- I'm still busy reading other peoples' posts about a lot of those things before I know enough to write my own post. ;)
- As awesome and important as a good loaf of bread is, there are other things of more eternal significance that have been weighing on my mind that I want to share.
- My blog is written for anyone in the world to read, and as nice as warm bread and tasty meals are, they can't compare to the comfort and peace that comes from truth.
I've been seeing a lot of posts about "Are Babies Born Good?" and some fascinating studies supporting one side or the other. Since my baby isn't quite a year old yet, I know I am not the best person to write about these things from experience. I also realize that having a degree in education still doesn't amount to much next to the experience of many parents. However, I don't have to have years of experience as a mother or be versed in science to understand the scriptures and how God sees little children. If you want to see the wonderful post that inspired me to write this, click here. :)
Why Does It Matter?
In my pondering, I realized that whether we view children as inherently good or evil has a big effect on our parenting style.I remember talking to a person who summed up her views something like this:
"Babies are born selfish. There is nothing as selfish as a new baby. They cry and scream and expect you to do everything for them. There is nothing sweet and innocent about a newborn baby."
Contrast that way of thinking with this:
"Babies are born innocent and helpless. They were with our Father in Heaven recently and are still adjusting to having a body. There is nothing so pure and special as a newborn baby."
How might a mother respond to a child's disobedience if she thinks the child was intentionally disobedient just for the sake of breaking rules and being selfish? Would she respond differently if she believed the disobedience was caused by misunderstanding? We treat our children differently depending on how we see them.
Think of the story of the mother who tells her child over and over, "Don't go past the corner!" and the child keeps going out into the street to play. After repeating this process many times, the mom gets frustrated and proceeds to punish the child, whereupon the child asks, "Mom, what is a corner?"
Now on to the scriptures. First I would like to acknowledge that I realize I am making a few assumptions in the conclusions I draw. I believe that God is a loving Father in Heaven that wants us to return to live with Him after our life on earth. I also believe that God is just and merciful. He will not give us commandments that are impossible to keep, and He will not punish one person for the sins of another (Christ vicariously suffered for the everyone's sins, but that was a special situation and beyond the scope of this post.)
Why would a loving God encourage children to be born into a sinful state? If our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to return to live with Him in Heaven, He wouldn't set up an impossible situation. Clearly, throughout the scriptures, the Lord encourages families to have children. Being omnipotent, He knows that not all will live to adulthood. Why would the scriptures say things like the following if God knew there would be miscarriages, stillborns, and infant deaths?:
"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth..." (Genesis 1:28 KJV)
"Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." (Psalms 127:3 KJV)
"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5 KJV)
I believe that God doesn't give commandments unless He also gives a way for us to keep those commandments. In His teachings, Christ expounded how this potential problem is solved:
"When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Mark 2:17 KJV)
"...Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein." (Mark 10: 14-15 KJV)
Little Children Are Alive In Christ
I am going to take this all a step further and propose that not only are little children good, they can't sin until they are mature enough to understand and choose between good and evil. They are whole, and while parents should teach them to repent so they can learn truth, they are already clean. The infinite Atonement of Christ covers them.
"And even if it were possible that little children could sin they could not be saved; but I say unto you they are blessed; for behold, as in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins." (Mosiah 3:16)
"Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world." (Moses 6:54)I love how this ancient prophet puts it so clearly:
"But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!
Wherefore, if little children could not be saved without baptism, these must have gone to an endless hell.
. . .
For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing—
But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works." (Moroni 8)
I think children are not born sinful, but that doesn't mean they are immune from the evils of the world. At birth they enter into a world corrupted by sin, and they obtain a body with natural desires which are not always Christ-like. But I still believe that they naturally have a tendency toward good rather than evil.
Little children may make mistakes, bad choices, and sometimes be just plain mean, but I think their motives are significantly different from those of adults that exhibit the same qualities. Christ teaches us to be as little children, not because we should be childish, but because little children are teachable and naturally want to do and be good. There is a reason that so much can be learned "out of the mouth of babes."
If we are paying attention, we can often learn from children just as much as they learn from us.
Who Are We? Part 2 - The Duality of Man
Who Are We? Part 3 - Our Potentia