder
It is a big deal to kill babies in the womb because murder is a big deal. We know it is a big deal because the reason capital punishment was inaugurated by God after the flood was because of how big a deal it is to murder someone who is in the image of God.
Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” That is what makes it such a big deal. You don’t kill beings uniquely created in the image of God.
2. No Boundry
It is a big deal to kill the unborn to try to justify murder by the heavenly destination of the one being murdered because the same justification could be used for a one-year old or a two-year old who are still incapable of processing and construing God’s revelation.
If Christians were to buy the argument, “Sure, that is fine. You can go ahead and take the lives of infants in the womb because they are going to go to heaven,” then we can just go around and kill all the one-year olds and guarantee they go to heaven — kill all the two-year olds and guarantee that they go to heaven — and we will draw the line maybe around, I don’t know, three or four. That is a horrific position to take, and it is a big deal.
3. Killing Christians
It is a big deal to justify murder that way, by the heaven-bound destination of the one being murdered, because the same thing would be used to justify killing Christians. Let’s go out and convert people, then kill them quickly before they can commit apostasy or backsliding. It is horrible logic.
4. Grace Abounding
It is a big deal to kill those who committed no crime just in order to dispatch them to heaven because the Bible addresses this very kind of twisted thinking when it says, Shall we sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1).
“It is presumption to step into God’s place and try to make the assignments to heaven and hell.”
In other words, somebody was trying to use the logic against Paul that grace would abound wherever sin abounds: “So, let’s do some more sinning.” Paul responded, “Shall we do evil that good may come?” (Romans 3:8). God forbid.
His answer is no. It is a wrong logic to sin in order that some good might come from it. We are dealing with God here, not just pragmatics.
5. Joy to Live
It is a big deal because life on earth is good and wonderful. It is a right thing to want to be alive on the earth.
The apostle Paul, when he weighed dying and going to be with Jesus against staying alive and serving the church, he opted to stay alive. Here is what he wrote: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:21–23).
So, some might respond, “Well, then just choose death, for goodness’ sake.” But he says in verses 24–25: “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.”
It is far better, he says, to be with Christ in one sense, if it is just me and my sufferings that are being taken into account. Please, Lord, I would rather be home. But if I take into account my ministry, my relationships, the good I might do in glorifying God and serving people for the season that he gives me here on the earth, larger purposes are in mind.
We ought not to take that possibility away from anyone. If there is an unborn person, we shouldn’t say, “Well, they get to go to heaven, so don’t give them any chance to serve God on the earth.” That doesn’t follow from biblical reasoning.
6. Not the Judge
Lastly, it is a big deal because it is presumption to step into God’s place and try to make the assignments to heaven and to hell. God is the judge, not us. Our duty is to obey God, not play God.
Yes, babies do go to heaven, I believe. And no, don’t kill them, because they are in the image of God and because earth is their home on the way to heaven — and rightly so — and because we are not God.