What Happened to the Babies in Limbo?

Whatever the differences between Roman Catholics and Biblical Christians, there are significant tenets to which they agree. One of these issues is Abortion; both believe that human life begins at conception and that abortion is murder.

This is a hot topic with the recent Dobbs Supreme Court Decision; however, that ruling more concerns state vs. federal rights versus the morality of abortion. The Bible is clear; all references to a baby in the womb refer to a human child. Against this is the commandment – thou shall not murder.

In Exodus 21:22-25, the Mosaic Law details the punishment for someone guilty of harm to a pregnant woman and her child. Scripture doesn’t have to use the word abortion to make the point any more transparent. In Luke 1:41, where the “baby [John the Baptist] leaped in her [Elizabeth’s] womb,” the Greek word for baby; “brephos,” means infant, babe, or child in one’s arms. No distinction is made between the unborn and the born.

Early church teachers also agreed with this prohibition against abortion. Between 50-120 A.D., The Didache or “The Teachings of the Lord through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations” stated, “You shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not corrupt children; you shall not be sexually immoral; you shall not steal; you shall not practice magic; you shall not engage in sorcery; you shall not abort a child or commit infanticide.”  The Church and the Bible’s position against abortion couldn’t be more in line.

The Question of Eternal Destiny

However, as clear as the prohibition against abortion is in the bible, the eternal destination of babies aborted is not explicitly addressed. Roman Catholicism teaches that infant baptism is required to remove original sin and as a condition of entering heaven. Conversely, hell hardly seems justifiable for an infant murdered or even miscarried in the mother’s womb without baptism. This presents a classic conundrum, and in the 13th through 15th centuries, the church established the idea of Limbo. Thus the souls of those who die in original sin (born and unborn unbaptized infants) descend into hell but are given a lighter punishment than those souls guilty of actual sin. In time, this transitioned into a place that was not unpleasant but was not a seat alongside God.

In 1992, with the approval of Pope Benedict, Limbo as an eternal resting place was eliminated and the souls of unbaptized infants were determined to be saved and brought unto eternal glorification.

In contrast, Biblical Christianity has always believed that any infant who dies, in or outside the womb, without reaching the age of accountability would receive eternal life. Infant baptism is not prescribed, and adult baptism does not impart grace but is simply an acknowledgment of and identification with Christ’s death and resurrection.

Again, although the Bible never explicitly addresses an “age of accountability” or states that children who die before reaching such an age will go to Heaven, the concept of a perfect, loving, and just God demands such a conclusion. This comprehensively includes babies who die through abortion or miscarriage and young children who have not reached an age where they can responsibly decide to accept or reject Jesus Christ. Ostensibly, this would be around twelve years old.

The most significant Biblical support for the position is King David’s conversation in 2 Samuel 12:22-23, where, “He said, ‘While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept,  for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ ‘But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.'”  Since the Bible is God’s perfect and inerrant word and David was well aware of his own eternal destination, the statement “I shall go to him” is compelling evidence that children who die go to heaven.

Import of These Truths

The good news? If we merge the certitude that aborted infants who die go to heaven with Christ’s description of Heaven in Revelation 21:4; where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be any mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And we combine the truth that forgiveness is available even to one who has committed the sin of abortion; we can only imagine the joy and happiness of an eventual heavenly reunion without regret, anger, or any resentment between an aborted child and the ones who aborted them.

Only God could have achieved this.

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