Are children innocent "blank slates"?

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  • Are children innocent "blank slates"?

    Anyone having read Philosophy has probably come across the name John Locke. Locke presents the basic argument that "a child's mind must be educated before he is instructed, that the true purpose of education is the cultivation of the intellect rather than an accumulation of facts." According to Locke, the ideal education would instill a strong moral sense. In particular, a child should be taught virtue, wisdom, breeding, and learning.

    In addition, children were born as "blank slates", beginning their lives morally neutral. From this point of view, infants were neither inherently good or inherently evil. A child's nature and personality would develop over childhood, a period of time during which the educationalists believed a child was particularly impressionable. Adults surrounding a child could potentially have a very lasting effect on his personality.

    How do you compare this secular philosophy to the Christian worldview? For me personally, I believe nothing could be further from the truth. Children do not need to be taught to disobey, lie, steal, etc. They are by nature sinners, as are all men born in Adam, and if left to themselves shall perish. Children are self-seeking and often throw tantrums outside basic survival needs when they themselves are not the center of attention. No clearer picture demonstrate covetousness and the breaking of God's laws when a child throws a tantrum because they cannot have what they want. Or the dishonor they bring to the parent(s) whenever they disobey (honor thy father and mother).

    Children, no matter how young, are not “innocent” in the sense of being sinless. The Bible tells us that, even if an infant or child has not committed personal sin, all people, including infants and children, are guilty before God because of inherited and imputed sin. Inherited sin is that which is passed on from our parents.
    • Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[e] because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

    What do you think? Are children born inherently neutral? That is, until stained by environmental or social influences?

    To me, if children were truly innocent they would not die. But because as Romans 5:13 states "for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law." Sin, which is the cause of death, exists: and in such a way, that it is also imputed: because of this it follows that there is some law, the breach of which is the cause of death.

    And I will take this even further into a covenant relationship with God. When children are brought into a covenant with God, how are they set apart from other children of the world 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 (how are they made holy)? Covenant children receive the sign and mark of the NT covenant, a mark which distinguishes them from children of the world, and a seal when they demonstrate faith. They receive from God blessings associated with children of the covenant. Can you name any apparent blessings from being brought up in a covenant relationship with God?
    • Deuteronomy 11:19-21 “You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”
    • Isaiah 54:13 “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.”
    • Psalm 51: Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
    • Ephesians 6:1-3 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

    God bless,
    William

  • #2
    Originally posted by William View Post
    What do you think? Are children born inherently neutral? That is, until stained by environmental or social influences?
    If they are, none of them stay "neutral" for very long And the Bible says "no" to that question .. e.g. Psalm 51:5

    Originally posted by William View Post
    Can you name any apparent blessings from being brought up in a covenant relationship with God?
    Well, it may have been 30 years after my baptism, but I finally became a Christian at age 30

    --David




    "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the
    time my mother conceived me"

    Psalm 51:5
    Simul Justus et Peccator

    "We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone" ~John Calvin

    "The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us." ~CS Lewis

    "The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances" ~Elisabeth Elliot

    "The law is for the self-righteous to humble their pride; the Gospel is for the lost to remove their despair. ~Charles H. Spurgeon
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    • #3
      Romans 9:11 and 1 John 2:12 suggest that children are blank slates around the time of parturition, having done no good or evil, but can eventually sin (There would be no set age due to precociousness) else John would not have said that their sins are forgiven. The biblical record of children receiving wrath in 2 Kings 2:23 also tells us that our modern preconceived bias towards children being sinless is unfounded. Can children sin? Yes. Are they born in sin? Yes, they are born of the world, and only salvation allows one birth in Christ. Does being born in sin also mean that sin is in them? Absolutely not, for Jesus Christ was born into the world through the flesh, but you would be anti-christ to say he had sin.
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