Do unborn babies go to heaven?

Straight Talk

The Question

A friend recently lost a baby who was three weeks from being born. Understandably, she and her husband are grieving and struggling to make sense of this. People say that this baby girl is in heaven. I also believe this, but what does the Bible say about it? The only way I can be certain in my mind and heart is if the Bible somehow says that unborn and/or young babies go to heaven. I know they are still sinless…but I’m still concerned. Can you help?

– Tracy from Ohio

The Answer
Part 1: Walking by faith
Part 2: Remembering David’s son

Walking by faith (Part 1)

I’m so sorry for the present grief that your friend is experiencing. May God’s peace and comfort be with you and the baby’s parents as you all struggle through a myriad of emotions making sense of this tragedy.

I believe there is a scripture passage that you can look to which will bring you the assurance you seek on the outcome for this little girl. Before I share it, I want to say a word about faith. You mentioned your need to feel “certain” in your own mind. There are many issues that are not spelled out in black and white in the Bible. Even where they are, we often find that our own situations don’t perfectly “match” the circumstances of the people we read about.

Where we don’t find clear cut answers we need to look deeper into the character of God which pours forth from both the Old and New Testaments. We are called to a walk of faith in which we trust the goodness, kindness and justice of God. Sometimes those waters are muddy because “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12

Listen to what a man who did not even start off knowing or serving the true God came to understand; “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise, exalt, and honor the King of heaven, for all His works are true and His ways just.” (Daniel 4:37) What I am telling you is that whether or not scripture tells you what happens to babies who die prematurely, you can rely on God’s nature and character.

Trust God whether or not you understand. Trust God’s love even in the darkness.

Remembering David’s son (Part 2)

Remember when David committed adultery with Bathsheba? She became pregnant and David had her husband Uriah killed to cover up. After he was dead, David took Bathsheba into his house as his wife and in due time their son was born.

The child became very sick. “David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground.” (2 Samuel 12:16) In fact, David went on fasting in deep distress for seven days but the child died anyhow. His servants were afraid to tell him because they saw how distraught he was.

Surprisingly, once David knew his son was dead he washed and anointed himself, went into the house of the Lord and worshipped and asked for food. The servants couldn’t understand. They asked him; “While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” (2 Samuel 12:21)

David’s reply gives us insight and perspective on what happens in death to those young ones. David said to his servants; “Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (Verse 23) Notice what David says. He expects to see and be with his son again in eternity – “I shall go to him”.

If babies do not go to heaven, how is it that David knew he would see his child again? We certainly know that King David is in heaven with the Lord right now. He joined his young child “when David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.” (1 Kings 2:10)

I believe this story can be a source of great comfort to anyone who has lost a child who never had the opportunity to make a decision to follow Jesus. In fact, it is Jesus himself who commends adults to follow after the innocent state of children. He told his disciples; “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 18:3)

If small children are not eligible for heaven, why would Jesus tell us to become like them? Rest assured; we will join them someday.