“When I tell people about the death of my infant daughter, they often respond that she is in heaven. They tell me that she is an angel now. They tell me that she’s with God. But as an atheist, these words have never brought me any comfort.”
That is the opening paragraph to an article written by Priscilla Blossom titled My child is not in heaven: Your religion only makes my grief harder. It was published this past October 24th in the online magazine Salon. I believe grief is a very private and personal matter and would not typically write about another’s experience, but this was published and some points need comment.
There is nothing in the Scriptures to suggest that anyone of any age morphs into an angel in heaven. Humans and angels represent two distinct created orders. The idea that when someone dies they become an angel is merely a sentiment and is not taught in the Bible.
The benefits afforded believers by the Gospel is something “into which angels long to look,” 1 Peter 1:12. Angels “long” to be like us but cannot; we are different created beings.
But the question of what happens to a child or infant when they die remains. Priscilla writes, “I wish I could believe that my daughter is watching over me right now while enjoying a beautiful and eternal afterlife. But that’s just not what I believe.”
The Scriptures do not explicitly say where babies go when they die. There are several passages that infer children go to heaven when they pass, but there is no direct quote. So where does that leave us?
When God tells Abraham He is going to visit Sodom and Gomorrah to see if what He has heard is true, knowing his nephew Lot lives there, Abraham questions whether God will destroy the righteous along with the wicked. Abraham asks God, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” Genesis 18:25. Abraham’s rhetorical question is an expression of his confidence that God will always do the right thing. God does destroy the cities, but only after Lot and his family are removed.
The Bible contains mysteries. Sometimes those mysteries arise from what it says and at other times from what it does not say. As believing parents we are understandably concerned when infants and children die. We want to know their eternal welfare is secure. While the Scriptures no not address this matter directly, is it difficult to entrust the future well-being of babies and toddlers to our heavenly Father, just as we have with ours?
Like Abraham, I trust God is holy and will always do the right thing despite what Priscilla or I believe. While this view may concern those who would like a more concrete promise, I take great comfort in trusting the eternal welfare of infants and children to the care of a holy and loving Father.