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What Does the Bible Say About...the Eternal State of Retarded People?

My son was born with spastic quadraplegia cerebral palsey with cortical blindness, epilepsy, and mental retardation. His name is Elijah. he is unable to talk (he does vocalize), walk, or do anything for himself. Chronologically he is 20 years old. Cognitively he is less than a year old. I read him the Word, sing spiritual songs to him, take him to church, and "say his prayers" with him. He appears to LOVE THE NAME JESUS. His favorite song seems to be, "Something about that Name." It used to be, "Pass Me Not." I have said the sinners prayer with him (for him?). WHEN ELIJAH DIES, WILL HE GO TO BE WITH THE LORD FOREVER, AND FOREVER?????

Thank you for any information you can give me. God bless you.


I also am the parent of an epileptic and mentally retarded child (26 years old). Although my son does not have some of the other physical handicaps that yours does, and functions at about the four year old level, I can sympathize with you and understand your question. My son's favorite hymn is "There's a Great Day Coming."

Perhaps one of the most damaging doctrines to parents is the one that says children are sinful from birth. The scriptures seem to teach otherwise.

Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven (the church) will consist of those who are like little children (Matt 18:1-4; Matt 19:14). These passages in themselves do not necessarily teach the sinlessness of children. However, when taken with such passages as Jeremiah 31:30 ("But every one shall die for his own iniquity.") and Ezekiel 18 ("the soul that sinneth, it shall die." Verse 2) we can see that children who can not know the difference between right and wrong are not held as guilty of sin. As such, they are not in need of repentance and salvation as we are.

What will keep someone out of heaven? Galatians 5:19-21 lists these sins that will keep one out: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Eph 5:5 adds the covetous man to that list. Revelation 22:5 adds those who love being liars. While there are no doubt other sins that will keep us out of heaven, the point is that those who sin are excluded. Our sons, incapable of understanding right from wrong, are not guilty of sin, and will not be excluded from heaven. Someone once phrased it that they are "not saved, but safe."

I am comforted by the thought that one day Sean will be in heaven, where he won't worry about seizures and where we can actually understand what he is saying when he sings praises to God.

You do not need to say the "sinner's prayer" for Elijah. If he needed salvation, which he does not, it would have to be his own decision; you couldn't do it for him. You can know that he will "be with the Lord forever, and forever." If you want to be there with him, you need to do what it takes to have your sins forgiven. The Bible indicates that simply saying a prayer (the "sinner's prayer," for instance) is not enough. Even after Paul prayed three days he was still in his sins. God sent him a messenger to tell him, "Why are you delaying? Rise and be immersed and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:16) For further information on what you can do to be sure you will be with Elijah in heaven, look at my web page Who Are We?.

A different questioner responded to this answer. That question, about original sin, can be found at What does the Bible say about..Original Sin?.