Are Children Really Born Sinful?

Question:  What do you see as the implications for children of this verse:  The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. (Genesis 8:21)
Answer:  The implications of this verse are that children either learn from an early age to do evil or they are born with a natural bent toward evil.  Since it is the case that there is no one who does not need a Savior’s atoning sacrifice (1 John 2:1,2), that means everyone is sinful.  If sinfulness was just something learned, surely someone would have been taught how not to sin from childhood.  But that is not the case, so it seems there is in every human soul an incapacity to choose righteousness. 

By that Scripture does not mean humans don’t make right choices. Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11.  Rather, we may make right choices at times, and training is a crucial part of that, but our basic heart orientation is toward saving ourselves, being our own savior, being our own God.  So we are repudiating the basic truth of the universe, that God alone is Savior and Sovereign over right and wrong, and this spoils every good decision we make.  Our attitude, even in the right things we do, is ruined (Southern, “rurnt”) by our rebelliousness toward God.

Randall Johnson